Sunday, October 12, 2014

uLearn 2014

I was at uLearn 2014 for the Thursday and Friday this year. I spent Wednesday in Wellington having a great time with some of my students at The Weta Cave and WOW.

My notes that I made on a Google doc during the breakouts I attended at uLearn are here.

On Thursday morning I sat in on Yoram Harpaz's breakout - Teaching Thinking - A guide for the Perplexed. He asked a lot of very interesting questions that really got my mind working.
He states : "there is no such thing as a general good thinker" , with strengths lying one way or another. We need to teach students how to be good thinkers and how to deal with the vast wealth of knowledge that is at their finger tips. It should not be a teachers job to teach the knowledge any more, but to help students analyse and use what is out there.

He states that these "Mindwares" are the elements that make good thinking

  • The skills approach - strategies, frames of thinking. Thinking tools and efficient use of them, thinking frames. This is what we have.
  • The dispositions approach - most important element - intellectual traits. motivated patterns of thinking, cognitive traits. Questioning, an original idea stimulates resistance, not just going along with everyone else. This is who we are.
  • The understanding approach - relations , performances.

Friday morning was spent with Tevor Bond talking about making question askers not question answerers.

The art and science of asking questions is not taught at school. Do we create an environment that discourages asking questions?
Who asks the most questions in the class? teachers or students?

At home, before they start school, children ask 50% of the questions.This is not a trend that is continued at school. Why not?
By the time they are in preschool, 5% of the questions are coming from students.

How long does it take for negative signals to come as a response to a child's’ questions? 
How many negative responses before switch off time for the student and they give up asking questions as it is seen as a bad thing?

In primary school, it is a 1 in 8 ratio of student / teacher asking the questions.

In high school, 99.98% of the questions come from teachers, with .02% from students.

My takeaways :-

How can I use the "concept design" stage of a graphics project to put the students into positions of "cognitive discomfort" ? They need to learn to accept that not all design ideas work and that is a good thing not a bad thing. They need to learn to fail with their design work and to be able to learn from that and move on, not throw those sheets in the bin and only keep the "good" ones.

How can I use the design process that we use in Technology to encourage the students to be the question askers?

How can I use blended learning approaches to give all students access to asking questions, not just the ones picked from a "hands up" session?
Some obvious solutions pop into my mind straight away in the form of Google Drawings and Padlet, where the students can put their questions and also be involved in the answering process. I will try this on each topic / project and see if the students are comfortable using these and get some feedback from them.

As usual, uLearn was a great chance to meet members of my PLN in person, and not just as really small pictures on screen!!
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