Harnessing Provocations for Deeper Learning
What are Provocations?
Strategically created questions based around a specific concept. They encourage students to:
– Initiate new ideas and questions
– Use Higher Order Thinking Skills
– Be involved in rich discussion
What makes great Provocations?
Stimulating – 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’.
Collaborative – When provocations are structured to be collaborative they will help develop many Higher Order Thinking 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.
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.
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’.
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?