Monday, July 9, 2018

Cultivating Own Giftedness

I continue to be inspired by my students as we take risks and innovate together.  We evolve to change together while focusing on competencies based learning, risk-taking, personalizing inquiries, proceeding with uncertainties and embracing many challenges that lead us to learn thinking skills and transform our learning.

From September to January the students explored guided design thinking inquiries. Previous blog posts describe the process.  The purpose from February to June was for the students to independently lead and develop their design thinking inquiries on sustainable structures based on Global Goal #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

The students innovated and created their design thinking process and entrepreneurial process. It is also the marriage of the curriculum on structures through personalized inquiries to develop competencies, leadership, and entrepreneurial creative mindset. Every team of students pursued their own leadership, responsibility for searching, creating sustainable purpose and partnership with experts or having an end user for feedback.

Learning is more than just exposure to content it is for students to arouse in their own inquiries. It is the independent connection of the curriculum with students skills and to cultivate their own giftedness and identify their self-development of their personal leadership when collaborating and finding out of what they are capable of doing.

I am sharing two classes that pursued sustainability on structures.  One class, I worked with two blocks a day and another class I saw once a day.

The learners who I saw twice a day decided to define their own sustainable structures.  The following self-lead inquiries were persevered by the students:
  • Three teams focused on the classroom flexible seating
  • A group on proper recycling of the school bins
  • Another on a scientific solution for decomposing and recycling plastics
  • Two students tackled a city problem of the Prince of Wales bridge
  • A team focused on electric cars for the city of Ottawa Police
Throughout the year and during the discovery about structures the students were provoked through current events locally and globally. This is so important to always open up the classroom to real local and global events. The presentation includes some samples of students process.

The learners who I saw only once a day for Science and Social Studies, all completed designing their own hydroponics structures for sustainability. The project developed from geography on natural resources and water with the problem in Cape Town disaster of zero water.  Thanks to the Ottawa Catholic School Board for enriching and personalizing teachers' learning by providing experiential learning fund. The Science department approved the funding for this project, all materials and electronics were covered.

The video captures the process from provoking to the designing.

More of the students evidence of the process from planning to the science and reflecting on the 6C's.

The process had many layers in which students guided their own decisions. Not only the design thinking process, also thinking models from Rotman I-Think like the Causal Model, the Pro Pro model and the Ladder of Inference to come up with better solutions or unpack the causes and factors as well as interpreting the collected evidence of the process and the data from the end user. The process is never linear, many teams ideated their ideas in order to be realistic for taking actions and creating prototypes. The following are the specifics of the process:
  • Defining the problem - Why is it important to pursue? 
  • Developing the empathy map- Who are they empathizing with, why and how meaningful is it?
  • Steps to achieve it-from research, to contacting experts, the necessary technology for use
  • Actions of how to achieve it, from determining the how and the time to achieve it, also getting feedback from an end user. 
The full planning process was student-driven, from the thinking strategies to the creation and feedback. Design thinking is about solving problems from defining and understanding the problems around the students. What really matters is allowing students to act on creative solutions like a designer with a purpose, inspiring and imagining new solutions by iterating what exists and solving how to make it applicable.

Having the students lead their own designing process is giving them the opportunity to be optimistic about creating for the future and that it is possible to implement change. The importance throughout the year and through their current experiences with designing is giving them the experience of not always getting it right the first time. This is critical thinking and creativity is giving students the space and ownership of always questioning, assessing and rethinking for learning. Why do we always supply the students with what we think they need than allowing them to explore? The students need to know why they need to learn and how could they approach the learning.

Learning is connecting through designing and creating. We should not leave a gap in taking action within the curriculum.  The students unpack their literacy, science, math and the arts when they are creating. As teachers, we are mentors at transferring the curriculum better. For the students to be successful we need to give them a chance to grow and be successful, not to get it right at the first time; that learning is prototyping. How many things could go wrong? That is important too! Not be fearful of mistakes when things don't work. Learning is about continually designing and not approving or disapproving, it is continuous. We need to move from the mindset of approving and disapproving and adapt to the mindset of being optimistic by implementing not to be perfect all the time.

How are we orienting continuous learning? How do we allow problems solving?
We have to carve the space to suspend the perfection and look for the feedback.

Our students tell us a lot about our teaching. We need to believe in ourselves and keep on trying. I always love students reflections throughout the year about our learning space. I have learned so much this year with the support from the leadership team and working with a great team of colleagues.

Are we constraining students from opportunities for creativity when we are just ensuring to just get through the curriculum and testing? How are they cultivating their own giftedness?

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