Archive for the ‘Discovery’ Category

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.

Tags: , , ,

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.

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!

Tags: , , , ,

A Little Late Week Inspiration

February 26th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Inspirations, Research

This week on Design Observer I came across a group of volunteers in Lincoln, Nebraska and instantly fell in love with their ambition.

Our small effort was just one part of a bunch of other small efforts by a handful of dedicated creative people who jumped in and helped make this loose collection of concerned citizens into something worthy of attention.

Their work is beautiful, and I admire that they saw a need and started doing something about it. No planning, no hierarchy, just action. As we continue to flesh out the details of our little project, Derek, Carmen and I can relate to the sometimes scary feeling that nothing is known or planned, but that we’ve found a need and are doing something about it.

Tags: , , , ,

Inspiration over Tea – An Interview with Jerri Chou

February 24th, 2010 by Derek Chan | No Comments | Filed in Business, Discovery, Inspirations, Interviews, Resources

Last week, the team had a chance to meet with social innovator and co-founder of All Day Buffet, Jerri Chou, to talk about some of our thoughts on design education and what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Jerri Chou

Our afternoon meeting with Jerri, who has found enormous success with All Day Buffet, helped put some of our initial reservations to rest. She told us her story of the earlier challenges in starting All Day Buffet and how she eventually overcame them by working hard towards what she believes in and quite literally, just getting that idea out there. Of course, we know our plans are a lot different than starting an organization like All Day Buffet, but Jerri is a great example of someone who made it.

To me, she isn’t just a social innovator, but a design entrepreneur — a term we’re quite familiar with as a result of learning about entrepreneurial design in our class with Bek Hodgson. She had an idea and used creativity and design to bring it to life.

In addition to inspiration, Jerri provided us with a handful of resources of other people and organizations who have worked on similar projects as us. She also gave us suggestions on how to work with and learn from schools in the city.

Toward the end of the interview, one important question came up that we will need to address – do we want to focus on schools that are already more progressive, or schools that have not yet been exposed to the kind of education we are thinking of introducing? This thought is definitely something we will need to incorporate into our goal-setting and strategy.

We want to thank Jerri for a wonderful hour of insights and inspiration. And tea.

Tags: , , ,

Back to School – An Interview with Kari Kokka

February 19th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Interviews, Resources

Kari Kokka

Kari is a math teacher at Vanguard High School here in New York. When I first told her about our project she was super excited and eager to find out more.

When we told her about our plans, Kari confirmed that an after school program is one of the best ways to get access to interested students. Because it’s voluntary, the kids will be there because they want to be. Her school is pretty open to new and progressive courses, as evidenced by the well-received Capoeira class Kari recently led.

Since she’s been teaching for about nine years, Kari had plenty of good advice for sustaining kids’ enthusiasm during a class. She suggests that we plan, and since we are new to teaching, we should OVER plan. She says even if you think you have enough things to do, you’ll probably get there and realize you haven’t planned nearly enough activities.

Kari also suggested that we offer a field trip in addition to on-site curriculum. She thinks it would be valuable for kids to come and see what a real design studio looks like to get a better introduction to the discipline of design.

Most importantly, Kari recommended that we come visit a classroom. We’ve talked about visiting a class so we can do real observation of how kids participate and learn, and this will be a great opportunity for us to do that. Some of us are going to go to high school in a couple weeks and sit in on an art class, a robotics class and an advisory class, where we will be able to talk to some of the students and get a better idea of who our “user” is. I haven’t been in high school in many years so I can’t wait!!

Tags: , , ,

Designer Survey

February 16th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Design, Discovery, Inspirations

We’re working on developing an after-school program to teach kids about design! As part of our research, we’re asking our fellow designers to talk about their first exposure to design as a discipline. Tell us your story!

Tags: , ,

First Pass at Our Mission & Values

January 25th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Discovery

After discussing some of our initial thoughts with our SVA IxD MFA chair Liz Danzico, we attempted to refine our objectives by asking the essential questions of who, what, when, where, how, and most importantly how. Our findings are below:

Who
Middle Schoolers

When
After school, beginning Fall 2010

Where
NYC, public or private schools

What
Teach kids how to learn about themselves and their environment, and about the relationship between the two

How
Through prototyping, sketching, iteration and other tools that interaction designers use

Why
To actively teach kids about design by encouraging them to think of themselves as creators.

Tags: , , , ,