Each day before students start in collaborative groups for the Integrative Thinking Challenge, I take some time to debrief the previous’ days experiences, review the Pro-Pro Model process and share examples of Integrative Thinking solutions.
One of the solutions we viewed is the Coca Cola Freestyle machine.
When this solution is presented to adults – what I usually see is nodding heads. When I presented this solution to my 6s, several students immediately challenged the model. I was taken aback and it has taken me a few days to process and fully understand what part of thinking my students were experiencing and how their responses reflect what they have learned about thinking over the course of this year.
To my students, Coke Freestyle is only a current best idea or model. They know it is important to be able to detach from current best ideas and examine where models work well and where they break down. They did this intuitively. We haven’t, however, formalized the process of questioning models. My role as a facilitator is to help them see that what they did can be named, has a process and that tools exist (for example, the Ladder of Inference) to make the process of questioning models efficient.
Many of my students did this naturally. A few were confident enough to verbalize their thoughts. Some may have silently questioned the models. Others may have been unaware that there were reasons to challenge the model. A few may have been deliberately applying the tools. It is my job as a facilitator to help students see, name and understand the thinking that took place. Not all people question models. Questioning models has a process, a tool set and a vocabulary. Good thinkers do this automatically, weak thinkers can be made aware and taught the process. Equipping all students with the capacity to deliberately challenge models as well as recognize under what conditions models are useful must be taught.
If one thinks of a learning continuum, now that my students have a foundation in Integrative Thinking, grade 7 would provide myriad opportunities to question assumptions that underpin various models so that all students internalize the process.
Educators need to deeply understand the thinking toolkit so that when a thinking dynamic unfolds, it can be leveraged.
Um … coca cola? Your model has weaknesses. My 6s spotted them and have solution ideas. You should talk.
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