Big Ideas Impacting Teaching and Learning

I recently had an opportunity to catch up with a member of our BIFnik community, Chula Vista High Tech High Director, Lillian Hsu. Lillian attended Big Ideas Fest in 2014 along with three teachers from her school. Lillian and her teachers utilized their time at Big Ideas Fest to create a solution to a challenge they were grappling with around their sophomore year schedule and they are implementing it now with much success. I find Lillian's challenge and design solution interesting because reimagining a school's schedule is something that many administrators and teachers want to do, but don't always have the time and support to collaboratively design and test out ideas. Read on to hear Lillian's story.

Megan: What was the challenge you designed for during Big Ideas Fest?

Lillian: Our sophomore year schedule was a big headache all of the previous school year. We were working within the constraints of a schedule for the sophomore year that nobody liked. That schedule had students rotate through too many classes over the course of the day, and they weren’t feeling that sense of community and being part of a team, which is a core value at our school. It was this weird outlier year where the students were going through a packed schedule that felt much more traditional than what we were after. The Action Collab process we experienced at Big Ideas Fest allowed us to think about what we most value, what we most want for our students and how to get our schedule to match that.

Can you tell me about your design solution?

Generally our teams of teachers at our school are organized into humanities and science partnerships, and the exploratory or prep period is usually math. During 10th grade, there is an additional challenge because Spanish is added to the schedule. The solution we came up with was to team Spanish with Humanities. That is something we have never done before at our school because we couldn’t figure out the logistics for it. Through the Action Collab process, we were able to prototype what the schedule could look like-- working within the constraints and resources we have at our school. We were able to think more creatively about our teacher’s time during the school day and allow for new kinds of projects and partnerships to emerge because of the different pairings.

What has been the impact of your design solution?

We implemented our new sophomore schedule to kick off our school year this August. Our solution has worked out so much better than any of the other iterations we had tried before. We had never before looked at it through this fresh perspective, nor identified who our users were and what the main issues we were trying to address were. By going through the Action Collab process we were able to clarify what we valued and we came up with an innovative solution that is impacting 160 students and 8 teachers at our school. I think it is tremendously powerful to see how our design solution translates into a concrete change within the school, the way it is impacting the student learning and the use of time for teachers and students at our school.

Thank you Lillian! You have inspired us with how your big ideas are impacting teaching and learning.

October 29, 2015