#DBC50Summer 16/50: Launch

When you open a book and literally start nodding in agreement with the very first sentence, you know you’re in for a wild ride.  That’s exactly what Book 16 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up did!  Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani could not have come at a more perfect time this summer!  Big things are in store after reading this one!

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This book is everything I want my daughters experiencing in their education.  It describes everything I want the media center to be for students… really, everything I want SCHOOL to be for students.  I’ve never really gotten into any of the “design thinking” protocols because they are so wordy… everything-“tion”… ideation, creation, reflection – my students needed a translaTION to understand half of it.  None of the ones I had seen really fit for middle school students; they were either too elementary or too difficult to understand.  Our school has been trying to find a new engineering/design process to implement and immediately upon seeing the LAUNCH cycle as described by John & AJ, I texted my principal.

The plan of implementation for this book will be school-wide!  The School Improvement Team (SIT) met last week; on the agenda was reviewing and selecting a design process as our current process is 10 steps long and just too much for our students. They didn’t see anything they were married tom so they began creating a mash-up of a few of the processes they saw, but it’s not been finalized!  With that in mind, I hope to have the opportunity to present the LAUNCH cycle to our SIT team as an option for our school’s design process.  I immediately fell in love with the process and the ease in which it can be implemented, and I believe our staff will too.

L – Look, Listen, Learn

A – Ask Tons of Questions

U – Understand the Process or Problem

N – Navigate Ideas

C – Create a Prototype

H – Highlight and Fix

LAUNCH to an audience.

At the end of last year, my principal requested that we begin thinking about a way to bring a focus of research skills back to our school.  When I saw that the U in LAUNCH relates directly to various types of research I all but squealed with joy!  The research methods discussed by John and AJ are exactly what I want my students to walk away knowing.  Research isn’t always about looking online or looking in a printed article or book.  Research is about learning.  It can happen in the form of an interview, watching multimedia, even action research with observation or through a hands-on experiment and collecting data.  This book came at the absolute perfect time, and I am so excited to share all I learned with my school!  The resources that John & AJ have made available are incredible!  Check out the website for their book here, as well as the individual websites of the authors – John’s is here and AJ’s can be found here!  I could spend hours just looking at the websites!

In the off-chance that my school does not choose to implement the LAUNCH cycle, I have a backup implementation plan (because that’s just how I roll; I’ve got a backup for the backup, but no need to share that one just yet).  As a backup plan (and likely implemented regardless of LAUNCH cycle implementation), I will pursue a Global Day of Design in May using the information given here.  This is an incredible opportunity for students to use their knowledge and unlock creativity in exciting ways.  I believe that being part of something much larger than our school will engage our students in meaningful ways.  Last year we held our first official Maker Faire event.  It was a terrific event, but I believe the Global Day of Design will bring about more creative products with a bigger purpose behind their creations than just the event in question.  I love that the LAUNCH cycle “ends” (we all know design thinking never really ends, but you understand, yes?) with launching to an authentic audience.  This is more than just a presentation, but actually seeing the design in action!  I believe this is a spectacular way for students to have real meaning behind their design, rather than the hypotheticals they are usually presented with.  I know my blogs being read by many of you has forced me to put much more thought into them.  Imagine how much harder our students will work when they know someone, other than their teacher and peers, are using their products.

Finally, Launch speaks multiple times about the power of challenges, risk-taking, and failure.

  • “…design thinking isn’t about abandoning the standards.  It’s about raising the standards and challenging students to think at a deeper level.”
  • “You will fail. It’s going to happen… failure is a part of the process for innovative teachers.  Each mistake is simply another iteration on the journey toward success…the only way you blaze a trail is by taking risks and failing forward.”
  • “Design thinking encourages creative risk-taking with the goal of eventual mastery.”
  • “It was the first time I had heard students talk about ‘failure’ in a positive light; they realized that creating big goals gave them the opportunity to fail forward.”
  • “…we want kids to embrace mistakes as part of the learning process… each mistake is a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  When students have the permission to make mistakes, they define success as growth and learning.  They recognize that failure isn’t really failure at all”

Each of these quotes stood out to me.  Creating a safe culture where it is okay to fail is of utmost importance when implementing design thinking.  It is what I hope our media center has become in the two years that I’ve been there.

I want students to know that it’s okay to mess up, that it’s great to make a mistake, that failure isn’t final.

Launch was such a powerful book to me!  I created multiple BookSnaps and posted them on Twitter, check them out!

 

 

 

 

Be sure to join the #LaunchBook community on Twitter as they discuss Design Thinking, creativity, and bringing out the maker in every student.  Follow both John & AJ on Twitter, at @spencerideas and @ajjuliani, respectively.  The Flipgrid is available, as always, as a space for global collaboration in reflection and implementation of the book!  In this Flipgrid, tell about a time you failed in the classroom!  What did you learn from it? How have you improved your teaching practice because of it?  It’s a safe space, so share, share, share!  We can learn from one another here!  The password is DBCSummer, as usual.

Andrea Paulakovich, a dear friend and vital member of my PLN, joined in the #DBC50Summer and suggested the spectacular idea of adding Flipgrid as a way to share ideas!  She’s super awesome – you should follow her at @apaulakovichIRT & her #DBC50Summer journey here!

Launch inspired another book by John Spencer and AJ Juliani titled Empower.  This book is part of the publishing company IMpress.  You can read more about IMpress here.  So why don’t you head on over to Amazon and purchase your own copies of both of these awesome books Launch AND Empower?!?!  I was blown away by Launch and look forward to rereading with my peers at work as we, hopefully, implement the LAUNCH cycle in design thinking.  I will certainly be reading and blogging about Empower once I complete the DBC books.

*Side Note: Within this book is a step-by-step process to uncover your passions… seriously, I’m not making that up!  This is another thing I fell in love with, as I plan to go through it to see if I can discover my educational passions (see Play Like A Pirate post).  How incredible would it be for our students to go through this process, too?!

The 17th book (my favorite number, coincidentally) is none other than Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney.  This book… well, wow… no words. Just go get it, while I reread it and try to form the words needed to describe it in the blog. Not sure it can be done. Grab your copy and settle in! You will quickly remember your WHY while you read that one!

Media Makeover

There’s a saying “form follows function”.  I’m sure you’ve also heard “if you build it, they will come”.  Basically, my media center needed to reflect the changes that we hoped the pilot would bring to the culture of the school and the vision for media centers throughout the district.  The media space at my school was perfect for the school when it opened in 2000.  Based on new trends in education, and push for Future Ready schools, the use of the space was no longer adequate.  The physical space desperately needed to be updated and the collection needed to be heavily weeded.

Makerspace

We started with a good-sized classroom off the media center.  It previously functioned as the technician’s workspace, but I immediately envisioned a makerspace there.  It already had a sink, tile floors, a solid wall, and lots of storage.  I was also trying to break the habit of sending broken chromebooks to the media center, so I felt that having the technician in that space was counter-intuitive.  The technician at our school graciously moved to another space in the school, and a fresh coat of paint, in some pretty cool colors was the beginning of a makerspace.

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Before

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Before

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After: painted and ready for materials

Virtual Reality Room

The next room on the list was the periodical storage room.  This room was full of classroom book sets, old magazines, manipulatives, old textbooks, and so much more.  I found that teachers didn’t even know what all they had at the school as it was all stored in the media center.  So many teachers were excited to come pick out what matched their curriculum and take it back to their classrooms.  As a teacher, unless I saw it in my classroom, I would forget it was available to me.  I think many of these teachers operated the same way.  Now the manipulatives and many of the book sets are in classrooms.  Textbooks were sent back to the district warehouse.  Old magazines were placed in the makerspace for projects and teachers were directed to the online content.  What teachers did not want, or no longer matched with the curriculum, the students took home.  We transformed this room into the Virtual Reality room (more information on that in a later post).

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Storage

I won’t add images of the storage space as this space was used as a storage space for the school it seems.  There were so many pieces of outdated or broken technology that I asked our central office to sort through the materials and properly remove anything that could be removed.  My assistant superintendent was also kind enough to help me sort through the professional collection to focus on our district initiatives and provide our staff with the most current literature from well-respected educators.  There is an ancient white computer that has become a discussion piece as we still use it to power the poster maker!  My students love to glance in the storage room at the “dinosaur” and I have used the floppy disks that accompany the computer as talking points in several lessons.  Otherwise, most of the space was cleared out and now that all Chromebooks have been turned in for the summer, the once empty shelves are full of Chromebooks waiting for school to start again.

My Office

I really struggled with what to do with my office.  I’ve never been the type to sit in an office to work; I’d rather be visible in the media center.  I considered turning this space into another student space, a quiet study room or a space for reading.  The more I considered the space, I decided to keep it as my office for now.  All of the equipment to repair books, prepare books for circulation, and any files that needed to be kept are housed in my office.  I also keep the professional books I have purchased here so that they are separate from school-funded books.  Any materials that are not ready to be placed in the makerspace and my breakout boxes that I loan to teachers are also housed here.  Finally, I house my more expensive equipment here, behind the locked door to prevent theft or accidental breaking.  This space may eventually evolve into another space for students, but for now it remains my office.

Media Space

This space deserves an entire blog post in and of itself.  For now, the quick version is that after weeding due to age, condition, and circulation, and after adding another shelf to each case to eliminate unused space, I was able to remove 2 12-foot long bookcases, 1 9-foot long bookcase, and 24 feet of bookcases on the walls.  The corners of the media center were dark and everything felt so cluttered.  Now it is open and airy and there are so many exciting places for students to sit and read, work on projects, collaborate, and have class.  Look for a post in the near future about specific changes in the media space.  For now, enjoy some pictures of the space from my first day at work to phase one of the media space changes.

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What comes next?  This year I am installing a Minecraft lab of 10 computers.  These computers will likely run an eSports league as well.  I’m excited to build a large Lego wall and extend the makerspace with the help of my Makerspace Mentors.  I am also looking to begin the transition to having all my furniture on wheels.  Because my school is located near the center of our district, the media center is frequently used for large meetings.  Furniture on wheels would make things so much easier!  I’m also eager to put in a comfortable reading area in one of the alcoves near the interior windows.  There will be more “comfy chairs” (students’ words, not mine) available in the media center as well.  Finally, on the big screen TV, I will have announcements of happenings around the school, as well as a showcase of awesome work from students and teachers.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Creating Community – A Schoolwide Project

All 270(ish) students in my elementary school collaborating on one big project over the course of a month, each part of the project relying heavily on another group doing their part.  That was my goal.  My principal had mentioned a collaborative project, and it had grabbed my interest.  I had no idea what to do from there.

One morning a few weeks later, while in the shower (where all amazing ideas are born), I had a fleeting thought about my oldest daughter’s upcoming field trip to a fire station.  This sparked a little genius hour project of my own to see the scope and sequence of the study of community helpers through elementary school.  It turns out that every grade level has some mention of community helpers/citizens woven into the North Carolina Essential Standards for Social Studies (K-2, 3-5).

So I wrote a DonorsChoose project for a Community Helper Lego Construction set and an Ozobot.  The majority of the project was funded by our friends at Paradise Games, a local gaming store in our community.  (A HUGE thank you to these guys!)  The idea?  To use Lego bricks to build a community and have an Ozobot programmed to move through it using codes created by markers.

Here was the plan:

PreK, Cross-categorical class, and Kindergarten: Research various community helpers using PebbleGo  and create a list of community helpers they would like to see in our own community

1st grade: Use the list created by PreK, CC, and Kinder to determine where those community helpers worked.  For example: Kindergarten said we need a doctor.  1st grade decided that doctors work in a hospital and a doctor’s office.  They also mentioned dentists, so we included those as well.  These buildings were compiled into a list for 2nd grade.

2nd grade: Create a blueprint for the community.  Use the Lego blocks to begin building the workplaces of the community helpers.  *This was where I saw real engineering and the STEM element of the project begin to emerge.  My students did not understand the proper way to build with the Lego blocks; they didn’t get the purpose of the overlapping of bricks to create an interlocking wall.  The walls would crumble when moved. Lots of devastated kids and a few tears, but they figured it out and created some excellent building foundations.

3rd grade: Put the finishing touches on the Lego buildings and review the blueprints for the community with a suggestion prepare for 4th grade.  This group also laid the foundation of the community (white bulletin board paper) onto two large rectangle tables in the media center.

4th grade: Place buildings throughout the community.  Heated conversation ensued about the location of the church (which was insisted upon by my 2nd grade students), the proximity of the school to the police station/jailhouse, and the ability to move from the doctor’s office to the hospital quickly.  These students also created the “sidewalks” to signify road spacing on which the Ozobot would travel.

5th grade: Using the open road spaces for the Ozobot, the 5th graders designed a color-coded roadway that allowed the Ozobot to visit all of the buildings in our community.  It started in the entrance to the community and went to every single building performing various tricks, tasks, and moving at different speeds along the way.

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The project took only one class period (45 minutes) for each class in the school.  There are 14 classes.  With snow delays and my media schedule switching each week, this schoolwide STEM project took nearly 6 weeks to complete.  Overall, all students in the school worked toward a common goal, collaborating each step of the way.  The younger students took delight in seeing their community helpers and the buildings come to fruition on the tables in the media center.  The workspace was out front and center where everyone could see it as they entered the learning space.  During the creation of the community, the workspace was organized chaos.  Students left it, as is, when their class time was over.  Our faculty still held meetings here, students still circulated books, and we still held media classes and small group instruction.

It is my hope that this project continues to push forward a change in school culture.  For me, this project was never about the materials (which were an awesome addition to our makerspace collection).  It was the idea of my entire school working together to make something really cool.  I almost cringe to call it a STEM project because STEM seems to be becoming another “buzzword”, a label to put on something to make it sound educational.  Truly, this project was an adventure.  This project allowed my students, in all grade levels, to see a long-term goal met with research, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.  It was a mess throughout much of the process, none of us knew what we were doing, and we pushed through and made a masterpiece.  Our students’ future is not about coloring in bubbles on an answer sheet, sitting in desks taking notes, and listening quietly to an adult talk all day.  Their future is about engagement, empowerment, and enthusiasm.  Through this schoolwide project, these students were all engaged, they were empowered by creating a community of their own, and they were more enthusiastic than ever before.

*Video on YouTube.