Think of a student who has stood out to you this past year. When you closed your classroom door for the year, who had you really wanted to get through to but didn’t? Who made progress that completely blew your mind?
Choose a student and write their name at the top of your whiteboard /paper (you can write an alias if you would like).
Then, make three categories: ‘Adjectives’, ‘Challenges’, and ‘Passions & Interests’:
In the ‘Adjectives’ column, write down all adjectives that describe the student you are imagining. Is she/he creative? Disengaged? Calm? Popular? Speedy?
In the ‘Challenges’ column, write down challenges this student faces in your classroom. For example, a student might get easily frustrated in math and give up quickly
In the ‘Passions & Interests’ column, write down all the talents and passions that your student has.
If you’re doing this exercise with other educators, share your brainstorms in small groups to each other (2 minutes each).
Using your table, spend about 15 minutes building a totem that represents your student in a literal or figurative way. You can use any materials you have on hand. Some extra cardboard, paper, tape, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, and markers are always useful.
It’s time to distill the visual information from your totem and your student descriptions down to a statement that you can design and work from. You can use this madlib below, though you might start your madlib with whatever your particular classroom goal is. Ours was to more fully explore STEAM-based subjects, so we started with that:
Write this down on a large stick note or piece of paper.
Or use worksheet with example
Place all the totems on a table and tape your Point of View Statement underneath it. Have all your fellow educators take a gallery walk around the table so that everyone can see the uniqueness and variation in the student totems.
Revisit your student totem frequently and add to them during the year to keep your curriculum design student-centered!