Digital Learning

Exploring “Systems Thinking” with Grinding New Lenses (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Eight teachers from three National Writing Project sites spent a month in Chicago exploring the power of systems thinking to support students in the way they learn, make, and write. Of particular interest to teachers planning and leading young writers programs that focus on digital literacy, this project, called “Grinding New Lenses,” engaged teachers in their own learning and thinking about systems, followed by an opportunity to lead a summer camp with youth from the surrounding area.

Original Date of Publication: August 25, 2011

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Duration: 59 minutes


“That’s really what this whole project is about: creating new ways that youth can view the world, new lenses, so that they can start to see the world as a series of interconnected systems that are all at play in all the things that they look at in the world around them. So whether it’s a visit to the aquarium, or thinking about the dynamics at play in the Civil War, looking at storytelling or poetry, thinking about environmental sustainability—all of those places are places where systems are at work where things are interconnected in multiple ways, in ways that are unexpected, where there’s all sorts of dynamics that really mean things aren’t quite as simple as they seem. It’s really about complexity and understanding complexity.”

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Original Source: National Writing Project,

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