First Brainstorming Session

Last Thursday we held the first Sydney Teachers Brainstorming Group.  The topic was how we could maximise educational potential and minimise distractions in the use of laptops in the classroom.  We utilised the Six Thinking Hats method.  It was quite a success and we all learnt quite a bit.  The following is my thoughts and opinions on the night.This was the first time that most of us had used the Six Thinking Hats method to guide our brainstorming.  It was different and very worthwhile.  We made use of a problem solving format which used the following pattern:

  • Blue Hat
  • White Hat
  • Green Hat
  • Red Hat
  • Blue Hat
  • Yellow Hat
  • Black Hat
  • Green Hat
  • Blue Hat

As the fascilitator it was interesting to observe.  I had the benefit of seeing the group from a semi third person perspective and could better observe the process.  What was interesting was how certain hats acted as fuel or catalysts for other hats.  I could see the group really kick off in the second half of the session given what was generated in the first half.

The early green hat was where the usual suspects came out.  These ideas were pretty run of the mill solutions.  In the red hat that followed we saw the cracks in these solutions emerge and the positives reinforced.  This then spurred some good conversation in the yellow and black hats that followed and built up to some awesome ideas coming out of the second green hat session.

One good example of this was when we discussed the idea of wanting to see what the students had on their screens.  One of the early solutions was to get the students to turn their laptops around so the teacher could see what was on them.  We quickly worked out in the black hat session that this would waste time and be a disruption to the flow of the class.  Leading on from this it was suggested,  why don’t we install software that can show the teacher what is on the students screens.  Someone else then suggested that a mirror be placed at the back of the room so the teacher can see all the screens easily while also teaching.  Then yet another person chimed in with the idea of a fisheye mirror so that it was smaller and unobtrusive.

What was exciting about this was that one idea spurred the next,  which spurred the next and so on.  We started off with a bland idea,  moved into another one,  but then jumped into a crazy idea and from that jumped into an idea that was gold.  The brainstorming session picked up energy and the results paid off.

We didn’t manage to stay entirely on hat all the time but I don’t think this was a bad thing.  Allowing these little deviations allowed for a smoother brainstorming session flow which I think was a much better outcome.

Next month we plan to tackle a different question and use a different topic.  It is going to be awesome as we will not only be finding good solutions to problems that teachers are encountering but also playing with different methods that can be used in the classroom as well.

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