Here at the BIF Student Experience Lab, we’ve been working on this idea of “student-led design” for quite a while. Most of our work however has been focused at the higher education level. One day our friends at the Rhode Island Department of Education came to us with a crazy idea. Might we adapt our approach for a younger set of students? Could a group of elementary school students hold the key to innovation? ‘Sure, why not?’ we said.
And so, in the summer of 2012, we found ourselves at Pleasant View Elementary School in Providence, Rhode Island working with fifteen fearless flyers slated to enter 4th and 5th grade in the fall. For one hour a day, they came to believe that not only should they have a voice in their school’s improvement, they might also have the power to change it for the better.
And yet again, the Student Experience Lab finds itself championing a movement we began in 2010 to bring student voice into the innovation conversation.
With that, we proudly introduce the latest initiative to come out of the lab: Students Design For School (SD4S). In addition to offering school leadership new ideas for enhancing the student experience, SD4S demonstrates a new technique for engaging students in an ongoing internal school improvement process that is both interdisciplinary and action-oriented. It’s an important example of how schools can proactively put students in the driver’s seat of their own internal improvement activities.
Whether secondary or post-secondary, SD4S is a powerful approach to encourage life-long learning, promote alternative learning environments and equip students with 21st century skills - all through the lens of a purpose-driven engine to create change in education.
The impact can be profound and we would like to share it with our community through the SD4S Student Designer How-To Kit. Specifically geared toward secondary school faculty and administration looking to bring students into the school improvement process, the how-to kit is easily adaptable for any school's need or fit.
The kit is broken down into three easy to follow steps:
Each step includes a thorough description of the particular phase in the design process along with hand-outs that can be downloaded and/or photocopied.
The power is now in your hands! [But don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the program or how it might be adapted to meet your needs.]