Monday, 4 June 2012

 Is the learners understanding of the inquiry process relevant for effective learning?

Today was the third day at the WSL Chiangmai workshop. The focus of the day was an inquiry activity that would help the learners( me and my group members)  achieve an understanding of a concept. Oh , sometimes I do get caught in the academic jargon. And I often wonder whether explicit understanding of the inquiry process by the learner is important for learning?

Do six year olds have to understand this?

The child in the fairy scientist video that we watched during the day

 had a good understanding of the inquiry process though she may not have used the academic jargon....hypothesis, investigation etc Yet I wonder how important is it for the learner to understand the inquiry process? There is no doubt that understanding and facilitating of the inquiry process by the teacher is important in bringing depth to the understandings of the learner.

I am reminded of the TED talk given by Sugata Mitra, “Can children teach themselves’

It is a powerful reminder of how kids who have no facilitator and no formal training in any newly discovered inquiry process can also achieve effective learning. Sometimes learning can be kept very simple and perhaps away from all the academic jargon that so confuses me.

So is it relevant for the learner to understand the process of inquiry?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Power of collaborative learning 

Often as a teacher in the business studies area, I have realized that collaborative teaching works very well. But today being a student myself at the Chiangmai WSL workshop brought out the power of co constructing knowledge in such an emphatic manner.

 It was amazing to see the talented participants at the Chiangmai WSL workshop and how they all worked together to bring our dynamic role-plays and presentations. Perhaps it was the high level of motivation and the limited time available to do a task that kept everyone focused towards the goal.

 Discussions around diversity in learners and especially cultural differences were quite inspiring. The do’s and don’ts of cultural norms gallery walk activity was just a good reminder that we are all so different from each other as learners perhaps because of our own cultural experiences in life. Just doing the short activity of identify the various styles of learners within the participants made me realize that those with whom I was collaborating across the day had different learning styles than me. While I was a concrete learner who preferred sequential learning there were so many who were abstract learners and who didn’t care about logical order at all!

Even though everyone may have different styles of learning and come from different cultural backgrounds, if they are motivated and engaged there is room for everyone to learn.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ (Socrates)

Socrates famous quote seemed to resonate through my mind as reflection of the facilitating or teaching practices in any classroom should be an everyday, every lesson practice. Why just limit it to lessons and not extend it to life on an ongoing basis?

Reflection gets one to understand the big picture, it links ideas, helps to find missing links and clarifies ideas. It helps one to be a lifelong learner. Social reflection is equally important

Wordle: Reflection Another learning point today at the IB Workshop Leader Training at Chiangmai, has been that there is a lot to be learned by co- constructing knowledge. The process itself helps to clarify doubts, strengthen ideas and explore new ideas. Being aware of the big picture and specialization into an area would be very helpful as often learners, young and adult learners just want to know tons from work shop leaders.

Often being involved in all three IB programmes as a PYP exhibition mentor, a Personal project mentor and an EE supervisor there is a lot of presumed knowledge which may have changed over the years or have  been streamlined and developed. So keeping an open minded approach will be appositive approach to learning besides of course keeping up with the changes in each of the programmes.

The various critical thinking and reflection strategies were stimulating and I am waiting to try it out in my own classes. Simple things like using postcards were fun. Tops on the list were all the thinking routines from Harvard’s project zero and I just feel great that I could see the application of the thinking routines in the various sessions were very powerful. What could be more wonderful than that I am doing the Visible Thinking course alongside the WSL training?

Being back on Twitter not just following tweets, but actually tweeting felt good. The casual comment by a participant member that Facebook is great for social networking while Twitter for professional networking was the much needed icebreaker. 

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Visible Thinking

Visible Thinking is the latest course that a couple of teachers from my school are doing from WIDE courses developed at Harvard University. It’s also my first online course so I am quite excited to see how it goes along. I am part of a team and just knowing my team members gives me a sense of comfort. The main challenge will be to find the time for the assignments across summer and to follow up the practise of Visible Thinking in the classroom and provide guidance to teachers in my department.
So what is Visible Thinking? Visible Thinking is making the students thinking visible to both the teachers and students. It allows for intellectual collaboration as observable representations of the students thoughts, ideas, questions, reasons and reflections are done wither through mind maps, charts, sticky notes or diagrams. There are many thinking routines to be followed like connect -extend- challenge or claim- support -question routines. It allows teachers to document what students are learning and where they might need help. Moreover, it sets a culture of a thinking classroom where students realize that thinking is valuable.

One may wonder what’s new about Visible Thinking? Is thinking not happening in the classroom? Surely, thinking is happening in most classrooms. However, this is a technique that allows teachers to organize the inquiry process and a method that allows to students to reflect more meaningfully on their learning journey.