Looking closely and exploring complexity…

A fan, a mobile phone, an umbrella, a computer monitor, a toaster… We ask the kids to engage in the Parts, Purposes, Complexities thinking routine.

Examine the object carefully and record the following:

What are its parts? What are its various pieces or components?

img_9689

img_9688

What are its purposes? What are the purposes for each of these parts?

img_9724

What are its complexities? How is it complex in its parts and purposes, the relationship between the two, or in other ways?

img_9693

Now take apart your object and record further parts, purposes and complexities that you discover…

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-5-41-30-pm

 

img_9700
img_9703

img_9707

There is total engagement, excitement and a sense of purpose. Groups form naturally based on curiosity and everyone works collaboratively and inclusively. And it’s fun!

Their reflections are insightful:

“Everything around me is fascinating in its own way and is made in order to achieve its own goal”

“All parts are really important and small parts can be really important. We didn’t realise till we took it apart that one little screw was holding the entire umbrella together. We have to look deeper to discover amazing things”

“There are so many more parts than just what you see. This activity kind of reflects people. We can see a lot on the outside but the parts on the inside make us function. There is always more on the inside..”

“This tells me things are not as simple as they seem and not to accept information about something, look deep see what else is part of this object or person.”

“This shows I can always dig deeper and go further in my learning. I wonder if everything in my inquiry is useful”

“This helps us with problem solving and helps us create. If you can visualise how something is made and how it works, you can make it.”

“I realise now that everything has a purpose and there might be more than you can see from the outside… it makes me feel more curious about things and appreciative of many little parts inside one object.”

And that’s why I make my mistake…

Because their reflections seem so insightful, I make the assumption that they will readily be able apply this to abstract contexts. I ask them to think about an object, an idea or a system in their current inquiries and use the thinking routine to look more closely and explore the complexities.

I miss the point entirely, which is to get them to SLOW DOWN their thinking. Next time I will go all the way back and take one step at a time. We need to start from here:

Examine the system or idea carefully and record the following:

What are its parts? What are its various pieces or components?

3 thoughts on “Looking closely and exploring complexity…

  1. Edna, thank you for sharing an instance where you find a need to slow down/back up to further break things down with students! I used to feel like I’d only be a “real” inquiry teacher if I could more perfectly anticipate/gauge the questions, pace, and “what’s next’s.” I remember feeling prone to thinking that if things didn’t “work” according to the hoped-for timetables, I was doing something wrong, and/or that I was wasting everyone’s time. And after Monday’s PD session (thank you again for your help!), I don’t think these are uncommon concerns for less-confident inquiry teachers.

    But this post clearly illustrates the fact that even though these students are not yet ready to move forward to extended applications, no one’s time has been wasted! It’s also an example of how authentic learning is unpredictable, and that we need to be patient with ourselves and our students as we move forward together.

    Thanks!
    Mary

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s