By Sarah Loyola
When I was first asked to reflect on the fall semester and blog about pockets of innovation on Ravenscroft’s campus, I compiled quite a long list of forward-thinking efforts. What I quickly realized is that we do not necessarily have “pockets” of innovation. Instead, an innovative spirit is integral to the educational work we do on a daily basis. In this post, I hope to capture this spirit by highlighting one or two innovative efforts from each division.
In Lower School, with the guidance of instructional technology specialist Cindy Fordham, students in kindergarten through fifth grade were introduced to design thinking, a strategic design process used by designers in the real world. The beauty of this unit was that it took students into the Lower School MakerSpace to put their knowledge to good use in a hands-on, experiential fashion.
In kindergarten through second grade, children’s literature was connected to opportunities for students to create prototypes based on stories read in their grade level.
In third grade, students were challenged to create an animal that could live and survive in all habitats.
In fourth grade, students participated in the Pringles Ship-a-Chip competition, for which they had to come up with a creative method of mailing a single chip without breaking it.
In fifth grade, students were given the opportunity to work collaboratively in groups on a project completely of interest to them.
Although we have offered a Lego Robotics course in the Middle School for three years, this fall we took a team of seven Middle School students to the FIRST Lego League Robotics regional competition in Cary. Using Lego Mindstorms technology, students built, tested and programed autonomous robots to solve a series of missions in the Robot Game. Our students, guided by their coach, Janet Vande Berg, took first place in the category of project presentation. Congratulations!
For Upper School, I’d like to highlight the innovative pedagogical work of two Upper School history teachers dedicated to a student-centered, didactic approach. Phil Kantaros, in his APⓇ Government and Politics class, had students work on their presentation skills by giving three- to five-minute speeches on government and politics based on an article chosen from the Economist. Matt Thomas, in his Honors Seminar in Religions and Ethics, assigned students a side to debate within the framework of a particular religion. In their effort, students synthesized for their peers all they had learned about that religion during the semester.
In both of these courses, students were put in the driver’s seat and honed communication skills they’re likely to use in the real world.
Faculty, staff and students: If you’d like to contribute a story about innovation and research at Ravenscroft, contact us for more information!
In 2018, the Library and Technology Center was reimagined to fit the evolving needs of our students. The Keim Center for Innovation and Research was born. Read the history of this project here.