Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time to LAUNCH!

I just finished reading "LAUNCH" by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani.  This book is about "using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student."

A few years ago, I attended an introductory "Design Thinking" workshop sponsored by Oceanit.  I was intimidated; everyone around me was busy designing their wallet and I was . . . well, I was watching them and feeling helpless at not having any good ideas.

Then, when I first heard about Makerspaces from Eric Sheninger, I wasn't convinced that we needed that space at our school. Luckily, I didn't say "no" when our librarian said she wanted to create one and give students opportunities to create, share, and learn from others. Throughout the year, as I observed students in the Makerspace, I was amazed at their level of engagement and creativity. Because our new library media center is still being constructed, our librarian had a classroom for her Makerspace that doubled as a research and teaching area for lessons; she had to really plan carefully to ensure that students had the time and the space to explore and discover as well as to create and share. Recently, she shared at a conference about "Curriculum & Creativity in the Makerspace." I am thrilled at all the different ways that students are using the Makerspace!

To me, though, one of the best outcomes from starting a Makerspace at our school is seeing empowerment in action. Our librarian Michelle Colte and her assistant Leah Stone are always thinking of ways to bring in students and teachers to the library/Makerspace, and the numerous photos and links are evidence of the opportunities available at our school. The next big step, though, is the "launch" part where our students are actually given opportunities to share their products with others, not just within our school community, but globally as well.

The library is not the only place where design thinking is taking place at our school. Our kindergarten classes were studying about the sun, and students used design thinking to create a structure to protect a marshmallow from melting in the sun. Students came up with all kinds of ideas, created their prototype, tried out their ideas, made revisions based on their observations, and tried again. Fourth graders used the design thinking process to "Build a Better Product." This toothpaste dispenser project and this individual coffee dispenser are examples of students using the design process to address a problem they wanted to solve. I was impressed when students shared their ideas!

We asked the kindergarten students to explain how their structure would protect the marshmallow from melting. They all could explain their thinking. 
Personally, the chapter on "Creating" had the most impact on me. I've always felt that I was not a creative person. And yet, according to the criteria, I do have some creativity. I go through the process every time I blog and share publicly. In my younger days, I sewed my own clothes and cross-stitched gifts for my family and friends. I haven't done that in years, but maybe it's time I tried something new. The challenges for me are #1 and #2 in the chapter on "Creating": #1 It Takes Time and #2 It Feels Scary. As the principal, I encourage our staff and our students to be risk-takers, critical and creative thinkers and problem-solvers. As uncomfortable as it makes me feel, I need to do the same.

Summer is a great time to catch up on professional reading. I would recommend Launch to any teacher or administrator who believes in creative schools!


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  2. I look forward to what these students be doing next year!

  3. I look forward to what these students will be creating during the next school year.

  4. I look forward to what these students will be creating during the next school year.