Who We Are
CDTIE believes that the relationship between students and teachers must change to support the rapidly evolving world that students graduate into. To that end, CDTIE provides curriculum, training and support to enable students to become independent explorers of information and teachers to become mentors/coaches of that exploration.
Origins: El Pueblo Unido Program
In early 2018, the founding team of El Pueblo Unido Program (EPU) established a prototype exchange program between Escuela Francisco Manrique Cabrera (FMC), in Puerto Rico, and Design Tech High School in Silicon Valley. The exchange of students and staff gave participants a powerful immersive inter-cultural educational experience focused on sharing the Design Thinking problem solving method stewarded by Stanford University’s d. School. A remarkable side product of the exchange program is that Escuela FMC proposed and was approved, by the Puerto Rico Department of Education, to become the first Design Thinking Specialized (Magnet) school in Puerto Rico. As a result, EPU has transformed into the Center for Design Thinking & Innovation in Education and has grown to encompass supporting schools adoption of innovative programs that embrace some combination of the following four initiatives:
● Design Thinking (Laboratorios de Diseño)
● Community engagement in school programs (Exploraciones)
● Peer mentoring (Mentoria)
● School and Community Exchange
The core of our program has been the introduction of 3 two-week breaks (EntreSesiones) from regular core academic instruction. During EntreSesiones, students spend their mornings in Design Labs where they study the theory of Design Thinking and tackle themed Design Challenges (Hecho en Puerto Rico, for example). In the afternoons, students choose from a wide variety of Exploraciones classes (robotics, cosmetology and farming, for example). These classes are led by professionals from the community with the support of school staff.
In our first prototype in 2018-19, the program was fully implemented at Escuela FMC with dramatic impact on both student and teacher attendance. Also, FMC student performance in standardized tests improved over the prior year. And perhaps most importantly, six graduating seniors from FMC joined five graduating seniors from California to invest their next year in helping to expand the program. EPU and FMC also hosted two of the co-founders of Walkabout Consilient School, in the Bronx, who spent two weeks in May studying the program as a possible model for elements of their new school program. Two of the EPU gap year team members traveled to the Bronx in June to assist Walkabout with training and a presentation to the New York City Department of Education.
The focus of all of these efforts is student and teacher engagement. Dramatic evidence of said engagement has been demonstrated in student and teacher attendance and academic motivation.