Imagination and Designs

We did a reshuffle of our kids for semester two Design today. We introduced our provocation and shared the basic premise of what would be happening in each of our classes. Then kids chose where to go.

As I sat with my new class of kids, I decided to use the rest of the lesson to just get to know them and for them to get to know me. I also wanted to get a head start on organizing our written communication/file sharing so I had everyone create and start adding to an introductory document. I shared three prompts:

  1. Things you should know about me.
  2. What I learned about Design from Semester 1
  3. My goals for Design in Semester 2

We sat and talked while we were working, sharing stories about who we are and what is important to us. I learned that Kai’s fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Gijzen (“She was so kind!” – ahh, what a legacy!) and that all my kids are fluent Mandarin speakers (I see opportunities to engage with our local community in our future!). Tonight I came home and in opening each student’s document and reading what they wrote, I came across this:

“Design was completely different than I thought it would be. I thought it was a class that was full of imagination and designs, but what I have learned was that Design class is full of essays and writings and I need to work on my writing to be better at Design”

Grade 9 Student


Because I thought it was a class full of imagination and designs, too! 

In Design, we are guided by the MYP Design cycle and the MYP Criterion. And what I realize I have done is approach this in a very, very traditional way that results in a bias toward those who are capable of writing well in English. When I think about last semester, the image that comes to mind is students hunched over computers, tapping away. Is that what Design is?

I had lunch with a colleague today in which I was sharing ways I wanted to simplify and scaffold the written portion of Design and this has only amplified that goal. Imagination and Designs – that’s what’s on the menu in my class this semester. What I have realized is that my practice hasn’t supported my ideals. I have wanted one thing but have shown I value something very different by the way I both structure the class and reward participation.

This feedback was a gift. Now to ensure I put the learning into practice. We are moving into our unit about our impact on the planet and what we can do about it and I keep thinking of this quote:

“If not now, when?”

And then in browsing Terri Eichholz’s Video Board on Pinterest, I saw this:

“The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing
would solve most of the world’s problems.”
Mahatma Gandhi

How do you ENGAGE your students? How do you ease the written burden that we sometimes saddle our students with?