We are delighted that NZCER will be hosting the first NZ Book Group in Connected Educator Month this year.
The new publication, Key Competencies for the Future, will be spotlighted through webinars and online discussions. This is a wonderful opportunity for educators across New Zealand and beyond to come together online to talk to the authors and explore the themes in the book. Join Sally Boyd, Rose Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad and Sue McDowall as they share their thoughts on this popular new publication.
Meanwhile, check out this video in which the authors, Sally Boyd, Rose Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad and Sue McDowall, talk about what some of their values are and how these values helped frame the discussions in their new book:
Brought to you with the support of Microsoft, our National Connector partner.
How about this for a 'wicked problem'?:
I have been supporting a beginning teacher who has been working 1:1 with a L2 student on an Education for Sustainability achievement standard. Co-constrcuting the activity and supporting the student has been quite time consuming. [The beginning teacher is Thomas Everth and he has not needed much in the way of 'support', he is totally embracing authentic learning! A name to watch out for now and in the future!]
Yet again the key competencies emerge but we have not consciously identified or planned for these.
It might be worthwhile trying to identify and discuss them with the student at the end of this assessment? The capabilities are probably (but not wanting to assume) clearer to the teacher than the student. How about some sort of a matrix for the capabilities - is there soemthing we could use at this stage?
Hi Paul. It’s good to see that you are in this conversation. I’m jumping in belatedly after a few health issues put me way behind with everything – sorry everyone for my silence up until now.
When you ask about the ‘capabilities’ I’m not sure if you are referring to key competencies in general – i.e. they are defined in NZC as “capabilities for living and lifelong learning” – which appears to treat the two terms as synonyms. Or are you thinking about the ‘science capabilities’ – which translate these generic ideas into something more subject specific? Perhaps you have seen the short article on the NZASE website that unpacks all this a bit more?
I do agree with you that we need better ways of showing the relationships between overarching key competencies (which really each have so many layers and facets to them) and the specific capabilities that need to come together to achieve a particular task. The problem with saying that the mix is unique - specific to every context and task - is that teachers are left with a wide open blank space. This is not much help for curriculum thinking and impossible to reference on-the-fly as learning action unfolds. That’s one reason we went for a short punchy set of five capabilities for science. But we’d hate to see them reified as the last word in nature of science thinking. Hopefully they provide a handy action guide for planning and for recognising of-the-moment opportunities as these emerge – some feedback about their ‘usability’ would be great.
As far as assessment goes, you’ll be aware that I’m not a fan of rubrics for key competencies. They just slip so easily into being judgements made by others about kids’ personalities and motivations – how dare we? They also have little value that I can see in terms of assessment for learning – isn’t the whole point of key competencies that they can be stretched and strengthened with the right learning experiences and support? Guided self-assessment seems to be one good way to go (perhaps think about the ELLI tool as just one model of how this can happen). But of course kids need to know what to look for (so do we come to that).
What do you think of the idea of backward mapping – a bit like some people do for their curriculum planning in general? So after completing a rich inquiry about a wicked problem you could review it with students to help them identify areas where their capabilities have grown. Even as I type this I realise that some sort of framework to kick start such a conversation would be helpful... your thoughts? Has anyone reading my response done this?
My copy of 'Key Competencies for the Future' arrived today and I'm about a thrid of the way through it already. I have been reading the VLN thread with interest and have been intrigued by the idea of 'Wicked problems'. Already lots of questions are racing through my mind. What might 'future focused learning' look like? What is really important for our learners? Re-thinking and re-imagining teaching and learning......
I'm reading the book through the eyes of a junior school teacher and wonder what a 'wicked problem' might look like in the junior school classroom? I really love the idea from the 'Life Long Literacy' project of integrating the key competencies into the literacy programme through posing a question that will provoke discussion and require chldren to justify their point of view. I'd be interested to hear the thoughts from other junior school teachers about what 'wicked problems' might look like in the junior school.
Cool Steph, you are a speedy reader! I'm a big fan of finding a good question. Actually most of the time as a researcher my marker of success is not about finding answers to the original question, it's about finding (a) better question(s) to ask. Sometimes it takes a while to get past the obvious or easy or conventional questions in order to find the really good questions - the ones that call on us to challenge certain assumptions that we're working with and don't think to question at first because the assumptions are invisible to us - until we hit on those questions that unsettle them...
I'm looking through the same lens as you as a junior school teacher. we are a PYP school, so for each unit of inquiry that we engage our learners in there is a central idea, they are usually pretty wordy and we then unpack the concepts within the idea, such as responsibility, function, perspectives etc.
Our central idea for term 4 is:
Public spaces provide people with opportunities to make connections and establish a sense of community.
This was provoked by a 5 year old coming in and stating quite bluntly "the junior playgound is boring". This turned into a unit of work to convince the BOT that we would like to change it, what our community wanted and could we please have some money. To extend on our learning from becoming a stand alone project, the cental idea was formed for this term. Students will work on developing their understanding of what public spaces are, where they are, how people are responsible for them, how people use them and how they are important to communties. We will start locally, but can go further into national and maybe international (i was thinking about skype classroom maybe).
When I reflected on this central idea, I wondered about wicked problems what I could tease out within this idea, that is appropriate for 5 and 6 year olds.
I brainstormed a few possibles, but i'm not really sure if they're wicked per se and some of them are definitely more 'senior school':
- the financial/political and environmental impacts of public spaces (parks, maintanence, using natuaral resources to make things and reducing public spaces - Yogi Bear the movie sprang into my mind as a provocaiton here).
- rights to public spaces - does everybody have equal access to public spaces (dogs on the beach at certain times etc., but also larger scale)? do all countries have some sort of public spaces?
- increasing city sizes and population and the implications for public spaces, are they used for housing developments (Urbanisation sprawl) - Auckland
- who has a say in what public spaces we have? Which groups (religious, ethnic, political) make the decisions (CHCH earthquake?)
I'm still pondering all this and it will be interesting to see where the inquiry heads as we unpack the notion of public spaces more. One provocation we might do is next week split the class into a few teams and have them plan and re-arrange our classroom to think about how different people use our public space and how we might have different ideas about what is best - i'm sure we will have a lot of 'debate/falling out' over what is best. Another next step is the working bee domolition of our existing playground on the weekend...
I 'liked' your public spaces inquiy.
It might interest you to know that in the UK there is a debate about banning smoking in outdoor public spaces.
There is bound to be some better journalism than the Daily Mail but this is what google picked up first!
Camilla and Paul and Terry - and everyone else for that matter - I thoroughly recommend this documentary - "The Human Scale" I saw it over a year ago and still think and talk about it frequently! Friends tell me this one, "Urbanised" is even better, though I haven't managed to watch it myself yet.
Camilla you are making me think about a story I read from an ICTPD cluster - a project that Rob and Sandie Haddock from Tahuna School wrote about in 2009-2011 called "Little boxes" - I have always been very interested in this story. Rob and Sandie if you are out there it would be great to hear from you!
I watched this doco (The Human Scale) a couple of weeks ago - through Apple TV. We really enjoyed it and it makes you condiser the implications of what/who drives design and the unintended social/emotional outcomes on humanity (in the doco's case around city planning, but in our minds education). Less haste, more speed springs to mind. We can never 'know' an outcome to solving a problem, wicked or non-wicked, we can merely predict, because there are so many competing factors that influence the outcome. Lessons learned from the past.
One thing that struck me was the intial resistance to change and if the public at large could see the big picture benefits, or were more focused on the 'immediate' displacement of their everyday norms.
But anywho, that's not really related to this book group.
Camilla - I think it's very related! One idea that I got from "The Human Scale" was this (potted summary): Urban planners have traditionally built for cars, and of course there is heaps of data available on trafffic flows, patterns, etc. So in other words the data that would drive urban planning was "the data we have" - i.e. traffic data - fed into a mindset that was a car-based, "master-plan from above"-based view of urban design. Gathering data about traffic patterns is relatively easy to do. What urban planners DIDN'T have (at least in the same sort of formats) was data about how humans used space/travelled the city as pedestrians, cyclists, and how people used open spaces just to "be" people. Therefore that sort of information wasn't factored into urban planning. So how do you gather that kind of data if the city doesn't have those sorts of spaces - because it was not designed for the human scale? Jan Gehl's answer was to create little pockets of spaces that would enable people to use space on the human scale - and then to gather data in those little test-spaces and city corridors to start to build an empirical evidence base to show that it IS possible to build cities around human-scale ways of thinking - and that it works.
Are there analogies here with education? For example, what kinds of educational data do we currently collect and use to drive decision-making about our learning systems? If we can only ever fall back on the measures of what is "easy" to measure, standardisable, quantifiable, etc, and if we only ever use measures which simply reflect back to us the various underlying mentalities that our systems have been designed around, are we falling into the same trap? Conversely, as this thread shows we know there are many other ways we can gather and use evidence for learning and growth with learners - including the all-important reflective conversations that give learners the opportunity to exercise, notice and grow their own capabilities in ever-more-challenging contexts - the sort of thing Amanda talked about in her post. I suppose my own question/wondering is whether or how this kind of evidence for learning and capability development, which can be relatively easy to point to at the human, classroom scale (as evidenced in some of your stories here!) can or should be scaled up to provide a system-level view - and who is it that needs this, and for what purpose?
I guess in a roundabout way this takes me back to Ray Burkhill's provocative question in the webinar which I reposted a few days ago and I'm still chewing on:
Ray Burkhill: Does there need to be some sort of measurable outcome to the KCs or is it enough to design a learning experience where the KCs can be expressed?
We are a couple of weeks into our Book Group and there have been some wonderful contributions from a number of educators across NZ in response to the challenge of designing for wicked problems - and thanks to Rachel and Rose for their replies.
Stories have been shared of students grappling and reaching for new ideas through meaningful inquiry and exploration of real-life issues. Rose also raised the question of assessing progress through backward mapping - has anyone done this and has a story to share?
This week, we turn our attention to a couple of other interwoven ideas that were explored in the first webinar [you can access the recording here] and are also unpacked in the book.
Equity is no longer about bringing everyone closer to a set standard of success. Educating diverse students is about using diversity as a resource. It's also about educating for diversity - preparing students to work with diverse others and with diverse ideas.
Feel free to share an idea, no matter how tentative - and do join us for the closing webinar on 23 October, 3.45pm.
Hi Rose and Paul, this reminds me of a FANTASTIC question that Ray Burkhill dropped in around the 56-minute mark in the opening webinar for this book club chat
Ray Burkhill: Does there need to be some sort of measurable outcome to the KCs or is it enough to design a learning experience where the KCs can be expressed?
What a great question!!!!!! Does anyone want to weigh in??
Thanks Karen for setting up this group.
I agree with Anne Sturgess that this book is a must read. I have enjoyed the many conversations that I have had both with my PLN and my work colleague. The conversation @edubookchatNZ the conversation at #edchatNZ and the conversations I have had with Rachel as well as the webinar. This is all great traction, a traction that shows the importance of being future focusse.
next year I am planning to start a year 9 class under the title of Design. It is not Technology, nor Graphics, this no-baggage start has many opportunities. Students will work in groups to identify problems and present their solutions. I think that introducing 'wicked' problems will be part of the journey; a journey that has no easy answers.
Terry Beech. @beechEdesignz
That sounds great Terry
Your idea and Camilla's post seem to have strong common ground, even though one is primary and one is secondary. I was prompted to recall a specific three-day learning episode at Alfriston College a few years ago. The teacher called it "The designed world". At the end of the three days one student talked about an epiphany as they were walking down the street, looking at cars, buildings etc. "Designed, everything is designed". Kids who can look at the world in this way are on the way to being much more critical and creative thinkers about how we might set up better living conditions for everyone via our design thinking (or how lack of it can lead us to miss opportunities....)
Love the creative curriuclum thinking here
"designed, everything is designed" - I love that. That's the kind of transformative learning experience that I think we should all be constantly searching for both for ourselves and the learners we work with. It's these sorts of moments where we - or students - can suddenly "step out of the matrix" and see the world in a different way - these moments are so powerful. Of course, stepping out of the matrix can be both emancipating and terrifying - and it's remarkably easy to slip back into the matrix if we can't find the support of like minds and new opportunities that let us work with our newfound realisations in ways that keep building and transforming us and our abilities to act on the world to transform it. I have probably overworked the matrix metaphor here but I do remember when I watched that film, I did think a lot about whether I would rather be out of the Matrix with Neo, or safely tucked away in ignorant bliss plugged inside the matrix in my warm bath...!! That nice warm bath has a lot of appeal sometimes...
I have loved this book and raved about it to all who will listen - a few of our staff have purchased it and I am already loving discussions with one colleague around the ideas in the book. There are so many things that radiated or connected for me with this book. Wicked problems, system thinking, rethinking just how much the Key Competencies really drives the curriculum and how much I have to learn even when I felt like I was working with the KC's in my classroom. So much of this I am still digestion and processing and have attacked a blog post numerous times to get my ideas and thinking out!
For me, I feel like if we get caught in the trap of measuring Key Competencies it can be a dangerous place for our students and ourselves. I have enjoyed listening to and reading reflections from students that highlight where KC's are coming through and having an impact on their ideas and actions. If students can talk about, articulate and reflect on these, isn't that what we want for lifelong learners? Do we really have to have a level that students reach on a scale?
For example reading a student's reflection about how he learnt 'how to let some of his ideas go in order to benefit the flow of the group', is huge for me as a teacher. It shows me that the KC's are coming through and developing in my students through communication of learning and through crafted learning experiences that allow them to work in a range of experiences and KC's. The questions we ask within the classroom when are kids are succeeding and failing tasks are integral to this - as well as allowing them to have time to reflect on these situations.
There is so much to think about and add to this conversation and the others taking place in this thread. I'm really enjoying the book and the conversations. Thank you Rosemary, Rachel, Sally and Sue for sharing your thoughts and getting us thinking deeper about the KC's and how future focussed we are really being!
Thank you Amanda for the feedback
You noticed something really important in the student response you described here. Isn't noticing and endorsing student's own self-awareness just so powerful?
Watch this space re systems thinking - I'm doing some more work in this area right now. There is a new book out that looks really promising. I’m planning to download it over the weekend – will let you know what I think.
I am with you on this one Amanda. If we begin to 'measure' things like key competencies, we start to narrow them down into more simplistic things that can be described easily for measuring. We force students then to react and respond in certain ways to match the rubric we have created. We need to be more adaptive and generative and look at ways that we can capture and celebrate student learning and the key competencies - just like the student reflection you mention above.
I have to say, as I read all of the responses here, a TED talk by Diana Laufenberg: How to Learn - From Mistakes illustrates and supports so many of the ideas we are talking about. Take a look and see what you think, it is a good conversation starter for PLD.
In my comment I was talking about ‘key competencies’ in general.
I am mindful the role that the ‘Science Capabilities’ play in exploring wicked problems and this is where I have most confidence. What strikes me is that ‘Key competencies’ are also coming into play alongside the ‘Science Capabilities’- they blur. Seems rather obvious when I actually stop to think!
The Science Capabilities have been helpful and I have been able to adapt them. For example working with a group of Y8 students only yesterday… we looked at the particle model (video/notes/quiz) and then students were asked “What would happen to the mass of a coke bottle when the top was unscrewed and the gas escapes”. Students were asked to “agree” with one of three hypothesis which involved a gain / loss / or no mass change to the bottle of cola. They were asked to draw a particle model diagram to help articulate their thinking. There was a diversity of ideas amongst the group, each idea being respected, and a willingness to have an open-mind. We will collect evidence by way of an illustrative experiment next week and those who got the wrong answer will be able to change it based on the evidence!
I read an article of yours some time ago about ‘capabilities’ versus ‘competencies’ and I took from it the travel metaphor – capabilities suggesting a journey as opposed to competencies suggesting a destination or end point.
The NZASE article is very helpful in “joining up the dots” between science strands and I really need to look at the KC & Effective pedagogy project!
I would like to focus more consciously on the more personal ‘key competencies’. I think a guided self-assessment is best here and the role of a ‘coach’. That makes me think of Guy Claxton who talks about learning dispositions - I dipped into this 2 or 3 years ago now! I do like the way that ELLI makes some attempt at ‘measuring’ capabilities – a tool to start and carry on conversations. I have not taken the opportunity to use ELLI.
I do like the backward mapping idea. My Y10 students have just completed the Schoolgen carbon footprint inquiry and it would be useful to have some ‘future focus’ discussions with them. As you point out some tool or framework to help both students and teachers would be useful.
Thank you to all of you who have been participating in this Book Group thread this month. There's a real richness of discussion and reflection which means that, even after we 'officially' wrap, this discussion can continue...
Whether you have read the book or are still curious about the ideas in it, you are all invited to join the authors - plus Danielle Myburgh (Hobsonville Point) and Reid Walker (Henderson North School), two educators with stories to share - in this afternoon's wrap-up [23 Oct] at 3.45pm:
Hope to see you there!
Hi everyone in this conversation. I have just finished watching the recording of the 'wrap up' webinar which I was gutted to miss (softball duties on a Thursday afternoon). As I watched .. so many questions came up!
Loved listening to Danielle and Reid with their 'at the coal face' contributions...just brilliant.
From some of the discussion above it is clear that although many of us are keen to 'get started'... the dilemma is how? where? what? Danielle and Reid provided me with some kind of answers. Thanks so much the two of you.
So.. the key things to come out of the discussion for me were..
The webinar concluded with ONE piece of advice from Danielle and Reid.
Danielle: "Start with Design Thinking"
Reid: "We don't need to start with 'lofty' ideas...they can be small, manageable, school-focused problems which are relevant to the kids" to get started on.
With that reflection done... it now comes to MY questions and ideas of how I might tackle this during the last few weeks of the school year.
We have had programmed into Week 5/6 a Water Safety Study. I have been thinking how I can 'turn this into' more of a 'wicked problem' than a Topic study type thing which my colleagues are doing.
Some help or guidance with my ideas would be appreciated. I am thinking I could put it to the kids..
We are having a focus on Water Safety ...why do you think we are focusing on this? Is this an important topic for us/you to focus on? Why is this an important topic for us/you? How does 'water safety' relate to you personally? Would a trip to the beach be appropriate as part of this study? Why would a trip to the beach be part of this study? What might we do/learn at the beach which relates to 'water safety'? (Hopefully questions arise about other 'water' places like rivers/lakes/pools etc which kids can follow-up too).
Am I right in thinking that if we can discuss some of these questions (and others that the students come up with through the discussion)...the 'wicked problem' of drownings at our beaches would hopefully come up and that from here...'away we go'!!! with the kids initiated question being... How do we reduce/stop drownings around water in New Zealand?
Any feedback on my idea would be great. Thank you for providing this platform for discussion...invaluable!
A couple of thoughts spring to mind here. There are actually some fairly easily accessible statistics around drownings and water safety in New Zealand that could be very interesting starting points for asking some very good "why" questions with students. Some examples are cited in this set article by Sally Robertson , for example
These worrying stats are all just begging to be unpacked and questioned! There are a lot more statistics here on the water safety NZ website. This could be a neat opportunity to use some real-world NZ-based data that's actually pretty easy to access and use.
A second thought: One thing I found very interesting to learn when I was at a public lecture some time ago is that there appears to be a problem getting men over 40 to wear life jackets. This sort of thing presents another really good opportunity to delve deeper into with the "why" questions. Why aren't men as inclined to wear life jackets - what are the social or psychological factors that are at play here? I heard of a guy who was doing research all over the world on this question - he would go down to the docks in whatever city or town he visited and interview the men there - and he consequently had some very interesting things to say about notions of masculinity and how that affected the propensity of men to wear or not wear life-jackets - and how we need to take this into account when trying to think about how to prevent drownings. I wish I could remember who he was and what conference that lecture was at!
Issues like this I think are interesting because they help us get past the idea that simply providing people with information is sufficient to bring about changes in their behaviour. For example, simply telling men to wear life jackets because they decrease the rates of drowning (for example) may not be a very effective approach - so how could you go about addressing this issue?
There could be all sorts of tangled social, cultural, economic, and technological challenges associated with water safety challenges in NZ, so I think it's definitely a ripe area for a wicked-problem-finding approach! Students could generate some creative ideas about how one could go about addressing a knotty problem (a mini-wicked problem?) around water safety, or do some investigative research in their own community to better understand the problem and what they could do about it.
Kia nora koutou
Some incredibly rich reflections here - thanks again for all your participation over the month. I'm just popping the links to the recordings in here again in case anyone else want to review and I'll add them to the initial post on this thread as well:
The closing session explored several of the questions that have come up in this thread, and we also heard from two guests, Danielle Myburgh (Hobsonville Point Secondary School) and Reid Walker (Henderson North School), who have been exploring some of the book's ideas with their learners and generously shared their journeys.
This thread will remain open beyond the end of Connected Educator Month for anyone else to drop into as they wish.
My thanks to Rachel, Rose, Sue and Sally for all their time and participation in this discussion so far - and to all of you who have been participating:) It seems to me that the book is a timely guide to reimagining learning design in ways that honour the 'front end' and intent of the NZ Curriculum.
Keep the comments, questions and stories coming;)