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Engage Week

location_on Madrid, Spain

A four day learning experience for 9th and 10th graders grounded in design thinking, problem solving, innovation and creativity

The goal of Engage Week at our school was to put learning into the hands of our students in grades 9 and 10. Using the principles of design thinking, Engage gave students the opportunity to define their own challenges, innovate and problem solve around issues that genuinely interested them, all the while leveraging their own knowledge, skills and interests.


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Target group
January 28th, 2021

About the innovation

Engage Week: authentic learning in the hands of the students

What we do?

In the spring of 2019, during the last four days of the second trimester, while 11th and 12th grade students were deeply entrenched in IB Mock Exams, we took our 9th and 10th graders out of the classrooms and immersed them what we called "Engage Week": a design-thinking experience that pulled together students' skills and passions and applied those to solving real-life problems of their choosing. Students employed creativity, communication and collaboration as they worked in small groups over the four days.  With 25 teacher facilitators to guide the process, our students spent three and half days investigating problems and designing solutions. And on the fourth day, they presented their work to their parents, teachers, and friends.  

Engage 2020 (Engage 2.0 as we called it) incorporated a student-led Board of Directors to plan and implement a fully revised and revitalized program to generate even more interest and involvement among the community.  Unfortunately, while Engage 2.0 was interrupted by COVID-19, a much reduced group of students and teachers created instead a three-day online event for graduating seniors whose final spring in high school had been stripped down to almost nothing.  Each day, students engaged remotely in pizza making, design thinking, and cookie baking with their teachers, while sharing conversations about life and learning.

Why we do it? 

The goal of Engage was to put learning in the hands of the students.  We also wanted them to realize that there was much more to learning than the traditional exam period.  Yes, the IB students had to be preparing for the May exams, but we wanted to our 9th and 10th graders to remember that the point of learning was not to pass a test.  We wanted to inspire our students to think for themselves, to focus on process (learning to grow) rather than product (tests and grades). With our goals of innovator mindset, problem solving and authentic learning, we knew that however big or small or simple or complex the solutions were, the real learning would come from reflecting on the process of working together for a greater good.   

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