Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Letter To Adrienne Gagnon

Dear Ms. Gagnon,

Thank you so much for your presentation yesterday entitled, "Think Like A Designer." I enjoyed learning about the steps in a design process, and learning how each of the steps can be transformed and used in my teaching process. I think that the work that Down City Design is doing it so valuable in teaching young people how to not only find areas that need improvement, but also find solutions to the problems. I also found it extremely helpful that you not only told us about the steps in the design process, but you also had us participate in them as well. I appreciate theories and ideas, but I especially appreciate hands on activities that I can bring back to my classroom.

I believe that your presentation pertained to the message of the Promising Practices Conference as a whole because the methods in which you engage students in their community is directly related to their culture, and also engaging them in STEM practices that they may not ever be exposed to anywhere else. I think that you understand and celebrate the diversity of the students that you are working with, and instead of shoving needs into their face, they identify the needs of their communities themselves and among their peers. The skills that are being practiced are universal. Problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking. We often expect young people to just know how to do these things without ever giving them real chances to use these skills in real life situations. Thank you for giving young people real life experiences that have meaning and are memorable.

Your session is sticking with me in a special way because I think that my students could benefit greatly from getting involved with your program. I think that my faculty members would benefit greatly from the 'toolkit' that you were speaking about. I am not sure how I individually could use this project in my classroom, but I would be very interested in discussing this with you further. Collaboration between myself and another faculty member could be the key to bringing this program to life in my school. I truly believe that the students in my classes need to feel ownership and pride in their school and their school community and this program could be the way to do that.

I am curious about the follow-up that you have with students after they complete a project. Do students continue to stay active within your organization, or do they "graduate" to allow for other students to be involved? I am also curious as to some of the paths that students choose to follow after being involved with Down City. Have they gone into more hands-on educational paths, or have they gone in all different directions? I am also curious about funding. Are the projects grant funded, private funded, or a little of both?

Again, thank you for your presentation. I will be emailing you with my interest in serving on the teacher advisory board. As a hands-on learner  myself, I find so much value in the work that you are doing with students in our state.

Allison Amodie