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In late October, St. Vrain Valley Schools, with support from the Education Foundation for the St. Vrain Valley, presented a district-wide design challenge competition. They asked all schools, “How might your school pull a team together to engage in authentic design to integrate technology in our schools?”
With two years of design thinking work under their belts, a group of six teachers from Indian Peaks Elementary stood up to embark on this journey of design. With the district offering a prize of $4000 to a district-wide winning team, enthusiasm was high from the start. Teachers first met to dig through the six essential components of learning technology: necessary targets for implementation in the challenge. The team brainstormed around how technology is currently used in their classrooms and how they’d like it used in the future. Through sharing and discussing, two of the six components stood out as an area of focus for the group: Shared Leadership and Student Vision.
Following the brainstorming session, a smaller team got together with design guru, Co Barry. Co consulted with the team as they defined a “just-right” challenge. Because the idea of “makerspace” had been swirling around the iPeaks community for a while, the group settled relatively quickly on one “How Might We…” statement: “How might we develop a makerspace to inspire a shared vision for integrated technology use?”
Co and the team discussed hopes and fears of the project. Hopes included: “to inspire [the iPeaks community] to use tech/engineering opportunities with freedom and creativity,” “technology used as a creative tool,” “culture of risk-taking spreads throughout the school,” and “less focus on product and more on product.” Fears swirled around ideas of the space not being utilized or having the space “pushed aside in order to meet other requirements.”
From the hopes category, teachers were able to get on the same page and create a mini vision statement. From the small exercise, they found out that developing a community of innovated, self-driven, risk-taking, inspired students was important to them. The challenge was evolving to be less about the “stuff” in the makerspace, but more about the philosophies and mindset. Skills would not be stand-alones, but instead an aspect of the design process.
The design team then determined possible stakeholders to the challenge. With several people listed, the team was able to create categories of supporters, untapped potentials, outside influencers, naysayers, and experts. The team decided to interview and engage representatives of each category to gather empathy without conducting a large amount of interviews.
We believe we are onto a great start, but this is where our community comes in! The team is searching for individuals or groups with expertise in the making movement. This design depends on the strength of our community, so we are reaching out for possible partnerships early in the process. Whether you are a consultant, teacher, business owner, or parent, we need you! Would you be willing to share your knowledge with our team? Would you help us integrate making into our core classrooms? Would you know how to market this type of space to families? Do you offer classes for students or adults on making? Will you take the challenge and help Indian Peaks along this journey?
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