A View from the Middle - Middle School

Welcome to A View from the Middle by Corinna Crafton, Head of Middle School, a blog featuring interesting educational observations and commentary. 

Dr. Crafton will be posting here regularly. Please be sure to scroll down to read more and check back frequently for updates.


STEAM Workshop Fosters Analytical Thinking

Why won’t this work? What am I missing? How can we fix this problem?

We love to hear students ask these questions. For teachers at W+H Middle School, asking questions when puzzled or stuck is a sign of deep thinking and thoughtful analysis of one’s actions.

During last week’s STEAM workshop, Middle School students worked to analyze and solve myriad challenges as they developed an original “Choose Your Own Adventure” animated game using relatively simple lines of code. The technology used a block coding platform called Pyonkee, which is not particularly difficult to use. In fact, within the first day of the workshop, students had mastered the fundamentals. The challenge came not in mastering the technology but in working to take an original idea, or concept, and convert it into reality using the tools provided and to provide instructions to others in order that they may replicate the program. Students had to think creatively, and when they encountered a problem – and they encountered many – analyze it, troubleshoot solutions together, test them out, and try again. 

Using a project critiquing model, we invited students to record their instructions as they worked and then trade them with another group which would attempt replication. This form of peer review, much like that conducted in laboratories across industries, allows students to take the lead in creating something new, collaborate to build and test, support others by providing feedback on designs and programs, and celebrate successes individually and collectively. 

We know that analytical thinking happens across the disciplines, on courts, fields, and stages and far beyond. Providing space for students in all of their activities to truly reflect on process fosters in them agency and a sense of control over outcomes. Deliberately calling attention to the connections between desired outcomes and actual results is critical to developing deeply analytical thinking, the very skill needed to tackle life’s biggest challenges and help to pioneer solutions to our world’s most protracted problems. We are proud to be part of a school community that believes deeply in rigorous inquiry and the strength of character to face challenges with wonder.
Posted by ccrafton on Wednesday November, 14, 2018 at 12:31PM


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