Thoughts on design thinking: Jeannie Wenndorf, Seven Peaks School
First of all, I want to extend a huge thank you to our SPS families for your investment in our new Design Lab, and for sending a team of teachers to the Design Thinking Institute in SF for professional development.
Before the training, I thought our new Design Lab would be a place for our students to tinker, and see themselves as creators, and not just users of products. I thought it was about giving our students access to fancy tools to increase their comfort with technology, and allow us to do more elaborate STEM projects, preparing them for 21st century careers. If I’m honest, I saw it as “one more thing” to fit into the curriculum, and wondered what I would give up in order to give students more time in the Design Lab.
Wow, was I small-minded in my thinking! I am beginning to understand that Design Thinking is not an “add-on” to our curriculum, but a lens through which to view all our learning opportunities, in every subject. Using Design Thinking, students investigate a problem, generate multiple ideas for solutions, create a prototype to test their idea, and get feedback to improve on their prototype. They might repeat (iterate) this cycle of prototyping and feedback multiple times before arriving at a satisfying solution.
This process sounds suspiciously like good problem-solving skills, which can be applied to most any problem, whether it be making sense of a new math concept, resolving a conflict on the playground, or designing a cardboard boat that will successfully carry three fifth graders across the pool at the Athletic Club. Design Thinking is used all the time in the real world, as businesses identify problems that their users are experiencing, and work toward creative solutions.
I am full of questions and ideas about how to implement Design Thinking in 5th and 6th grade math… How can I refine our approach to daily math lessons to better align with Design Thinking? What authentic design challenges can students tackle that require them to apply mathematical concepts in engaging ways?
Equally compelling, I am wondering how we might use Design Thinking to build community at SPS. What if we challenged our students to use Design Thinking to come up with ways to make break times more fun, or minimize playground drama? Ways to help new students and families feel welcome? Opportunities for friendships to develop outside of school hours? Developing meaningful connections between elementary students and middle school students?
I have caught the vision for how Design Thinking might energize, unify, and transform our Seven Peaks culture. As we embrace Design Thinking, I truly believe that we will create a generation of kids that know how to approach problems with curiosity, take ownership for finding solutions, and have the resilience to persist when things don’t go as planned. Bring it on!
Thoughts on design thinking: Kayla Collins, SPS Lower School Teacher
I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to go to the Nueva Design Thinking Institute. I have spent the last three years creating and implementing Project Based curriculum and was excited to see how Design Thinking fit into this style of learning.
Within Project Based learning my students always had a driving question as the focus of everything they did. It was a problem that the students would solve using their subject base knowledge as the foundation. For example, one driving question I had for my students was: Design a robot to take back in time for Benjamin Franklin. What problem will it solve?
Within this driving question, I was able to integrate all the subjects in a purposeful way where the students saw the relevance of what they were learning. Everything pointed back to that driving question. The students did research papers on Benjamin Franklin. We studied problems within the colonies day-to-day life. We read books about this time period, and compared and contrasted what we read to the present day. We learned computer programming and robotics, and used what we were learning to solve math problems. By the time we had completed several weeks of building our knowledge in these areas, the students were able to find a problem to solve, build and program a robot that could solve that problem, and then present their robot to the community.
This summer I was very intrigued to see how Design Thinking fit into this process. After my week at the Design Thinking Institute, I discovered that my students were already jumping into Design Thinking without the name, except for one important piece: It should be about the user and not the product. Empathy is the foundation of Design Thinking. The focus is on the user and their needs. Often with Design Thinking, the product is a gift. Students are creating for the better good of someone else, not just to create a product to present. I am excited to pull this important piece into my lessons, and see my students grow in empathy and being problem solvers within their community.
Our world is forever changing around us with the rapid advances in technology, which means that the workplace that our students face someday will look different than it does even right now. To prepare our students, we must give them critical thinking skills and confidence to be problem solvers and designers in any situation.
This Fall! 8th grade trip to Washington DC
What better way is there to learn and retain valuable information about the birth of our Nation? After careful consideration and review by SPS Administration 8th Grade Teachers and parents, we are excited to announce that our 8th grade students will be traveling to Washington DC for an educational experience of a lifetime. With the assistance of Educational Travel Services, Inc. (ETSI) our tour is designed for Upper School aged students and will provide a close look at our Nation’s history and heritage.
Tentative Travel Dates: Monday, 10/9 – Friday, 10/13/17
Cost per Student: For the exceptionally low cost of $2,170 per student, minus your deposit of $500.00 which will be covered by SPS activity fees, brings per student cost for trip to $1,670.00.
Four day / two night trip includes the following:
- Round-trip Airfare from Portland
- Quality Lodging (quad occupancy)
- All Meals
- Evening Activities
- All Admission Fees
- Nighttime Security
- On-site Escort
- Tour Guides & Drivers
- Additional baggage fees my apply
- Sample Itinerary
All 8th grade students planning on taking this trip must register at www.etsi.ws. Our trip number is: 2J90.
Kids Inc. will provide after school care this coming school year
The 5th graders have been hard at work learning the names and locations of the 50 states. Students are learning what tools and tricks are helpful for them as learners, and graphing their personal daily progress. For the first time ever, with the addition of our new Design Lab laser cutter, students were able to design and create a customized puzzle as a study tool. Each small group of students had many decisions to make…What material should we use? What do we want the base of our puzzle to look like? Where do we want to write the state names or abbreviations? If we want words on the backs of the puzzle pieces, how do we design a template for that? Once students created templates for their puzzle base and pieces, the amazing Kent Chapple went to work with the laser cutter, turning their templates into actual puzzles! Kids were so excited to see their designs come to life. We’re all looking forward to implementing more design thinking into our learning with the addition of our new Design Lab opening Fall of 2017!
The 4th grade class closed down the year with a few big celebrations last week. First, we had our final get together with our Touchmark buddies. Each student sat with his or her buddy and shared the biography they wrote based on their buddy’s life. The pieces were so touching; sad, funny and reflective. I witnessed laughter and tears as the groups were sharing. Afterwards the children and their buddies shared a popsicle and discussed summer plans. Many of our partnerships are planning on staying in touch over the summer and into the future. I am so proud of this community partnership.
Secondly, the fourth grade class ended our American Revolution unit with a full on party. This celebration included the reading of various colonial journal entries describing our journey to America in 1760, our life in the Pennsylvania colony in 1765 and life in the heat of the American Revolution 1775-1776. Afterwards, the class shared the main sections of the Declaration of Independence. Then, it was time to finally celebrate our freedom with a traditional colonial dance and colonial desserts. We so enjoyed our time together with fellow classmates and parents. What a great way to end a most spectacular year in 4th grade!
As the year comes to a close, the third graders have been practicing gratitude to all those who have supported them on their educational journey. We have been engaged in activities that allow us to express gratitude toward our classmates for their important contributions. Students also have had time to self reflect and think about their very own important role in the success of the class community. So much to be grateful for.
Gratitude also grants perspective — even in kids. When you take into account the sheer amount of opportunities, privileges and material possessions most kids enjoy through no effort of their own, it’s easy to see why many of them feel entitled. Practicing gratitude, on the other hand, underscores the fact that all those toys and lessons and creature comforts don’t just pop out of thin air. When kids recognize that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, it helps them develop a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are — and they may be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect.
Third grade would like to share their deepest gratitude to all the parents for their never-ending love and support, to the teachers for helping us grow, the volunteers for their tireless support, and our classmates for helping us thrive. With that said, we all are so grateful to be a part of this amazing learning community. My deepest gratitude to you all, and grateful for SUMMER!
It’s hard to believe that the school year is coming to a close! In these final weeks, second graders have wrapped up their learning about money and are now exploring measurement and time. As summer nears, they are reminded that the world is full of learning and to see their environment as an opportunity to think deeper: to add/subtract toy prices at the store, use sidewalk chalk to count change, compare angles/vertices on different pieces of playground equipment, measure the length of a popsicle (before eating it!). This summer, students are encouraged to take learning outside and get creative!
Please be on the lookout for a summer homework packet coming home with your child. It is imperative that your child continue to work on math/reading/writing skills over the summer in order to not regress. It has been a fantastic year full of smiles, tears, challenges, ah-ha’s, Growth Mindset moments, and most of all, FUN!