For the next two weeks, our Design students will design their own challenge. It seems only fitting for them since our entire premise is to create solutions and solve problems using your existing skill sets. While we just getting started, it has been really interesting to see their enthusiasm and excitement around doing something that they are passionate about doing and learning. We also have our students writing their own rubrics for the 4Cs and student agency. I have attached some of the rubrics that our students have created. There are three categories for them to evaluate what each of these competencies look like. Those categories are approaching / developing, proficient/meets, and exceeds/accomplished. The conversations that have occurred with each group to develop their own criteria for evaluating their challenge have been very rich. Many students have shared that they love being able to explore something that they have always wanted to do and the fact that they can do it during school is even more awesome.
The ratings for each criteria are adapted from the NC Teacher Evaluation tool and uses three of the four ratings used in teacher evaluation. As you can see, students view each of the ratings for each criteria in various ways But the idea that students can evaluate their own progress against standards that they designed can be powerful and this is precisely what we hope to connect as students complete their challenges. This is much like the goals that adults develop in life: I create a goal and figure out the criteria that I will use to measure my progress. It is our hope that students will begin to connect the evaluation of goal setting by designing carefully selected criteria that realistically measures their progress.
As a side note, we fully realize that this approach may fail or need to be modified. It is these results that we are precisely looking for in order to better refine this challenge for our next group. If you are looking to learn more about Design Your Challenge, check out our introductory document provided to our students. Some of the challenges that our students have proposed involve creating a set of rules and policies to make MMA (mixed martial arts) safer for athletes, creation of YouTube channels to showcase various interests such as make up and fashion review, and the creation of a sponsored pep rally for our Special Olympics athletes. It will definitely be an interesting and exciting conclusion to our class. Be sure to check out this blog for more updates as we progress through this Design Your Own Challenge. I know that I will definitely learn a lot during this challenge.
We have finally reached our last challenge for the school year in Design. It has been an amazing year. The growth that many of our students have experienced is spectacular. I have seen students improve their ability to work and collaborate with others. Many students have realized that they have creative ideas that are matter. We have also seen students progress in their critical thinking skills tremendously. As a side note, many of our students, who were initially opposed to our class, are now some of our strongest advocates. Many students have developed tremendous leadership skills along the way that will serve them well in future endeavors.It has been a challenge year though. We still have some students who are working to develop key skills and competencies in the 4Cs and student agency.
Earlier this week, I co-presented with our school's principal, Meredith Williams, at the Connecting Communities of Educational Stakeholders Conference in Greensboro, NC. She is one of the architects behind the creation of Design Challenge at North Rowan High School. We shared the background of the school's evolution into Design Challenge as well many of the highlights and challenges that we experienced this year. Attendees asked many good questions and there appeared to be a high level of engagement in what we were doing. We emphasized that we are still learning and moving forward but we have seen some tremendous successes. Perhaps one of the most important successes is tied to a quote from a parent contained in the slideshow below. She indicated that her daughter is excited about learning again. As a parent of a 7 year old, I am beginning to see him less excited about school and that breaks my heart. However, when I think about what the parent shared, it reaffirms the importance of what we are doing and provides a relevant measure of our program's success as well as hope for my son. High school students excited about learning. Many of them eagerly run to class which is a huge accomplishment in itself. As we returned home from the conference, it really made me think about the need to share and spread much of what we have done with other schools. It is my hope that with our presentation, we have planted some seeds that will re-engage students in the school and sparked their curiosity and creativity.
As a side note, our principal, Mrs. Meredith Williams (@williamsmnrhs) was selected as one of the Marvin R. Pittman Champions for Education Award Winners. Mrs. Williams was recognized as the award winner for administrators and we are so very proud of her. In true fashion, she accepted the award on behalf of all the hard work that the students, staff, and community are doing to move North Rowan High School forward.
This past week, our Design class held their first ever exhibit based on the Tikkon Olam Challenge. Over 200 individuals attended the exhibition. For those not following this blog, Tikkon Olan is Hebrew for “heal the world.” Students were tasked with working with a “need knower,” a group or individuals to determine his/her needs and find a way to meet that need. While doing this, students applied the Design Thinking process which originates with empathy. Students worked collaboratively to create a list of questions designed to develop a better understanding of their need knower. After the initial interview, students developed a more concentrated set of questions to better determine a need or an opportunity for their need knower. After working to identify at least one need for their need knower, students ideated several ways in which to meet the identified needs of the need knower. Students then chose a solution and created a prototype. The students then solicited feedback from the need knower and made a second prototype and tested it.
This challenged proved to be one of the best challenges in that students learned to focus on meeting the needs of others. Here are some of the highlights of what our students accomplished:
One of our groups worked with our school resource officer (SRO) to identify that he needed the opportunity to work out more during the school day, often when he is in his office. They worked to create a Metaverse experience to connect various YouTube videos showing simple exercises that he could do in his office. They also found out that he enjoyed quotes from the Art of War attributed to Sun Tzu. They integrated quotes into the Metaverse experience to further inspire our SRO.
A second used Metaverse to help a special needs student learn to spell. They had to obtain various lists of spelling words from the student’s teacher and program them into their Metaverse experience. The students quickly realized that they had to include a short audio recording telling the student the word instead of typing it in the app since the student was spelling it. This was a great design challenge that our students realized they need to solve.
A third group worked with another special needs student to provide him with an experience of friendship and acceptance after identifying a need of social interactions. This group also interviewed the student’s mother to better determine needs. The group created an experience where he played several games and bonded with them. The student was extremely happy. This group also created a large poster with pictures to help him always remember his experience. They even plan to continue to work with him in the future.
Another group worked in secret to design a space for theatre teacher where individuals could donate unwanted goods for teachers to use. This was been a dream for this teacher for many years. When she visited the exhibition, they told her about their plan and she very humbled by what the students had created. Later, the students created a strong pitch to our school’s principal to help make this space a reality. They are already solicited donations for their space. A short video is embedded at the top of this blog from these young men.
The exhibition was simply a finishing stage for a successful challenge. Students seemed very pleased with what they accomplished. The visitors provided amazing feedback and even complimented how well spoken our students were in these presentations. It is moments like this solidify the importance of the work that we are doing. The work that our students are doing matters and it shows. By showcasing some of the extraordinary things going on at North Rowan High School, our students see that their work matter. They see that their ideas matter. They see that their ideas matter. The school’s transformation continues but the early successes of school designed with the idea of “what box?” seems to be the right path for North Rowan High School.
Based on the feedback of our visitors, we have much more to accomplish but we are pleased that we are marking on a journey that will benefit our students and their futures positively. This week, we will have two sets of students present at NCTIES in Raleigh on their Design Experience. If you are able, please stop by the student showcase and see what teams from both the 9th and 10th grade Design courses are doing.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.