Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Day of Authentic Learning: GLxD and IoT

Every-other-Wednesday (EOW) we have our "Community Connections" day in our middle and upper schools. I love Community Connections day because I get to work with students. Being in the classroom is still very important as an administrator trying to promote changes in our curricular program, wanting to conduct participatory design with students and be a role-model for the types of curricular innovation I promote. This is a day where I teach two courses that are very project-based and infuse field-work, global literacy and innovation. The community and even the world is our campus. The day is structured into a three-hour block and a 90 minute block. The students also have time for collaborative project-based work and school-wide meeting time. 

In the Global Leadership x Design class I co-teach with our History Chair and Coordinator of Global Initiatives we have modeled aspects of the class off of the Stanford Extreme Affordability course. We explored styles and types of leadership with students taking the strengthsfinder assessment, building leadership personas and compared them to historical leaders in the first trimester. We also designed solutions for girls for the International Day of the Girl in October. In the second trimester we have explored global literacy working with the Global Switchboard on a 12x12 simulation and today visited Chatham University for a lecture and discussion with Dr. Jean-Jacques Sene and Dr. Brittany Brinkman. In the third trimester our students will move to focus on being social entrepreneurs. They will use human centered design to build empathy and design new products or services for girls or young women in developing countries. One of our focus countries will certainly be Aftica because of excellent partnerships we are forming. Drs Sens and Brinkman kicked off the day with an immersion activity then moved into an interactive and thought-provoking discussion on Africa in the Digital Age and a lecture on building empathy through ally building. Dr. Brinkman told our students that there is a danger in assuming everyone around the world experiences problems the same way. She asked students to explore their own biases and perspectives. When building empathy for our stakeholders in the third trimester it will be essential for them to connect with their audience to propel them to action. 

After lunch, I then shifted gears to work with the Sophomores. We explored the Internet of Things today with Dr. Andrew Watson of the UPMC Center for Connected Medicine. The girls used methods by the LUMA Institute to interview each other and then "round robin" ideas for how the Internet of Things could be applied on our new athletic field. We are calling this new concept our "Smart Field." Big (or little) Data can be used to tell stories, to improve wellness, athletic performance, monitor weather and water and be infused into the STEM curriculum. The students developed ideas such as determining how the type of music played impacts quality of workout by looking at heart rate and blood pressure. 

Active learning isn't about just STEM. It can be in history, wellness and physical education. Authentic learning experiences provide students with the opportunities to become leaders, change-agents and have a bias for action. 


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