2019 Award Winners

Congratulations to all our Award Winners!

Fran Kompar, Nicole Ryan, Esra Murray, Jason Greasley

How do 21st Century Students Decode the Past: an Interactive Museum on Indigenous People

Cider Mill School, Wilton

This transdisciplinary (beyond disciplines) unit of study integrates multiple disciplines for students to investigate and develop their own inquiry questions regarding the life, culture, and economic development, and lasting impact of indigenous people in the United States. The inquiry model and research process are embedded throughout the unit, as well as lessons that integrate literacy, AASL, and ISTE standards. Through this unit, student engagement was at the forefront. At the beginning of the lessons, students learned about indigenous people in CT and selected an artifact that they wanted to learn more about. The unit ends with a performance assessment in which students choose an artifact they they learned about in the unit, finalize research, write and record a story about the artifact, and recreate the artifact using Makerspace resources. The project culminates in a Living Museum presentation for students to share their work. Students used an online voice recorder, managed numerous technology skills, programs and strategies to storyboard, record, create QR codes and critique their peers' work. The final living museum received a BOE Salute to Excellence recognition. The artifacts were part of the Library Learning Commons for the entire community to experience.

Jacquelyn Whiting

Design Thinking to Solve Problems of Social Media

Wilton High School

In a personalized, authentic, and problem-based unit, high school students from grades nine through twelve flexed their design thinking muscles to solve ubiquitous problems that plague social media while preserving the elements of digital connectedness that we value and enjoy. Students identified issues with social media that they wanted to improve -- anything from money wasting due to targeted ads, to hate speech, to inauthenticity -- while preserving the primary benefit of social media they experience. Their guiding “How might we(HMW)...” questions included:

HMW preserve a way to connect and share ideas while avoiding impulse shopping in response to targeted ads?

HMW preserve the connections between people while fixing the distribution of hate?

HMW preserve the freedom of being able to share what we want and being able to connect with others while fixing the consumption of time it takes?

HMW preserve social media's ability to connect us with varied communities while fixing the way it encourages dangerous comparisons?

In order to understand their problem and gain empathy with people other than themselves who experience the issue, students conducted research about their problem and interviewed social media users about their experience with the problem. Equipped with this insight, they ideated solutions and built prototypes. During these processes they collaborated with each other as sounding boards for their ideas.

When building the prototypes of their solutions, some students made paper versions of redesigned apps. Others developed storyboards of what their solution would look like in action by drawing the sequences on Post-Its and then creating a short video. In some cases their solutions leveraged emerging technology in designing their solutions; other times they designed new hashtag campaigns and even entirely new platforms to replace sites like Facebook. When their prototypes were complete, the students tested them with peers and circulated them on social media for more feedback. This input challenged them to rethink and iterate on their designs before finally taking part in a culminating pitch fest.

ISTE Make it Happen - Dan Spada from Suffield