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Students take Design two hours per week for three years. Sixth and seventh graders are exposed to digital and product design and eighth graders choose from four different combined digital/product design classes. The semester courses focus on the use and application of the design cycle: inquiring and analyzing, developing ideas, creating a solution, and evaluating. Design students use their creative thinking, problem-solving, and technical skills to create solutions or products that respond to a need or fulfill a purpose. In sixth grade, units of work and processes are guided and focus is placed on designing solutions to teacher-led challenges, whereas in seventh and eighth grade, the emphasis is on solving real-life problems for familiar groups. 

Units are designed to promote inquiry through the development of conceptual understanding of key and related concepts through the six MYP Global Contexts.

All design students are encouraged to: 

  • Keep an open mind: when investigating solutions, often the best option is not your first idea.
  • Keep inquiring: one question leads to the next idea and the next question. 
  • Take risks: try, err, evaluate, and start again with a more solid footing. 
  • Communicate: communicate your process, communicate your findings, use peers and other adults as resources, interview people, communicate to set up appointments, and communicate your goals.
  • Reflect: regularly ensure that you are following the path you set to follow; do not hesitate to readdress. 

Aims and objectives:

  • Develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills and apply techniques to effectively create solutions 
  • Understand each stage of the design cycle
  • Develop habits of reflection to assess and revisit each stage of the design cycle

Students will learn how to:

  • State purposes and problems
  • Design tests to evaluate design solutions
  • Collect and evaluate information from a variety of sources 
  • Analyze and communicate the specifications of the product to be created 
  • Explore methods for generating designs for their product 
  • Create a plan and timeline with logical steps 
  • Explore a variety of tools and methods for creating their product 
  • Track their progress (journals, photographs, etc)  
  • Implement tests to evaluate the products created

Teachers commit to a variety of summative assessment tasks tied to learning objectives, skills, and criteria. Before an assessment or along with it, teachers will hand out clearly described tasks and criteria for assessment.  Units of work include formative assessments leading to the summative piece. Students are assessed with four equally weighted criteria: Criterion A (Inquiring and Analyzing), Criterion B (Developing Ideas), Criterion C (Creating the solution), and Criterion D (Evaluating). 

Grade 6: Solutions to problems that affect me

  • Product Design: Objects we take for granted, Design and construction of bags, boxes journals
  • Digital Design: Infographics, Understanding Design Cycle, Graphic Information Systems (GIS) Designing a campus map

Grades 7: Solutions to problems in my immediate community

  • Product Design: Pop-up Book Design, Pattern and Sewing Design
  • Digital Design: Podcast Production, Telling a story with videos

Grade 8: Solutions to problems in my immediate community

  • Product Design: Set Design (Students design set for 8th-grade play), Community-Building Design (What does our school community need to feel connected?)
  • Combined Digital/Product: Designing extracurricular events for the school community, Theater event
  • Digital Design: Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Telling a story about Portland

More Middle School Teaching and Learning