Alyssa loved the idea and ran with it last year. Students were excited for the design challenge that was waiting for them at the end of the unit. The support of Noddin’s STEAM ToSA, Heather Koleszar, made planning for it easy. After highlighting the importance of empathy Alyssa immediately saw connections between her students and the text, and specifically the main character, Karana. They identified what Karana needed while she was on the island and began to develop ways to meet those needs. When it was time to prototype their ideas Alyssa brought her students to the Makerspace to take full advantage of all of the available resources.
Throughout the process students embraced the growth mindset and worked together to learn from their mistakes. To conclude the unit students wrote reflections, and Alyssa was amazed at how well they were able to reflect on their experiences and make connections to their own learning. Alyssa observed that her students continued to make these connections throughout the school year, especially when embracing failure and working to overcome challenges.
Over the summer Alyssa was collaborating with other teachers during the USD EduProtocols and Notice and Note workshops. As they looked over the Island of the Blue Dolphins unit one of her fellow 4th grade teachers, Mikayla Schott from Alta Vista Elementary, suggested that they take the Design Thinking unit and turn it into a HyperDoc. As they worked together to refine the unit, the 4th grade ELA Bridge Map demonstrated how to seamlessly integrate the EduProtocols and Notice and Note strategies into the learning process.
Alyssa has seen the same excitement in her students this year. They are in the midst of reading the story, and the number of connections they are making to the book using the Notice and Note fiction signposts is amazing. Their work is aided by the wonderful Notice and Note bookmarks created by Justin Preza, a 4th grade teacher at Lietz Elementary, which have been invaluable as her students become familiar with the signposts. Check these out, along with other Notice and Note tools, in a one-stop-shop HyperDoc created by Justin and Danielle Damato, a 3rd grade teacher at Lietz. You can see a preview of this HyperDoc below.
For an introduction to Design Thinking, check out this blog post by Laura Guevara on commonsensemedia.org.