Design Thinking and EAL (English as an Additional Language)

Throughout my teaching experiences over the course of my career, I have frequently seen that EAL, Student Support or students taking multiple languages (all for good reason), often miss out on hands-on personalized learning experiences.  These types of hands-on electives courses are exactly what these students need.  They need authentic language experiences and safe but dynamic environments to flourish and develop both language and technical skills.

Sparked from a conversation between our HS EAL teacher and our Educational Technology Coordinator, Clint, a new project was born to fill this need.

Students were to find a client (another one of their teachers) and using the design process, they would creatively solve a problem of their client.

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Students first had to approach a client, and record their interactions as a language assessment to find out the problems or needs of their teachers.  This is an important part of the design process as a designer needs to empathize with their client.  For the students, this was definitely out of their comfort zone and they had to understand the requests and respond on the spot in a natural way.

Here’s a sample clip of a language task:

 

The students worked through the design process to create their final products.  We offered sewing and vector drawing (to ultimately laser cut) workshops for small groups depending on the needs of their projects.

Students were very engaged in this project and it has been a great way for students to extend their oral communication as well as problem solve and develop more technical skills.

The variety of student projects range from:

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Design Process Journal Entry – A daily written task sharing progress

a compass used for a white board Math classroomIMG_6783

a step stool for a teacher’s classroom

IMG_6743a leather bag designed for a teacher who moves around a lot throughout the day

two different school supplies’ holders for different uses in the classroom

a system to help foster more classroom participation (for a teacher who’s a Patriot’s fan)

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It has been great to get into more high school courses this semester. After my first year of working almost primarily in the middle school, I’ve been wanting to branch out more in the high school.

As a long term goal, I would like to work more with the EAL and Student Support teachers, along with my EdTech Facilitator colleague to help develop authentic design projects to use as a frame work for language instruction, practice and learning.

This is connected to one of my professional goals this year: 

2. I will model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection and celebration.

c. I will facilitate personalised learning.

 

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Year 2 @ISB: Onward and Upward

Booster Dragon

This year, as an EdTech Team, we have created the following goals:

  1. Articulate, communicate, and facilitate the implementation – with ongoing reflection? –  of a PK-12 Digital Citizenship program/curriculum to all ISB stakeholders (students, teachers & counselors, admin, parents). 
  2. Model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection, and celebration. 
    1. #learnISB more than just celebratory e.g. feedback, advice, process, reflective goals, professional learning etc.
    2. Commitment to reflective professional learning through blogging. Showcase professional reflective practice. Develop an active blogging culture.
    3. Facilitate personalised learning through the development of authentic tasks. Engage co-teaching and planning, tech integration etc.
  3. Work with teachers and admin to develop criteria and frameworks that foster continual and sustainable optimization and refinement of our student learning systems, resources, and tools. 

And from these team goals, I have identified my own professional goals for the year.  I have focused on Goal #2.  Here are my three goals that will help support our team.

2. I will model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection and celebration.

a. I have been using #learnISB on Twitter to share out projects as I work on them with teachers primarily the past year.  This year, I’d like to try to share out more “works in progress” and try to make my twitter communication more interactive rather than just celebratory.  I don’t seek feedback and interaction as much as I used to and often just “like” or retweet rather than extend, so this is an area that I will work on this year.  My plan:

  • I will try to tweet something once a week that is more than just celebrating student work.
  • I will also seek other twitter accounts and educators’ social media as inspiration/models to help me think about how I want to share my passion about design thinking and STEAM in Education.

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b. I will blog more to continue to make connections with other educators, be a model for other educators and to deepen my own reflection, as I feel it is definitely enhanced by the act of writing it down, editing, revising and getting feedback.

I love to blog.  In my blogging hayday, I was managing, writing, sharing through three blogs at the same time and I loved it.  However, that has dropped off the past few years. Being new at ISB last year, I found it hard to find the time to blog. This year, I am going to make more of an effort.  I think having other bloggers on the EdTeach team and giving myself a specific blog goal (to post at least one reflective blog a month) will help me stay on track.  The great part about all this, is the vulnerability of it and I know my own thoughts and practice will grow from sharing my own teaching and learning.

c. I will facilitate personalised learning.

This is HUGE, but something I feel really passionate about and am very excited about in my role as a Design Technology Facilitator.  I want our students at ISB to go beyond scoring well on their IB Exams and walking away with an exceptional GPA as many of them do.  I want to better prepare them for being a creator and creative problem-solver no matter what area they plan to study or be a professional in.

Here are my measurable indicators of success:

  • Integrate & Co-Teach Design Process in authentic ways
    • I started this last year, but I want to work in more areas and break out of the Science/Engineering classes more this year
    • I also want to make more of an impact in high school
  • Build the Passion Project course to be more visible and increase enrollment/excitement around this course
  • Increase student opportunities to personalize their learning with high quality enrichments and ASAs that develop skills and use design thinking as a process.
    • ES – MS – HS After School Opportunities
    • MS Enrichments
    • HS ELO (Experiential Learning Opportunities)
    • More in-school studio-like experiences like OneDay or something like NuVu

Year 1: Design Technology Facilitator

I have to say, I landed a dream job this year.  I don’t think this position exists in many places around the world.  It is the perfect balance of teaching, curriculum building, leading, presenting, program development and designing collaborative spaces.

That being said, I have learned so much this year.  It is exhausting and amazing to move to a new country and school.  I love seeing how different schools and systems work differently.  Everything from the schedule to homeroom structures to communications to curriculum to human dynamics is different.  It is always sometimes better and sometimes more challenging than other work places.  When you put yourself into this newbie position, you are vulnerable, you have to depend on others and you learn, learn, learn and do your best.

I didn’t have goals this year besides surviving and develop a Design program at ISB.  I had an action plan to work with which definitely helped out.  More importantly, I was very lucky this year to have a large amount of amazing people around me – both professionally and personally – new colleagues, old colleagues; new and old friends.  And that is what made this year amazing.  Not perfect.  But a great first year, for sure.

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Arduino Teacher Training – Thanks to Jonathan @ Creatica

First, I’ll start with things that I am proud of accomplishing this year:

  1. Creating a Design and Engineering Team to develop a K-12 Design Process for our school that connects design thinking with NGSS Engineering and can be used throughout our school – in classrooms, enrichments, After School Activities and even in our own practices of creative problem solving.  We still have some work to do as our program grows, but I feel like we collaboratively created a process that we can all work with.  I have developed standards and rubrics based on this process and will continue to make more support materials for teachers to use.

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2. Being very active in classrooms  – this was not so much my doing than the openness of the teachers I work with.  I was frequently invited to co-teach, facilitate and work with many teachers this year.  It was great to get to know our students, community and teachers so well in the first year.IMG_2934 (1)

3. Designing collaborative spaces for design thinking and engineering to take place.  It was amazing to have an idea and over Winter Break a new design lab was born for MS and HS students.  It is a great space (although basic) for students to tinker, learn, prototype, create and learn.  To add on to this experience, there will be another space for ES students and teachers to use next year as we develop the Design & Engineering Program through the whole curriculum.

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4. Collaborating on Personalized Learning Experiences

Before I arrived, ISB had a lot of great opportunities for students to follow their passions, interests and curiosities to choose their learning.  Middle School students sign up for enrichments – anything from band to yoga to robotics to textiles to game design to Genius Hour and everything in between.  I was able to jump in and help coach and co-teach Genius Hour which was a fabulous experience.  I worked with amazing teachers and we worked together to create a similar design in which students followed the design process to identify problem or opportunity and create a solution.  I help facilitate other enrichments, and I learned a lot working with other teachers.  I was able to “take over” One Day, which is a day that all MS students to design their learning.  It was difficult to take it over when I had only experienced it through Twitter the year before.  Due to a teacher leaving, I’m excited to be facilitating for the Passionate Project Class in HS, which will allow many middle school students opportunities to design their own learning experiences as they move through high school.

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One Day Construction

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One Day Student Collaboration

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Genius Hour Feedback Session

And now on to things I feel like I missed the mark on and need to work on more next year:

  1. Working with high school – Middle school is definitely “my space”.  This MS being full of exceptional teachers who welcomed me in all the time, I didn’t always leave a lot of time for HS.  I need to work harder to get into the HS.  Students are enjoying the experiences they have in middle school and I don’t want their design thinking skills and creativity to take a back seat as they enter high school.
  2. Evaluating what I do and how it connects to what my role at this school is.  This year, I rarely said no.  I wanted to learn more about the curriculum and my colleagues because in my role, relationships are everything.  Some work I took on, was beyond my job description, as it is with most teachers.  However, next year, as I work with a new colleague coming in and have a better sense of the school, I need to articulate my role better and stay focused on what I can do well and impact student learning the most.  I know this is something I will always struggle with and I feel like I want to do more and really be a part of a community, so I need to maybe even simplify this goal and think that if I take something on, I need to take something else off the plate.  This is a big school with a lot going on, so there is always something to do.

ONE DAY or another

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Grade 6 students OneDay project: Create ISB in MinecraftOne Day is an opportunity for middle school students at ISB to Design and Create their own learning for the day based on their interests.

I was fortunate this year to “take over” this event from our Assistant Principal who has facilitated this for the past few years.  It was an easy “YES” when I was asked to consider helping with One Day.

The most difficult challenge I had was trying to organize 450 students and about 50 teachers to make this event successful.  I took feedback from teachers on previous OneDays and tried to make minor revisions based on that feedback and my own experiences  with student driven project based learning, as a MYP Design Teacher and Personal Project Coordinator.

I wanted teachers to have ownership over OneDay since a lot of the success of this project hangs on them.  I led an informational session and gathered feedback and suggestions from teachers in November.  Then after One Day, I held another feedback session, where I gathered a lot (too much, maybe) information from teachers regarding strengths, weaknesses and where we want to go with OneDay in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, I was really happy with One Day and I felt that a majority of the student projects were done well for the amount of time that they had to create – really only about 5 hours.  I am still left a lot of questions:

Originally I wanted to try to stretch out OneDay into a week-long experience, very much like our Future’s Academy’s Ignite Weeks, but they are exhausting to facilitate and it would leave some amazing mentors out of the picture for other grade levels, like one of our grade 6 teachers who is an amazing fashionista and clothing designer.

I also love the idea of walking around school and seeing EVERY middle schooler creating at the same time, there is definitely something very special about the idea.

So, in the next month, I will meet with the middle school teachers with a proposal for next year’s OneDay…  and then start planning for next year!

 

Innovation Day – ArtBot Design Workshop

Last month, ISB hosted the first ever Innovation Expo.  It was a super successful event inviting anyone in Beijing to come and learn more about the great innovation going on at ISB.

It was an opportunity to see student work and there were many hands-on spaces for kids to tinker, play, create and design.

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For this first workshop, I ran a design challenge workshop where kids had the challenge of creating an artbot that made original art.  It was a simple enough task for younger students but allowed for a lot of tinkering and iterations for more refined art and change in design.

Goals Reflection 2015-2016

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This year my Tankyuu (personal teacher inquiry) goal research question was:

How can I foster creativity at Canadian Academy?

It’s a big question.

And maybe a little too unfocused.

I definitely feel like I have made some forward strides with fostering creativity at Canadian Academy, but because my question was so broad, I think I was a little all over the place, rather than focusing on one area of our community.

My Action Plan was to:

  • Increase creativity in my classroom
  • Improve Creativity for the ICT PD
  • Offer Creativity Workshops for the Community
  • Facilitate a Hack-a-thon
  • Host a Collaborative Art 7 Design Profesionnal evelopment Forum
  • MakerSpace in the Library

I will reflect on all of these areas below:

1 . Increase creativity in my classroom

Did I increase creativity in my classroom?  This is hard to measure.  If I compare my projects this year compared to last year, I would say overall they are more creative, but I didn’t create a rubric to quantify this. The kids are different then the classes last year, even though most of my units are the same. I will say that the number one thing that helped improve creativity in student projects was really simple.  When I met with kids and conferenced with them and gave them formative feedback, especially in criterion B when they are deciding and justifying their designs, I asked them,

“How is this creative?”

That sparked interesting discussions and often led students to revise their ideas or go a little deeper with their thinking and create more interesting, creative, original designs.

2. Improve Creativity for the ICT PD

I proposed this to the tech department and our director of learning.  In February, we started to run Tech PD sessions on Mondays after school in the library alongside of the Tech Talks – Tech Help for our Community.

There were some great sessions:

Graphic Designing for Teacher led by our HS Art teacher, Laura Dortmans

Digital Attribution was co-led by Team Lemley, as we discussed the difference in digital attribution and expectations we have as teachers which also sparked more questions to bring to the whole secondary faculty

Google Classroom was led by Kieran Burgess our Theater teacher.

There were more sessions.  I think it was great to see teachers teaching teachers.

However, I feel like these sessions were not well attended.  Many of the same teachers/staff attended while a lot of these sessions would have been appropriate for the whole faculty.

3. Offer Creativity Workshops for the Community

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Choreograph Your Own Dance Creativity Session

Liz Durkin and I organized creativity workshops for students on December 11th and February 10th. Both sessions were really successful. Each day, there were over ten sessions that middle school and high school students could sign up for a session they were interested in.

Teachers created time and space and offered interesting creative topics through a wide range of disciplines. In my readings this year, one of the most important factors in fostering creativity is time and space to create.  I also feel after my own experiences in the Design classroom and also supported by The Secret to Creativity Ted Talk by Mike Dillon, that by offering specific tasks that someone can be creative with the outcome or solution is much better than a completely open-ended project.

4. Facilitate a Hack-a-thon

After attending John Burns’ Hack Your School session at Learning 2.0 in the Fall and hearing about all the great things they do at SIS (#sisrocks).  Laura and I were inspired to bring this to our school.  We made a little proposal for Leadership.  I created a video asking people what they would “hack” if given the opportunity, but it fell flat.  It was a busy year for me with my two jobs, recruiting and after speaking to the Headmaster about making time for it… it didn’t happen.  If I hadn’t had so many things going on, I would have pushed back more.  So this action was a fail.  But, one I would like to facilitate some place, some time, because I think it’s a great concept for grassroots change at a school that supports learning and gives anyone at school a voice and platform to be heard.

5. Host a Collaborative Art 7 Design Professional Development Forum

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Creative Connections was my pride and joy this year. Laura (Head of Arts) and I really wanted to merge our departments this year.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that well.  But in one of our (many) discussions about art and design being together we started to talk about PD.  We had both been to a TON of pedagogy based PD and IB training, but very little hands-on workshops in art and design.  At Learning 2.0 this year, I went to an Build-Your-Own Arduino Bot session and I got to sit and create with other teachers and it was fantastic.  Laura and I successfully planned and pulled off Creative Connections.  It was exactly what we wanted it to be.  I plan to reflect on Creative Connections in another blog post, hopefully coming soon.DSC_0159

6. MakerSpace in the Library

 

The MakerSpace at CA Library didn’t come to fruition.  I had two really good conversations with the librarians about this.  MakerSpaces in libraries are all over the place.  There are many resources on what people do and why they are so awesome.  The first conversation I was super gung-ho about getting things in the library.  I’m all for piloting and starting off small.  We discussed changing the themes each month for materials.

Then I read more and thought about it more and considered the logistics.  I can barely keep up with the materials in my own two classroom/labs and I don’t want to be making a mess in someone else’s space.

Without direction, will the kids create good quality things?

Our library doesn’t have spaces that one can get really messy and create or have a sound proof recording studio, which I think would be great, so I decided to abandon this idea for this year.

Again, something I’d like to look into again somewhere, someday, but this just wasn’t the year.

So, I now go back to my original inquiry question for my goal for the year: How can I foster creativity at Canadian Academy?

I think I thought of some pretty good ideas to bring more creativity to the classroom, professional development and to activities at CA this year.  Again, I was a little all over the place with many things going at once.  I’d like to do a few things well rather than do a lot of things just okay.  In the future, I would like to work with a team of teachers/staff (and/or the Arts & Design Department) to develop a better plan to work on this at a school. There is a lot of good creativity at CA in pockets, but it is something that can continue to improve.

I know for my own personal creativity, I just need more time.  I hope in all the actions I worked on this year that I provided a time and place for people to learn, play, solve problems and collaborate.  As a design teacher, I need to find more time in my own life to be more creative, to be a better example for my own students and children.

So next year, I’ll be off to a new school with new goals.  I’m not sure how annual goals will be developed at my new school, but I do hope that I can help develop my own goals out of my own interests and passions and I continue to foster my own creativity.