Your School, My School (Redesigning school with students in mind)

By Jeremy Roussel, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • High School


  • School Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

2 90 Minute Blocks


Culture is one of the hardest things to establish in a new school. Administrators and faculty can establish ground rules and set perimeters, but the student input is needed to make it a “school”. My school faces a very similar problem. Though we are not a “new” school, we’ve been challenged by drastic changes through out the year both administratively and academically. Our new principal is open-minded and imaginative; he wants to help redesign the culture of our school, a process that will require investment from all stakeholders. This, of course, includes the students. This project challenges the student body to become civic-minded and goal-oriented. My English students struggle with conceptualizing the real-world ramifications of their decisions made in school. The goal is to design an order for the building, a schematic that meets the challenges of culture faced by the students every day. They will be asked to defend their decisions and design in written form, and each student will design one area of the school that they feel requires cultural improvement.

National Standards

Engineering Education Standard 9. Understands elements of planning construction projects Level IV (Grade 9-12) 2.       Understands land development procedures (e.g., surveying, site selection, site preparation) 3.       Understands steps for preparing a building site (e.g., establish elevation reference points, establish footing grades, locate square corners, install batter boards, set grade stakes, layout building using transit) 4.       Understands the steps involved in designing construction projects (e.g., planning, generating layouts, developing drawings with measurements and details of construction considering constraints, selecting materials)     Engineering Education Standard 14: Uses the design process to solve problems Level IV (Grade 9-12)     1. Understands that engineering design is an iterative process involving modeling and optimization to find the best solution within given constraints 2. Uses a variety of verbal and graphic techniques to present conclusions 4. Understands how societal interests, economics, ergonomics, and environmental considerations influence a solution 7. Understands the process of creating a scale model of an object or structure (e.g., a model automobile, building, bridge) 8. Uses technical drawings (e.g., blueprints, schematics, mechanical drawings, architectural drawings, civil drawings) to construct an object or structure


  • TSWBAT evaluate architectural design as it relates to purpose of efficacy.
  • TSWBAT analyze daily procedures and synthesize a report on behaviors
  • TSWBAT synthesize a mini model of the school in which areas are utilized according to need and purpose


Smart Board/ Projector PowerPoint Software PowerPoint on Design


Full set of Design Materials including construction paper, paper bags, card board boxes, tacks, tape, rubber bands, cotton balls, design puddy, etc.


  • Design
  • Setting
  • Evidence
  • Contextualize


  • How does space and setting affect behavior?
  • How can the design process help us understand the effort of engineers?
  • Why do engineers/ architects consider the needs of their clients when designing their space?
  • Why do people disagree on how a space should be purposed?
  • How can we consider all behaviors and needs to design the most effective space?
Do Now: TSW create a list of ten connotations for the word “design”.   Opening Activity: TTW unpack the concept of design using the connotations suggested by the student as they are relevant to what the students have read (previously) in the text. TTW facilitate a brief discussion on the elements of designing with purpose in mind.   Introduction: TTW give an introduction on design using Powerpoint. TTW briefly review the text and preface the lesson with a definition of setting and tone. TTW ask “how do you think design impacts the usefulness of a space or place? TTW use the answers from the students to delve deeper into the purpose of design, specifically the way they way they will be using it in the class that day.   Activity: TTW present a set of challenges given the culture of a reimagined school. The challenge will focus on different areas of behavior management and need according to the school. TSW develop a list of concerns, areas of need, etc. Potential challenges include:
  • The lockers do not work and students are tired of having to carry every book to each class. What can be designed to save the students time and energy during school hours?
  • There is too much traffic in the stairwell during the transition of classes. What can be done to alleviate the congestion, is there a way to redirect students?
TSW break into groups of four and design a plan and a model of that plan based on an agreed upon school need with the expectation of presenting it to their peers with explanation. TSW (as a class) will comment on areas that could be improvedand they will vote on the best design given the need.


  • TSW present their projects to the class and will be rated based on their attention to behaviors, needs, and the challenge of redesigning space
  • TTW grade student worksheets and ability to convey design process along with strategies implemented in design process.
  Most of the assessment will be informal however the projects themselves will be judged by attentiveness to problem and design process.

Enrichment Extension Activities

TSW be offered the opportunity to take a field trip to an actual construction site and speak with engineer or architect. TSW partner with design professionals to discuss implementing some of the ideas created by the class. TSW become familiar with programs such as Google Sketchup 3D Design.

Teacher Reflection

My students understood the challenge and design stages, but they had trouble identifying and verbalizing criticism for each others’ design. The whole process of design, in my perception, is to provide constructive criticism through out each stage. My students either did not feel comfortable enough with their own designs or their understanding of the concepts to provide more than superficial evaluations of the presented designs.   In the future I will provide a lesson to challenge the students ability to critically evaluate different design strategies. Hopefully by reinforcing their understanding of criticism, they can appreciate the process of design and “redesign” with a clear client or problem in mind.

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