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You can use the Six Thinking Hats in almost any problem solving activity that you might encounter in the classroom (or in life in general!) Here is an example of a problem solving exercise that I went through with my students two years ago. Its a problem that many teachers will be able to relate to. What I've written below actally came out of the Six Hats problem solving process. The "Problemtunity" that we examined was: w
Students Talking While Others Are Talking Or Teaching
Using the Six Hats allowed my class to look at the problem from different angles. Use 6 pieces of chart paper (and the 6 different colors of felt pens) as you apply each hat.
When I did this exercise with my students I fully expected the process to show that "they" were at fault in this situation. It was humbling to hear them share that they sometimes called out because I didn't choose them to share their ideas or that I moved so fast they didn't get a chance to think. Students were blown away when I shared what I felt like when I had planned a long time for a particular lesson and then one silly comment "threw water" on my lesson- ruined it because the class got silly.They never viewed it as offending me and because we had a good relationship they were anxious to work on this problem. Because I cared about them I was willing to take some responsibilty for the problem as well. Student/Teacher ownership added to the power of this exercise.
Some teachers may say this process takes too long. It would be better to "read the riot act" and move on. I have to say that it saved me piles of time in the long run. My class and I went through this process in November. Not only did their behavior improve but during the times they slipped, I would say "Remember the Six Hats...." and they go "Oh, yah..." and they'd click into the strategies that we established during the "Green/Blue" hat time. You have to realize that doing this exercise with students isn't stopping students from learning- it IS the learning.
My staff has used the Six Hats in staff meetings to problem solve. Really all it is is getting all viewpoints out on the table. I hope this explanation gives teachers a glimpse of how they might use it in their classroom.
CONTRIBUTOR: Brenda Dyck, Master's Academy and College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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