Planning for emergence

I have been slowly moving to a teaching style where I hardly plan any learning experiences or engagements (sometimes I get ideas that are just so good I have to try it!).  My lessons usually start with a basic idea, a brainstorming session or a gathering of information, and then I wait and see what happens to it.  The ultimate learning experience is up to the students, or is shaped by the environment around us.  The activity emerges out of the information and the group.

Example: Today, we were making a list of sequencing words (after, then, before, next, etc) and then a looking up synonyms of common words used in procedural writing (take, make, get, put).  We put them all up on the class whiteboard.  I had no idea what we were going to do with this, but I was confident that something would come up.  About half-way through the gathering of data, a colleague wandered into my room while we were writing synonyms for take.  She helped us with a few more, and then said, "have you ever written crazy recipes?  With strange ingredients and funny verbs?".  The whole class got immediately excited and the mood changed.  I had my learning task.

This style works for me.  It keeps me on my toes.  I find the uncertainty and chaos of the unknown to be incredibly liberating, and strangely comfortable.

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