This year, I've added a 5th grade tech class to my schedule (just one meeting per 6-day rotation, per group) and it's giving me the opportunity to embed many of the skills we expect from our students throughout their middle school career, such as 3D design, woodworking, coding and robotics. Invariably, students use these tools and skills in a variety of classes as they move up the grade levels. In 6th grade, we have Project Quest, a multidisciplinary unit where students investigate the impact of water on civilization and the impact we have on our water supply. In 8th grade, students may choose to enroll in DEEP, the Diving Enrichment Education Program, where robotics and engineering come into play. Through projects in 5th grade tech class, students will now get the exposure and experience in the aforementioned tools and be better prepared for their work in Quest, DEEP and other activities in the years ahead.
Alongside Creator's Studio, I have always taught a 7th grade tech class. Having inherited that class from the previous instructor, I've modified the curriculum only slightly over the past few years. With the new venture into 5th grade, I decided to move 7th grade in this direction as well, providing the opportunity to learn more of the skills they need here at St. Matthew's and in their future. We start with an activity using The Extraordinaires Design Studio, which teaches students the principles of the Design Thinking Process, practicing empathy for a fictional character on their way to building a given object (prototype) for her/him.
In line with these changes to the 5th and 7th grade tech curriculum, my 6th grade tech faculty will also engage students in more of these types of projects this year. I am really looking forward to working with them on a nerdy derby-esque project in the coming weeks.
All of this to say that these changes make for a very interesting Creator's Studio, as the tools and skills once taught in this class have now spread throughout other classes and grade levels. I can now focus on the more creative aspects of the class, and less on tool training, allowing students to spend more time on their personal project, going through multiple iterations and making gradual improvements along the way. As much as this has been a tenet of my course since the beginning, the need for iteration, we seem to inevitably run out of time. I hope these adjustments to our overall curriculum will allow for the deeper connections to making I want all of our students to experience.