That’s what assistant principal Kristian Still did – with a little help from his Y7 class and a software designer. Here’s their story…
“You don’t learn because you’re engaged. You’re engaged because you’re learning.”
The concept of hexagonal learning is simple. It is the exploration of, and connecting of themes around a particular topic using keywords written on… hexagons. Why hexagons? Well they have six sides, fit nicely together and so are great for making connections.
There are already a number of fantastic educators out there, Tait Coles, Chris Harte and David Didau, all using this simple and very effective technique to develop student understanding and more importantly, to deepen their students’ thinking skills too. Really? Hexagons? Deepening thinking skills?
These guys had already put together a useful Prezi, shared a Teachmeet video and shared class footage, and I trust them as practitioners, so in for a penny, in for a pound I decided to give the idea a go.
I created and shared a Powerpoint template, came to class armed with a cut out sheet, scissors and an open mind. I was using ‘HexLearning,’ to introduce our next topic, Campaign Leaflets, and my word did the hexagons generate debate. For what it’s worth we started our learning journey here.
But for the next stage in the journey we need to bring on former teacher and now software designer David Riley, and Year 7a3, my enthusiastic English class. David originally designed and produced a range of tools, timers and quizzers, all packaged up and shared for free under the Triptico banner to solve his own problems in class.
Always appreciative of feedback and mentions on Twitter, I sent David a request, well a pitch really. Could you take ‘hexlearn’ and make it into an app? A few emails, phone calls and tweets later and David had built a mock-up design.
The design ideas then bounced to and fro between David and the students in my class. David would update the build and we would test and debug. And so it went on.
Soon there was an onscreen magnifier (basically a zoom in and zoom out feature), a screen scroller (left to right) and David added up and down too. A quick save as an image option (including camera click) in case you wanted to record the answer and share it with the students.
Some of the features requests were, as you can imagine, beyond our two man ‘spare time’ team, some were just within reach, but rest assured the feature requests just keep on coming. An auto “magnet connect” the kind you get in tablet jigsaw apps, more colours and a hover feature that reveals notes about the keyword. And the dialogue continued to bounced between email, phone calls, tweets and comments.
Could you image being a Year 7 student and seeing your idea being designed and implemented?
I know Molly, who came up with the idea of adding notes to the hexagon when you hover over it, was thrilled to see her ideas turned into reality. So much so, she commented on David’s blog.
“Hello David i am molly and i am in Mr Stills class. I really appreciate that you put thought into my idea of the infomation when you hover over it . I think it will really help people who use it and i thought the website was a very good idear. I really injoyed using this in class from molly”
We can forgive her the odd typo can’t we?
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