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Ekya / February 15, 2018 Posted by : administrator

What is Design Thinking?

Design, in its most common use, is understood to describe an object or an end result. Design Thinking, on the other hand, is an action. It is a protocol or process used for solving problems, discovering insights and effectively capitalizing on new opportunities.

Through design thinking, students acquire skills like research, organization, empathy, creative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, public speaking and presentation techniques in a hands-on manner. They work on a socially relevant topic and get the chance to build a solution for it. In an information-packed, technologically driven society, design thinking skills build confident, creative young leaders that are capable of achieving success in a climate of change.

Why is Design Thinking a part of a school’s curriculum?

Through the inquiry-based curriculum, schools around the world are already using design thinking in classrooms and empowering students with skills to solve real-world challenges. They work with multiple perspectives, learn to access and make sense of information, apply critical thinking and intuition, iteratively learn from failure and create solutions that integrate the emotional and the analytical.

Design Thinking and Ekya Schools

The first design thinking challenge at Ekya was piloted at Ekya School ITPL. The objective of the challenge was to find solutions to the garbage crisis that plagued Bangalore and its citizens at the time. With 4 years of teaching experience and having moved to developing curriculum thereafter, Ms. Shobha Sivaramakrishnan, has been part of the design thinking team since its infancy.  Speaking about how the concept of human-centered design intrigued her in the beginning, Ms. Shobha recalls,

“As a curriculum developer, I have spent a lot of time researching and integrating processes focused on Inquiry-based learning and STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering and Mathematics) into the Primary Science curriculum. My introduction to Design Thinking was by participating in a ‘wallet challenge’. The exercise helped me understand the role of design thinking as a creative problem-solving tool and how it can help students solve real-world problems.”

At the Ekya ITPL Design Thinking Challenge, Ms. Shobha noticed how students and teachers made use of the design toolkit to come up with umpteen solutions to a variety of problems. “My belief in the idea of design thinking was strengthened when we conducted our first design challenge. Our students set up campaigns to educate citizens, designed special clothing for garbage pickers and planned effective distribution of excess food and unique waste disposal methods.”

Watch how our design thinking showcase unfolded at Ekya ITPL

After a successful pilot, the design thinking challenge came to Ekya School JP Nagar. The school’s students were tasked to find ways to integrate the elderly better into the society. “Through the challenge, our children develop empathy for the elderly. They really understood how the user was key to the design thinking process and used their empathy muscle by looking deeper into the lives of the elderly in mind while designing solutions. Students thought of ways to get rid of loneliness that older people are likely to face, planned virtual reality tours for those who could not travel much and devised applications and instruments that helped with mobility, health, and lifestyles.”

Here’s a round-up of our showcase at Ekya JP Nagar

These tools not only helped teachers and students with the challenge at hand but also with their everyday list of things to do. Talking about how the use of design thinking tools stood out, Ms. Shobha highlights that the process matters as much as the end product – “Everything on the toolkit can be effectively used in real-life scenarios. I was able to build and integrate some of these design principles into the Primary Science Curriculum that I was working on”

With the design thinking challenge, it is not just the destination, it is the journey that counts. It focuses on a student’s ability to come up with solutions and pays equal importance to how you come up with these solutions.

This is one of the reasons students are asked to save all their work and not focus on how pretty their model or submission looks. As Ms. Shobha adds,

“Through the process, students brainstorm, categorize, organize information, conduct research and interviews, ideate and make prototypes which gives them a sense of ownership and they are proud to put it up for others to see. Students use feedback from peers constructively and it helps them look at their solutions critically; in turn, they learn to take criticism in a positive manner. This helps build confidence in students and helps them see others point of view as well.”

How are different grades at Ekya Schools incorporating Design Thinking?

    • Problems are situations: Engineering design in the earliest grades introduces students to problems as “situations” that people want to change. They can use tools and materials to solve simple problems, use different representations to convey solutions, and compare different solutions to a problem and determine which is best.
    • Years ahead: At Ekya and its sister institution, CMR National Public School, providing students with a foundation in engineering design allows them to engage in and aspire to solve the major societal challenges that they will face in the years ahead. Students work with different materials and tools in the Makery which will allow them to see their ideas come to life.  
    • Part of the curriculum: Students use principles of design thinking while learning science concepts in order to apply their skills in a meaningful way. The Science curriculum focuses on design thinking as a process and not just the end-product.

This year, as part of the Science curriculum, students of Grades I through V participated in workshops to develop solutions to specific problems by using the processes from the Ekya Design Thinking toolkit.

Students from Grade I were challenged to redesign their classroom experiences. They spent a good chunk of their time observing their classmates and peers in their campus and gained insights about problems students like them face in school.

Students developed valuable insights through their observations, for example, the process of losing stationery was proving to be a costly affair and also meant resources were being wasted. Their solution was robotic cups built to hold stationery that go from student to student, as and when they needed a particular item.

Students in Grade II looked at creative solutions to help stray animals and developed empathy for the animals in the process. One of the student groups designed collars with sensors that would detect if the animal was in danger, alerting the local rehab centre to come to its rescue.

Students of Grade III were given the challenge to solve the traffic congestion in Bangalore. In order to understand the problems at hand, the children interviewed with people who battle traffic woes on a day to day basis. A group came up with the idea of installing automated underground gates at every zebra crossing to protect pedestrians and keep the drivers more cautious about traffic signals and rules.

Grade IV and V students came up with creative solutions for the garbage crisis and the issue of food wastage that plagues Bangalore city. Ideas from automated garbage trucks and smart lunch boxes were brought to light, with the former collecting and segregating waste across town while the latter designed to detect waste of food.

Explore more

Ekya / April 03, 2024

The Power of Learning with Intent: A Guide to Purposeful Education

In a world brimming with information, the art of learning has evolved beyond the mere acquisition of facts. Learning with intent, a deliberate approach to education emphasises quality over quantity, depth over breadth, and purpose over passive absorption. It’s about cultivating a mindset that transforms knowledge into meaningful action and empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of the modern age effectively.

At its core, learning with intent involves setting clear objectives and actively engaging with the subject matter. Whether exploring a new language, delving into scientific principles, or honing a creative skill, intentionality infuses each learning endeavour with purpose and direction. As Albert Einstein aptly said, "The only source of knowledge is experience." This quote amplifies the importance of active participation and hands-on learning, highlighting that true understanding arises from deliberate engagement with the material.

Furthermore, engaging actively with the material is paramount. Embrace challenges and embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth. This proactive approach not only deepens your understanding but also cultivates critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential for success in any field.

Moreover, learning with intent emphasises relevance and applicability. Seek out opportunities to apply newfound knowledge in real-world scenarios, bridging the gap between theory and practice. By contextualising learning within your personal or professional sphere, you enhance its significance and utility, making it more likely to stick.

In conclusion, learning with intent is a transformative approach that transcends traditional notions of education. By setting clear objectives, engaging actively, prioritising relevance, and fostering a growth mindset, individuals can harness the full potential of learning to achieve their goals and thrive in an ever-changing world. So, embark on your learning journey with purpose, and let each lesson propel you towards a brighter, more fulfilling future.

By Sweta Pradeep Rao

Senior English Educator

Ekya School JP Nagar

Ekya / April 02, 2024

Gadget-free Summer Break

With summer vacation around, I urge parents to explore various ways to facilitate children to make healthy choices during their vacation time.

Last week, when we asked our Early Years to visualise their characters and create a story, most of them came up with stories about ghosts and monsters attacking others.  When we had conversations about what gave them this idea, we understood that these story ideas emanated from their online games. While gaming per se develops specific skills and requires focus, it also stifles the imagination of young children. Since it is visually appealing, children tend to remember those images in their heads all the time.

I often see parents providing very young children (1 year to 3 year olds)  with gadgets as the means to keep children engaged and entertained. I see children watching phones in the waiting areas of clinics, hospitals, school lobbies and banks.

This brings us to a fundamental question “ Should children be engaged by parents all the time?” Not necessarily. What is likely to happen if children were not handed over gadgets at the waiting lounges? What would they do? Some of them may cry, some may throw a loud tantrum, and some may crib. If parents show resilience and allow children to settle down themselves, they will soon find ways to keep themselves engaged. Likewise, during summer vacation. What if this is a “no gadget” vacation and parents do not take up the responsibility to engage their children? What would children do? How can parents show resilience here and facilitate children to make healthy choices? I leave the readers with this thought for this summer vacation.

Mathangi R,

Head of School,

Ekya NICE Road.

Ekya / April 02, 2024

The Eye of the Storm

In the hushed embrace of an Indian evening, our journey began, a symphony of anticipation orchestrated by the hum of jet engines and the flutter of boarding passes. The promise of adventure beckoned from distant shores as we boarded our flight bound for the United Kingdom, our hearts aflutter with dreams of far-off lands and newfound horizons. But as we soared through the velvet sky, a foreboding shadow loomed on the horizon, a harbinger of the chaos that was soon to unfold. In the blink of an eye, the tranquil serenity of our airborne sanctuary was shattered by a deafening crack, a burst of purple lightning that danced across the heavens with an otherworldly fervour. The air crackled with electricity as the plane shuddered beneath the force of the storm, its metal frame quivering in defiance against the tempestuous onslaught. And then, in a heart-stopping moment of sheer terror, the heavens unleashed their fury upon us, casting our fragile vessel into a maelstrom of chaos and uncertainty. The sky darkened to a shade of ominous charcoal as the winds howled with a primal ferocity, tearing at the wings of our faltering craft with savage intent. The cabin was awash with panicked cries and frantic prayers as we clung to our seats with white-knuckled desperation, each passing moment stretching into eternity.

And then, as if mocking our feeble attempts at control, the plane tilted almost 180 degrees, its nose plummeting towards the earth with a sickening lurch. Time seemed to stand still as we hurtled towards the ground, our fate hanging in the balance as the world spun wildly out of control. But just when all hope seemed lost, a glimmer of salvation emerged from the chaos, a beacon of light amidst the encroaching darkness. With a mighty roar, the engines surged to life once more, their thunderous symphony drowning out the cacophony of the storm as we clawed our way back from the brink of oblivion. As the storm clouds parted and the sun cast its golden rays upon the horizon, we emerged battered but unbroken, our spirits buoyed by the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. And though our journey had been fraught with peril and uncertainty, we emerged from the crucible of the skies stronger and more resilient than ever before. For in the crucible of adversity, we discovered the true measure of our strength, our courage, and our unwavering determination to defy the odds and chart our course through the tempestuous seas of life. As we touched down on solid ground once more, I couldn't help but marvel at the beauty of the world around us, a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human soul.

Arjun Narasimhan Kuppuswamy

Grade 8C

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Working at Ekya Schools – Mousumi Choudhury

As educators, we need to constantly ask ourselves - “How are we helping our students learn better?”

A passionate educator who embodies the spirit of a lifelong learner, Ms. Mousumi Choudhury engineers the Mathematics program at Ekya for Kindergarten to Grade 4, also planning the English curriculum for Kindergarten and Grades 5 and 6. Having begun her role at Ekya as a teacher, Ms. Mousumi’s area of expertise was company law before turning to education. She holds a Bachelors of Commerce from Mumbai University, an LL.B from Mumbai University, and a Bachelors of Education from Lucknow University. Ms. Mousumi has been part of the Ekya School ITPL community since 2012, having developed Ekya’s Reading Program for Primary and Middle School. From dabbling with online media and advertisement at Google to designing the Ekya curriculum, we sit down with Ms. Mousumi and speak to her about her experience with Ekya Schools - how she transitioned from being a teacher to helping create what is being taught at our classrooms. Here are the excerpts: Q: What do you do at Ekya Schools? How does your day of work typically go at Ekya Schools? I am currently part of the Ekya Learning Centre, looking into curriculum development. My areas of research include Mathematics for Pre-primary and Primary School, with English for Kindergarten and Middle School. My typical day at Ekya starts at 8 AM. At Ekya Learning Centre, we map out the curriculum that makes way into our classrooms, every lesson, every activity is detailed and designed using the framework and standards from schools across the globe. We plan different parts of the curriculum using appropriate content, meaningful assessments and grading criteria. I work on building units for the abovementioned grades using the Cambridge framework for our English program and Singapore Math for Mathematics, designing the program of work for teachers to follow and prepare review papers for the students. Q. How is the culture here at Ekya? How is it working at Ekya? At Ekya, our culture is one that fosters collaboration, growth mindset and peer affirmation. We value and treat each other with respect and give constructive feedback. We nurture our teaching and administrative faculty with empathy and compassion. Q. How did you transition from your previous role to the one you hold at Ekya right now? Work in my previous role was cutting edge and had a lot of scope to grow and learn. However the hours were long and it kept me away from my family, which I began resenting. Once at Ekya, I found that I worked hours that suited my family - I was now closer to my kids as they were studying at the same school. It also keeps me connected to what is happening in education, a landscape right now that is seeing so many exciting changes. And at Ekya, we are leading that renaissance, moving away from rote-learning to a more experiential, immersive set-up. Q. How have you changed as a person, coming in from a corporate fold? There has been a significant change in my thinking and approach to life. I have developed empathy, compassion and a deep sense of love and responsibility towards children other than my own. I value my job and my interactions with my students very highly. I can see the impact I have on my students, which makes me want to learn new things, new ways of doing things and never lose sight of the big picture - how can we as educators help our students learn better? Q. Have you always wanted to be part of an educational set-up? How has Ekya helped you find your feet? I had never imagined myself to be part of an educational set-up, especially after graduating from my Law program. But, once I decided to transition, I was given wholehearted support by the Leadership at Ekya. Through orientation and training, I was given the required guidance necessary to become a teacher. Frequent staff meetings and one-on-one sessions with our mentors helped me discover myself and also enabled me to take on bigger challenges in my teaching career at Ekya.
Ms. Mousumi believes that educators should be constantly looking out for ways to make the learning experiences better for their students
And at Ekya, we are doing exactly that! Using immersive and experiential teaching methods that help students live the lesson, our schools enable students to explore, understand, build memories and become lifelong learners. And to help them become lifelong learners, we are looking for space explorers, painters, and inventors who teach! We are hiring! If you are considering to become an educator, to make a career switch to teaching – one that is dynamic and multi-faceted, we look forward to your application here.

5 Reading Tips for Infants – Ekya Recommends

It’s never too early to read to your little one. As soon as your child is born, he or she starts learning. Just by talking to, playing with, and caring for your child every day, you help your tiny tot develop language skills necessary to become a reader. By reading with your little one, you foster a love of books and reading right from the start. At Ekya, we have compiled five reading tips that offer some fun ways you can help your little one become a happy and confident reader.

Start young and stay with it

  • Snuggle up with a book: When you hold your child close and look at a book together, your little one will enjoy the snuggling and hearing your voice as well as the story. Feeling safe and secure with you while looking at a book builds your child's confidence and love of reading.

  • Choose child-friendly books: Books with bright and bold or high-contrast illustrations are easier for young children to see, and will grab their attention. Books made of cloth or soft plastic (for the bathtub) or "board books" with sturdy cardboard pages are easier for  them to handle.

  • Keep books where your little one can reach them: Make sure books are as easy to reach, hold, and look at as toys. Remember, a young child will do with a book what he/she does with everything else — put it in his/her mouth. And that's exactly what they are supposed to do, so you may only want to put chewable books within reach.

  • Develop a daily routine: Routines can soothe a child and let them learn to predict what will happen next. The ability to predict is important when your child is older and is reading independently.

  • Sing, Read, Repeat: Read favourite stories and sing favourite songs over and over again. Repeated fun with books will strengthen language development and positive feelings about reading.

Parents, we recommend you to try a new reading tip each week and see what works best for your child. For more reading tips, click the following links: Reading Tips for Toddlers Reading Tips for Kindergarten

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