Education Update: 7/8/15

A Public PlayGarden for All in Seattle

With backing from the Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation, Seattle Children’s PlayGarden opened its doors to provide an all inclusive place for kids with different abilities to play and learn together. The PlayGarden is a public park, a summer camp and preschool with an accessible teaching kitchen and garden, and a playable music fence designed by world renowned artist Trimpin. The design of the park was inspired by the Rusk Children’s PlayGarden in New York for the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medical Center in order to provide an outdoor, interactive and therapeutic play space.The PlayGarden gives students with disabilities opportunities to play, explore and learn without the obstacles of typical playgrounds. How cool is that?!

See the PlayGarden in action in this video. It’s worth the viewing!

Image Source: Getty Images,, July 2, 2015

Using Peer Review to Achieve Academic Goals

Teachers are tasked to support students not only academically but emotionally as well. This can be time consuming, so one Oakland public high school, Life Academy, is spreading some of that responsibility onto the students. At the student-centered school, students are assigned a peer advisory group throughout high school. The role of the group is to mentor each student and provide academic performance feedback. Each student receives criticism from their peers and develops a work plan for future improvement. Educators believe this program works because the peer influence is much stronger and students are more driven to succeed when judged by fellow students. The school anticipates this peer review and reflection on performance will enhance a student’s ability to tackle similar challenges in college.


In a laboratory classroom in the public school district in Mentor, Ohio, teachers can test-drive high-tech lessons with the help of a coach. Photo: Nichole Dobo

Through the Looking Glass – Changing Classroom Design to Accommodate Blended Learning

Despite little proof that blended learning, combined teacher-lead and online instruction, produces better results in the classroom and higher test scores, school districts across the nation are adopting this teaching method. In Mentor, Ohio a new learning center located in Ridge Middle School, uses classrooms with 2-way mirrors to observe blended learning in action. Teachers observe what works or doesn’t in the classroom in order to improve learning. This “laboratory” classroom, called the Catalyst, will inform how new teaching styles will eventually change the design of classrooms. Soft cushioned seating and desks on wheels are replacing the rows of desks facing a teacher at the front of the room; flexibility being the goal. Mentor isn’t the only school district testing different methods of incorporating technology into the curriculum, illustrating the need for continued exploration and evaluation of blended learning methods.

Education Update is a weekly blog post highlighting recent developments in the world of education. The linked articles and summaries are not endorsements, rather frame points of view to begin conversations about the state of education, trends, and how we as designers can play an active role in shaping schools.

One response to “Education Update: 7/8/15

  1. Of course you know why the PlayGarden is so great… it’s organized around a hill! 😉

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