Here are excerpts from her application for the Henry Ford Award:
When Principal Emily Dunnagan asked me to create a Digital Media class, I built a website of tutorials so students could work at their own pace on projects of their own passion. This innovative model put students in the driver’s seat, allowing them to develop critical thinking and creativity via their own interests.
I ignite creativity by introducing my students to innovation. I teach them that in this class, they will be innovators, free to choose and design their own projects. They learn that success comes after tinkering, trying, failing and trying again. This sets the tone for the class, as I want students to know they will fail in the midst of their projects, and that failure will teach them and help them improve.
My class offers creative, STEM-centered projects like 3D architecture, infographic design, computer coding and game design. Creativity is fostered when students create 3D sculptures, stop-motion and computer animations, websites, and films. Students develop critical thinking skills as they navigate digital programs, problem-solving through the process, alone and with peers.
Students work solo, in partners or groups, learning to seek help from peers and strategize together. Since my students work at their own pace, they decide when a project is complete and when it’s time to move on. Putting students in charge gives them experience evaluating their own work, deciding if they have met the expectations.
Students are also encouraged to recommend additions to the program. One student introduced the class to Blender, a professional quality animation program. Since the class started three years ago, my students have added stop-motion apps, coding courses, cartoon animation, photo editing and additional game design programs to the class website. This semester a student researched how to import his 3D sculpture into our Maker Lab’s 3D printer so he could print a 3D model of the dragon he had spent months creating.
The autonomy that I give my students means they develop critical thinking and problem solving skills as they see their work through to completion and publication.
CLICK PAGE 3 TO SEE LAURA’S PLANS FOR THE FUTURE AND ABOUT HOW SHE IS GETTING VOICE HEARD