# Mastering "Systems Thinking"

In this LTL lesson we are presenting our Grade 8 culmination of the Systems Thinking strand. As in the other Grade 8 LTL units Kidport has been presenting activities and thinking skills in this strand throughout it's K-8 program. The Systems thinking unit contains:

• A definition of the thinking strategy
• A visual example of how it is used
• A presentation of its Rules and Principles for use
• A series of mini-topics showing how it is used in math, science, social studies and language arts

## The Thinking Skill in this Unit

Systems Thinking is also known as whole thinking or web thinking.

## Essential Definition

Systems thinking is defined as a mode of thought that focuses on relationships.

## Examples

You are exposed to systems every day. Here is a system that should look familiar. It is the rain cycle. This example shows how the system is made up of subsystems, or parts, and their relationships, or forces acting on them.

The following diagram shows a general systems model for this type of process. The major components include the input, the process acting upon the input, which produces the output. The process also includes a feedback loop which helps to control the input.

## Examples of How Used in Kidport

You can review the entire set of lessons and units we have used as the building blocks of this thinking skill at any time while working through the activities on this skill [links to appropriate units in K-7].

## Why Systems Thinking is Worth Learning

Systems thinking targets complex problems that are not easily dealt with by other forms of thinking. Systems thinking helps you to see the big picture.

## Rules of Use When to use?

Use this kind of thinking when your problem or learning challenge contains many parts and many implied or explicit interrelationships.

How to Start? Define what the actual topic or problem is that you are trying to discover something about, solve a problem or make a decision about.

What to do next ? Break your topic into several pieces known as subsystems.

How do you know when to stop? Depending on your learning goal and the time you have to spend we will give you goals in the all the steps we will have doing in using systems thinking.

## Procedures - Major steps in using this skill

Step One

• Identify and describe the parts that make up problem or subject you are studying.
• How to do step
• Why do this step
• Demonstration of step

Step Two

• Label the transactions and interactions between the parts identified in Step One.
• How to do step
• Why do this step
• Demonstration of step

Step Three

• Describe all the factors that surround yet affect the topic focused on.
• How to do step
• Why do this step
• Demonstration of step

Step Four

• Identify how feedback loops through the system described in Steps 1, 2, and 3.
• How to do step
• Why do this step
• Demonstration of step

## Guided Walkthrough

• Learning Goal
• Each Step and rule identified/Why

## Try Skill Yourself [Week 4]

Several activities. Combinations of thinking strategies.

## Reflect

What You Have Done. What went on in your head as you engaged in the skill. Reflect on ways in which the skill is used and when it is appropriate. How do you know when to stop and start. Identify the key steps or rules used and sequence of each. State the relationship of this skill to other skills. Rewrite the skill definition. State where the skill can be used:

• Personal
• School

## Phase 2 - Quiz [Week 5]

• Define the Skill
• Identify an example of the skill in use
• Perform several skill activities
• Explain how, when, and why to execute the skill to someone else.

## Phase 3 - Review Lessons for transfer and elaboration [Week 7-9]

Redefinition of systems thinking

• Background of this highly efficient mode for organizing information
• Key vocabulary terms
• Key concepts
• Breaking this thinking skill into parts
• Identifying major relationships among those parts
• Describing other thinking and learning factors related but not included
• Visualizing this process in charts, diagrams, and so on.
• Critique of the use of this skill
• Analogies that can effectively add insight into the skill
• How does this form of thinking help us to visualize and work with patterns, trends and themes?

## Transfer to Other Subjects

• Math [Examples of use in this context and reference and topic specific activities links]
• Science [Examples of use in this context and reference and topic specific activities links]
• Social Studies [Examples of use in this context and reference and topic specific activities links]
• Language Arts [Examples of use in this context and reference and topic specific activities links]