Designing our Design LAB

2015-16: A Year of Learning, Making and Designing Together

Last Week at Design Lab

Over the last two weeks, I've spent so much time in classrooms doing TDES evaluations. While the evaluation process isn't fun for anyone, it's been great to be in classes for entire periods to see how students are learning. I'm hopeful in the new year, I will see evidence of our verbs in action in every classroom. Over the last two weeks I observed:

-In History class, students determining how to find an immigrant to interview and using our 15 Verbs Template for their assignment.

-In Art class, students imagining and developing their own version of the Northern Lights in pastels, and also using our 15 Verbs Template for their assignment.

-In English class, students were analyzing ACT answers to understand the Why of the wrong answer. There was also evidence of comparing/contrasting choices and students had to explain their answers.

-In Geometry, students had to evaluate the circumference of a variety of circles as they learned to interpret using PI.

-There were many more examples of our verbs in action. The more purposeful we are in using these verbs and explicitly teaching them, the better off our students will be.

The Week Ahead

We all know this is the final push to Winter Break! It's so important for us to maintain routines and high expectations. If we do not early in the week, we are in for a very long and difficult week.

A few reminders:

-Passes: There is no reason to give students passes at the start of 5th period. Students have had 40 minutes of lunch time to use the bathroom. Do not give passes upon their arrival to 5th. I recognize that students have developed these routines over time.


-Lunch: Please remember that it is perfectly fine to invite students to your classroom at lunch. But if you choose to have students with you at lunch, they must stay in your room. We cannot have students wandering in and out of classrooms throughout the lunch period.


-Uniform: It was a very difficult week for uniform last week. I cannot be solely responsible for addressing all out of uniform students. I'm fine with having the tough conversations with students, but unless students are in Art Class, where it's been sub-zero temperatures, there's no reason to be out of uniform in any other classroom. Let's all work together and finish the semester strong.


-Rigorous Lessons and Learning: Please keep teaching all week long. All of our courses are year-long, so there's no reason to be winding down and not teaching this week. I know the semester ends on Friday, but learning must continue through the end of the week.


After Lunch: Please limit passes to only those students who absolutely have to leave class during 5,6, and 7 all week. Whether I announce no passes or not, please keep passes to the absolute minimum.

NWEA Testing

Thanks to all of you for taking the NWEA testing so seriously. Thank you to Ms. Asberry for creating an inspirational presentation and for going to every class with Ms. Yox to present it. Thanks to Ms. Yox for your excellent coordination, and thanks to all of you for following our staff agreements and making this our best NWEA testing session to date.


I'm still going through the data, but we made tremendous growth. I've spent some time with the data this weekend, and I believe we have accurate scores that give us a real and valuable snapshot of where our 9th and 10th graders are right now.


One of the trainers at the Teacher Based Team training a group of us attended last week said that "Data has a shelf life." It's important to use it before it goes bad. I look forward to sharing this data with you and unpacking it to determine our next steps together. Feel free to start analyzing it yourself. I'm happy to share everything I've found so far.


As a reminder, we will have makeup sessions on Monday and Tuesday, and after that the number of students still needing to test will determine our next steps.

Robotics This Week:

Robotics is done for the Semester. There will not be any Robotics Sessions until the new year. We are building the schedule for robotics for next semester. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Hour of Code

We had the opportunity as a staff to code again this year. And two staff members talked to me about continuing their coding beyond our 200 minutes. On Sunday, I watched my oldest son create his own game using the Star Wars tools on the hour of code website. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, as I played the game he created.


Ms. Yox brought in a programmer from Highland Software to code with our students last week. I watched them engage in creating a website and writing their own code. The programmer who visited us is willing to teach a coding course next semester.


I don't know exactly how we should bring coding into our school. But I know our 15 verbs are embedded in coding, and I know that our students are engaged. Check out the article I shared this week to see how Elon Musk imagines our world in the not-so-distant-future. There's a value for students who learn to code in this changing world. Can you help me think about how we can bring that value in a meaningful and purposeful way to Design Lab?

Staff in the Makerspace: Learning by Doing

200 Minutes

I want to thank Garvin, Lindsay, and Brian for arriving on time on Wednesday for the Learning by Doing session of the 200 minutes. I want to remind everyone that our time after school is contractually required. This is paid time. Over the last two weeks, our start time has been pushed later and later because of late arrivals to our meetings. Please be ready to go to begin our session as close to 2:30 as possible. We cannot wait until 2:50 to begin these sessions.

When you are scheduled to attend something else, like an IEP or parent meeting, please make sure you have let me know in advance.

Also, please keep in mind that Sean and I are planning our Wednesday's and Thursdays as one meeting held over two days. So missing Wednesday, or Thursday, means you are at half of the Learning by Doing session.

Looking Ahead: How Elon Musk Plans on Reinventing the World (and Mars)

This weeks' piece is not about Making in Schools. It's a piece from GQ magazine about Elon Musk's vision of the future. It's a fascinating article and I can't help thinking about school as I read it. How can we develop creative thinkers? How do we grow problem finders and problem solvers? How do we continue to grow our school to prepare students to enter and be successful in the world Elon Musk imagines? Enjoy...

News and Notes:

-December 14-Personal Planning Time

-December 14-We will have two visitors from Pittsburgh visiting. They are designing a new school and are coming to us for a visit.

-December 15-Data Team Meeting(s)

-Eric, Rosemary, Seamus, Ken, and Rob will be out at Day 2 of 2 of the Teacher Based Teams Training. Janet Tribble will be in charge.

-December 16-Learning by Doing (Full Staff in the Makerspace)

-December 17-Staff Holiday Celebration

-January 4th-Full Day-Professional Learning

-January 5th-Personal Planning Time

-January 6th-Data Team Meeting(s)

-January 7th-Learning by Doing (Full Staff in the Makerspace)

-January 11th-Personal Planning Time

-January 12th-Data Team Meeting(s)

-January 13th-Learning by Doing (Full Staff in the Makerspace)

-January 14th-Learning by Doing (Full Staff in the Makerspace)

-January 18th-No School MLK Day

-January 19th-Personal Planning Time

-January 20th-Data Team Meeting(s)

-January 21st-Learning by Doing (Full Staff in the Makerspace)

-January 25th-Personal Planning Time

-January 26th-Data Team Meeting(s)

-January 27th-Learning by Doing (Full Staff in the Makerspace)

-January 28th-Staff Meeting and Staff Celebration