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Showing Theresa McGee

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THERESA MCGEE
First Place

3-5 | The Arts | Other

Station WTTW in Illinois

My Classroom Innovation

My teaching focus encourages my students to develop their own “design thinking” habits by combining technology with creativity and ingenuity. For several years, I have used podcasting and Google Earth spanning over two grade levels to get my students to think about how art and design has impacted their lives and the lives of others. My 4th grade unit integrates the study of simple machines and PBS artist resource Pete Beeman to inspire the students create an “Invention to Make the World a Better Place”. They create artwork illustrating the invention design and explain it through an audio recording produced into a podcast. These enhanced podcasts are then published in the iTunes Store to share with the world and download at home. The design thinking continues into 5th grade with Chicago architecture innovations through Google Earth and then as a on-site field experience. I developed a Google Earth multimedia tool that specifically targets our field locations with embedded images, video, PBS online resources, and 3-D models. Each student gathers information from this virtual exploration as preparation to become a “design expert” at one of the architectural locations along our self-guided walking tour.

How Students were Engaged

The 4th grade students take ownership of their inventions by identifying contemporary problems important to them such as the Gulf oil spill, school conditions for the Maasai children in Tanzania, or physical handicaps. Finding a solution to these problems requires and inspires the students to dream big! Not only are their ideas creative, but so too are the invention podcast presentations. The students thrilled that their artwork design and voice audio describing their solution will be published for the whole world to see and hear on iTunes. Students have told me that they plan on copyrighting their idea and when the technology becomes available, implementing their plan to improve our world. As 5th graders, they make connections between the early stages of the design thinking process to the final execution through modern architecture in Chicago. Students take pride and demonstrate understanding by explaining how materials and design must work together at one of the architecture marvels along our route. Long after our on-site experience in Chicago, my students continue use the Google Map they explored in class from home to reinforce learning their experience with their family. By providing the link between creativity and innovation in the world they know, my students transform into design thinkers, ready to take on real-life problems and find solutions that can benefit humanity.

PBS Program/Content Used

Pete Beeman’s Simple Machines, Chicago: City of the Century, The Skyscraper Challenge