Posts Tagged ‘ua institute’

High School Stories

November 15th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | No Comments | Filed in students, Teaching

We had a bit of excitement in class this week! We invited two of our friends to visit our class and tell our students about what they do for a living.

As usual, we started class by asking students to share their latest sketches in their Moleskine Sketchbooks.

What’s your story?

Rachel Abrams started by telling her story. She began with a career in geology, then studied policy and lawmaking before transitioning into her work as a designer. She has a wonderful way of talking about the apparently unrelated events of her life story in a way that makes it logical that each should lead into the next. The girls absolutely adored her, especially her English accent!

Prior to Rachel speaking, we asked the students if they knew what a design strategy consultant does. One of our students, Tessa, brilliantly described the role and we were happy knowing that we had something to do with that.

We asked the students to take notes on post-it notes during the presentations. They were able to create pretty complex little thought sketches during the time they were listening.

Our second guest was Matias Corea, a graphic designer and co-founder of Behance. We were so excited to have Matias join us! He started his story by pointing out everything in the room that has been touched by a designer. He talked about his evolution from being a terrible student, not into math or English or anything else, to transforming into an excellent and motivated individual through design. One of our girls wrote on a note, “He was destined to design.” If you have a conversation with Matias, you will immediately see his passion for design. We’re so happy he could bring that to our class!

(Special thanks to our guests for speaking, and for being flexible with our lack of technological accommodations!)

Interviews!

During the beginning weeks of Project: Interaction, we discussed ways for the girls to get to know each other. Since we have a mix of 9th and 10th graders, it is likely that the girls don’t have classes together throughout the day. We thought it was important to give them an opportunity or two to get to know each other and possibly dispel any assumptions they may have about their fellow classmates. Interviewing seemed like the best activity to do so. So for the remainder of class we randomly paired the girls up and asked them to interview each other using a set of five questions.

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you at school?
What do you want to study in college?
If you had a superhero power what would it be?
Name your most recent act of kindness?

We then asked them to choose the most interesting response and tell a story about it. We encouraged them to tell stories in different ways, and they took our challenge! One student performed a skit, a few drew a comic strip about their story, and one student wrote her story.

At the end of class we asked them to present their ideas, with commentary from our guests. We can definitely see how they girls have improved over each class. They are becoming more confident in their ideas, eager to sketch and draw their thoughts, and have continued to develop their presentation skills. We are so excited to see how far they have come since our first class! It is also always great to see the girls support each other and give positive feedback during these very quick presentations.

Next week we’ll be kicking off our final projects with a workshop with Transportation Alternatives. We’re really excited to see our students put all their new skills to work!

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Graphic Jammin’

October 8th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | 3 Comments | Filed in Sketching, Teaching

How many ways could you describe “social” or “community” if we only gave you a pen, sticky notes, and 2 minutes? Or what about “happy” or observe”? Would you be stumped or run out of sticky notes?

Wednesday’s class was all about brainstorming. Our students are familiar with the concept of brainstorming through class assignments and projects, so Katie and I wanted to give them a unique experience that would get them sketching like crazy and out of their seats.

Looking for a fun way to brainstorm, we decided to adapt a game called Graphic Jam, from the book, Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. The game challenges participants to visualize words that often seem too abstract to imagine in a tangible way. Participants are given two minutes to sketch as many ideas as they can to represent the chosen word.

We thought this would be a great assignment for our class for a few reasons. Many of our girls keep saying to us that they’re not any good at drawing, and we are determined to break that mindset and get them comfortable with thinking visually. And, we want them to know that having lots of ideas is critical to finding the right idea. We also wanted them to know that brainstorming can be more alive than just writing words on paper.

The Graphic Jam was a huge success! Each word generated tons of tiny sketches. When time was up and the alarm rang, the girls rushed out of their seats to post their sketches to the chalkboard, with over half the group eagerly volunteering to explain their sketches in front of the class.
Running to the board
Presenting

At the end of class, we had a chalkboard full of of colorful post-it note sketches. Students who volunteered to share their sketches got the “Stand Up, Say Yeah” button for Volunteerism. Yeah! What was the consensus from the students? “That was fun!”
Our classroom
Social

Show Me Your Moleskine Notebook!
We handed out “Sketchtastic” buttons to a few girls who shared their sketches, poetry and pictures from last week. We’re hoping to see more next week and share a few on the blog.

Week 2 Lessons: To Stick or Not to Stick?

  • Standard post-it notes don’t stick well to dusty chalkboards.
  • We need to be more aware of the moment when conversations go from relevant to not. Our students are awesome, but in the end they are still 14 and 15 year old girls.
  • It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the fun of our activities, but as teachers we need to remember to ask the “hard questions” and challenge students to think more critically about their ideas when they present them.

More Supplies, Please?
Students are asking us if they can take home some of our materials, and others have requested pencils for sketching. After our class is through we’d like for our students to be able to continue sketching, collecting, and creating on their own, but many of them don’t have access to the materials that we take for granted in our work. We’d love to be able to give them a small grab bag of designer goodies to continue their explorations.

The Final Days of Kickstarter…
There are only 5 days left in our Kickstarter campaign and we’d love to see your support. We need less than $2500 to make our goal! Please support our program with a donation or spread the news to your friends!

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A Little Inspiration at Orientation

September 24th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations, Teaching

It’s been quite a long time since Carmen and I were in high school, so when we received an invitation to attend the UA Institute’s parent-student orientation last night of course we said yes! We got to step out of our busy grad student lives and take a glimpse into what it’s like to be the parent of a high school student in Brooklyn in 2010.

Everything we saw at the orientation affirmed our enthusiasm for working with the UA Institute. During 9th and 10th grade the school is already offering PSAT prep and speaking to the girls in very real terms about what life will be like after high school. The school offers resources for preparing for tests and college applications, and students can go on a school-sponsored trip to stay on campus at out-of-state colleges. By the time they’re ready to make a decision about their future they’ll have been exposed to a ton of options, including what it’s like to stay in a dorm. I had no idea about these things when I was 15!

Pics from UA Institute activity at Habana Outpost

During the presentation, one of the principals mentioned the college application essay that many students fear having to write. I remember my days as an admissions representative interviewing high school students and looking for their passion for something they do. I realized that many of our students may not have found theirs yet.

We introduced ourselves and the program to the crowd at orientation and were excited to see a few students shuffling their papers, looking to see if there were any open spots left. Afterward, several girls even came up to the after school director wanting to switch into our class!

We are so excited that the girls are eager to join our class. We would love to come to the first day and find a class full of motivated students, ready to learn about something new. We met two of them last night already, and the mother of a third who wants to be an architect. For the first time I saw that these girls are real. Just like me when I was 15, they’re starting to understand who they are and how they fit in. I’m so happy we can play a part in helping them find their passion and go for it.

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Announcing Our Fall Partnership

August 30th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Schools, Teaching

We’re excited to announce our partnership with the Urban Assembly Institute of Math & Science for Young Women! We’ll be starting classes at the end of September, continuing for 10 weeks through December. We’re thrilled about the opportunity to share interaction design with a great group of girls who are already enjoying an accelerated math and science education.

About UA Institute:

UA Institute empowers young women through a rich and rigorous math and science education. Through our partners, students have the opportunity to actively participate in a range of internships. Our partners will also connect our students with role models and mentors that will inspire them to not only challenge their self-perceptions but also the stereotypes that currently exist for women in math and science today.

More about UA Institute on their website.

We’ll be working with a class of 15 bright 9th and 10th graders, kicking off the season with a field trip to R/GA. For many of the students this will be their first exposure to a design agency. We’re hoping that seeing design practiced in the real world will get them excited about starting their own projects and jumping into their investigations of the world around them.

Read more about our planned curriculum .

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