A Messy Problem


Brian Housand

Now that spring has officially arrived, summer is just around the corner, and that means one thing: Confratute can not be far away! Ever since my very first Confratute in 2003, each summer I have looked forward to making the trek to Storrs, Connecticut for a week filled with learning, laughter, and connecting with old friends and making new ones. I have had the opportunity to be a part of numerous professional learning events, but quite honestly, none compare to the transformational experience that is Confratute.

This year to heighten the anticipation for Confratute 42, strand coordinators have been invited to contribute to the Confra-Blog an idea or strategy from their strand. Since this was partly my idea, I have been asked to compose the first post.

I am excited to present Using the Schoolwide Enrichment Model with Technology along with Angela Housand. This session is based on the book by the same name that Angela and I wrote along with Joe Renzulli. In our strand, we reexamine the Enrichment Triad and how today's technology tools can be meaningfully integrated with the model. As a part of the strand, we share a variety of Google Drive templates and thinking activities designed to prompt curiosity and deepen thinking that were developed in conjunction with the book.

One of my favorite activities that Angela and I developed is based on the concept of examples and non-examples. We combine this concept with what we refer to as a "messy problem" that has multiple correct answers. This is an idea that we borrowed in part from Sesame Street called One of These Things Is Not Like the Other. Students are given a prompt with four images that are all related but slightly different. The challenge is to examine the relationship between the images and determine how they are all alike and how they might all be different.

While the activity as it presented does begin to encourage students to push their thinking in new directions, the real thinking comes not in responding or consuming prompts that have already been created for them, but instead in creating their own. To help facilitate this, we have created Google Drive templates for you and your students to utilize.

To view the Google Drawings version go to bit.ly/sem-tech-other
To make a copy go to bit.ly/sem-tech-other-copy
To view the Google Slides version go to bit.ly/sem-tech-other-slides
To make a copy go to bit.ly/sem-tech-other-slides-copy

I have written more extensively about this strategy and how to use it in your classroom on my blog at http://www.brianhousand.com/blog/one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other. There you can also find over 100 teacher created examples for you to use in your classroom if you so desire.

In additional to this strand, I am thrilled to teach a brand new strand this year entitled Utilizing Technology to Promote Creative Productive Giftedness. Together, we will confront a new technological challenge each day and work to transform it into an opportunity for creative productivity. Along the way we will examine ways to meaningful integrate a curated collection of tools designed to specifically reduce distractions, track progress toward goals, increase productivity, be more creative, and basically get stuff done. I hope you will join me in this exciting and new journey.

While it is only March, I anxiously look forward to being reunited with my Confratute family this summer and welcoming new members into this dynamic community of educators. I will see you all soon.

Brian Housand
University of North Carolina Wilmington