Teaching and Learning in Trinidad & Tobago, 2015 (Photo Credit: Marlon James)
As a designer of learning experiences, the classroom is where my planning prototypes come to life. Here I share some classroom methods built upon my design principles. These methods have been evolving for the last 8 years. I continue to iterate them depending on the context.
All Angles/My Angle Method: Divergence and Convergence Frame
All Angles/My Angle is a method for exploring divergent and convergent thinking over the course of one lesson. The purpose of this frame is to provide students with creative space to explore all possibilities and perspectives without judgment. After exploring many alternatives, students have a chance to articulate their own understanding. This frame applies to each lesson of the unit.
STEP 1: Students begin each class by receiving an All Angles prompt: this can be any piece of text, such as a photograph or question (see the below example). The All Angles prompt introduces the central topic or issue of the lesson.
STEP 2: Students record thoughts, questions, images, and feelings that respond to the prompt. When introducing this frame, teacher models divergent thinking aloud and records ideas from all learners visually, on a whiteboard or projected screen. With time and practice, teacher can reduce time for modeling.
STEP 3: Students engage with different inquiry-based learning experiences that develop many dimensions of the central topic or issue from All Angles. New ideas, insights and texts are explored.
STEP 4: Students end class with the My Angle reflection, which the teacher also models when first introducing the frame. This reflection allows students to take into account the many different ideas that were presented during the lesson and to synthesize their own understanding.
Example of an All Angles prompt in the form of a question.
Springboard/Landing Method: Divergence and Convergence Frame
The Springboard/Landing Method is similar to the All Angles/My Angle Method – it is applied to each lesson in the unit. However, Springboard/Landing can be used at a younger age. The purpose of this method is to encourage creative thinking; students have the chance to practice ideation as a skill. They also have the chance to iterate their response at the end of the lesson, based on the day’s learning experiences.
STEP 1: Students begin each class by receiving an open-ended Springboard question, such as ‘What makes a good leader?’ The Springboard question launches the class inquiry.
STEP 2: Students respond to the question on post-its with as many answers as they can possibly think of. When introducing this framework, the teacher models divergent thinking on the whiteboard or projected screen.
STEP 3: Students share their most creative, exciting ideas with one another.
STEP 4: Students engage with learning experiences related to the central Springboard question.
STEP 5: The lesson ends with the Landing Reflection – students respond to the Springboard question again, but this time, they converge on one special idea or insight they gained over the lesson. When introducing this frame, the teacher models the Landing Reflection aloud with the class.
Springboard/Landing Method visualized with acrylic and sharpie on acetate
Colour Assignment Method: Multi-Dimensional Close Reading
The Colour Assignment Method makes reading a vibrant, visual experience for students. It also provides a foundation for creative expression based on curricular concepts. Students learn to visualize and imagine as they read – the aim is for readers to see pictures, colours, arrows, and mind-maps instead of merely black and white text. This method highlights diversity of interpretation and encourages personalization of text.
STEP 1: Students receive a literary text on a page with large empty margins.
STEP 2: Read the text together as a class three times. Students underline key words in the text and record images, thoughts and questions in the margins.
STEP 3: Students share their key words and a word bank is created on the whiteboard. Students share general ideas about the message/meaning of the text.
STEP 3: Students review their underlined words and select three that they deem most important.
STEP 4: Students choose colours to represent their key words.
STEP 5: Students share their choices with one another and explore the reasons for colour choices. Students can also recognize diverse interpretations of colour and corresponding meaning.
STEP 6: Students can use their three colours to create an artistic expression of the text.
In the Present Green (2010), mixed-media on canvas