Seventh graders have made lasagna with bechamel sauce, goose egg omelets and paper flower hair clips … one student even used coding to create a stock analysis while another built a backyard skate ramp!

What ties all of these experiences together? A progression called LEARN-DO-SHARE which asks students to explore a topic, create an experiment and communicate their results.

This is Home and Careers, taught by Melissa Brady. Typically, the spring semester is when Brady would be coaching her 7th graders through the prototyping and sharing steps of their Design Thinking Projects. With the shift to distance learning, Brady found a way to carry forward the ideation and communication skills students were building as well as keep students connected as a community of learners. 

Using Flipgrid, an online platform for sharing videos with a group, Brady sends students a selection of prompts each week for them to choose from. Some are tied to the cooking techniques they learned in the cooking unit of Home and Careers, like “Avocado Toast Your Way” which leans on what they learned about flavor profiles, taste and texture, or a recent addition, “Vinaigrette,” a process which requires emulsification. Others are broader, such as “Unpack and Share a Family Tradition” or “Choose Your Experiment.” Each one challenges students to do an experiment, then create a video to demonstrate what they did and to share what they learned.

Students view each other’s videos and give, receive and apply feedback.  Brady demonstrates each prompt with a video of her own and responds to students individually through video replies and written comments.

Students’ ingenuity, research, and application of their design-thinking skills are impressive. Zain used coding to create a stock analysis. Matthew cited culinary expert Jacques Pépin in his omelet demonstration. Marina created a prototype to solve an everyday organizational challenge—keeping track of her pens and pencils. Ava shared tips for working with puff pastry when making cheese twists.

“Students are learning a lot,” said Brady. “I am, too. Distance learning is forcing us all to communicate differently. It’s also giving me an opportunity to focus on strategies that will develop independent learners."