Friday, April 21, 2017

Can we redesign the Kivas? - Exploring Project Based Learning with 7th Grade Math

I think we would all agree that we want our children to be involved in learning that is engaging, authentic, relevant and challenging.   This week I had the chance to be part of a classroom experience with Maggie O'Toole's seventh grade math class that really hit the mark.   This project based learning unit is based around a challenging problem that has been before us for years - how to design a modification to the B Wing Kiva classroom spaces that can offer a solution to the sound and visual distractions that come from not having doors while still maintaining the utility of a meeting / intervention space, student cubbies and storage.  

Lindsay, Jack and Allie share their ideas with the study group
Maggie brought together focus groups consisting of contractors from Breadloaf Construction, architects from Dore and Whittier, teachers and students to provide feedback to nine workgroups preliminary designs.   In collaboration with fellow Holden teacher Diana Rich, the students had prepared over several weeks by measuring the spaces and building multiple scale models, learning collaboration skills, exploring the design and revision process, and practicing their public presentation skills.    The outcome of this day was wonderful to see as each group confidently shared their designs and then worked with experts to understand where their ideas really made sense and where they might want to consider a pivot.    One of our guests - Breadloaf Senior Project Manager Bob Eaton summed it up well in this follow-up note:   "What an impressive group of students! I was taken by how well they prepared, their thought process and how confidently they presented to a group. No easy task and they all excelled. You should be very proud of the great work you and the teachers are doing with these kids."

Our outside experts on this team were Breadloaf's Bob Eaton as well as Joe Petrarca and Rob Fitzgerald from Dore and Whittier
Our outside experts on this team were Lee Dore from Dore and Whittier and Dakota Stender from Breadloaf
We love our new learning commons - what a perfect venue for sharing our public products!   Thanks Breadloaf and Dore & Whittier for nailing this design :-)  

Today when I stopped in, the class had already moved to the complex group work of taking their diverse ideas and working to a consensus of what ideas they wanted to incorporate into an overall class idea.   Fascinating to watch our 7th graders navigate the real world challenges of collaboration, revision and compromise - work they navigated with skill I wish could be taught to many groups I have been a part of.   The final product will be 3-D models that will be shared with the Shelburne School Board for their consideration.    Most exciting - there were some really fantastic / out of the box ideas for how those spaces might be improved over the coming years.    Can't wait to share their solutions later this month!   

The key principles of Project Based Learning - see the connections in this Kiva project?  

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