In ASIJ’s strategic plan for 2013-2019, one of our key objectives is to enable students to become adept at identifying problems and using innovation and collaboration to design and evaluate solutions. In talking with other international schools, NoTosh came up as a group with a great track record for assisting schools to imbed these principles of design thinking throughout the curriculum.
After several in-depth conversations with NoTosh and Head of School Ed Ladd, Director of Teaching and Learning Paul O’Neill and Elementary Principal Dan Bender, arrangements were made for NoTosh’s Ewan McIntosh to visit ASIJ. Ed Ladd explains, “We like NoTosh because they understand that in the end, this is all about pedagogy and that the learning piece is about how well NoTosh can connect to our teachers. We wanted someone who would work with teachers rather than talk at teachers.”
Ewan’s visit included interacting with students as they work as well as formal and informal meetings with teachers. His objective was to learn about the context in which the NoTosh team would be working as they guide us in professional development opportunities for teachers next year.
In the elementary school, he interacted with students at every opportunity, probing both their knowledge and understanding of the task at hand. Elementary School Instructional Technology Coach Mike Moody said, “Ewan and I had a good conversation around the ES Design Lab and its function an purpose. He was particularly taken with an iPad app that we use to capture students projects and posted this video.” Ewan enjoyed seeing fairground designs created by a 4th grade class as part of their simple machines unit. Ewan took the time to question students about their designs and the process they followed to create them. Ewan made himself available for an informal lunch meeting with ES faculty so that they could ask questions and learn more about Ewan’s experience, thinking and views around education. Mike adds, “I was impressed with Ewan’s ability to quickly figure out the style of learning environments based on what was on the walls and the whiteboards. He enjoyed the ways in which teachers made learning and thinking visible.”
Ewan visited with the middle school faculty that will be teaching the new Creative Design class for sixth grade next year. He not only gave us his ideas and insights with regard to the course itself, but also suggestions for the space we are designing for the students. Middle School Instructional Technology Coach Jim Erwin remarked, “Ewan was very excited to hear of our plans and is anxious to assist us to move our design technology program ahead to a rich and successful program in grades seven and eight, and beyond.”
The middle school teachers were very interested to hear Ewan’s thoughts and philosophy for how design thinking is an important facet for all subject areas. His message was well received and everyone is looking forward to learning more about how to integrate design thinking in their classrooms more effectively.
Perhaps one of the most fun moments in the tour of the high school was seeing Ewan sit down with a student in the Music Composition class and listen to his work in progress. He visited quite a number classes and had the opportunity to wander around and talk with students about what they were learning. In AP Chemistry, for example, students talked about their individual group projects. Some were designing their own experiments, others researching. Ewan stopped in on the visual arts studios seeing ceramics and photography classes in action. It was interesting to see Ewan take photos of some of the prompts and thinking routines up the walls and talk about the value of a shared common language across a school.
He also made stops in AP Economics, Foundation of the Modern World, Japanese language classes and AP English Lit. Over lunch Ewan met with high school faculty who were available. The classroom quickly filled up! High School Instructional Technology Coach Glenda Baker says, “We had some good conversation, but what impressed me the most was that Ewan was there to listen and learn about us. I’m very excited about working with the NoTosh team in August!”