Making with Meaning

October 11, 2017

Last week, I watched the pick-up rush as our students left us for the last of many start-of-year short weeks due to our holiday schedule. The students were full of all the joy that, seemingly, only a short day of school ahead of a long weekend could bring.

I marveled at the fact that I have had the privilege of watching them exude a similar zeal during an actual school day.

The moments when they have the most zeal is when they have the chance to make something. I caught a glimpse of the same light in their eyes that comes at the precipice of two and a half days off when our 5th graders worked to create a ping-pong table and a “resting nook” for our Sukkah and when our 1st graders were creating lunch bag puppets to demonstrate what it looks and feels like to be a good friend. Adat Ari El kids are makers. When they are making, they are in their element.

The work before the making- that is the hard part. Our teachers began to explore how to better engage our students in making with meaning during our meeting with Devon and Ariel from Stanford’s d.School. We want to inspire them to have the same joy and curiosity when listening to others, gathering data, and finding human-centered needs as they do when solving problems during the making process.

Devon and Ariel have taken this into consideration and have developed an empathy planner for us. Last week, our Math, Hebrew, and Third Grade teachers engaged with this planner to develop experiences that will inspire deep empathy in our students.

Ideas from this session included monthly math labs, sharing our Hebrew vocabulary more regularly with homeroom teachers to foster better collaboration, and (my favorite) the chance to allow students to make something first and then use their prototypes as a way of gaining empathy and gathering data.

These ideas are the spaghetti we have thrown against the wall, looking to see what sticks. I am looking forward to joining our staff as we continue the pursuit of finding more moments of learning that inspire the bright-eyed joy of a four-day weekend.

Click HERE to view the Empathy Planner


Lauren Q.

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