The Intersection of Design Thinking and Jewish Education

Dear Adat Ari El Day School Parents,

Over the course of this school year, the K12 Lab Network has been hard at work training and coaching the teachers at Adat Ari El Day School in an innovative methodology called design thinking. Since that work has taken place largely behind the scenes in trainings, phone calls, and video hangouts, it’s a special pleasure to have the opportunity to write to you, the ADAT community, and brag about the great work your teachers are doing to make your child’s school more student-centered and innovative.

If you’re curious about design thinking, there are a number of great resources available online, including the Stanford d.school website where you can also read about the work we do in the K12 Lab Network. Design thinking is a human-centered creative process used to solve problems and overcome challenges, and leans heavily on collaboration, navigating through ambiguity, and biasing towards action. Design thinking asks you to take an empathetic approach to problem solving, which means you look to understand how problems manifest in people’s lives, and combine that with a bias towards building solutions that can help improve those problems. In that way, design thinking integrates nicely with Jewish ethics, especially the attitude put forward by Tikkun Olam.

At ADAT, teachers have been exploring this intersection with Jewish education by invigorating stories we’ve been telling for eons with a creative mindset, like having students imagine how Noah’s Ark would be redesigned. 2018 has been especially energized: teachers have paired up and developed incredible lessons and projects that blend content knowledge with design thinking and maker activities in the ZDL. We’ve been continually inspired and impressed by the vigor with which your Day School’s educators across grade levels and content areas have collaborated in order to get creative projects up and running.

For the rest of the school year, each grade is exploring a different design challenge. In TK, they are building a house with blocks. Each room in the house will solve specific needs. Kindergarten is redesigning the Biblical Garden behind the DFC with their 6th Grade buddies. First Grade is exploring the question, “how can something small change the world?” Second Grade is getting ready for the transportation unit. This unit focuses on redesigning the transportation experiences of their parents. Second grade will also explore the modes of transportation in the bible like chariots and camels. Third grade is deeply immersed in their project to beautify our campus, and fourth grade is gearing up for their design of a California mission later in the year. Fifth grade will begin a project about community and what it means to have a “home,” while sixth grade will design a new “ancient” civilization that would support their specific personalities. As Adat Ari El teachers prepare to launch and refine these projects, they are working closely with us to create experiences that will engage their students’ curiosity, enlist their unique problem solving skills, and empower them to improve their world.

We will continue our work with ADAT over the next few months, and cannot wait to see the outcomes of these incredible projects. We think that the best is yet to come.

Yours,

Ariel & Devon
K12 Lab Network @d.School

 

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