Sunday, January 13, 2008

Think Pink: A Whole New Learning Experience

Maura Moritz and Anne Smith have just begun an interesting project with four sections of their ninth grade honors language arts students (Maura's class blog, Anne's class blog.) The students are reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, discussing it in class, and then writing a thesis driven persuasive essay built around one of Pink’s six senses (Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, or Meaning).

As part of their discussions in class, the students will participate in a fishbowl discussion with live blogging. This is something they’ve done previously (although this is the first time with a non-fiction book), but this time they’ll have some additional participants in their live blogging – including the author. When the students discuss and live blog Chapter 7 (Empathy), Daniel Pink will be live blogging it with them. In addition, after finishing the entire book, the students will participate in a live videoconference with Mr. Pink.

Since Mr. Pink is presumably a very busy guy, he will only be live blogging that one chapter with the students. So we’ve invited a few other folks to live blog the other “Sense” chapters with the students. This includes local folks like our superintendent, our CIO, and two of our school board members, but also includes a variety of folks from around the world that are members of my personal learning network. (Thanks to everyone who agreed to participate. We didn’t want too many and tried to get gender balance and at least some geographic distribution, but of course time zone differences cause some problems there.)

As the students progress through their study of the book and its related concepts, they will also keep a Personal Learning Journal (some will do it online, others will keep it more private). They will:
reflect on the process of reading AWNM, relate the book to your own personal lives through a variety of reactions, reflect on your brain assessments, the AWNM video, as well as try one suggested activity within each Sense’s portfolio (Design, Story Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning). Also, we will ask you to reflect on how each Sense applies to you personally through your classes and life.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, at the end of each "Sense" chapter Mr. Pink includes some suggested activities that help the reader explore and/or develop that sense further. The students will each choose one of those activities for each chapter, complete it, and then reflect upon it.

When it comes time to write their persuasive essay about one of the Senses, the students will complete a "Wikified Research Paper." They will:
publish your paper in a wiki format, allowing you to use links in your argumentative paper to your actual research and go beyond the limits of the usual typed paper. Students could add data, photos, audio and video links, etc.
The students will also use the wiki for the entire writing process.

I, of course, love this idea, and am excited to see how it goes. As always the first time you try something, I expect there will be glitches along the way, but I still anticipate this being a wonderful learning experience for our students. Whether you particularly like Pink’s book and agree with his arguments or not, I think most folks would agree that these are important concepts for today’s learners to think about. This project will allow them to think much more deeply about these ideas and hear a variety of viewpoints from around the globe – I commend Maura and Anne for taking this on. I particularly like how they close their description of the Wikified Research Paper:
Before you submit your paper, think about this. Normally you would turn your paper in to your teacher and your teacher would provide the commentary and grade your paper. This paper is different. You are producing this paper for the world. Is it good enough for the world to read? Did you submit your best work?


  1. This is going to be an incredible project and I love the creative way you've put this together. I look forward to participating during my "week" in February. It is very exciting.

  2. "Is it good enough for the world to read?"

    What a question! I think that's in the back of my mind whenever I blog.

    It will certainly give your students a marvelously broad frame of reference and affirm their value as writers.

  3. I too am a fan of Pink's book. I teach AP English Language and currently have a small group reading the book and discussing it in literature circles. My project is much simpler and not nearly as cool. I'm experimenting--for the first time--with using blogs to host literature circles. I have five groups reading five different texts. We've agreed on four different dates and have decided that each week a group member will "host" the discussion at his or her blog. Being the host entails posting questions/topics for discussion and facilitating a back-and-forth discussion of that section of the book. One of my student hosts has posted his questions to kick-off the discussion of the first section of Pink's book. I'm anxious to see how the format will work.

    I love the idea of the persuasive paper on a wiki. Being able to augment the written word with visual images is indeed powerful.

    For several months, I've been reading several edubloggers, including Anne Davis and Karl Fisch, but have remained on the sidelines, a spectator. At Anne's urging, I'm jumping in, joining the conversation! Up until now, I've been one of those readers you never hear about but who you have profoundly impacted. Thanks for your dedication to the profession and your willingness to share.

    I look forward to reading about how the Pink project progresses.

  4. Lisa Huff wrote on her blog:
    "...More and more schools across the country are adding these technology/curriculum specialists—educators who can work alongside teachers to support them and encourage them to undertake adventurous technology-rich activities, activities like those described by Clarence Fisch..."

  5. How awesome! I'm teaching A Whole New Mind as well. My students are in grades 10-12 and they're enrolled in a computer technology class.

    We're wiki-ing at The class is just starting -- expect the wiki to evolve between now and May.

    I would love to understand the live blogging idea more. Can you describe (or point me to something existing) how you combine live blogging and in-class activity?

  6. I am currently taking an educational technology class and we have to find blog postings about our concentration that interest us.I think it is great how you are incorporating student blogging and videoconferencing into this project.This project is really creative and I hope your students get carried away with it.