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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

I have a confession to make. I've become obsessed with Design Thinking. It's gotten to the point where I "Design Thinking" everything. How do I Design Thinking my lunch? How do I Design Thinking my classroom phone policy? How do I Design Thinking teaching?

Teaching? Yep. Let's do that.

What I love about Design Thinking is that it's flexible. There are teaching approaches out there that tell us what to do, but it makes more sense for every teacher to teach differently every year, because we each get different students.

Think about it. We don't treat all our friends and family the same. Our interactions with them are largely based on our experience of who they are and what makes them tick. Teaching is the same way. One size fits all approaches do not work.

The challenge is that, in the grand scheme of things, we only know our students for a short time. However, personalization of education is not a fad; it's a thing. So. let's use the Design Thinking Cycle (Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing) to improve Teaching, shall we?

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Posted by on in Project-Based Learning

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When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way. — Wayne Dyer

I think we got it all wrong in education.

Consider this. We always talk about connecting the classroom (the instruction, the subject area, the concepts etc.) to the real world. But, doesn't it make more sense to take what's happening in the real world and just teach that? The whole idea of having to connect school to the real world came from the fact that most subjects are taught in isolation from it.

Why can't we change that?

Take Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). You can use this very relevant and controversial issue and teach about it from multiple perspectives.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

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Cognitive Overload. Unfortunately, we do that a lot. We often overwhelm students with information when we present it to them. What's worse, we teach them to do the same to others when they present. We are killing them. Well... We're killing their learning...

So, it is only fair we call the police on ourselves... Or stop the insanity...

Talk About 1 To 3 Key Points And Expand On Them

One way you may be killing your students is by doing too much. They say: Say Less! They mean it. So never, ever spend the entire class period presenting. Such practice is questionable even in college. And, it's NEVER student centered.

This is what most of my college experience was. Presentations were meant to be interactive, but usually only a small percentage of students asked questions or commented.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning
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We have some time before the ferry departure, so we stop at a little cafe on Captiva Island to fuel up. We get our orders and sit at the shabby table outside. Next to us, headset on and phone in hand, a tanned local man in his 50's is making one business phone call after another. How nice must it be to live in paradise, own a business, and do office at a coffee shop located just down the road from the spacious house you live in I thought.

As we're sipping our cappuccinos brainstorming ways to fend off any alligators we might encounter on Kayo Costa, the man stands up, walks toward, and rejoins his wife and two teenage Yankee cap wearing daughters eating breakfast at the restaurant next door, and I realize he's not a local at all. He's a husband and a father on vacation in Florida with his family.

"Wow," I say to my wife. "That guy's on vacation with his family making business phone call after phone call while they eat breakfast without him."

"I've seen several such families already," replies Kasia in her unsurprised psychologist voice.

"Damn. That's pretty sad," I conclude and I take another sip of the frothy milk topped bliss.

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Posted by on in Project-Based Learning

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First, we kill our students creativity. Next, we ask them to be creative and wonder why they have such a hard time.

We always aspire for our students to move away from fact regurgitation and move toward higher level thinking and deeper understanding. When we ask students to brainstorm and generate ideas, provide solutions to problems, or to think and reason critically, we are really asking them to be creative. The sad truth is that by standardizing education we often kill creativity. The hope lies in the fact that creativity is an acquired skill that can be improved.

If we make a conscious decision to change things up in our classrooms, to change the way we educate our students, we can increase their creativity. With increased creativity they can innovate and be more successful.

The human brain is composed of gray matter and white matter. Gray matter stores knowledge and is used when we think. White matter is tissue through which the brain transfers and connects information. Scientific studies show that extraordinarily creative individuals have more white matter than others. This is good, because it proves creativity is something we can get better at.

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