Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Yearbook Layouts a "Design Thinking" Challenge

Hello Readers,
As I've mentioned. This year I have been part of an innovator cohort in my district. In January (yeah, I've been a blogging slacker) we were asked to create a "Design Thinking" challenge. This was our 2nd challenge in the Future Classroom Cohort. As a group we learned about John Spencer’s Design Challenge and the Launch Cycle.  

There are five phases of the design process: Discovery, Interpretation, Ideation, Experimentation,  and Evolution. How can this be used with students? Even more so, how can I use this in my classroom?

This challenge was a little trickier for me because I have a student teacher this semester. She was just starting the argument writing unit that she fully designed and created, so I didn't want to come back from my cohort meeting and say, "Hey, I need my classes back for a couple days to try something."
Instead, I created a Design Challenge for my middle school yearbook class.  We meet each day at the end of the day for 30 minutes.  This year I had two returning yearbook staff members (8th graders) and 23 new staff members. With such a huge turnaround, I found that students were lacking many of the design elements required for creating a quality yearbook.  We have used the tutorials in the yearbook software, however, using the LAUNCH cycle gave students the ability to see the elements being manipulated on a page.

Here is my Layout Design Challenge activity.

I had the students manipulating paper and gluing.  I felt like this was old school yearbook creation instead of innovation.  However, my students were really excited to work in groups to discuss and create new layouts using this “mystery folder” full of materials.  One student asked, "Why didn't we do this at the beginning of the year. I responded that I simply hadn't thought of it. We will however definitely start next year with this process. Originally I had planned on the students somehow connecting their layouts to our theme. However students were struggling with that concept because the mystery folders just contained random images, headlines, body text, and captions. None of these even related to each other, let alone a theme. I took that requirement out. For the launch, we posted the layouts around the room. Students gave each other really amazing feedback and suggestions to improve the layout before I even had to.

I spoke with a colleague and voiced that I was afraid I was doing this assignment incorrectly.  It didn’t seem innovative.  She said, it seemed like good teaching practices.  Are we sometimes confusing best practices with innovation because it doesn’t happen across the board?  It was hard to align standards to this because we used no technology at all.  This leads to another argument. It doesn’t have to use technology to be innovative. We defined Innovation at the beginning of our cohort. We’re doing something in a new way, or looking at something differently.

So, there it is. This challenge once again helped me to reflect on my teaching. There are practices that I have gotten away from because they didn't include technology such as creating foldables or pop-ups to learn story elements or find theme. The students loved cutting and pasting, they loved creating when I did these activities. This challenge was a reminder that just because I teach in a one-to-one classroom not everything innovative or creative has to revolve around the iPad. Students should and need to explore a variety of mediums. I'm going to work to do a better job of finding the right tools for the job instead of trying to make one tool fit every job!

Thanks for reading!


English Middle School Mania