PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. An Example. Iteration Three.

A Peek Into Contrasting Homework Assignments

Homework, Option 1

  • In your algebra book, in chapter 7, section 4, do the odd problems. Be sure to show your work. If the assignment takes you longer than 45 minutes of singularly concentrated effort, stop where you are at three-quarters of an hour of working.
  • For social studies, read chapter 12, section 3, and respond to the three “Thought Questions” on page 192.
  • [more like this from your subject-organized classes]

Homework, option 2

[Underlying assumption: the below example is more scaffolded due to the type of academic and school environment that the student learners are used to, and because of the timing of where we are (in the hypothetical scenario) in the traditional school year – early in the cycle. As capacity builds, learners would be less directed and more self-sufficient.]

  • EQ: What is beauty?
  • Observe: As you go through the next 10 days, record in your observation journal instances of your thinking related to our current priority essential question. If appropriate and responsible, take pictures of things you find beautiful and make some notes about why. Ask others what they think, too. Because we are near the beginning of this experience together, I can suggest that the VTR (visible thinking routine) “See, Think, Wonder” might be one way to frame your ethnography notes. Of course, you can devise your own strategy (and you’ll be asked to do this more and more as you practice your Innovators DNA skills); if I, or some other mentor/peer, can help with your observation-strategy plan, let me/them know. Ask questions. We’ll share and review our “Game Plans” and “Gantt Charts” in two days, so we can see various strategies and plans.
  • Question:
    • Record the questions that arise for you as you detail your observations. I don’t want to overly constrain your thinking by suggesting specifics now, but let someone know if you feel yourself in some unresolved struggle about “What kinds of questions should be arising for me?”
    • In relation to your subject-organized classes, tag at least some of your questions by the department name(s) for which those questions seem particularly connected. For example, “What percentage of the population finds this painting beautiful?” might suggest a “Math” tag for a statistics portion of your emerging project.
  • Experiment:
    • Of course, you’ll be experimenting with your observation-strategy plan.
    • Also, use your observation notes to scan for trends and patterns. What hypotheses on beauty seem to emerge for you? Begin to outline – in big-picture terms – the experimental methods you might use to test your hypotheses. If it helps, pretend you are on staff with Myth Busters, like we’ve talked about during our f2f time together.
  • Network & Associate:
    • Suggestion 1 (if needed) – read and comment on the observation-journal entries posted by some of the others in this learning cohort.
    • Suggestion 2 (if needed) – find connections in your independent reading and link to nodes in your learning web on this EQ.
    • Suggestion 3 (if needed) – explore the playlist “6 TED Talks on beauty” and/or listen to the TED Radio Hour episode “What is beauty?
    • What are your suggestions regarding networking and associating with this EQ?

What are your thoughts, reader?

#PuttingOurPracticeWhereOurPurposeIs

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Related Posts in This Thinking Path:

PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. +Awe. Iteration Two.

We have a responsibility to awe.

What if the molten foundations of K12 “homework” – if we must give it – were poured into and formed by the molds and casts of the Innovator’s DNA verbs?

  • Observe
  • Question
  • Experiment
  • Network
  • Associate

How might we better nurture our learners’ responsibility to awe? Our own responsibility to awe?

[Hat tip to David Cannon for the video!]

What’s our balance like, as educators…as schools, for utilizing homework to “go through the motions” vs. “inspire awe” at our condition as humans? How might we rebalance our scales?

#PuttingOurPracticeWhereOurPurposeIs

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PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. Iteration One.

The Balance (mini)Series

PROCESS POST: Contemplating innovation, homework, practice…and their intersections. Iteration One.

There is much talk of “innovation” in schools and education these days. (There’s much talk of innovation in just about every sector and industry.)

I wonder if we – those of us in schools – are really facilitating the experiences that student learners need to practice, to be and to become innovators.

Now, upon a great deal of my research and study about innovation, when I hear the word innovation, I think about the five traits and characteristics outlined in The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.

And, I also think about homework. Yep, homework.

Innovators DNA - 5 Skills Slide

What if we simply assigned those five verbs as homework for our student learners?

  • Observe
  • Question
  • Experiment
  • Network
  • Associate

What if the student learners came to school each day with stories and inquiries about how and what and whom they…

  • Observed
  • Questioned
  • Experimented with
  • Networked, and
  • Associated?

What if these organizers were the strands by which learners weaved their archives and documentations via their eportfolios? What if more of the time in school ignited from the fuses and sparks generated by these verbs and developing habits of mind?

How might we facilitate the engagements, the curiosities, and the pursuits that compel learners to be and become innovators….by, well, practicing the five skills of innovation?

How might we homework our way to better learning and to enhanced schooling?

How might we educate for the innovation we expect and need in our world?

Could it be that simple?

#PuttingOurPracticeWhereOurPurposeIs

Associating: Borrowing from Booz & Company to Think about Educational Innovation #pedagogicalmasterplanning

In The Innovator’s DNA, one of the five secrets of innovation is ASSOCIATING – connecting seemingly disparate ideas, from various fields, in new and compelling ways.

Recently, Booz & Company released their 2012 Global Innovation 1000. In their research and study, they found that the majority of new ideas are generated in relatively traditional ways:

  1. Direct customer observation
  2. Traditional market research
  3. Feedback from sales and customer support

In terms of converting ideas into implementable offerings, they show that internal means appear to rule supreme:

  1. Proof of concept work
  2. Rapid/virtual prototyping and preference testing
  3. Advanced development review teams

There is a discipline to front-end innovation. As I’ve cited before, many innovation leaders say that innovation is a combination of creativity and discipline. In the next breath, most say that humans are naturally creative; our critical work in schools is to help them grow in these natural capacities and exercise those “muscles.” To be creative is in everyone, particularly those who practice creating things of value! Where we fall short in the magic combination is more in the discipline of regularly practicing the skills of creativity development. We’re not strategic and process-committed enough to sustain innovation.

In our schools, how much are we committing to these studied, effective processes:

  1. Direct customer observation? Do our schools purposefully observe the ways that people learn best – our children learners and our adult learners? Is this a function that we embed into the daily life of our schools? Are we studying the skills and content that prove most valuable in life after formal schooling?
  2. Traditional market research? Do we study the brain research? Do we study the practices that are leading to the most successful learning for different kinds of learners? How do all members of a school community even know the market in which they live and work everyday? Do we understand the search internal and the search external for what works? Do we examine other fields for insights about innovation and advancement in practice? Do we listen to what business and culture say learners need to be able to do in 2040?
  3. Feedback from sales and customer support? Do we purposefully and intentionally SEEK feedback from students, parents, alums, faculty, business, government, NGO, social entrepreneurs, etc.? On a regular and consistent basis and show that we are listening and using the feedback to improve practice?
  4. Proof of concept work? How are we systemically studying the innovative concepts that some teachers are implementing? Are the innovations working? For whom? In what conditions?
  5. Rapid/virtual prototyping and preference testing? How are we embedding into our daily habits the lessons from design that prove the value of rapid, iterative prototyping and using fast failures to improve and further develop? What are our cycles of trial and implementation and redesign in schools? Do we support student rapid prototyping and promote risk taking? Do our assessment strategies promote such or do they cause reticence and fear of failure?
  6. Advanced development review teams? How are we meaningfully establishing and empowering such teams in our schools? Are we creating hybrid research-practitioners that are serving as R&D within, between, and among schools? Do we build and nurture and maintain the feedback loops within our own schools?

Education should be on that Booz & Company list! We should be leading the way! We have to plan for doing so. We have to innovate our purpose and raise our trajectory. I know we can do it…with the discipline it takes.

Step 4: Finding Problems, @GrantLichtman #EdJourney, episode 6, week 5

If there was a place along our path where my own students, year after year, wanted to stop, take a timeout, and really argue, it is right here. Our training and intuition both scream at us: “Why do I need to go looking for problems? Enough problems find me on their own!” Our educational system is firmly grounded in the concept that problem solving is the key to winning the game of life and that our daily encounters with the world provide us plenty to solve, thanks very much.

So I will tell you what I used to tell my students at this point: the central failure of our entire educational system is that we provide canned material for students to solve and expect them to return to us the correct canned answer. That is not how real problems occur that need to be solved. If we, as parents, teachers, and bosses, want our children, students, and employees to become more than robotic transponders of our historical and cultural ethos, we must teach them how to find their own problems in their own ways. Take a few more steps around this bend, and it will make sense.

So begins The Falconer chapter entitled, “Step 4: Finding Problems.” Through his #EdJourney, Grant Lichtman, author of The Falconer is engaged in his own problem finding. At this juncture of his search – the end of week 5 – Grant has identified a trend and pattern among those schools that seem to be more readily engaging the processes of educational innovation.

  1. Innovating schools appear to have a person that functions something like a C.P.F. – a chief problem finder. In many cases, of course, this person functions on a team, but the job of “Director of Innovation” (or similarly titled) possesses time and space and opportunity to engage deeply with the processes linked to The Innovator’s DNA: 1) observing, 2) questioning, 3) experimenting, 4) networking, and 5) associating.
  2. Innovating schools appear to have more balance between content-centric curriculum and context-centric curriculum. Innovating schools put students and faculty – but particularly students – in the position of problem finder. Students at innovating schools tend to have more opportunity to choose projects, propose problems they’d like to explore, participate in the “real world,” and practice the habits of mind related to problem finding. They are expected to be “directors of innovation in training.”

Innovation does not just happen. Schools curate for innovation. How are you curating for innovation at your school?

Featured posts from Grant Lichtman’s #EdJourney…in week 5: