New in 2014, we piloted a special gathering devoted exclusively to K-12 architecture and design educators. The inaugural event offered 20+ hours of networking and professional development, including live observations of design camps (grades 3-12), group workshops, one-on-one meet-ups and small group discussions, and special receptions. An additional pre-Symposium step-on tour provided all with a great primer on the rise and decline of Detroit, along with closer looks at a few of the rebuilding efforts underway across the city.
Wrap Up Letter from AAO Executive Director Michael Wood
Thank you to all those hearty souls who joined us for our inaugural A+DEN Symposium. We knew the intimate, multi-day format would be well received but were delighted by the wealth of new programming ideas and insights offered up by this first Symposium class. Twenty-five educators, hailing from locations throughout the US, joined us on the campus of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum outside Detroit, Michigan.
Intentionally designed for a small number of participants, we were able to place a high premium on group interaction through the entire Symposium. All participants made rapid-fire presentations, either introducing themselves (if this was a first time joining an A+DEN event) or else highlighting challenges and questions marks they’d faced in their K-12 programs this year. Three core workshops offered a range of topics and hands-on activities, from student assessment and badging to model making that combined traditional prototyping materials and digital circuitry to investigations of story craft (with aim toward winning over public audiences and funders alike). At the mid-point of the Symposium, the group took full advantage of the Cranbrook location to audit its summer design camps, as several K-12 students were wrapping up their programs while our group was visiting the campus.
There were many terrific moments during the Symposium. Our group will long remember the tour of Detroit with Wayne State professor Robin Boyle (he was actually retiring from the University the day he gave us the tour!) and the indefatigable Sue Mosey; the outdoor Pecha Kecha at Cranbrook’s Thornlea House should be a fond memory, as well; and the Model Making workshop delivered some rather unusual prototypes that got lots of laughs.
As those organizing this event, the biggest rewards were the simple reminders of just how seldom this sort of professional development is pulled together for K-12 educators, where group meals aren’t just boxed lunches and the learning sessions require all hands on deck and consistent interaction with fellow participants.
So, we wish to extend our thanks, again, to all the attendees and presenters. We will certainly look to repeat this event again in the future. And special thanks to AAO Director Kelly Lyons for getting this new offering underway!
– Michael Wood, AAO Executive Director
For AAO Members seeking access to the Symposium materials, please take note of the links:
A+DEN Symposium Schedule and List of Participants
A+DEN Symposium Participants’ Presentations Night 1
A+DEN Symposium Participants’ Presentations Night 2
Workshop Slides: Understanding Student Assessment in the Era of Open Badging
Workshop Slides: Model Making PLUS: Blending Technologies Old + New
Workshop Slides: A+DEN Stories Before & After