Design thinking is a critical thinking process and mindset that begins with empathizing for others. At ILH design thinking is an infusion of science and social studies standards, real world issues, and local partnerships. Students spend 6-8 weeks on one design project. During this time supporting content will be pulled into math and literacy block as appropriate to provide a connected learning experience for students.
Design thinking is taught in a multiage setting allowing students to work at their own level and learn from the leadership of other students. Each design unit ends with a culminating event which allows parents to view student work along with other professionals linked to the project.
In design thinking students start by developing empathy for a user or group of people. The student will then collaborate with others on ideas, prototype the ideas, and end with testing the idea at the exhibition. K-2 students have a 60 minute Design Thinking (DT) block where we are working to build a mindset and not on a complete project. In grades 3-8 students have a 90 minute DT block. DT will also drive selection of resources in reading and math that directly link to the units of study within each grade level.
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Personalized learning is a key piece to the ILH model. Personalized learning during math and literacy block takes place during small group instruction.
During literacy block students will use programs such as Smarty Ants (K-2), Achieve 3000 (3-8), and Lexia for students significantly behind level. During math all students will use Dreambox math and Zearn. During math and literacy students spend around 30 minutes on personalized technology programs to support their learning readiness and they meet with co-teachers for both small group instruction and one-one-one coaching.
During design thinking block personalized learning will take place through a multiage approach and a flipped classroom model of instruction. Students will naturally be able to function at their readiness level through strategic mixed groupings and collaboration.
Design thinking teachers will also work to completely flip the classroom exposing students to various types of technology and uses for technology. Technology will always be utilized for projects and research as well as students in grades 3 and up keeping documentation of their projects through and e-portfolio.
The key to personalized learning is adult engagement and goal setting. During each academic block students will have a data folder where they track outcomes and set goals with their teachers.
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Pathways is a special area class that students will take starting in third grade. This class exposes students to various career pathways, help students define their own strengths, skills, and dreams, develop their own career pathway plans, and expose them to the computer science curriculum. Classroom teachers also have career pathway pacing that they infuse into their classes to once again provide a connected approach to learning.
This pacing spans kindergarten through eighth grade. So, although K-2 students do not take pathways they are being exposed to various careers that are developmentally appropriate for this age. Primary unit examples are, “careers where you work with animals” or “careers where you help people.”
In grades 3-5 students are still being exposed to pathway options but they become more specific. These students also begin exploring their strengths, skills, and dreams that may or may not align with various pathways.
In grades 6-8 students build further by starting to detail their pathway plans that will grow into three distinct plans and also involve a parent engagement plan as well. The parent engagement plans are developed with the parent when students are in eighth grade.