Anatomy of a Bridge21 Activity
Bridge21 learning activities have a clear structure, which provides teams with milestones and deadlines to work towards, but also allows them the freedom and flexibility to manage their own learning and shape their final work output. Creativity is promoted by encouraging teams to devise different solutions and means of presentation, rather than requiring one ‘correct’ answer.
While no two teachers or class of students is ever the same, there are some key features of the Bridge21 approach that are apparent in successful lessons.
This page provides an outline of the components found in a full Bridge21 activity, along with the motivation for each step. This should be adapted to your particular activity. To jump to a particular step, please click below:
Before embarking on a Bridge21 learning experience, teachers need to prepare themselves and their learners by setting the stage.
The set-up consists of a number of optional activities. Depending on whether the groups have previous experience working together or in teams, they may not be necessary. They are however recommended for groups new to teamwork, and if the group members are not familiar with each other.
1. Ice breaker
Ice breakers help the members of the group to get to know each other and start intra-group communication. Ice-breaking activities often focus on sharing personal information such as names, hobbies, etc.
2. Team Selection/Formation
Learning models that seek to encourage high levels of student engagement and intrinsic motivation typically embrace collaboration and teamwork. The theories of Piaget and Vygotsky highlight the importance of the interaction between social, affective and cognitive states in a student’s development and learning. Vygotsky’s “more able other” identified the peer as a key figure in learning. With teamwork the pool of “more able others” includes all team members and in a project based approach different team members may be able to play that role at different stages in the process as peers learn from each other.
The warm-up is a general divergent thinking activity and can be used to encourage teams to think creatively and outside the box. If a group seems sluggish or unmotivated this can be a good activity to get them thinking and engaged with the activity. It is useful to have a warm-up activity that is related to the goal of the lesson.
The following phases are used to investigate, ideate, research and define the problem context, which is defined by the teachers.
1. Problem Context / Brief
Here the teacher explains the problem context or the activity brief, outlining the activity. The topic should be focused enough that the teams are clear about what they are working on, but broad enough that they can take ownership and tackle the topic creatively.
2. Divergent Problem Thinking
Divergent thinking based on the problem context provides an opportunity for the teams and wider group to explore and think laterally about the problem. It is at this point that they get to think creatively about the problem context. It is important that this stage remains playful and gets the whole group “thinking outside the box”. It is through this creative activity that the teams and individuals take ownership of problem.
3. Content Knowledge Development Exercise
This is an optional step that may not be applicable to all activities. If the group requires more content/domain knowledge or experience in skills needed during the main activity, exercises or mini-activities can be used to develop the necessary skills and/or knowledge. It can be combined with the research step which follows, where a priming activity is used to generate questions that may be answered through online research.
This optional step can be used for the teams to gain more background information about the problem space. They can expand the ideas developed during the divergent problem thinking step or use those ideas as initial search queries to develop further ideas. This is a good opportunity to explain best practices in ICT information access (safely browsing the web, evaluating sources etc.).
Teams use the previous divergent thinking and/or domain knowledge development exercise as the basis for some online research. This may be either open, structured (students are guided towards specific resources and best practices) or semi-structured (directed to resources but can use that to conduct further research). They should document and collate their findings either on paper or using a word processor or some other appropriate ICT technology (mind mapping/brainstorming software).
1. Problem Refinement/Framing/Design
Here the teams are asked to focus and refine their problem context so as that the main activity has a well-defined problem scope. The teams should develop at least three potential directions (common design technique) at first and critically analyse them and pursue the one they consider the most interesting and plausible/practical considering the constraints (time and resources) course. Teams choose topic/area of interest that they will use as their brief during the main activity
2. Task, Role, Scheduling, Resource Assignment
Building on the task/overview developed in the previous step, further templates may be used by the teams to schedule tasks, and assign tasks, roles and resources to the various team members. Alternatively teams may be tasked with developing their own templates with teacher guidance. This step develops the student’s sense of responsibility and appreciation of resources necessary to complete tasks. Use template (develop if does not exists) to assign task, roles, scheduling and resources to appropriate team members.
The Main Activity
This should be an iterative process where the teams work through short cycles of execute, review and reflect. Execution sees them executing their plan that they developed in the previous step. Regularly (20-50 minutes, depending on activity duration) the team leader and/or teacher should have a brief review session with their team members regarding how the plan is working out, and whether there needs to be corrective action taken.
This cycle should be repeated until all allocated time has been utilised, later cycles may be used for improvement and refinement and further skill development.
The create phase is where the artefact and presentation is developed through an iterative/cyclical process of execute, test and reflect.
The execute/create step is where the teams task list/outline is put into action; there is opportunity to revise the plan in the steps that follow, should time allow for it.
This step provides the team with the opportunity to review how their actions are or are not meeting with their task list and schedule. It also provides an opportunity for the team to access their initial assumptions and revise where necessary.
Teams reflect on their progress and processes, particularly focusing on the key skills of managing themselves, staying well, communicating, being creative, working with others and managing information and thinking.
If there is time available the teams should return to the execute/create step. This allows the team to continue as they were, work on a revised plan or refine their output for presentation. If allocated time does not permit another execution phase, the teams should move onto the presentation step.
The finale is the culmination of the main activities work. Here the teams present their work to the teacher and whole group. Each member should contribute to the final presentation, but they may elect a member to handle the main presentation (does not necessarily have to be the team leader). Evaluation and Feedback is an essential phase of the process, where the teams present their work and reflect on their learning throughout the entire activity.
The central reason for the presentation is to develop communication skills and confidence with public speaking. The presentation should also provide an opportunity for the facilitator to assess the work of the students. Teams should be encouraged to describe the output and what they have learned, but to also comment on what role each team member played in the process.
It is important that both teams and individuals reflect on their experiences. This provides an opportunity for the team members to reflect on how they worked together and what they personally learnt during the activity. Emphasis should be but on using the outputs from this step to improve future learning scenarios
Whole group discussion
This is the final step. Here the whole group discusses what they learned, found difficult, enjoyed or would recommend doing differently if the activity were to be repeated. Essentially it is a sharing of the lessons learned by all involved and provides an excellent opportunity for the teacher to get feedback from the students about how they found the activity.