Designing our Design LAB

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

Profesional Learning on Friday

We had a great day of Professional Learning on Friday. We spent the morning defining why each student with one or more F's on his/her report card has that F. And then we spent time in grade level groups brainstorming what we might do about it for each student individually. Honestly, it was an inspiring conversation. I heard you talk about a student just needing to be cared for more, and naming what that care might look like. I heard you propose advisory to ensure the students who need us most feel connected to one adult at our school. I heard you decide to reach out to a mentor group in the city so a group of our students could hear different voices regarding the choices they are making. It was one of the best conversations we've had at Design Lab in quite some time. On Wednesday, we'll continue the conversation by shifting from brainstorming to action steps. I look forward to hearing what you come up with for our struggling students.

After lunch, we watched If You Build It, about Project H introducing design and making to a high school in North Carolina. Not only is it a great movie, but we also got to see design introduced to students who had no expectations or experience with design. We saw teachers begin with small manageable projects to introduce students to problem solving, thinking creatively, and making. As the year progressed, the teachers and students collaboratively settled on a final project that mattered to them and to the greater community. And because it mattered, the students made it happen long after the course itself had ended. My favorite part of the movie isn't the building of the Farmer's Market as the final project, it's the chicken coops. The students take what they have learned about design in this one and only course, and they apply what they know and what they have learned to the building of actual chicken coops that are usable immediately. And the chicken coops they made were simply amazing. We would never choose to build chicken coops at Design Lab. They just aren't relevant in our community. But did anyone leave that movie thinking the kids in the class were special? Weren't they just kids like ours inspired to make something that matters? We can make our own "chicken coops." We just have to commit to it and want to. So what's your chicken coop? Let's start talking about this together.

Data Meeting this Week

Our Data Meeting this week is on Wednesday and we're focusing on action steps for our most struggling students. When Michelle and Ken offered up the idea of focusing on our failing students for several meetings, they said this would be instead of data meetings. I disagree. This is a great use of a data meeting. We're just using different data. As we get better at analyzing and using our data, we'll see that conversations about kids and conversations about numbers can and should be one and the same. The focus on Wednesday is action steps coming out of our brainstorm on Friday.

Robotics This Week:

There is Robotics this Wednesday, February 17th. As a reminder, the 10th grade participants will have Robotics with Mr. O'Hara and Ms. Yox first period. All other participants will have robotics through their assigned science class.

200 Minutes This Week

Tuesday, February 16-Personal Planning Time

Wednesday, February 17-Data Meeting to develop action steps for our Failing Students

Thursday, February 18-Personal Planning Time-

Two Hour Early Release Day on Thursday

Here's Thursday's Schedule:


Period 1: 8:00-8:35

Period 2: 8:39-9:15

Period 3: 9:19-9:54

Period 5: 9:58-10:35

Period 6: 10:39-11:09

Lunch: 11:13-11:53

Period 7: 11:57-12:30


Conferences will be held from 12:30-4:30

Seniors-Song for Myself Project

Young Troubled Minds begins their Artist in Residence Program with our Seniors on Wednesday, February 17th. I'll send out a detailed schedule for Wednesday to our Senior Teachers. In the meantime, please plan to mark all seniors Present at Another Location. as seniors will not be in regular classes on Wednesday. I look forward to sharing news and details of this project as we go.

Making at Other Schools

A question that comes up regularly about Making is "How do I get started?" This is an important question because with almost any endeavor, like exercising, dieting, starting a graduate program, or changing a school, starting is the hardest part.


The Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California serves inner city students in the city. It's a K-12 maker-focused school. The author of the attached article offers four subtle yet important shift to begin the process of making with students in school. Check it out and let's talk about this piece together.

News and Notes:


-February 18-Early Dismissal-Interim Parent Teacher Conferences

-February 28-March 4th-3rd Quarter Exams

-March 4th-Unannounced TDES Observations are due

-March 7-18th-OGT's-This is a change from March 14-25th

Thank You's:

Thank you to:

-Ken Beavers, Rob Senor and Rosemary White for your leadership at the CAO Walkthrough

-Michelle Asberry for participating in the CAO Walkthrough

-Everyone who covered classes to make the behind the scene pieces work during the CAO Walkthrough

-The whole staff for creating a positive environment of learning that was evident during the CAO Walkthrough