August 15, 2014

Asking and thinking HOW MIGHT WE…

THE CONTEXT

We have a St Pat’s Reading Challenge running at our school, to acknowledge children who borrow and read material from our Library collection, and to encourage all students (K-6) to “step outside their comfort zones” to borrow and read materials they may not choose to at first glance.     There are approximately 40+ different awards that make up the Challenge; half of those created by me and the other half by various students (Children are invited and encouraged to create new awards for the Challenge, that must be different to an existing award).  Children need to record the materials they read for each award on specially created bookmarks, to indicate they have completed the requirements for that award.  This bookmark is signed off by their class teacher, then forwarded onto me (the teacher librarian).  I make badges to be given to the children who have completed awards after school one day per week.  These are given to the children by their class teachers, however students who achieve bronze, silver or gold awards are acknowledged at our Monday morning assembly.    The children then wear their badges on their school hats in recognition of the awards they have achieved.  (Photos illustrating various aspects of the St Patrick’s Reading Challenge are included in my previous post, IMPROVING A DAILY ROUTINE).

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July 26, 2014

The Power in a Design Brief

travelling into new territory

What is the role of a design brief?  What are the key tensions inherent in a design brief that seeks responses that are distinctly different from the status quo?

In trying to meet the two main challenges of a design brief:

  1. Be SPECIFIC enough to describe what is required based on the knowledge that the education setting has on its resources, needs and values
  2. Be AMBIGUOUS enough to be open to what the design process might unearth

tensions between reconciling these two seemingly polar-opposite concepts will inevitably arise, particularly if the design brief seeks something distinctly different from the status quo – i.e. it seeks innovation, rather than incremental change.

There will be tension between the known and the unknown – the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns.  There will be tension between knowledge and concept – practical reality (knowledge) and creativity (concepts);  and there could be tension between trying to reconcile what BIG wants (eg. Education minister, School system; budget constraints) with the wants and needs of the SMALL (eg. individual students’ learning needs, work skills needed for future).

There is value in a design brief that acknowledges and identifies these tensions and constraints so that they can be brought to the design process, informing and becoming part of the end solution.

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