by • January 26, 2014 • UncategorizedComments (0)791

Integrative Thinking West Cluster HWDSB Initiative

On January 15, the HWDSB West Cluster’s first day of Integrative Thinking for Educators training took place  (background)  led by The Rotman School of Management’s I-Think team.  It was a satisfying feeling to know that the work that began with my Dundas Central’s grade 7 students has grown into this.

After a brief introduction where I shared the impact that Integrative Thinking had had on my students, Ellie Avishai conducted an ice breaker activity. In the spirit of Ernest Hemingway, we were asked to work with partners to create six word stories about teaching and learning.

This was followed by a discussion of “21st Century Skills” and just how vague the 6cs (Character Education, Citizenship, Communication, Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving, Collaboration, Creativity and Imagination) are.

Next we were asked to think about what we would be teaching in the next few months and to keep those curriculum goals in mind as we explored Integrative Thinking.

Finally we set our goal for the day.

The rest of the day was spent learning about Integrative Thinking by using the tools of Integrative Thinking to find solutions to a complex problem. It was broken down into steps.

1. Introduce a step in the Integrative Thinking process.
2. Learn by doing.
3. Debrief  about what happened and why we did it.
4. Think about how that step might apply in our programs.
Underpinning the entire day were reminders to make our thinking explicit, to identify assumptions and biases,  and to not jump to solutions before a problem and different points of view had been fully explored. It was challenging and invigorating! 
I found this approach useful. By continually returning to the curriculum, the I-Think team helped teachers and administrators understand that although these tools come from a business school and we were solving a ‘business’ problem, the strategies are applicable to exploring and solving problems in any discipline.
Identifying what we value and why we value elements of conflicting models. 

The day ended with a quick introduction to the ithink hwdsb site which at the moment is only open to participants. There teachers can share, ask questions and upload pictures and videos of how they develop Integrative Thinking in their programs.  This will hopefully include successes and flops so that we can learn what works, what doesn’t and help each other refine how Integrative Thinking fits in our classrooms. This is meant to be a collaborative process .

Teachers now have one month to think about  and experiment with Integrative Thinking before the next day of training. There will be informal face to face meetings in between training days for teachers to share, ask questions and get help. Our first  will take place on Feb 4.

One final note, on Wednesday at The Inquiry Working Group meeting, a few teachers who had been at the Rotman training day had begun experimenting with Integrative Thinking.  One shared how using Causal Models had immediately changed the dynamic in the classroom and the level of engagement and thinking of her students. That brought me a sense of joy and confirmation that what happened in my classroom last year wasn’t just an isolated event. The HWDSB West Cluster Integrative Thinking Initiative is going to improve how students think and solve problems. 

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