We have been discussing this important theme of ‘Making Learning That Matters’ over the last several weeks and we love sharing examples of this theme in action here at ASH. Before the winter holiday break and the current lockdown, some of Mr. Coyle’s middle school design technology students began collaborating with Mr. Rynearson and the ECC on their expanding garden program. They shared with us how this collaboration came about and how they are creating these meaningful learning opportunities for our students.
To start, Mr. Rynearson explained how the project began,“the school purchased a new greenhouse over the summer that was delivered and put together for us in August, which will allow teachers and students at the ECC to expand our garden program. The greenhouse did not come with planting tables and other furniture that makes it more functional, so I needed to find a way to furnish it as cheaply as possible. Reaching out to Mr. Coyle immediately came to mind.
Mr. Coyle and I worked closely together at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India, for several years as we explored and implemented the design thinking process with teachers and students in the elementary school. I thought of Mr. Coyle and the work he does with his students around the empathetic process of designing and building with others, and reached out to him about working with me and other teachers at the ECC on the greenhouse project. We even expanded the project after our initial meeting to include a need for a mud kitchen in the nature area at the ECC.
Mr. Coyle and his class of grade 7 and 8 students came over to the ECC two weeks before the winter break to do some research: to inspect the greenhouse and surrounding areas, take measurements, and interview teachers to learn about what we needed and wanted as an outcome. They spent time coming up with initial ideas and then met with us the following week to share their thinking and to get our feedback. It was apparent from their drawings and their follow up questions that they had listened carefully to what we initially shared about what we were looking for. It will be fun to see what the next iteration of their designs will look like and ultimately to see students at the ECC interacting with their finished products.”
This project will see some delays due to the need to shift to our virtual learning model, however, this won’t stand in the way of our students or teachers achieving the goals behind this collaboration! Mr. Coyle shared that “this collaboration is important to me because it helps us meet our vision at ASH where students are confident with their skills, taking control of their learning by doing "meaningful work" and able to apply those skills and learning in a "real world" context. Seeing the students "owning" their learning and being so engaged and invested is a good example of what teaching and learning in 2021 should be. In the short term, our shift to VLE will certainly create some challenges for the students with building the final products once the designs are dialed in but I'm confident the kids will deliver once they can get back into the DT lab.”
Watch this space to see how this collaboration evolves!