NOVA Lab Day 3–The students take over

The following posts were written by students in Mr. Heidt’s 3rd and 9th period Nova Lab courses.  Take a look at what we’ve been doing.

Period 3:

Today’s innovative learning was based around a book called A Whole New Mind written by Daniel Pink. The book talks about how our brains have a left side and a right side, each specializing in certain tasks. We read a small excerpt from the book and wrote in the text if we had any questions or comments about the writing. In a very short summary, our left side is analytical and methodical based, while our right side is more creative and artistic. Our world is shifting from one that craves left-sided workers to one soon dominated by right-minded innovators. After reading, we did a 5-minute “first thoughts” freewriting (nod to Bard College’s “Institute for Writing and Thinking) where we wrote about our initial thoughts, questions, rebuttals, etc about the read. 

The start of any business is hatched from an idea; from a plan. Just like a business starts, our innovative class has to start from a mindset. Having a clear and strong mindset is arguably the most important part of becoming an entrepreneur, as without a mindset it’s nearly impossible to stay focused. Reading this passage and writing about it helped to get us in the mindset for thinking like innovators. 

While it’s a great start to read and write about having a strong mindset, it does absolutely nothing for us unless we get up and act on it. In order to make a change, we have to go and make it happen. Accumulating knowledge and information in crucial to success, but now the task is to go out and make something happen. In the upcoming weeks, our class will be focused around redesigning our innovation space. We must use the knowledge from the book, and combine it with the mindset to make a difference so that we can learn, grow and create a positive change in our school.
–Garrett R.

Period 9

On Wednesday afternoon, the Modern Learners, Mr. Heidt and his design colleagues, and NOVA Lab students met over video call to discuss the class, its content, and its place within the wider education system. The Modern Learners directed most of the questions, a list which included:

  1. Why did students choose the class?
  2. How will students collaborate?
  3. How will students document their process?
  4. How does the class affect your mindest about school?
  5. What changes to the class made it attractive?
  6. Did any students have project ideas yet?
  7. How will the projects connect to one another and the wider world?
  8. What was the conversation with your parents about the class?

Numerous students gave answers as they wished, with the hope of informing Modern Learners  about the class and how it might fit into their broader mission to keep schools relevant.

The answers given by the students may provide some insight as to how to keep school relevant using design curriculum and/or classes. For example, in answering how this changes our mindset about school, one student answered that the learning shifted from being solely intellectual to pragmatic. Adults don’t sit in lectures all day; they take what they’ve learned and apply it to real situations, and NOVA lab has been billed as a class which bridges that gap that other classes can’t seem to fill. With this hint of design as an effective means of keeping school relevant, the next question that arises is how to pitch these classes to institutions and people unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the topic. What came through loud and clear here is that authentic interest by the teacher can inspire students to evangelize to their friends, creating grassroots movements that put the class on the schedule.

What to do next varies based on which group you fall into. For the students, the next steps will be to keep track of their progress throughout the year to see how their experiences or ideas change. If the class was supposed to get out into the real world and we can’t, then something needs to change (and quickly). They need to make sure the class lives up to the expectations they’ve set. For the Modern Learners and friends, the next step is to monitor and advise the class externally. If the aforementioned problems do arise, they need to offer their assistance to right the class’ track and ensure the experiment at least reaches its intended conclusion. Once we have more class to analyze, they can then look more closely at our answers to the questions and see whether this is an effective way to keep schools relevant.
–Matt T.

Published by Garreth Heidt

Designerly Minded High School Humanities and Liberal Studies Teacher Faculty Mentor FIRST Robotics Team #7414--PV Retrobotics. Constantly learning, trying to be more a maker and less a consumer of culture. I believe in the infinite value of a liberal education and the power of design thinking to help make the world a better place.

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