Monday, October 12, 2015

TechShop: An Inventor’s Paradise at Summit Denali

At Summit Denali in Sunnyvale, middle school students are making their ideas a reality in their TechShop Expeditions course. They’re building lots of things with their hands and the help of a few tools like a laser cutter, 3D printer, solderer, and vinyl cutter to name a few.

This week, students were designing their very own t-shirts! Mark, an 8th grader at Denali, who competitively rock climbs drew the below design about a controversial topic in the world of rock climbing -- bouldering (no ropes) versus lead climbing (with ropes). After creating the design on a computer software program, he cut the design on a vinyl cutter (see pictures below). The next step is to then heat press his design on a t-shirt so he’s ready to wear it at his next climbing competition!
Which side would Mark pick?
The left side, bouldering, of course (no ropes!).

A Closer Look in the Day in the Life of a Summit Student

The beginning of fall is just around the corner, and Maria is settling into her 2nd year at Summit. When she first came, she had trouble keeping up with deadlines and figuring out what she needed to work on, but with the help of her mentor during Friday check ins, she learned to prioritize her work, make a plan, and follow it.

Her first class is English Project Time, and she is working on the Dystopian Narrative. When she gets to class, the teacher has set up three different stations around the room for students to attend depending on where in the project everyone is. After a whole class mini lesson on how to write detailed imagery, Maria chooses to go to the peer feedback station because she already has a basic draft of her story and would like someone else to look at it. There, she partners up with Jake, and they read each other’s drafts with the specific purpose of applying what they just learned-- how to write detailed imagery-- and give feedback on how to improve the descriptions in their partner’s story. The teacher walks around to check in with students at each station, stopping at Maria and Jake’s table to give feedback on their comments and how to make them more specific. After pairing with Jake, Maria goes through his comments to revise her story. The teacher has reserved the last 30 minutes for writing conferences, so Maria signs up for a 5-minute slot to get a second round of feedback.

Next, Maria goes to Summit Reads, where she is working on 5 assignments in Reading Plus for the week. After completing one assignment, it’s her turn to check in with her teacher. She reflects that she is one assignment behind given that it’s Wednesday already, so she needs to be more focused during class.

After grabbing a snack during brunch and hanging out with her two best friends, Sara and Lily, Maria attends Personalized Learning Time. Based on the goals she set for this week, she has to finish at least one playlist today and pass a content assessment. She chooses to work on “Transformations of Functions,” a math playlist. She knows she doesn’t do very well learning from videos, so she chooses the non-video resources and takes notes specifically on how to identify transformations based on graphs. She knows she needs help on this topic because of the diagnostic test she took yesterday. Before she asks to take the content assessment, Maria completes the check for understanding to make sure she understands the content and check her work against the answer key. She sits down to take the content assessment and passes! She high-fives her teacher on her way to the lunch line, feeling proud of her accomplishment.