Investigative Learning Curriculum for Ormondale Elementary School

Reimagining teaching and learning for 21st-century students

The leadership and faculty at Ormondale Elementary School, a high-performing public school for grades K–3, sought to evolve its curriculum to better meet learning needs in the 21st century. They engaged IDEO to walk them through the process of imagining a new future and to help teachers define, implement, and measure opportunities for progressive instruction.

IDEO began by leading faculty through workshops to familiarize the school with the human-centered design approach and to begin applying it to educational challenges. Participants looked at analogous systems to identify the characteristics and needs of 21st-century learners. With this profile in mind, teachers in the workshop began developing models and tools for use in engaging new learning experiences. They called this shift in their philosophy “Investigative Learning” (IL), which was largely directed toward inspiring students to be seekers of knowledge, rather than passive receivers of information. This new approach also required teachers to rethink the way they designed and delivered instruction.

Following Ormondale’s first year of creating IL experiences, parents, teachers, and community members weighed in on its progress and effects. With feedback in hand, IDEO began working with teachers to establish goals and practices to organize their work, codify accomplishments, and more deeply ground Ormondale’s IL curriculum in the expectations of public education. The outcome included a guidebook and tools that teachers can use to generate and reflect upon their lesson plans…

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Project date: 2008