Sunday, August 24, 2014

Creating a Culture

By Barbara Soblo

It’s not easy organizing 50+ freshman all at once, but that’s what we did this week.  Using several team building and communication activities, students began to learn each others names and some of the concepts that drive our design thinking process in Studio D.  And whether they knew it or not, they also began the process of building a classroom culture that will become the foundation for all we’ll do this year.

Whether they were constructing towers with spaghetti noodles (& don’t forget the marshmallow on top), guessing which celebrity they were using “yes or no” questions only, or lining up by birthdate without talking, students were beginning the process of being comfortable outside their comfort zone.  Our work in Studio D is all about innovation- creating something that never was.  Doing something different requires stepping away from old habits and ideas, but doing the same as everyone else doesn’t create anything new.  We like to say “if everyone is thinking the same thing then no one is thinking.”

But the activities were also training for what we’re going to be doing later in the year.  The students practiced a formal greeting and firm handshake in a scavenger hunt;  in teams, students dreamed up a whimsical product then presented it to the class.  I was really impressed at their poise in presenting to a room full of 50+ peers and four teachers!

All of the activities were connected to our process and design thinking.  This gives us a starting point for next  week as we add some Studio D specific vocabulary and begin working some mini design challenges to build on our beginning exploration of the four Cs (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication).  In everything we’ll do, individual reflection helps students step back and examine their thinking and learning.  As teachers, we get a chance to evaluate them through these reflections and use this information to guide future instruction.  This week we also started doing reflections and I want to share of our student’s thoughts with you.

We asked them about a major lesson they learned:
“Not to underestimate my colleagues because we all shoot for the same goal.”  Hector V. 
“No one can have any negative energy or the work won’t flow.”  Jacob F.
“Be open to friendly criticism.”  Faith E.
“That everyone can have an idea that can benefit the group.”  Winnie T.
“It’s important to listen and test our teammates ideas because they could be right.”  Dayonte F.

We asked them to explain the significance of prototyping:
“It gives you a chance to work out the kinks before the final product.”  Aiden C.
“See problems with the model before you build it so it saves you time and materials.”  Destiny M.
“It provides a visual for the outcome.”  Darius H.

     I love it when I see them making connections on their own!

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