Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Inquiry in Math

The Design39Campus team recently completed a math MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) titled "How to Learn Math" through Stanford University.  Professor Jo Boaler is a leading researcher and professor of mathematics education.  As a team, we are enthralled with Jo’s approach to maths and the ways it can be creativity taught.  She believes that maths should be engaging and exciting for kids and that every student can learn maths.  

Jo focuses on the importance of kids building a positive relationship with maths through inquiry.  In this video, Jo explains importance of inquiry in maths.

Kelly Eveleth

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Don't Know, Yet...

As a teacher, there is nothing harder than hearing a student say, "I'm not a writer," or "I'm not good at math."  The reality is that every student can do math, or write, or read, or do anything.  The message students should be hearing is, "you can't do that... yet."  We call this the growth mindset.  

Some of our brightest students have been told over and over that they are "smart."  They believe the reason they do well is because they are innately smart.  They receive feedback such as, "You are so smart," or "You got an A without even studying... amazing!" However, when things start to get challenging, these are the students who often shut down or express the most frustration.  They avoid things that are hard because it may negatively affect their image.  They believe that their success is based on talent, versus the effort put forward.  These students have developed a fixed mindset.  

Students who have a growth mindset know that by pairing their knowledge with perseverance and the right work, they can get smarter.  They are less likely to get upset during learning experiences because they understand that these are opportunities for growth.  The feedback they hear might be something like, "Wow, you worked really hard on this project.  You know a lot about this topic. What new questions do you have?"  This sends a positive message that effort was directly related to the learning.  Students with a growth mindset might think, "I can't do this now, however, with time and effort I bet I can figure it out."

As you can see, the messages we send kids at a very early age can set them up for success or failure in their future.  Just a subtle change in the way we talk with kids can make the difference.

Hungry for more?  Check out these resources:
How Not to Talk to Your Kids, New York Magazine
The Praise a Child Should Never Hear, The Wall Street Journal

Kelly Eveleth

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What if School Were Place Where Students Could...?

We have been getting outstanding feedback in our parent workshops.  It is refreshing to see that your ideas and hopes for school align with the work that we do everyday at Design39Campus. 
At our last two workshops we changed up our format a bit and asked people to complete this sentence, What if schools were places where students could...?  Individually and then collectively as a group, parents wrote all their ideas on sticky notes.  (Keep in mind that these statements were created before we presented the ideas that the team has been working on for D39C.)

Each group summarized the ideas to create one statement to share with the group.

What if schools were places where students could...?
"Maximizing students' potential at their own pace."

 "Creativity and passion should be encouraged.  All kids should be accepted, feel safe, and have a mentor."
 "A new way of expanding positive learning."
"...could explore languages, music, and have many options."
"Creativity, explore solutions through hands-on learning and brainstorming, making one ready to face real world issues."
"Excited, self-motivated students who can communicate their enthusiasm and ability in real-world situations."
"Students were challenged, self-directed, have ownership, and able to discover their passions."
"Challenged, motivated in small class size."
"Learn at their own pace and manner."
"Kids could have fun learning what they want to learn at their own pace/level in an innovative environment while exploring arts and different subject matters on a different level."
"What is schools were a place where learning was fun and diverse, where creativity and teamwork were a priority preparing children for a global workplace.  Children could follow their passions in an open classroom."
"School should be a place where students are allowed a sense of freedom and security to create and explore in a self-directed environment."
How exciting is that?!  A common thread we hear over and over is the need to bring creativity back into schools.  We want students to be in the center of the learning experience.  Feedback from all of our information workshops is available on the Community Feedback section of our website.

What to know more about D39C?  Check out our guiding principles and mission statement.

What do you think?  What if school was a place where student could...?

Kelly Eveleth

Monday, September 2, 2013

Design Thinking In Action @D39C

At Design39Campus we believe that students can engineer solutions to real world problems through the design thinking process.  This style of thinking encourages outside-the-box thinking and creativity in a student centered approach to learning. 

The leadership team at D39C uses design thinking everyday as we tackle the challenges of changing the way we do school.  Through our first set of informational meetings, we entered the empathy stage of the design process.  We have been asking tough questions and collecting this data from the community.  We spend hours upon hours researching and collecting ideas of things that are working in schools already, communicating with schools from around the country, and talking with experts in education.  Problems are defined and we spend time ideating and brainstorming innovative solutions.  The next step is to create a model or prototype and to test our solution, always knowing that if something isn't working, we can always take a step back in the design process.  The design process is truly at the heart of everything we do.

Still not exactly sure about this whole design thinking idea?  Let us take you through a recent problem that the D39C team encountered and show you how we used design thinking to engineer a possible solution.


Because teachers at D39C will not have their own classroom space, we needed to design a way for teachers to be able to move between spaces and transport basic needs like computer, projector, and specific supplies/materials. As a team, we investigated products, looked through catalogs, used some sample products, and realized that all the products out there didn't meet our specific needs. 

With a little bit of design thinking, we should be able to solve this problem for Bret or any other teacher at D39C!

The team determined that the solution would need to fit within the following constraints:
  • It needs to be mobile.
  • It needs to fit through a standard classroom door.
  • It needs to have a surface for using your computer/device.
  • It needs to have a place to house a projector.
  • It needs to have storage for teacher items (pens, post-its, etc).
  • It needs to have storage for student devices.
  • It needs to be lockable.
  • It needs to be affordable.
  • It needs to be durable.
  • It needs to have a way for devices inside to be charged (holes).


What are some possible solutions to our problem?  This is where the team sat around the table and threw out some possible ideas. 

  • We could use a wagon or some sort of device for pulling.
  • We could carry all of our supplies around.
  • We could put mobile desks in classrooms.
  • We could put stationary desks in classrooms.
  • We could buy a device that doesn't exactly meet our needs.
  • We could use a rolling podium.
  • We could design our own rolling storage cart with podium.
  • We could have stationary storage cubbies in each room.
  • We could have mobile storage cubbies in each room.
 At this point, we decided that the product we may be looking for is some sort of mobile "teacher" cart.


Step 1: We discussed and decided on ideal dimensions.
Step 2: Bret drew out a detailed plan on paper of what the cart would look like.

Step 3: We needed some supplies for our prototype, so we went to our neighborhood Ralph's, Jimbo's, and Sears and they gladly donated large sheets of cardboard.

Thank you to 4S Ranch Ralphs, 4S Ranch Jimbos, and Carmel Mountain Sears for donating cardboard!

Step 4: Kyle and Bret built our prototype.


We tested and evaluated our cart to make sure our prototype met all of our requirements. We will live with the model in our temporary home at Del Norte High School and use it as we would a normal teacher cart at D39C. 


We sent our specifications and pictures of our prototype to possible vendors for them to price, create, and deliver.

This teacher cart challenge is just one of many design thinking experiences the D39C team has experienced in our work so far.  It is a fluid process that guides our work as we change the way we do school.  We imagine this as a powerful tool for students as they compose a piece of writing, respond to an environmental challenge, or even design their own learning experience.  To find out more about this process, visit the "Design Thinking" section of our website

Be sure to follow our Facebook page (search "Poway Unified School District New K-8") and follow us on Twitter @design39campus.

Bret, Karen, Kelly, Kyle, Megan, Sonya, and Tom
The Design 39 Campus Team