Archive for March, 2010

Teaching Philosophy – Interview with Jamie Nestor

March 18th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Discovery, Inspirations, Interviews, Resources
Katie, Derek and Jamie

Katie, Derek and Jamie

Derek and I had a wonderful afternoon conversation at the City Bakery with Jamie Nestor, a graduate student at the esteemed Teachers College at Columbia University.

Overall, Jamie reiterated much of what we’ve heard from education professionals: get kids intrinsically motivated, reach them on an emotional and personal level, and keep it hands on to sustain their attention. Make sure to carefully plan the work and the group assignments, make the goals clear and be transparent about expectations.

It was great news for us to hear these concepts reemphasized through Jamie’s inspirational words, and beyond teaching method advice she also spoke about theory and philosophy when handling a class.

Teaching Philosophy, Meet Design

Jamie’s teaching philosophy revolves around two principles:

  1. Students should be the center of the learning
  2. Teachers need to be held accountable for what goes on in their classroom

The first principle particularly resonated with us. The idea that a student drives the decisions being made about a lesson plan is a direct translation of the user-centered design process we practice in our work. We were relieved to see a clear connection between what we know and what we’re trying to learn about teaching. Speaking of connections, Jamie told us about a teaching technique called “scaffolding,” in which an educator helps a student build upon existing knowledge to understand a more advanced concept. (We instantly thought of Jared Spool’s “brick” theory.)

The second principle is important for creating a community of learning within a school. If every teacher is held accountable it will produce a more dedicated teaching staff that is able to engage students through their enthusiasm and commitment to what is being taught.

Hopes & Fears of Prospective Teachers

Jamie asked us what fears we have as we prepare to teach students about design. I spoke first, sharing my fear that the kids won’t love design as much as we do as students and practitioners, and explained how that may be a difficult challenge for us to cope with. Jamie’s advice was clear: when she teaches, Jamie doesn’t expect that her students love the subject matter as much as she does (she used to teach Latin), but she does expect that they leave class with an appreciation and respect for it.

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Inspiration: Invention At Play

March 10th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Inspirations, Research, Resources

Invention at Play is an exhibit that celebrates inventors, innovation and the creative process at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  I  recently discovered the website for the exhibit and their four approaches to playful invention might be a useful framework for our program as one of our main goals is to get kids excited about creating things.

The exhibit, website, and educator’s manual shows how these approaches – Exploratory Play, Pretend Play, Social Play, and Play with Patterns, Puzzles, and Problems – can help children understand their own creative abilities and become inventors of their own. This is definitely one of the outcomes we aim to get out of IxD program, so I look forward to exploring these concepts further as we development our curriculum.

Interview With Keith Frazier

March 5th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Interviews

Keith Frazier

Keith Frazier,  currently manages a K -5 New York City test prep program at under performing schools.  While his program is specifically focused on helping students improve their math and literacy skills, we wanted to interview him to gain insight on working with NYC public schools.

Keith was really interested in how we position our programs to potential schools. He suggested partnering with  school PTAs to  get parents involved immediately, ultimately allowing them to become advocates for the program.

Researching current New York State Department of Education curriculum requirements was also one of his suggestions.  Even though our program is about design, he felt that if we can relate the specifics of our program to state required education guidelines,  it will help demonstrate the value of our program to administrators and others who may find the design concepts we want to teach abstract.

Ultimately, Keith told us to keep this in mind as we develop the program: Make the program relevant to all involved and people will be excited and interested in participating.


Calling New York City Teachers

March 4th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Discovery, Inspirations, Research
Students at Vanguard High School, Manhattan

Students at Vanguard High School, Manhattan

This week Derek and I visited a local area high school to see first hand how teachers engage students in the subject matter about which they are passionate. We gained an incredible amount of knowledge just from a half day of school, and we’re all eager to visit more classrooms as we prepare our own curriculum.

If you know any middle school or high school teachers in the New York City area who would be willing to welcome us into their classroom, please send them our way!

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