The Chaos Curve

I’ve been connecting like crazy with other educators through Twitter, following their blogs and links and generally having an inspiring time, learning from like-minded and not-so-like-minded people across the world. In one of my comments, I made a comment about the chaos curve. I dutifully hashtagged it and tweeted away. I thought I’d better check it, as I always do on unknown hashtags, lest I promote something inappropriate. Amazingly, it was brand new! The excitement of creating a new Twitter term! It does however mean I am obliged to explain it. Here goes.

The chaos curve is similar to a learning curve, and does indeed encompass that phenomenon whilst adding an extra element. I coined the term specifically to refer to what happens when a new learning approach is introduced to a classroom or school.

Students are routine junkies. This is not necessarily a good thing because it stifles creativity and independent thought. And where did the routines come from in the first place? More than likely dictated by control freaks – otherwise known as teachers – sorry, I said it. You know it’s true. In the 21st century, we want our learners to use initiative, be communicators and innovators and challenge the status quo in positive and constructive ways. For teachers, this means letting go of control, even just a little bit, even for just one learning area. This can be very difficult for some people.

Anything that involves mess, noise and a bit of confusion is often the thing which generates the most engagement and learning. I’ve started SOLE in my year group. At first it was noisy and there were kids off-task, but then, we started to see results. Students were generating further questions around the main big question, discussing ideas and circulating to other groups, sharing findings and creating responses. After a few weeks, SOLE became a time when it was quiet, productive and socially positive. If we’d given up after the first couple of frustrating, noisy sessions, our students wouldn’t have benefitted from this innovative learning experience.

I’ve also picked up ideas about the Maker Movement and Genius Hour from the lovely educators on Twitter. I started Genius Hour two weeks ago, preparing for mess, confusion and a bit of silliness. Didn’t happen. You could have heard a pin drop. I had to kick out the kids for recess! They were organised with what they needed to bring from home, without being reminded. There wasn’t even any mess, despite unscrewing, cutting and cooking activity. They want to keep doing it, have made choices about what they want to learn and are happy to document their progress. These are some of the questions and learning students have chosen:

Genius Hour

If your classroom is getting a bit stale, and the students are uninspired, try something new. I would suggest preparing yourself and accepting that there may be noise, there may be confusion, and you’ll need to do some research. However, there will definitely be learning. Students will enjoy learning and this will transfer to other subjects – it’s a snowball effect.

What about the curriculum? SOLE is an inquiry model – you choose the question – link it your content. Genius Hour can be ICT, Health, Literacy, Humanities, Science, Maths, Design & Technology. That’s the beauty of student led learning: they get another crack at what they really enjoy doing, and there’s always the literacy element.

B1Ky78xCMAA5neU.jpg-largeCake decorating: not just learning benefits!

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About vanessa hiser

Primary and Secondary Educator; Academic Psychologist; Counsellor; mother; netballer; lifelong learner.
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