Dreaming and defining Creativity, Innovation & Design

A group of high school teachers and administrators have been working hard to imagine and define a new Creativity Innovation and Design strand for high school students. Our challenge has been three fold: (1) to determine what essential elements all ‘CID courses’ should include, (2) to identify and evaluate our existing courses against the CID criteria, and (3) to start imagining fresh course ideas that will utilize the new Design Technology facility due to open next year. It’s exciting to look back on how much we have already achieved and to look forward to the next phase of this exciting initiative.


Defining CID

CID courses aspire to have students design solutions for real people (authentic audiences), find and address problems that students can realistically solve (personally meaningful and manageable), and encourage students to be creators and innovators–to make and test ideas so they can improve them.

After much conversation, investigation and conceptualization we defined the essential elements and goals for Creativity Innovation and Design courses as follows. This description is now included in the 2014-15 HS Student Course guide.

“ASIJ recognizes the importance of the creative industries and the ability for students to pursue open-ended, design projects. To that end, we have developed a number of courses that specifically target these skills, courses that are part of our Creativity Innovation & Design (CID) strand. CID courses provide students with pathways to develop a creative maker-mindset. CID courses have a bias toward students finding and defining their own problem statements and design briefs while building expertise and fluency with materials and processes. The design cycle, and “working like a designer” are key elements in CID courses.”

Our second goal was to develop CID course criteria that would help us upgrade existing courses. Using our draft version, we set to work looking for courses across different departments that held the most potential for meeting our objectives–with a few adjustments. The first volunteers to tackle the challenge of upgrading a course were Visual Arts teachers, Sarah Sutter and Rebecca Sentgeorge who collaborated on ideas for the ‘Metals’ course. Sarah introduced some of the new changes to the course in Semester 2 last year.

A key change was having students design objects to meet a need of a particular person in their life. Feedback at the end of the course demonstrated that students noticed the changes:

“I really like the format of the class so far. I like how different people can make different things based on what they want. I think that’s really important in an art-related class. If there are set projects or things that limit people’s creativity, the point of art class is some-what lost.” -Student from Semester 2 Metal

"It's rewarding because after you finish writing a program and you run it you know if it works or not. If it works you feel elated with what you accomplished." - Lauren Seniguchi. (On the right with Ashita Kumar working on writing a Python lab, both 9th grade.)

“It’s rewarding because after you finish writing a program and you run it, you know if it works or not. If it works, you feel elated with what you accomplished.” – Lauren Seniguchi, grade 9, working on writing a Python lab

The Metals course serves as an excellent model of how to take an existing course and ensure CID elements were intentionally integrated. Rebecca has since been working on writing a new Visual Communication course that aims to meet the CID objectives. (Visual Communication and Metals electives are both running in Semester 2.)

Other courses have also seen updates too. Over the summer Kevin Randall redesigned the Programming courses to focus on the programming language Python. Students have been working hard on developing their coding skills in anticipation of their first open-ended design challenge: creating a text based adventure game for an audience they define.

Right now the high school CID strand stretches across the fields of technology and computer science (Robotics, Programming and AP Computer Science), and visual arts (Metals, Visual Communication). The next phase will include planning courses that will make use of the new Design Technology facilities. Our overall vision is to see high school students applying skills and dispositions to realize their creativity innovation and design aspirations. (Glenda Baker, HS Instructional Technology Coach)