This past week was a winner. I attended a professional learning session from Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT) sponsored by the iCenter. Innovation facilitator Alon Harris shared a window into one of SIT's innovation processes called "Subtraction." The idea is that if you start to look at all the elements of your lesson, project, activity, etc. and then subtract an element that you think is essential, you'll be forced to truly evaluate the essential-ness of that element. And perhaps, even more importantly, by letting go of the requirement to have that element, you might come up with new ideas that push your lesson, project, activity, etc. beyond where it was and into something even better.
My thought partner and I took a look at the processes I use for partner-based text study (also called havruta learning for those of you in the Jewish education world). First, we took out partnerships to see where that led. How do you do partner-based text study without a partner? I subtracted and, while staying focused on possibilities not challenges, looked for ways to keep the learning rooted in relationships despite the lack of partnerships. Maybe we could study the text individually and then create communal artistic pieces to share our insights? Or, maybe we work in a larger groups of 3-6 where each person looks at the text from a particular lens? Or what about "pass the text" - you read, you annotate, you pass the text to your neighbor, and repeat - each time reading previous comments and adding more?
Now, let's put partnerships back in and take out... the text! How do we do text study without a text? Let's co-create a text from our experiences. Or, let's look at an artifact as text, analyzing structure and form and artists choice. Maybe we even study ourselves or our behaviors or our interactions and relationships as "text?"
Using subtracting, I surprised myself by generating a number of ways to add to my practice. Next up: trying this technique out as I plan for online learning sessions. Interested? You can learn more in SIT's related book, Thinking Inside the Box (the newest climber to the top of my reading list). Tried this yourself? Would love to hear about your experience!
I'm an elementary school teacher turned professional learning/edtech coach, avid reader, and lifelong learner. For 2018, I've set the goal to create a 6 word memoir for (nearly) each week to find my voice, reflect on my own professional learning, and set goals for how my learning will impact my practice.
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