Monthly Archives: June 2014

Harnessing Provocations for Deep Learning

Harnessing Provocations for Deeper Learning
Q head
What are Provocations?
Strategically created questions based around a specific concept.  They encourage students to:
Initiate new ideas and questions
– Us
e Higher Order Thinking Skills
– Be involved in rich discussion

What makes great Provocations?image
– Provocations that use  variety of stimulating media to initiate and open up thinking.  Engaging and relevant media will be more likely to motivate quality student responses.

Hooks – Provocations that are designed to create interest, but also to ensure that that this interest is aligned to the concept (hooked).  They aim to create student interest and inquiry within the boundaries of the concept.
Thinking Questions – Provocations that are Higher Order thinking Questions.  These are Open Questions that are often ‘unGoogleable‘.  Answers to these types of questions will offer greater visibility into student thinking and create great opportunities for formative assessment.  Answering these types of questions will also develop the skills required for students in ‘Tomorrows World’ – skills as ‘critical thinkers’ and ‘question askers’.

– When provocations are structured to be collaborative they will help develop many Higher Order Thinkingimage Skills.  In addition collaboration will also offer and opportunity for the students to spend more time ‘In the Question’.  More time discussing and considering the question will allow more opportunities for students  to make connections in their learning.

Video – Harnessing Provocations for Deeper Learning

Positioning Provocations in the Learning Cycle
As we explore concepts we aim to strategically position the provocations using a simple Inquiry model Explore – Explain – Apply.   Using this model we aim to guide students inquiry around the concept.  We aim to utilise provocations in the ‘Explore’ phase prior to supporting students with explanations.  In this phase we want to connect to previous understanding, explore solutions and expose misconceptions.  Provocations are also useful in the ‘Apply’ phase where it again offers the opportunity to connect learning.  Using the provocations in this way could also be the starting point for self directed experiments and student led investigations/inquiry projects.image

Working with Provocations effectively in the Classroom
We have been using an online app called Verso to deliver many of our provocations in class. Verso not only allows us to effectively manage the provocations, but it also has a number of features that enhance this pedagogical approach.
Accountable – it is easy to track each students responses and comments to ensure each student responds.
Authentic Reponses – Students can’t read other responses until they have posted themselves.
Student Voice – Responses are anonymous (for students) giving them the confidence to respond.
Collaborative – By structuring the provocations around collaboration it encourages the students to spend more ‘Time in the Question’ allowing more opportunities to make connections in their learning.
Peer Acknowledgment – Students are able to offer ‘Likes’ and ‘Helpfuls’ to each others responses and comments, which encourages collaboration.
Personalisation – You are able to easily group students to create teachable moments in the class – address misconceptions, group in similar ideas/different ideas.

I have discussed the trial of Verso in my previous post ‘Flipping Inquiry -Exploring Verso’.

Video – A Tour of my Verso account discussing features and impacts on learning

If you use Provocations in your classroom and have some great ideas or feedback I would love to hear?

How do you structure provocations?            How do you use them in class?
What makes a good provocation?                  Why do they work? 

The 3 Flavours of Flip

    3 Flavours of Flip    image


The Evolution of my Flip
The flavour of my classroom has evolved considerably over the last few years to include flipped learning.
In this evolution I can identify a few main phases:

  1. Phase 1: Delivering Content – The Initial focus was to purposefully utilise video in the homework space.  This closely followed by creation of my own videos and making these accessible on the class website
  2. Phase 2: Student Centred – This involved a real change to the classroom (physical group space) where things became a lot more student centred.  This type of classroom is described well in the document  ‘What is Flipped Learning’
  3. Phase 3: Responsive – More recently I have worked towards creating quick videos to respond to student needs.
  4. Phase 4: Collaborative –  Also recently I have moved media related to questioning and collaboration to the Virtual Space.

imageThree Flavours of Flip
This evolution has framed 3 main aspects of flipped learning in my classroom today.
I explain these below (and in the video) as ‘3 Flavours of Flip’
– Repository
– Responsive
– Questions

3 Flavours of Flip. A discussion of the evolution of Flipped Learning in my classroom

RepositoryThese are the videos that are pre-created to explain particular concepts. I often use Camtasia to produce these screencasts and if possible keep them to a few minutes to allow them to be easily digested. They sit on our class website so they are accessible when and if the students need them – this really helps to personalise learning.  I believe this to be different approach to a teacher who strictly schedules the watching of videos for homework. To compliment my own videos I also include a range of other videos from YouTube and related resources on our class website. I consider this to be our ‘filing cabinet’ of resources for students to access.

responsiveThese are the videos that are quickly created in response to what is happening in class. They could be solutions to problem that a number of students need help with. They might also be the quick explanation to a part of a concept that a few students are finding difficult. Often they are the things that I realise I might be repeating a few times and could be better on video so they are accessible. I produce these videos quickly and quite often use the iPad App Explain Everything to make a quick diagram and post theses directly to our class space.

questionsA recent focus for our team  has been ensuring that we create Inquiry in the classroom. It has involved us strategically using provocations to ensure students ‘Explore’ content prior to participation in tasks where content is explained. This is a consistent theme in many models of Inquiry – ‘Exploring’ always comes first!  It is likely that those who follow flipped learning have come across Ramsey Musallam (Chemistry Teacher in US) who has adapted the ‘Explore–Explain-Apply Model’ (Karplus) to ‘Explore-Flip-Apply’ to suit flipped learning. The use of provocations can also be quite useful in the ‘Apply’ phase where students are able to develop further connections in their learning. Where possible this provocation and exploration can be part of the initial process of an Inquiry Cycle where students create original investigations/experiments.

A tool that we have found very useful to achieve this collaboration is an online app called Verso.  In other posts ‘Flipping Inquiry – Exploring Verso’ and ‘Harnessing Provocations for Deeper Learning’ I have discussed the use of Verso.

Great Cakes………………..…Yum Lots of Flavour!
Creating a classroom learning environment is sort of like baking a cake.  In either case you need carefully chosen ingredients with the plan of creating just the right balance.
It could be considered that Great Cakes:clip_image002

  • Rely on a number and mix of ingredients (Pedagogies). You can’t just use one!
  • Are tasted as they are mixed to ensure that these are in the right balance.
  • Result in specific flavours just right for those eating the cake.
  • Have evolved from good recipes. This evolution could include new ingredients (tech/research)

I believe that as part of a Flipped Learning Model we are able to create opportunities for deeper learning by moving structured inquiry to virtual space.

So some questions this raises for me:

  • Is moving the questioning and collaboration to the virtual space part of flipping?
  • Could this be described as ‘flipping’ questioning?  or is ‘flipping’ really just about flipping   the direct instruction?
  • Have improvements in online tools meant that we are now able to work more effectively with collaboration and Higher Order Thinking with students?

I would love to here your thoughts on these questions.