#CBE182 Day 142 : Rhonda McLean, Kindergarten Teacher, Meaghan Pohozoff, Student Teacher, W.H. Cushing Workplace School
Our professional commitment to developing the mindsets encompassed by the design thinking process with students was richly complemented during a recent learning experience at the Calgary Board of Education’s “Future of Learning Lab.” We embarked on this journey with our Kindergarten students which lasted five days; presenting us with the valuable time required to truly honour and explore the complexities of design thinking.
Within this exciting maker space, we spent time learning alongside many Learning Specialists, parent volunteers, innovative materials, and tools both low and high tech. Our learning focused on a different aspect of the design process each day, guided by the central question: “How can our classroom become a sharing and caring learning environment?”
Our students readily embraced the authentic challenges they faced as designers, and developed sincere understandings of empathy. Students also became adept at iterating and excited to build upon their designs using the feedback they received from others. As students exercised their critical and divergent thinking abilities, we observed increased levels of independence and creative risk taking. To quote one student designer: “You need confidence to design… Believe that you can do it. First you figure out what you need, make a plan, do it with confidence and keep going until you get it right.”
Design thinking continues in our classroom as the students design games for each other and enjoy daily opportunities during Makerspace Time to explore and build upon their design related competencies.
#CBE182 Day 141: B. Chandler, A. Furey, E. Thomas, & J. Innes, Grade 5 Team, Olympic Heights School
On the evening of April 14th, the Olympic Heights School Grade 5 learning community, together with student families, participated in a Task Design Maker Night in our gym. This celebration of learning showcased students’ knowledge and understanding of electrical circuits and design thinking mindsets. Each group was given the challenge of designing something that “benefits people, the environment, or animals.”
As teachers, we found this activity beneficial in moving us forward in our practice. We applied the same mindsets to ourselves, as we ask of our students. We supported each other in accepting risks, failures, mistakes, and multiple attempts as an important part of the learning process. In addition to our building night, the tasks that we designed to scaffold student learning enhanced our collaboration and communication as teachers, and created a culture for future risk-taking and success.
We also learned that it is important for teachers to possess an understanding of growth mindsets as we attempted to engage students in activities that required deep intellectual engagement. As teachers, we were required to build on what we knew, and be open to new ideas, approaches, and experiences. Additionally, we realized the importance of empathy in learning tasks, as designing and constructing a prototype that addressed a real world problem provided another avenue for students to be personally invested in the maker challenge.
In the end, we were thrilled with how enthusiastic the students and their families were for this building challenge. We are also keenly aware of how this work assisted us in moving forward in our teaching practice.
Bonnie Chandler, Elise Thomas, Aimee Furey, and Judson Innes - We are Grade Five teachers at Olympic Heights School. As a Grade Five Team we are striving to push the boundaries of our teaching by infusing Maker Principles and Mindsets into our teaching practice.
Our school-wide Sound Exploration invites students to use design thinking while working with a luthier (string instrument maker) to create a sound sculpture with recycled materials.
Today, we used guided drawing to discuss what we have learned so far about percussion instruments. What 3D shapes do you see? What faces are part of that shape? How can we draw a tambourine, xylophone or drum? What is inside these instruments? (Air). What happens when we tap them? It creates a vibration and sound.
The Kindergartens are also in charge of colour coding the pentatonic scale so that the sculpture will create a harmonious sound. This sounds complex but high and low sounds help to make this concept concrete. The longer the tube, or xylophone key, the lower the sound and the shorter the tube or xylophone key, the higher the sound.
Students have explored sound with water glasses and colour, played with the xylophone and cut pipes of different lengths. So how, then, could we create a concrete task for students that would have them able to represent the ordering of the different lengths?
Here was the math challenge: In a group, make 5 towers of different lengths. Order them from shortest to longest. Next steps will be to create their own representations of how they can produce high and low sounds with string, percussion and wind instruments.
With guided drawing to start the day, a hands-on math lesson at the end, and play in between, we had a productive day!
Stephanie Bartlett (@sj_bartlett) bases her Kindergarten practice on creativity and authentic experiences. Follow her on twitter at sj_bartlett or her blog at chinookparksalle27.wordpress.com.
One of my task designs started the second week of December, in the midst of the hectic scramble to tie up project ends before the break. Our staff were recently invigorated by a maker inspired PD day, which we explored maker and design based thinking.
Teachers, Kathleen Dewar, Sarah Walker, along with two classes of Grade Six students were just finishing investigating trees and forests with one last capstone project to be planned. Our previous inquiry work established comfort with interdisciplinary work, however we challenged ourselves to go deeper, to create and make.
Employing design-thinking framework students decided on designing a naturalized plant park for the new local Roberta Bondar School. Procurement of architectural plans uncovered there were no founded proposals for a park, thus presenting the students with a rich, real world problem.
Connecting with local landscape architect assisted in reframing, defining and analyzing future students’ needs. Students then began with concept plans, small directive thoughts or thematic inspirations to guide future layout and planting plans. The ideation and experimentation stage of the process was rich with responsive feedback and rigorous collaboration. There were five separate iterative cycles until ten final group plans were finalized. Pitches for the plans were created and shared within an open house format. Local stakeholders from CBE, City of Calgary, Strathcona Community and the Provincial Government were invited to hear and provide feedback on student proposals. Collectively, we have grown and changed, developing a capacity to understand, interact and manipulate the designed world around us.
Anne Daniel - Mother of three, U of C doctoral student and Learning Leader of Task Design at Olympic Heights - Phew! I am bit tired yet extremely fulfilled.
What a perfect time of year to take a moment to reflect on our collective work. I am always amazed at the passion, and connection between all of us. This time of year always signals a change, a time to seek new partnerships, improve on existing partnerships, consider outcomes measures, and collect feedback from all of our stakeholders. As a family oriented programing facilitator I am so lucky that this is my job!
It is also a time of transition for all of the families we work with regardless of setting. Our preschool (Early Development Centre) families are getting ready to transition to kindergarten, a big change after 1 or 2 years in a specialized setting. Our kindergarten families are getting ready for grade 1. Supporting families through these transitions is such a critical part of our collective work, and involves many team members. Families have an opportunity to ask questions, and find out what the following year will look like, and what supports are already in place for their child. Having these supports in place for those very first years in the CBE is critical in setting the path for their journey with us for many more years. I am confident that this work is supported throughout our programs and grades, and I am curious about what it might look like in various settings.
If school, family and community partnerships, or family engagement are your passion, or a part of your work, I would love to connect with you!
Janelle Wydeven: Early learning family oriented programming facilitator. Always looking for new ways to engage school, family, and community. @familyCBE | cbe.ab.ca/family
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