Design and Agile Thinking

agile - definitionAgile is the new buzz word. Agile thinking, agile management, but it comes from the IT industry and software development. It is about including the user to ensure good outcomes with design , delivery and functionality. The  key elements are here on LeadingStrategicInitiatives. It comes back to what I have been saying: the tried and true internet way of doing things: Create content, share , gain feedback and then grow your ideas. It’s a constant improvement , growth circle. Spiral , maybe ,because you are always getting better.

Agile and Design thinking are at the heart of our Professional Teaching Standards but they haven’t been articulated in that way. They have been out since 2011 and perhaps need to be refreshed so that we can see clearly these standards are very much part of the 21st Century.

1.
Know students and how they learn
Refer to the Standard
at each career stage
2.
Know the content and how to teach it
3.
Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
4.
Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
5.
Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning
6.
Engage in professional learning
7.
Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers
and the community

If you look at the video clip you can see how well our standards fit in with the elements of design and agile thinking. Knowing others and engaging with them is fundamental to design and agile thinking. Getting that feedback so you can improve delivery and experience is fundamental too.

These principles of design and agile thinking are articulated within the standards e.g.

1.3 Design and implement
teaching strategies that are
responsive to the learning
strengths and needs of
students from diverse
linguistic, cultural, religious and
socioeconomic backgrounds.

2.2 Lead initiatives that utilise
comprehensive content knowledge to
improve the selection and sequencing
of content into coherently organised
learning and teaching programs

3.2 Work with colleagues to plan, evaluate
and modify learning and teaching
programs to create productive learning
environments that engage all students

4.1 Demonstrate and lead by example
the development of productive and
inclusive learning environments
across the school by reviewing
inclusive strategies and exploring new
approaches to engage and support
all students

Design thinking is : Understand, Explore, Prototype , Evaluate

Agile Thinking is about bearing the end user in mind, making incremental improvements and gaining feedback before you move on.

These types of current and technological thinking are at the heart of our standards . We call them growth mindset and improvement model.

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Be more creative

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is

“a Doctor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and has worked extensively as a Fortune 500 consultant in the biotechnology industry and with some of the world’s leading corporations, including Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Roche and Genentech. He has also presented at many of the world’s premier academic institutions, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, The Pasteur Institute and The Curie Institute.”

Dr. Isaiah Hankel 

He grew up in rural Idaho and was diagnosed with ADHD and has worked through the challenges of this to become who he is today. He understands what it means  to:

3.2  Exhibit exemplary practice and lead colleagues to plan, implement and review the effectiveness of their learning and teaching programs to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

He challenges the internal editor we all have where we are talking ourselves down, criticising ourselves, blocking ourselves. He looks at how to get past that and onto creating so we have something to show and have. He looks at how we need to let go and just do whatever we want to do without fear of criticism or failure. Just doing. He then looks at how you change and shape that into something successful by using constructive criticism, rational thought and reason to ensure you have the best you can do. Drafting is part of his process. He gets rid of the roadblocks to learning, focuses on productivity and then insists you stand back a take a long, hard look at what you have done to ensure it is your best. He achieves because he shares his ideas world wide. He uses social media to share his ideas  and to get feedback and ideas for growth but at no stage is he thinking near enough is good enough. The first part of the process where you create freely and uninterruptedly is an unfettered growth phase. The second phase uses your skills and ideas. The third phase is critical thinking and learning how to be even better than you thought you could be. Valuing improvement.

Project Based Learning

This video has been made by a teacher. It is good to see teachers give insight into how they manage , initiate and sustain different ways of teaching and learning. He gives a link to his website at the end of the video. Not too many teachers bang on like the teacher at the beginning of this video. Not any more. I have been in a position of privilege where I have been able to go into other teachers’ classrooms and the thing which has always amazed and impressed me is the number of different ways in which teachers interact with students. The sage on the stage noun phrase has done much to damage being there at the front of your class in a good way . It tends to hark back to  what was the chalk and talk and endless copying. That  is how I was taught. The teacher stood out the front and banged on incessantly and then we had copious notes to take , exercises to do and homework on exactly the same thing. I learned a lot. When you are not allowed to say and do then you are in your own headspace and a good teacher would get you thinking and that headspace would create all sorts of connections and ideas because there was nothing to distract you. Much of it was mind numbing, though. Different era. The student faces at the beginning of this video are classic. I have seen that. The blank almost comatose look. I have never taught for more than 10 minutes at a time and that is of value. I am a teacher. I know a lot. In 10 minutes I can clarify, intrigue, contextualise, ideate, stimulate and set the scene for learning. Most teachers do that these days. They create a rationale or narrative and create their lessons around that.

So where does the project based learning fit in? The notion of it can confuse. Is it actually doing a practical project or is it doing a research and analysis project? This article by TeachThought explains it well. Learning projects come down to challenge based, place based or activity based. You could do a challenge based project on finding out about Shakespeare and his plays. You could do a place based project by going to Stratford on Avon and finding out about where he lived and his cultural heritage. You could put on a Shakespearean play and learn about Shakespeare as an activity based project. Virtual reality will give us other options. Technology gives us yet others. It will always be about the students and the sorts of projects which help them learn best. You then have to balance that against time allocation for the subject , personal teaching load and expectations and then ease of access to resources.

The aitsl professional standards also easily enable you to take project based learning into account :

1.1 Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.
1.3 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
1.4 Design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
1.5 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
1.6 Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of students with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirements.
2.2 Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs.
2.4 Provide opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.
2.5 Apply knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy and numeracy achievement.
2.6 Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.
3.1 Develop a culture of high expectations for all students by modelling and setting challenging learning goals.
3.2 Plan and implement well-structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.
3.3 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
3.4 Select and/or create and use a range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

3.3 goes to the heart of project based learning but the other professional standards apply. There are others too which you would meet if you were engaging with colleagues to develop big projects or if you were involving yourself with community organisations and /or parents as part of the project based learning.

Integrating technology into the classroom

integrate - definitionThis whole blog is about integrating technology into a classroom and education and how to do it – the tools, the techniques, the thought processes. It is a lifestyle choice! I have never thought in terms of integrating technology into my classroom. I have just thought of using it and finding out how to create good teaching and learning with any technology I have been offered: OHPs, data recording machines; BBC computers,video machines , PCs and now IWBs, smart phones, iPads and laptops. What does integrating mean, though? I looked it up on the Merriam-Webster site to see if that was what I was doing since it is actually one of our professional standards..

1. to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole : unite
Certainly have worked hard on that. I made a decision when we got laptops to get rid of pens and paper to save the planet and to force myself to rethink everything in terms of technology. A pot of pens, a white board pen, a wad of paper and sets of  worksheets are in my classroom incase of long term power outages. The more I have used this approach the more everything hangs together smoothly in a technological way.By blogging about it , I have given myself the opportunity to think things out and reflect on what I have been doing and then get peer support and review. I just use technology and my students just use it and we work together to solve problems since that is part of using technology.
2. to find the integral of (as a function or equation)
Not relevant.
3a. to unite with something else
Yes! I have united technology with everything I do and think in a classroom. I have united it with the curriculum, the daily routine, the assessment processes and performance standards. I have also used it to unite more strongly with my students to create a feedback loop so I can grow their learning and they, in turn, can grow my teaching.
3b to incorporate into a larger unit
I have incorporated it into the classroom and curriculum delivery and everything now has an electronic version and approach. It is fundamental to my teaching and fundamental to my development as a teacher because I have been able to incorporate myself far more effectively into national and global connections. Incorporation is about connectivity with technology.
4a. to end the segregation of and bring into equal membership in society or an organization
4b desegregate
Technology is not something to be viewed as an extra or an event. It is daily living, daily routine, daily functionality and so technology in my life and my classroom is not special or a thing. It’s just normal. In order for it not to be different you have to find the things which suit your needs and the needs of your students – the videos, the tools, the approaches, the websites, the online tools , sites and apps.

Here are 50 ways of integrating technology into your classroom.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

professional standards Given a lifetime of teaching I ought to know what I am doing and what I am capable of. I am working on a Powerpoint of the professional standards because I need to ensure I have currency. As time goes by you have to ensure you are up to date and in tune with your approach. The Professional Standards we have are a way of ensuring that since , given the layout, they can be updated as needed but as they stand they are solid indicators of performance and achievement. My focus is also to ensure I can meet the standards using technology. What I plan to do is take an indicator from each of the sections to calibrate myself. I want to test that what I am assuming about myself and the standards is actually what is occurring. Assumption can get you into a lot of trouble and on the wrong track so it is important to stick to an objective way of looking at your own performance. With respect to the standards, and because I am a classroom teacher now , then I probably have to be at the Highly Accomplished level. I have been in leadership positions so I ought to be able to fit into the Lead teacher category sometimes at least. On 1.1 I think I fit between both of them. I have worked on having a flexible repertoire for using technology in a classroom so that I can differentiate the curriculum and manage content delivery for a wide range of students and their learning styles. I use what I have learnt to share with other teachers both at school and on my blogs. I have so many strategies now for using technology in a classroom I am both a good resource and a pioneer.Sharing all this knowledge means I also have the capacity to attract new knowledge in this area and become someone whom others will share their ideas with because they know I am interested and will listen. That perhaps puts me more in the Lead category for this one. Having that information before me on a slide means I can think it through better rather than just guessing and assuming. In a professional conversation I’d be looking to have my decisions discussed so I can grow further and maybe even have a different perspective on what I am doing and thinking. To me this is a dynamic process not a static one. it ought not be a snapshot but looking through the performance standard lens to see what can be improved, changed, polished, maintained…

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