Showing posts with label innovation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label innovation. Show all posts

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Teens 6 Magazine Project

Making writing exciting

Whenever I get to a writing lesson, I picture my students complaining and moaning about having to write anything. It’s almost as if they had a radar that indicated “boring activity ahead”. These are, thus, the lessons that intrigue me the most just for the challenge of changing that regular pattern.

DSC06109.JPGTo do so, I am always reflecting on how relevant and interesting the writing can be for my young teenage students. The formula is not so hard: just take the genre of the piece of writing into account and think about how it could be applied to their realities. That is basically what I did for my Teens 6 group. Writing news reports was the goal, so I decided to take my students from the role of students to the role of reporters.

The students were obviously excited with the idea of becoming reporters and writing a story. The idea was that they would gather in pairs or trios and would each be assigned a certain page of our class magazine. Once I had a Google slide template of the magazine prepared and ready to be accessed through a shortened link (bit.ly/teens6magazine), I instructed my students and took them to the Resource Centre to make it happen.

DSC06129.JPGI had to do it in two classes. The first attempt wasn’t so good because some of my students messed around and interfered in other students’ slides. In the following class, I told them off and told them that they would be given a last chance to finish their reports. I also said that those who didn’t finish would have their pages taken out of the magazine. That gave them some encouragement. On the second day, then, they worked a lot better and behaved as expected.

After joining forces with the Resource Centre at the Main Branch, the magazine was printed out and the students were able to have their own copies. The gleam in my students’ eyes when they saw the magazines I had brought paid off all the effort and struggle I described in the previous paragraph.

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Maybe a magazine project cannot be carried out every semester, but something we can definitely do is plan our lessons every day wondering whether they will bore our students or excite them. Bearing that in mind and having some deal of willingness, we will be able to come up with many other ideas that can surprise our students and make a difference in their lives.

Lucas G. Silva

Friday, April 07, 2017

Thomas Innovation Mentors: Aligning views and probing into our teenage students' perceptions




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In our second innovation project session today we worked on investigating and aligning our views of our students’ classroom experiences. To that effect, we created our CSD Matrix (Matriz CSD in Portuguese), in which ‘C’ stands for certainties, ‘S’ for suppositions, and ‘D’ for doubts. We probed into our views and beliefs regarding the quality of the experience our students have in our classrooms. Individually, each team member wrote down their perceptions onto post-its (one perception per post-it) within a few minutes for each of the three categories. Once everyone was finished recording their views, it was time for us to process what we came up with. Going over everyone’s contributions generated some interesting conversations on our beliefs, and we concluded that we are pretty much aligned in our views of the kind of experience we think our students have in our classroom.


Team members were now ready to process a set of students’ responses to a brief questionnaire, a google form containing the following questions: 1. Tell us about a memorable English class you had at Thomas. Why was it a memorable experience?; 2. Considering all your trajectory at Thomas, in different levels with different teachers, what is it that you like the most about our classes?; 3. What is it that you like the least about our classes?; and 4. Write a word that represents your experience in your classes at Thomas. We managed to get responses from a mix of teenage students from different levels. We worked in two trios, and each trio looked at the responses to questions 1 and 2. What we did was go over students’ responses, which had been compiled into post-its, and try to identify patterns, tendencies or even categories that would emerge from their responses. The idea was to reach a more synthetic understanding of students’ perceptions and see if any insights would spring up in the process. As we shared our findings, we were able to make connections and identify some ideas which we felt were in the core of students’ responses. We took notes of those core findings so that they can inform actions ahead.


We wrapped up the session with some analysis and discussion around how our findings regarding students’ responses aligned with or somehow validated our own perceptions in our CSD Matrix, and we concluded that perceptions were quite aligned and coherent. As a result of this session, we were able to see a teenage student persona taking shape. A persona who has very specific perceptions of the classroom experience, who has particular needs and desires. The next step is to deepen the insights and prototype solutions to be tested in the classroom. This was quite a productive and inspiring session, and it feels like each one of us is gradually gaining a new sense that we go beyond being teachers, we are learning experience designers.

Would you like to know more about this project? Check out our site: bit.ly/thomasinnovationmentors


Friday, March 17, 2017

Thomas Innovation Mentors: Project Kick-off

Last Friday, March 10th, we launched the Thomas Innovation Mentors Project. We are a team of eight highly motivated and curious teachers eager to reflect on our students’ classroom experience. The idea is to look at everything that takes place within the classroom from the student’s perspective. We want to tap into the perceptions and emotions that our students experience during their time with us in order to gain new insights into possible paths to innovation.


We are adopting a Design Thinking (DT) approach, since its very definition reflects how we want to go about the project: DT is a human-centered design process. Therefore, in our first face-to-face session we facilitated a DT crash course put together by Stanford’s d.school. Throughout the session, team members worked with a partner to redesign a gift-giving experience. In the process, they were able to go through the DT cycle and apply the ‘mindfulnesses’ necessary to successfully engage in the co-creation process.



The 5-stage DT cycle  (Image by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford)


The DT ‘mindfulnesses’  (Image by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford)

Team members worked together to understand their partner’s profile and needs in order to design a new and impactful gift-giving experience for their partners. Massive interaction and dynamic collaboration naturally took place, and the energy level was high up throughout the session. Each team member then prototyped their ideas in order to see how their partners interacted with it. Every stage of the DT cycle was timed, which made the creative process challenging and quite fruitful.

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It was a very successful kick-off session! We reached our goal of getting primed for applying the DT process, both in practical terms as well as in mindful terms. We are now engaging in understanding the challenge ahead of us. The next step will be to empathize with our “user” - our students - in order to more clearly define the direction we are headed. We are certain that this is going to be a very rich (and fun!) learning experience for all our project collaborators - teachers and students.


Team members proudly exhibiting their prototypes.