“I leave work each day with a heart that is full, because I get to spend my day laughing, learning, and creating memories with my students. The community that is found within the classroom is my favorite part of being a teacher. It’s my passion to create a safe, loving environment where the students focus on individual growth and take ownership in their learning. When I sit down to plan and create lessons, it brings a smile to my face to envision the laughter and engagement that my student will have while learning. I have spent the last few years teaching 5th grade, and before that, I taught Kindergarten and 1st grade. I love aspects of both ends of the primary grades, and have developed curriculum and resources for grades K-6. I am so excited to be joining Seven Peaks School, and look forward to getting to know each one of my students and their passions, talents, and needs, as well as, collaborating with the parents and staff to see each child grow to their full potential.”
— Kayla Collins, 1st grade teacher, Seven Peaks School.
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
“A grandparent’s love is strong and deep filled with memories to cherish and keep!”
It doesn’t get any better than a beautiful day, grandparents and student artwork! Many attended our annual Art Show and Grandparents’ Day and were treated to visual feast and edible one too! Grandparents were specially invited by their grandchildren to attend attend. We thank our Art Teachers, Ms. Royes and Mrs. Santucci for, once again, for providing such a wonderful show.
Lego Club is well underway!
Our excited Prekindergarten through 5th grade students are amazing to watch and listen to as they focus on the STEM project for the week which are displayed in the SPS lobby. Last week the kids made ships and tested their seaworthiness in water then made the necessary adjustments to their design to keep them afloat. This week the kids made marble mazes. Check out this video of Kindergartner Lego Club member demonstrating her maze. Below are the upcoming weeks of STEM building projects the kids are looking forward to. Lego Club details.
STEM Focused Projects
Week 1 – 5/2: Ship Building Challenge
Week 2 – 5/10: Lego Marble Maze
Week 3 – 5/17: Tallest Self-Supported Building Challenge
Week 4 – 5/24: Building with One Color
Week 5 – 5/31: Lego Car Race
Week 6 – 6/7: Creative Free Play
Recently, Seven Peaks School provided the opportunity for our community including parents and staff members to view this inspirational documentary. Our 5th through 8th grade students took time out of classroom instruction to view the film “Most Likely to Succeed” which aligns with our Design & Innovation Lab. Directly following the film, our 6th grade students blogged about their thoughts and opinions. Below is one of those thoughtful comments.
“I agree that jobs are changing and I believe that Seven Peaks is using good criteria to prepare us, like having to get used to presenting in front of the entire class and working in groups and cooperating to make a presentation or project. We also are rarely micro-managed by teachers and we use our teachers to bounce ideas off of. Seven Peaks also prepares their students for their careers like having a deadline in a few days. Also Seven Peaks lets you be yourself which is very important.” — Luke, SPS Student