During a workshop I co-led with Shelley Paul called #GWAY4d 5Chairs + Circuit Town this past April, I took about 10 minutes to observe the action with a lens of what skills can I see and hear demonstrated in 10 uninterrupted minutes.  The range of demonstrations of the skills, I guess could be put on a scale of emerging, crafting, improving, mastering, spot on, newbie, trying, failing, exhibiting, average, expert, etc (I hope you get the picture :).

I was being very intentional to just zero in on observed skills (I took off my facilitator hat, my circulating and creating touchpoints with the participants hat, my housekeeping hat, etc) and zeroed in on demonstrations of  da skillz without interfering or interjecting myself into their learning.  To the untrained eye, it might have looked like everyone was talking and creating yet how could that be learning? How could that be meaningful?  How could you build on that action to produce a “grade”? After all, its only worth doing if it can be quantified and assessed. I’m talking data people! 🙂  

I guess my point in writing this post as I have been thinking about it for awhile is the following…  In the debrief/reflection part of the workshop, I asked what skills did they observe and/or feel they demonstrated during 5 chairs and Circuit Town challenge.  They said the following: Collaboration. Communication. Creativity. Problem Solving…  To me these are the gotoos for big bucket skills demonstrated.  I then listed off the skills I observed in those ten minutes… Eye widened, ahas and connections to their subjects taught were made by many in this debrief.  It was even shared (or possibly I imagined it was) that if my students engaged in these types of experiences on a regular bases, the development of ‘da skillz will increase, widen, get stronger, morph, improve— (you get the picture :). 

I have heard people remark that such experiences can only be viewed as “participation grades”, “check the box” moments, even meaningless… I strongly disagree and will always counter their argument with ‘da skillz. 

Going through the process of design thinking guarantees my students will continue to develop and hone in on more than just the Big Bucket skills. And focusing in on ‘da skillz versus just the content assures me that my students will grow and develop as learners and not just professional “pitchers”.  Get it?