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Design Thinking

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White friends: I’m hearing those who are telling me that now is not the time to talk. Now is the time to watch, listen, and quietly help–not by taking charge, but by using my privilege to elevate, amplify, and fortify the IBPOC who are working for justice. Please be strong for them and willing to keep your eyes and ears and hearts wide open. Let’s not wring our hands. Let’s use them to do brave…

2006. I think this was the first time that I found myself facilitating a curriculum mapping initiative. Even then, it was all about culture ahead of curriculum. I was fortunate to have mentors who helped me seek representation from those who would be most effected by the work, ahead of doing it. They helped me establish better feedback loops. They challenged me to think hard about how I would sustain our learning and our work.…

I’d never heard of a coulee before I visited Monica Huebner’s classroom on my recent trip to Eric Harvie School in Calgary. “They’re a kind of land formation,” she told me, and I found myself struggling to process this. I’d just spent the better part of a week exploring Banff National Park, the Canadian Badlands, and the prairies in between with my husband, who joined me on this particular trip. Alberta’s quickly shifting landscapes–from snow-covered…

Here’s what I’ve learned so far: Emergent curriculum design isn’t a free-for-all. It’s not about evading standards–our own, or those that our state mandates. Emergent curriculum may be co-designed with students, but it’s still very carefully planned. In fact, it’s been my experience that emergent curriculum is far more data informed than many other kinds of curriculum we often purchase or create. A quick aside: I make no apologies for using the word data. Data are…

If you read my earlier post on establishing a shared vision ahead of emergent curriculum design work, then you’ll be better prepared to consider today’s post. Shared targets help learners (including teachers) understand what they learn during a lesson, how deeply they might learn it, and what they might do to demonstrate their learning. Drop by Ed Leadership to read more about learning targets, if you aren’t yet familiar with them. Connie Moss, Susan Brookhart,…

“We imagine a school in which students and teachers joyfully stretch themselves to their limits in search of projects built on their own visions, not one that merely succeeds in making apathetic students satisfy minimal standards. We imagine a school from which every student will come with vision.” -Seymour Papert and Gaston Caperton It was Piaget who first suggested that children think differently than adults, and while skeptics continue to treat his observations and the…

How might school leaders use this framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of their theories of change? How might teachers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of their curricular units and lessons? How might writers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of the pieces they are composing? How might makers use this same framework to design, launch, and work through varied iterations of…

Schools have become increasingly skilled at gathering data about learners–particularly quantitative data in the form of standardized and local test scores. But these data often fail to communicate the most essential information that teachers need in order to serve students well. These data help us develop hunches about what students struggle with. They don’t really help us understand why, though. This is why story matters. More than tools to engage listeners, story teaches all of us…

Consider complexity: Now, distinguish it from richness: I’m wondering….. ….about the relationship between complexity and richness. ….about the pursuit of complexity at the expense of richness. ….how complexity might contribute to richness. I’ve learned that….. Richness is equated with harmony and unity. Richness is about joyful productivity and gratification. Richness is abundance. Richness is brilliance. The near antonyms of richness are misery, torment, and tribulation. Over the last few years, I’ve begun…

On Tuesday, I shared a visual intended to help teachers conceptualize the whole of a writing workshop year before sharing a unit framework that middle level teachers might use to investigate social justice beside their students. Today, I’d like to show you the dashboard behind this kind of unit design. Those who have worked with me inside of writing workshops and studios are sometimes surprised to learn that I’m a fan of standards and other clear…