Before my maternity leave, I wrote a blog post asking for help with my process journals. My biggest problem is that some process journals are fantastic and some are ... well... less than stellar. I want to know how to see general improvement. Unfortunately, there's little or no research out there. I went to see my PLT leader yesterday to discuss my conundrum, and she ran me through the 5 Whys. This is an activity that was suggested by Ewan Macintosh in order to drill down and find root causes of problems. So our conversation went something like this:
Why do you want to study writing?
Because the writing is inconsistent in the process journals.
Why is it inconsistent in the music journals?
Because not all kids are motivated in write in their journals.
Why aren't all kids motivated to write in their journals?
I don't think they all fully understand the criteria.
Why don't they fully understand the criteria?
Because I don't fully understand the criteria.
BINGO! Root cause of the problem found!
So this is my plan for this year's professional learning. I'm going through Criteria C & D with a fine-toothed comb to try and understand them, and then to effectively transfer that knowledge to my students. I'm starting with Criterion C because I want to know what evidence of creative thinking looks like. For example, a group of my grade 10s have just put together an ensemble that completely blew me away, it was so interesting and creative and cool... but how do I collect evidence of those creative thinking behaviours, especially since I need to send away that evidence for moderation? The goal is that once I fully understand how to show evidence of creative thinking behaviours, and once the kids understand what they need to do, they will be more motivated to write in their journals because they'll have more confidence and know-how.
So let's get started. Problem no.1 in creative thinking: Having a positive attitude towards challenges (That's from the IB's official list of creative thinking behaviours). A lot of times kids know their ensembles are going pear-shaped, but they can't figure out why, so they don't know how to think creatively / brainstorm to solve the problems. So let's start by teaching kids how to drill down and find the root causes of problems in their ensembles.
Here's the file for you. If you do teach the 5 Whys in your music classes, please leave a comment below and let me know how it went!