Action-Oriented Courses by Design

Middle & High School 

This session shares one educator’s journey and the why, what, and how of designing project-based courses for middle and high school students. We will examine examples of these types of courses, looking at their curricular design, as well as other skills and characteristics that make them impactful for students and teachers. Participants in this session will learn how to use social-emotional learning to teach students how to collaborate effectively and work in dynamic teams. Through a PBL approach, session attendees will work together to generate ideas and approaches to creating entire curriculums, units, or projects to bring back to their schools. Participants will explore ways to use the UN Sustainable Development Goals as potential learning outcomes for their classes. Educators will experience a model of how to reimagine high school courses using; design thinking, Social-Emotional Learning, PBL, and global collaboration. This presentation will provide examples of curricula, student work, student testimony, and a blueprint for how to develop such a program.

Sam Vierra:

For almost a decade, Sam has been incorporating and designing classes using authentic, action-orientated assessments. Sam’s interest began after watching the documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed”, which explored innovative approaches to course design and assessment at High Tech High. At the Stanford d. School, Sam found ways to incorporate design and systems thinking into the courses. Sam leveraged the work with the d. School partnering with them to create the Global Sustainability by Design program at Punahou School, in Hawaii. Sam has been fortunate to collaborate with Tony Wagner in designing action-orientated programs that provide students with the mind and skill sets necessary for 21st Century learners. Currently, Sam is working to incorporate this approach to teaching and learning at the American Embassy School, New Delhi.