Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Creative Complexities!

Giving students learning opportunities to grow and experiment with the learning process of complex ideas is the architecture of the why and how of problem solving. Our thinking is always provoked through current events from scientific inventions, social entrepreneurial to international, national and local political issues,

 Many events from September began unveiling from the United Nations Global Goals to world issues and national elections. I continue to explore and learn with my students by applying the thinking models from the Rotman School I think Initiative.: the Ladder of Inference, Visual Alphabet, Open Ended Conversations, Pro- Pro model, System Thinking and Causal Model. Keeping in mind the academic commitments to all curriculum concepts, we engage through cross disciplinary and many tools, we began exploring the thinking process through the causal model.

The students and I began exploring the causal model by referring to our classroom experiences of speaking French; Grade 6 students are motivated to be bilingual...

We continue to learn together and experiment. Thanks to Nogah Kornberg (from Rotman School) who has been my learning partner after school and even late nights for consulting about the thinking process since September. We also had an opportunity of working with Nogah live through Google Hangout on the causal model with a group of students.

Below are samples of the causal model on terrorism:

The focus of the Grade 6 Social Studies is Canada's Interactions with the Global Community. The concept of  disciplinary thinking across subjects are causes and consequences of politics. The students began their inquiry by using the arts to search and learn more about their chosen global goal UN Sustainable Global Goals. We were fortunate to follow the development on twitter and had a chance to speak online with the COP21 Youth delegation about indigenous representation of Canada.  

Through the arts, the thinking process was to focus on visual literacy to portray the facts and communicate the purpose of the goal: to see, to describe, to analyze and to interpret through the elements and the principles of visual arts. The visual literacy enabled students to research and understand the facts in relation to the developed and developing countries. 

Students individually built a causal model to continue exploring the causes of their goal from developing and developed countries.  

To construct knowledge of the Global Goals students combined the goals while creating team causal models. Each causal began with a statement: the consumption of resources, problems of poverty from around the world, living in poverty, to stop poverty by 2030. 

I tried capturing some students' conversations during the causal model discussions of the Global Goals. 

This architecture of learning through the causal model developed the critical thinking and communication skills of the students.

Critical thinking: interpreting, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information while making meaningful connections to the issues and the facts of the goals, and collaborative meaningful knowledge construction. 

The students' communication skills were also developing during the discussions by connecting the facts of the goals during the group causal model: explaining clearly, considering multiple and diverse thinking, communicating in detail in order to understand contexts. While communicating the students were analyzing, synthesizing their thinking together building on what they know and new meaning together through these discussions. The process of communication was not based on judgement of each others perspectives, rather it was based on unpacking thinking from each other.

Below are some audios captured by students connecting the causes of their goals. As we continue exploring with the causal model we will be recording the conversations during the designing process of the model. 

Coding was part of the process by using Scratch to create the targets for sustainability by 2030 .

The students also implemented green screen to capture the full process about the sustainability of each goal.

Technology integration is used to amplify the thinking process and demonstrate learning in multiple ways, valuing and empowering the pedagogical process.

Through designing thinking, students' motivation is authentic in breaking down the thinking process. The students are advocating, innovating and problem solving throughout the causal model. They take ownership of scaffolding complex skills. The 6 C's of New Pedagogy for Deep Learning Competencies are amplified throughout the process: Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Character, Creativity and Citizenship,

I should have blogged while we unpacked the learning together. The students have reflected and documented the process that I will be sharing with their permission in the New Year. Since we already know that learning is messy and embracing the process by reflecting and iterating with the students then we don't shy away from complexity and maximize our learning together.

As we learn we continue to reflect on the process of learning,we ask ourselves:
  • Are students creating their own questions for the passion of learning?
  • Are students focusing on thinking?
  • Are students taking control of their thinking?
  • How are students reasoning complex problems?


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. Very authentic and meaningful learning goals that coincide with Social Studies, among other curriculum expectations. Love how you integrated the arts for students' thinking process too!

    1. Thanks for reading the blog and leaving a comment. The purpose was cross curriculum through the arts to provoke and further the inquiry. It was a valuable learning experience for the students and myself. It was a long process as they unpacked to demonstrate their thinking of the causes through the arts.