Random Thoughts from Day #1 of the conference:
Project Zero VT Conference 2008
“Deepening, Embedding & Outreach”
Amsterdam April 10-12
We have arrived at International School Amsterdam for the 3 day Project Zero Visible Thinking Conference. From Harvard’s VT Team are Ron Ritchart and Mark Church. Unfortunately, David Perkins was unable to make the trip across the Atlantic due to family matters.
Annelies and I are psyched for some thinking and challenge to bring back to Bangkok! I am even more challenged to blog all about my learning this week so that my tech gurus (and good friends) can learn from my learning, as I constantly do from them. So…. Justin, Jeff, Kim and Dennis…. here goes!
First thing that strikes me as I walk into the room is the number of VT schools that have come from all around the world to participate. Wow! Serious travel miles spent here!! Check out the VT website (www.pz.harvard.edu/vt) and click on “VT Network” to get an idea of schools around the world that are into VT!
OK- what do I want to get out of this conference????
Two things: One, an understanding of some of the challenges that other schools are facing in implementing the VT routines and two; what strategies they are using to implement the culture of thinking and having their staff move forward and buy in to the way of thinking. I guess an offshoot of this would be to meet and connect with other like-minded individuals and schools that I could use to collaborate with over the next few years in this area.
Check out “What’s new” section of website to see new thinking routines and Ron says that a book of the VT routines will be published soon. Cool!
OK- After our Gallery Walk of all the VT routines teachers at this conference are using, some random thoughts going through my mind are….. :
- VT routines are being used by teachers for students age 3-20+. That’s right- university level students are being taught using these routines and their reflections are very positive.
- Out Leadership Team needs to adapt more VT routines in their meetings. This would lead to more focused meetings especially on student learning. One that sticks out for me is “I used to think, but now I think”. We could go so much deeper in this area with the LT+ members.
- Many teachers are using protocols to focus on student learning at team meetings. These keep them focused and prevent the presenting teachers from dominating the conversation, trying to explain why or why not students met their academic objective for the lesson.
- We need to support our teachers in how they document the learning that is going on in their rooms. Documenting leads to understanding from both the kids and parents and eventually celebration! Documentation should be out in the quads so that parents can understand what’s going on in the classrooms and be involved in the learning.
- Using VT routines to do ECE portfolios makes them more focused and perhaps gives children a better understanding of how their learning is progressing. It also could make it more manageable for teachers in putting them together.
- What about asking kids “Is this work or is it learning?” What kinds of responses do you think you would get from 90% of kids 90% of the time? Hmmm….. Scary??
- How come there are many public school in the USA that have adopted the VT thinking and yet at a school like ISB, we are still moving in the infancy….. perhaps a new challenge??
OK…. Verbal diarrhea…. Done. Next up…. Mark Church is presenting random thoughts and notes from his many travels to many different schools around the world. One of his key questions when he goes into any class: What’s going on in this classroom? What do the kids think of their learning? Is it powerful?
Mark categorized his notes into 6 areas:
Post it mania
Great thinking gets spoken, but then it’s gone.
Whiteboards get erased.
The thinking that’s happened in this space lingers only in memory.
How is student thinking made visible in my classroom??
Why would this be important?
How can we get all the kids to think critically, not just the one or two?
—- Post-its are about “ideas that stick”!!
What thinking do I want to archive in this space? What do I want to be able to come back to time and time again?
Special of the Day vs Regular Fare
Teachers are eager to try the VT routines. Can sometimes lead to “rolled eyes” syndrome.
How can you embed the thinking routines throughout your daily teaching instead of at the start/end of the unit??
“Do the VT routines if we get time this week”….. wrong way of approaching the learning task. How can we shift this paradigm?
VT needs to be ongoing patterns of cognitive behavior used daily. School needs to be “known for” the thinking.
To Kill a Mockingbird Syndrome
See, Think, Wonder- kids knew the book too well… couldn’t think outside the box.
The selection of the thinking routine is very important. Hard to think and wonder if there aren’t big ideas to think about.
*** We have had the same experience with planning for staff meetings- what is the purpose/outcome that we want from this? Will this routine get us there??
Episodes to Arcs
1980s/90s TV episodes (Jeffersons, Brady Bunch, Seinfeld) as “stand-alones”. Never related to last week’s show or next week’s show. Only one character to follow. One plot.
2008 TV shows (24, Lost, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy) are all related to last week’s episode and set up next week’s show. Story unfolds and advances and thickens over time.
Can you say related to learning??? Big Idea for classrooms?
Learning feels different when it is not woven into other things. Making connections makes learning DEEP!!!
Preaching what you practice (and practicing what you preach)
“I tell them all the time that thinking is important.” – from a teacher.
What’s really happening in the classroom? Are you telling them to think or engaging them in thinking???
Kids won’t become risk takers or curious if they are not given opportunities to do so. Challenged? In today’s classroom they can’t be risk takers because they won’t get A+.
Off the Wall
When thinking comes off the wall and drives learning in the classroom. Therefore, take the posters off the wall and into the classroom action!!!
This is generating new thinking.
Mark’s presentation was amazing! We ended up going out for dinner and spent a lot of time discussing his ideas and how well he articulated the shift that needs to happen in education. Wow! Can’t wait to keep learning, reflecting and being pushed!