Category Archives: Synergy 8

Encienda-lite or Ignite-lite talks for learners

One of the essential learning gears of Synergy is Communication and Collaboration.  The three rays of light for this gear are

  • I can communicate in writing, graphics, and conversation.
  • I can collaborate for sustainable enhancement.
  • I can plan and present effectively.

We are trying a new strategy for working on persuasive presentations this semester based on what we learned at Educon in January. At Educon 2.4, Bo and I attended the Saturday Encienda Educon.  Encienda or Ignite was new concept in presenting to me in January at Educon.  The Ignite website says “enlighten us, but make it quick.”  The basics of an Ignite or Encienda presentation are that a presenter has 5 minutes to share an idea using 20 slides which automatically advance every 15 seconds.

In both of the previous semesters of Synergy, we introduced the teams to the work of Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen, and Nancy Duarte, Slide:ology.  The sub-teams had the opportunity to make one or two big presentations.  As coaches, we could see the need for additional practice.  This semester, inspired by what we learned at Educon, we have just completed our 2nd Ingite-lite challenge with our Synergy 8 Crusade for Campus Cleanliness sub-teams.  For these young learners, we issued the challenge of communicating your team’s work, issue, or progress in 2 minutes using 4 slides which automatically advance every 30 seconds.  We call it Ignite-lite.  It is only week 8 of our 18 weeks together, and our teams have already designed and presented  twice.  Coaching is still needed, but the progress is incredible.

To be clear, we are modifying the Encienda or Ignite presentation to a “lite” version for our young learners.

One purpose of Synergy is to offer learners the opportunity to have real-world work and learning experiences.  As we work on improving our skills to communicate in writing, graphics, and conversation and to plan and present effectively, we are building assets and products.  We are practicing to prepare for the day when we present to a larger authentic audience.

Want to learn with your students? Read and comment on their blogs!

In Synergy, we are working to establish the habit of writing about our work, thinking, and learning.  Once a week, we ask our learners to blog to communicate with others in our team about their questions, ideas, and activities.

I know more about my students than ever because I read their blogs.  I know more about their questions, planning, problem-solving, and attitudes. I also know what they want to know more about and what they are interested in learning.  I have the opportunity to become a learner with them.  They lead my learning as I strive to lead their learning.  Isn’t that GREAT?

Here is this week’s blog post prompt:

After 5 weeks of Synergy, and after eliciting the Alpha project, you should have lots on your mind. This week’s prompt is OPEN. On wmslearns.net, write about what’s on your mind related to Synergy. Like all good writing, your post should express a complete thought with a balance of general and specific details.

Here’s what I have learned and want to know more about.  Note: I learned, read, and thought about all of the items below because my learners are interested in these topics.  Their interest piques my curiosity, and I want to know more too.

  • Did you know that there are solar-powered waste and recycling bins?  They are called Big Belly solar compactors.  The bin senses when the trash reaches a certain height in the container and automatically compacts it to about 1/5 of its original size.  The bins have a signal when it needs to be emptied which could reduce the number of trips made to empty the trash.  Wouldn’t this decrease the carbon footprint of the waste management facility on campus?
  • Did you know that TheFunTheory.com has a video showing a fun way to get people to recycle glass bottles?  Have you seen the Bottle Bank Arcade video?  Do you think that plastic bottles are recycled more than glass bottles?  How would we collect data to see?
  • Did you know that Patagonia has products made from recycled polyester?
  • How can we connect the theory of fun with recycling?  Have you seen Gobby? EnviroZone’s website says: “More than just a fun multi-stream recycling bin, it’s a recycling education program specifically designed to instill a recycling habit in children by teaching them how to separate recyclables from trash in a fun and colorful way.”
  • I have a learner who naturally uses acrostics to communicate her thinking.  They are brilliant! (I did not know what an acrostic was until this semester.)  What I particularly love is she embeds questions in the acrostic.
  • I wonder if the ad campaign team, the recycle team, and the Theory of Fun team would consider combining forces to promote art and education about recycling.  I hope they will read “More Art, Less Trash” artistic recycling bins to be installed on campus from Indiana University.  These bins remind me of the Chicago Cows on Parade art exhibit.
  • Do you know why you do or don’t carpool?  I didn’t until today.  One post caused me to write “My friends that live near me do not want to keep the same hours at work as I do. I come early and stay late. We come early because of the traffic and the opportunity to get a little work in before school starts. I stay late because of the planning and meetings I choose to volunteer to contribute my interest and learning. I also think my lack of carpooling might have to do with my responsibilities to my family. What if my daughter needs to go home during the middle of the school day because she is sick, and I don’t have my car? How will I help her? You post leads me to the current conclusion that I do not carpool because of my need for independence. I’ll keep thinking. Thanks…”  I didn’t know that was what I thought.
  • Which is more effective, an ad or a commercial?  I’m wondering whether a photo/print/billboard ad is more or less effective than a video?  Both can be considered PSAs or can they?
  • Are humans really motived by a prize or reward?  Have you seen Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team?  What happened when a $10,000 prize was offered to the team that built the tallest tower?

In addition to the above learning challenges, we also know more about the disposition of our learners.  We know which teams need coaching on collaboration and which teams need research support?  We have a better opportunity to serve as resources and guides because we share our thinking.

And if that isn’t enough…one of our Synergy learners provided the driving questions for tomorrow’s provocation.  He challenges the 26 of us to combine the work of Recycling, Cleaning up Nancy Creek, Carpooling, the Ad Campaign, and Cleaning Campus in a Fun Way to create a more “green” school.

My 8th grade teammates lead my learning; they motivate me to learn more.  Their questions cause me to have questions, to grow, and to learn.

Synergy2Learn, #EduCon 2.4, #Synergy8 – Questions are the way points on the path of wisdom

How are you engaging learners in community-issues problem solving? Is your school contemplating and implementing more project-based learning? Do you find it challenging to dig into high-quality PBL? Do you wish you could share stories (like around a campfire) about how to utilize real-world issues to guide instruction, curriculum, pedagogy, and learning? Wish you were elbow-to-elbow with a tribe engaged in a project about PBL?!

On Saturday, January 28, Jill Gough and Bo Adams will be facilitating a conversation at EduCon 2.4: “Synergy – Questions are the way points on the path of wisdom.” We hope you can join the conversation. We plan to 1) share our stories about Synergy 8, 2) elicit others’ stories about how they engage in deep-level PBL at their schools, and 3) ask and respond to a big “What if…” question – What if we built a network of people who were taking on the challenges of community-issues problem solving with adult learners and student learners alike?

We might even start a blog to help connect us all…Synergy2Learn. Let’s build something together…It’s About Learning and Experiments in Learning by Doing!

“I thought Contagious was bad. Can it be good too?” #Synergy

“I thought Contagious was bad. Can it be good too?”  was an early reaction to Kiran Bir Sethi’s TED talk on day one of Synergy.

Have you been introduced to Kiran Bir Sethi, the founder of the Riverside School in Ahmedabad?

On day one with our new Synergy team, we used the TED talk, Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge, to introduce Synergy to our new learners.

More from the backchannel:
(Remember…a backchannel is for quick, collaborative note taking and sharing ideas…we encourage our learners to take the editor off of their shoulder and record ideas.  They can polish their writing later when they journal on the ideas that stick.)

  • Inspiration is contagious.
  • kids are doing things for each other instead of adults doing things for kids
  • Contagious; Laughter, Happiness i can- get infected
  • laughter is contagious passion is contagious. i can.good feelings can be contagious
  • The “infection” is slowly spreading
  • 100,000 children stopped and took the time to think “i can.”
  • I think it is about kids being able to change things, not just adults
  • this sounds like synergy.
  • kids can make a change- just find something you want to change and act on it
  • one week of kids doing their part can change so much.
  • I think one of the main points of the video is that kids can change the world no matter how old they are.
    when adults give kids a chance they take it and actually make a change
  • the teachers are the people that believe in us and say “you can”
  • this video shows how much we (8th graders) can help so many people or things
  • the children are using teamwork to change people’s lives like synergy
  • contagious is a good word
  • its good to have the “now” mindset rather than “later”
  • the words “i can” is very important because service, and helping is contagious. You must “infect” minds with the “‘i can bug”. Children must be aware, enabled, and empowered. Take your studies out of the classroom, and change billions of lives. Go from ‘i can’ to ‘you can’ to ‘we can’.
  • I think we have all said “i can” at one point. What these children do, and what Kiran Bir Sethi is saying is almost exactly what Mr. Adams and Mrs. Gough are telling us.
  • Contagious -“i can” -aware: seeing the change -Enable: be changed -Empower: being the change Teacher told me, to… i can! Simple tool kit, sent to india schools Children will thinking of solutions Kids Teaching parents to write&read
  • contagious, infect “I can” aware (seeing the change) enable (being the change) empower (lead the change) “you can” “we can”
  • I think in synergy We will take charge

Amazing!  Isn’t this what we want for our learners?  Actually, isn’t this what we strive for from our citizens?  Aware…Empowered…Enabled community members mobilized to effect positive change.

How can I continue to strive to become the teacher and adult described by two of our Synergy team members?

Teachers are the people that believe in us and say “you can.”

When adults give kids a chance they take it and actually make a change.

Give kids a chance…live the message “you can.”

Get infected…spread the “I can” bug.

Passionate Motivated Learners: 2011 Google Global Science Fair winners

Meet this year’s Google Global Science Fair winners:

  • Lauren, 13, studied the effect of marinades on the level of  carcinogens in grilled chicken. (Google n. pag.)
  • Naomi, 16, proposed that making changes to indoor environments to improve indoor air quality can reduce people’s reliance on asthma medications. (Google n. pag.)
  • Shree, 17, discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients who have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs. (Google n. pag.)

Listen and watch as they share their thinking and learning at TEDxWomen:

The idea that sticks with me comes from both Lauren and Shree.  Lauren said she emailed approximately 2oo different people for space to work to work in a lab, and she got 1 positive response, 1.  Shree says she emailed all the professors in her area asking to work under their supervision in a lab and got rejected by all but 1 professor.

It makes me wonder about PBL in school.  How often do I fall in the 1 positive response category?  Can we mobilize teams of learners to do meaningful project work? Work and learning driven by the questions, passions, and interests of the learners?  Will our disciplines serve their projects?  How can we configure time to accommodate rich meaningful project work?

Check out the photos posted on the Google Science Fair Facebook page.  Talk about presenting to an authentic audience, wow! Look at the panel of judges.  The list includes Nobel Laureates, scientists, and technology visionaries.  Notice the technology at each station; these presentations are dynamic and interactive without trifold display boards.

We should also celebrate the 15 finalists from Mississippi, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Calgary, Singapore, Texas, Chennai, Cape Town, and New Jersey.

From Top 15 finalists from Google’s international Science Fair by Rachel King published by ZDNet:

And from Matson, John’s article Down to the Final 15 at the First-Ever Google Science Fair published by Scientific American:

We are in the positive response category in several ways.  Bo Adams (It’s About Learning) and I co-facilitate Synergy, a non-departmentalized, non-graded, transdisciplinary, community-issues-problem-solving course for 8th graders.  Our 8th grade advisement program, LEAP (Leadership Experience Advisement Program) engages in a year-long experience to take on a global issue or social-justice concern with a locally enacted project.

We would love it if you would share your positive response actions to help us add to our toolkit of ideas, strategies, and actions.

____________________

Google. “Hats off to the winners of the inaugural Google Science Fair.” The Official Google Blog. 12 Jul. 2011. Web. 11 Jan. 2012

King, Rachel. “Top 15 finalists from Google’s international Science Fair.” ZDNet. CBS Interactive. 11 Jul. 2011. Web.  11 Jan. 2012.

Matson, John. “Down to the Final 15 at the First-Ever Google Science Fair.” Scientific American. 11 Jul. 11. Web.  11 Jan. 2012.

“This is so next level!” Video Team-Teaching in #Synergy

Twenty-four, eighth-grade synergists are working in six discreet groups – their projects originated from the data-mining of over 300 observation-journal blog posts that they collected. The projects are:

  1. Graffiti (is it art, vandalism, both? how can we use it for good?)
  2. Nancy Creek (what can we know and understand about the creek that runs through our campus?)
  3. Crusade for Cleanliness (how could organizational-flow changes enhance the stewardship in our dining hall?)
  4. Obesity (how can we improve the alarming issue of obesity in American youth?)
  5. Sleep (what impact on school do our sleep habits create?)
  6. Habitat for Humanity Spring Fling (how could a school fair raise money and awareness for homelessness?)

Because Jill Gough, one of the two Synergy facilitator-coaches, was presenting at the Learning Forward Annual Conference on Monday, Dec. 5, she was in Anaheim, CA. The other facilitator-coach, Bo Adams, was in Atlanta, GA. Having grown accustomed to and convinced of the viability of team-teaching in such a project-based course, Bo and Jill felt some anxiety about having only one facilitator present to serve best the six groups during this critical phase of their project development.

[In your mind’s ear, cue that quintessential cartoon superhero intro theme.] Never fear…video conferencing is here!

As we think about preparing students for a work world that will most likely include significant use of such tools as iChat, Facetime, Skype, and other video “conferencers,” then it seems natural to practice such work processes. Perhaps students already use such tools socially, but school could help coach the use of such tools for more formal, business-like purposes. Additionally, we should all be thinking more about how we can invite various co-teachers into our classrooms – to break down the walls that seem to preserve the arcane model of one adult per group of classroom students. Practice leads to enhanced proficiency. On Monday, Dec. 5, Synergy engaged in some additional practice of tearing down those 20th century classroom walls. Who knows who else we might next invite to teach with us…from the exterior of our learning space’s four physical walls.

As one student-learner can be heard exclaiming in the video: “This is so next level!”

[This post is cross-published at It’s About Learning.]

Connecting Ideas – Action, Traction, Reaction

In Synergy, a non-departmentalized, non-graded, transdisciplinary, community-issues-problem-solving course, we use blogging as a means to communicate and collaborate on ideas as well as to reflect and to revise thinking.

Currently we offer our learners an Action-Traction-Reaction prompt to spur their thinking, reflection, and writing.

One of our learners offers this reflection that connects his thinking about his team’s project with the ideas from Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish:

Relating Jamie Oliver’s Prize Wish to my Project

Posted on November 17, 2011
.

Jamie Oliver, a celebrity chef, wished to educate every child about food as a use of his TED prize. I’ve known about his fight against obesity and eating right since learning about his TV show in 6th grade, so this wish makes sense to me. He’s creating a

Strong, sustainable movement

to educate every child about food.

The core of this action is to create a movement. This core action could be applied to my project, because in my project we are trying to get people to clean up after themselves, and stop cutting in line. Both of those problems are just bad examples that people have seen and copied. Creating a movement would create new standards in the community for cleanliness in the lunchroom, and could reverse the bad examples in place there.

For Jamie’s wish, he wants to create an online community and also a movement. He said

The grassroots movement must also challenge corporate America to support meaningful programs that will change the culture of junk food.

I didn’t know what a grassroots movement is, so I looked it up. I came up with this. “A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.”

For Jamie’s project, he is relying on creating a following, that would create the foundation for his project and help spread the message. But he also would like to create traveling kitchens and a traveling food theater to make his project entertaining and interactive. From my perspective, the traction for this project is based on two components: people and interaction. This is a good formula for other projects who are looking to gain traction in a community. You draw the people in with interaction, and then rely on them to feel passionate and spread the word.

In the comment section of the article, many people were eager to partner with Jamie’s project to support and help organize his ideas. I think that the biggest way to attract reaction like this, is to be backed by TED! But the other large factor is that he’s addressing a large problem and is presenting a sound project plan. Creating this plan is an easy thing to do in Synergy to make sure our projects look attractive in the eyes of the administrators inside and outside of Westminster. If our projects only look half-baked, they won’t attract support.

“Grassroots.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

[Permission to post obtained from student and student’s parent.]

Do we write to read and learn what we are thinking?  Do we prototype, seek feedback, and revise?  How do we connect our thinking to the ideas of others?

Shouldn’t we practice?

[Cross-posted at It’s About Learning]

Synergy: Selecting next projects

Our team has over 300 observation journal entries from which to brainstorm questions and projects. See Synergy: Complexity~Simplicity, Collaboration & Brainstorming for the beginning of this work.

After Monday’s work in class, our learners were prompted to use a quick-write to reflect on the process of narrowing the project ideas using the idea wall as shown in the Synergy: Complexity~Simplicity, Collaboration & Brainstorming blog post.

The prompt:  Do you think our Synergy team’s project possibilities are accurately and fairly represented? Why or why not?

“I think they are accurately represented because it’s easy to see and understand, as well as find one in a group of many that you are passionate about. I think we should have a survey. I think they are fair to everyone’s choices, and I like that everyone got three post-it notes.” ~ BM

“I think our Synergy team’s project possibilities are more accurately and fairly represented with the idea wall system, because we thought of what projects we were most passionate about, and then as a class they were organized into groups on the wall, according to their topic. With the other system they were categorized under tags that each of us individually had tagged, in our own language, and five out of 300+ of our tags were represented with that system. I think this left out a lot of other project possibilities that many people in our class feel passionate about.  In my opinion, both of these systems were flawed, but I am excited about many of the projects, and with both I was able to see one or two projects that our class had identified, that’d I’d love to start working on.” ~ OK

“I think that the project possibilities that are represented are fairly represented but we have more ideas that we can add to the wall. Also I think the tagging system was very complicated and hard to understand, but we did a good job of cleaning it up and getting everyone to use the same tagging language to tag their posts.” ~ MB

“I believe that our Synergy team’s project possibilities are mostly accurately and fairly represented, but I don’t think that’s true for everyone. Every team member has put there idea up on the idea wall, but everyone does not understand what each idea means.” ~ OV

“Everyone definitely had an equal say in what we have so far, so I think it is apparent that the data we have is fair. I think the idea wall represents our project possibilities accurately, but the Posterous tags do not. I think the idea wall works because it represents what stuck with people. It specifically represents PROJECT ideas, while the tags also represent random observations that projects cannot be done on.” ~ FS

“I don’t think that our Synergy team’s project possibilities are accurately and fairly represented through our Posterous Idea Wall. I don’t think they are accurately represented because we have over 300 posts and there are bound to be posts that are as equally important to us that we forgot about. Others aren’t represented well, because they are thrown into a miscellaneous category. When something is put in a category like this, people tend to skip over it and ignore it. For example when people are choosing project possibilities that interest them, they will probably skip over the “Other” categories and head straight to the ones that have titles. Although there are some down sides to our wall, like the ones I stated above, our Synergy class has made significant progress through this exercise.” ~ DJ

“Well, I did but now I have realized that they really aren’t. Before, I thought that they were because of the sticky notes and Posterous posts, but now I think that they are not. Today at the end of class, we tried to decide on a number of project ideas for the poll. I thought that we should vote because the final numbers were 8 and 12. Someone suggested that we use 10 because that is between 8 and 12 but some people weren’t satisfied.” ~ CC

Based on the feedback from our young learners, we have learned that we need to work with our team to create a better understanding of the “folksonomy” aspect of tagging our observation journal posts in Posterous.  From Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss:

“Folksonomy” refers to the social taxonomy or classification system that evolves as users collectively make sense of what they find on the Web.  Users associate “tags” or keywords to the content they bookmark, and they can see how others have treated the same material.

The easiest way to understand the power of bookmarks and tagging is by using it.  [p. 22]

We are working to develop a common language with our tags.  We are learning by doing as recommended by Boss and Krauss.

After more work and reorganizing the Post-it Notes from the idea wall, the team decided to use Poll Everywhere to formatively assess the team’s thinking and preferences.  We (Bo Adams and Jill Gough) created the topics for the poll based on the top 10 tags from our Posterous blog.  Our learners decided that these categories, shown below, were similar to the categories from the idea wall.

As you can see, we definitely need to work on developing a common language and understanding of tagging.  School, for example, is a pretty broad topic for project selection.  There were 82 posts tagged with school in our Posterous observation journal site.

Here are the results after the first poll.

Our learners discovered that their categories were too general.  If you wanted to work on the KP Challenge, did you select school or cafeteria? If you were interested in organic food or obesity, did you select environment, cafeteria, or health?  Fortunately, the Post-it Notes contained more details.  Our learners then asked to eliminate the general categories where they showed no interest and add more specific categories to eliminate some confusion.  For a quick glimpse into their discussion and work, we offer the following iMovie*.

Here are the results after the second poll.

Serving as their coaches, we now had to intervene.  PowerPuff does not meet the standard of project or problem for our course. We want our learners to work on projects or problems that effect more than half of one grade in our division.  Our learners were assured that we would help them work on this project outside of class if they are serious about pursuing this as a community issue.   One of our learners made a motion from the floor to poll again with the category PowerPuff removed.

Again, there was discussion coupled with questions.  Could the KP Challenge and Line Cutting choices be grouped together?

In groups, our learners’ next task was to use the technique of brainwriting to share, connect, and contribute to the team’s ideas of the selected topic.

Learners are now working on project concepting using a worksheet we adapted from BIE.

For the projects where there are less than 4 teammates, how will they cover the internal, team “leads” for each essential learning needed? Will these teams choose to push forward on the project they have selected, or will they choose to join forces with another team?

[Cross-posted at It’s About Learning]

[*NOTE: iMovie video effects have been added to the movies because of a new school policy about student images on faculty blogs.]

PBL Field Guide: Start with the big picture

The second reflection in Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age challenges the reader to take of tour of online resources to help “see the big picture” of PBL.  [pp. 23-24]

My initial thoughts about online PBL resources include Ted.com.  Have you seen the following TED talks?

John Hunter on the World Peace Game

and

Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

I prefer the PBL examples from John Hunter and Kiran bir Sethi over the videos from Edutopia.  I think I have struggled with the videos from Edutopia because they seem “canned” to me because of the announcer voice that talks over parts of the videos.  I should not discount the message and example because I don’t appreciate part of the package, right?  Encouraged to start with the big picture, I went back to Edutopia today for more stories, research, and ideas.

From Edutopia.org, I am drawn to Anatomy of a Project: Kinetic Conundrum which integrates art, history, engineering, language arts, and technology.

I am curious about the assessment plan for the Kinetic Conundrum project.  It is tagged with comprehensive assessment, but I have not found any rubric or explanation of how the learners were assessed.

I had not explored www.pbl-online.org before today.  It seems connected to Edutopia and BIE.  From the website:

PBL-Online was created under the leadership of the Buck Institute for Education, with major contributions by the George Lucas Foundation, the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University, and a group of University partners.

I think www.pbl-online.org might be a good resource for teams looking for support and scaffolding to begin to design projects for their learners.  I am particularly interested in Design your Project which has organized project planning into five design principles: 1) begin with the end in mind, 2) craft the driving question, 3) plan the assessment, 4) map the project, and 5) manage the process.  There is also a PBL Co-Laboratory where you can search for projects and contribute your projects.  It is the Learn-and-Share model we have been working toward.

The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS·S) strike me as similar to our essential learnings in Synergy.

Synergy

  • Inquiry & Deep Questioning
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Problem & Solution ID
  • Data Gathering & Analysis
NETS·S

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

My questions revolve around assessment and integrated studies.  We are looking for PBL with PBA.  How can we assemble a team to facilitate a project that crosses over multiple disciplines?  Will our PLC facilitators and/or department integration specialists (DIS) help us orchestrate whole school or multi-discipline PBL?  How do we develop a balanced assessment plan to provide our learners with dollops of feedback throughout the project?  How do we design a summative project-based assessment to assess learners the way they learned?

___________________________________________

Boss, Suzie, and Jane Krauss. Reinventing Project-based Learning:  Your Field Guide to Real-world Projects in the Digital Age. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007. Print.

Synergy: Complexity~Simplicity, Collaboration & Brainstorming

Our Synergy team is at the halfway mark, time wise, of the semester.  For the past 9 weeks we have been recording images, questions, and thoughts in our observation journals.  We use a common space, a Posterous group, to communicate, collaborate, and connect ideas.

The challenge now upon us…What data mining strategies should we employ to uncover community issues that, as a team, we want to study, investigate, problem-find and problem-solve?  We have over 300 posts.  It seems daunting, almost overwhelming to sift through our data.

Via his talk at TEDGlobal 2010, “How complexity leads to simplicity,” Eric Berlow was our “guest expert” to help us think about and learn that “complex doesn’t always equal complicated.”

A couple of key insights that stuck with us include:

[Use] the simple power of good visualization tools to help untangle complexity to just encourage you to ask questions you didn’t think of before.

and

The more you step back, embrace complexity, the better chance you have of finding simple answers and it is often different than the answer that you started with.

Here is a quick trailer and then approximately 4 minutes of video from Monday’s Synergy learning experience to show one of our attempts to find simplicity on the other side of our complex task of data mining for new projects.

 

  • If you facilitate project-based learning, how do you empower students to determine the team projects?
  • What other methods would you recommend to us for putting students in “that driver’s seat?”
  • How does assessment for learning change when immersed in PBL?
  • How would you assess the various learning demonstrated in the video?

We would love your feedback.

[Cross-posted at It’s About Learning]