To help encourage conversations and dialogue about consistently keeping questions as part of our learning processes, our topic/question for the dinner table is: What question(s) is/are on your mind right now? Asking Questions (This is an anonymous Google Form)
Blake's Guiding Lights
Blake's Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Reflection
Our Essential Question: How can we cultivate and curate the progression of student learning and growth?
Our Mission: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world.
The cooler weather has certainly been a welcome presence for all of us, and I am sure that is the same for everyone! After a nice Friday afternoon with the high school cross country team at Hospital Hill, we had fun with the boys celebrating the birthday of one of Grayden's friends with friends - a really nice way to welcome the weekend. The rest of our weekend has been pretty low-key, with a few sports games for the kids, exercise, gardening, and down time.
Each September I try and set aside some time to outline both personal and professional goals for the year, and one that is continually on my list is that of 'balance' - balance between home and school, balance with initiatives, balance with work/rest, etc. The list could certainly go on and on, and I would venture to guess that this 'goal of balance' could be on the list for others as well. In many ways this goal leads to more questions (What is balance? What am I trying to balance? Is there a right amount of balance?) and I have continue coming back to the conclusion that asking these questions is an important part of the process of learning and growth. And, I think that the questions that are asked can be more important than the answers - this aligns with the work of Dan Rothstein and The Right Question Institute's Question Formulation Technique (We have used the QFT as a staff at various points as a staff and I hope that we can come back to it as a regular practice). This is not to say that the answers are not important; indeed, the answers are very important. However, if we do not take the necessary time to work towards articulating and identifying the right questions to ask, the answers may not be productive or fruitful.
With this idea of working towards 'balance' and incorporating the 'practice of questions', I am sharing a couple of posts that connect as well as a sampling of responses to last week's Topic/Question for the week (a practice I will look to continue building upon this year to keep conversations and dialogue alive)...
Topic/Question (Week of 9/4-9/10): What are you hoping to learn this year?
- I hope to learn my way around Blake, how to code, new math curriculum, meet new people, and to have a good experience in general.
- I’m just hoping to be more confident in math and I hope we learn all the rules of writing in English.
- I hope I will be able to find my way around Blake, and make new friends
- I hope to learn how to dissect this year in science
- I am looking forward to learning Pi
It looks like fun but are they learning?
by Lynn Rupe (@LynnRupe)
Rupe explores the importance of 'tinkering', exploring questions, and 'bouncing ideas around'. These processes will ultimately help both teachers and students grow and foster a culture of learning.
Tinkering is ultimately about inquiry. For me one aspect of tinkering has been about taking an idea and letting it bounce around in my head for awhile - shaping and reshaping my thinking - it's about being able to mentally take apart an idea, belief, tradition or way of being and then maybe putting it back together as it was or totally reshaped by my thinking.
All teachers should be open to tinkering with ideas - putting their ideas of teaching and learning under the lens of who said this is good? The only way to shift education is to be open to possibilities, to be reflective practitioners and to engage with inquiry.
As teachers we should delight in stretching our own thinking about teaching and learning, keeping up to date with research, not stuck in out dated ways of being and constantly critiquing our practice through our inquiry. Not just believing in tinkering but also modeling that tinkering with ideas is fun, stretches us, grows creative problem solving and ensures we stay current in our thinking and practice.
Problem-solving techniques take on new twist
from The Harvard Gazette
Although this post is not directly connected to the practice of questioning, it explores a question that was posed and the interesting results of a study of 'problem-solving techniques' that addressed 'a question'. I found the implications of 'intermittency' to be of interest, as we think about our work with students and our mission.
Groups whose members interacted only intermittently preserved the best of both worlds, rather than succumbing to the worst. These groups had an average quality of solution that was nearly identical to those groups that interacted constantly, yet they preserved enough variation to find some of the best solutions, too.
Organizations known for their excellence in creativity and brainstorming ideas, such as IDEO, often use a process that has intermittency built in...Given the study’s findings, the researchers conclude that these design-based tools for intermittent rather than constant interaction may be even more important for organizational productivity and performance than previously thought.
Through our process of questioning, coupled with the 'spirit of inquiry' and practice of 'intermittency', the answers or paths may not always be clear, but we need to make sure we keep trying things out (tinkering) and asking more questions. I would love to hear some questions that are on your mind as well - I, for sure, will be sharing mine and look forward to your thoughts as a sounding board. I hope I can do the same for you.
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