• Fair Chance Learning

What Happens When Students Are Designers?


The year always begins with a focus on our classroom community. Trust and value within the community are important to encourage risk-taking and allow students to be engaged in the process of reiteration as mentioned in my previous post. I try and lead a classroom without compliance where the students take a lead in their learning experiences.


I have been privileged to belong to the Digital Promise Learning Studio (DPLS) community. DPLS provided me with a Drummel 3D printer, HP notebooks, and an HP Sprout. HP Learning Studios are equipped with powerful tools and technologies, where students use the techniques of an artist to acquire meaningful knowledge and skills that will serve them and their communities throughout their lives. It is a collaboration between Digital Promise Global, HP, Fair Chance Learning, and Microsoft, to reinvent the classroom as a space for learners to design, create, and invent.

The students with the HP Learning Studios collaborate and engage in activities and projects designed to expose them and enhance their competency in areas including:

· Empathy and Design Thinking

· Visual Communication and Design

· Three Dimensional Design and Modeling

· Digital Storytelling and Production

· Social Entrepreneurship

The projects were designed by the students to make a difference in our community. Some students solved problems with the Ottawa Humane Society and a veterinarian clinic, while others focused on autism. Most of the projects are still in the process of prototypes, using feedback from the users for improvements. The Innovation Club of grade seven and eight students teamed up with our retirement home community to design tools to help them with their daily needs.


For all of the projects, students collected data by interviewing Stephanie Youngdale, the Ottawa Humane Society Coordinator, and Dr. Ellis for the intravenous tool for animals, as well as by observing the autistic students at the school. Both groups had clients to provide feedback. The Innovation Club regularly visited the retirement home and shared many games that were designed and coded using Scratch and micro:bit. They built a relationship to observe and design utensils for easy grip.


Please review the projects on this link. To view students' reflections and documentation, please click on the images. The designing process will continue and I will be updating the links on my personal blog spot: Learning in Progress.


The learners have reflected and documented their progress throughout the process. The design learning process focused on conversations through problem-solving. This process allowed learners to value emotions, opinions, perspectives, ideas and authentic self-learning and self-driven thinking. This learning was acquired by giving students the opportunities to empathize with a community for a community.

The learners regularly reflected on their competencies of collaboration, character, and creativity. Creating solutions for problems provided learners with the opportunities to take action of their learning by living the process of design thinking/makers thinking. While designing, learners are creating solutions and making a difference, learners:

· continue to wonder

· question to take risks and problem solve

· invent, reinvent and learn together

· fail many times to learn

· are creators of learning

· deal with social-emotional impacts on their learning

· build friendship relationship, independence, social consciousness, compassion, imagination, originality, enthusiasm, passion, sincerity, trustworthiness, generosity and sincereness

How do you get every student involved in thinking and learning?

The students become involved when they embrace the system of innovation and become self-driven and self-creative. Have students create; to adjust their learning and feel the impulse of embracing innovation and creativity. As educators, we should never close our classroom doors on creative opportunities. We become a project manager or a facilitator when students are embracing full ownership of the design process. We should reflect on:

· how are we creating opportunities for ownership of risk-taking for learning?

· how are we allowing students to negotiate and socially network their thinking?

· how are we allowing emotional problem-solving?

I will share some students' reflections as a conclusion:

"While we created our conception we were very enthusiastic about being able to help out animals with our own ideas, we encountered problems, but we persevered and finished our conception. Our hard work paid off and I am proud of what we made together. I am glad that we have these opportunities to work together and be part of a community. "

"To create our ideas, my group and I created our own ideas and took one factor to build onto the other ideas. We were very creative and it showed when we interacted our conception to improve it. We iterated our project four times and every time we fixed more problems we encountered. Our experience will help us improve our critical thinking and collaboration, While also being able to improve our interpersonal work because of what others have taught me."

"In my group, we had a lot of open-ended conversations. We discussed all the ideas we had, the pros, the cons, who will do what, who knows how to use Tinkercad, ect. In the end Austin did Tinkercad, but he didn’t know Tinkercad like other people inour group did. That’s just one example of learning how to use tools we didn’t know how to use very well. To find the final model we went through about 4-5 different ideas, each person added to one of those ideas, but they still weren't the best idea we could come up with. I heard “What if I might” or “What if we did this...” a lot. Finding the solution to all the problems took up a lot of time. Then when Stephanie came, she told us more information on what we’re doing and what she’s looking for. "

"During our working process, we worked as a group. We worked as a group while we worked documenting our process. I think my group developed good, thought out ideas because we all know each other well and know that the other people won't judge our ideas."

"We collaborated efficiently and constantly to create a solution that will help animals. Our solution is a 3D printed model that follow the criteria while enabling us to add our own creative ideas. Our conception has evolved into more advanced designs. We began with a ring with hooks to attach onto the bars, the lip of the bowl would be held up by the ring. My group and I thought of some possible problems though, one of the problems were the size of the bowl, some of them would be too small and would be able for the ring to hold it up and others may be too big and wouldn’t fit. After considerations we decided on making a bowl with hooks instead, then there wouldn’t be a problem with the size of the bowl."

"I think I’m in accelerating because my group and I were extremely determined to finish the task. We all gave feedback to each other's ideas we had, for example: My first idea to print two connectors, they would snap together. One wound be on the inside and the other on the outside. The bowl would rest in an outline of a circle which is also connected to one of the pieces that snap together, then, you just snap it together and it stays in place. When I presented my idea to the group, I got feedback, good and bad. I got one saying that it would work, I got another saying that it wouldn’t fit because we don’t know the measurements of the bar. My team preserved well because like I said, we gave back feedback and we discussed the pros and cons."


About the Author:



Rola Tibshirani is a French immersion junior teacher in the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She is passionate about student inquiry, enhanced learning through technology and assessment. She believes that we don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.

To learn more about the HP Learning Studios, or to book yours email us at info@fairchancelearning.com or visit our professional training webpage.

#CanCodes #hpLearningStudios #hpedu #makerspace #STEAM

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