PHOENIX DESERT SUMMER INSTITUTE
ADVANCED/HONORS/GIFTED STRATEGIES:
PROBLEM SOLVING, CRITICAL THINKING AND ANALYSIS FOR STUDENTS 
Course Syllabus
Course Description
Alanna Eimers, 
Presenter

Alanna Eimers is currently a 21st Century Specialist is the Dysart Unified School District. She works with teachers throughout the district to build sustainable 21st century skills that can be integrated into instruction, curriculum, and interactions with students on a daily basis. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University and her MAEd in Adult Education and Training from the University of Phoenix. Alanna has served as a teacher for grades K-7, spending a number of years teaching middle school math. In addition, she spent several years as an instructional coach in a variety of diverse school settings. As part of her current role she supports in planning and training gifted cluster teachers throughout the district on various models to challenge and expand the talents gifted students bring to the classroom setting.

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65% of our current students will be employed in jobs that don’t yet exist. We have spent decades asking students “what do you want to be when you grow up”, yet, Jaime Casap, a Google Education Evangelist, urges us to shift this question to “what problems do you want to solve” for this very reason. So how do we help students begin thinking of learning as something that they do rather than something that is done to them? It is a paradigm shift to think of learning as a process of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, and perseverance through the unknown. During this four day course we will be looking into this overarching theme of problem solving, bringing it to life through the topics of project -based learning through the lens of the Stanford Design Process, Genius Hour, low floor/high ceiling tasks, flexible learning spaces, Growth Mindset, authentic student discourse, questioning, and feedback.
Explore components of project based learning and understand how looking at PBLs through the lens of design thinking deepens knowledge.

Deepen knowledge on the 4Cs of 21st Century learning (communication, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity) through grade level appropriate rubrics, discussion, and activities.

Design learning opportunities that can be implemented in the classroom to introduce students to the concept of design thinking.

Explore how student passion and interest plays a role in ownership and autonomy of learning through the concept of Genius Hour.

Increase knowledge of the attitude and environment needed to make learning student centered and low risk.

Develop and participate in activities that increase student questioning, discourse, and feedback in a peer to peer situation.



Objectives/Outcomes

 ●  Explore the role problem solving plays in daily life and the application this has to methods of student learning.
 ●  Analyze and communicate the components of the 4 Cs of 21st Century learning.

 ●  Participate in Design Thinking and Genius Hour simulations to better understand how these may play a role in student learning in the classroom.

 ●  Apply the components of project based learning to an authentic learning opportunity for students.

 ●  Differentiate tasks to be “low floor/high ceiling” with an appropriate entry point and exit point for all learners.

 ●  Identify the effect student choice has on the depth of learning and apply this to future instructional decisions.

 ●  Develop strategies to deepen teacher and student growth mindsets.

 ●  Plan ways to deepen teacher and student discourse, questioning, and feedback and discuss how this can enhance critical thinking and communication in the classroom.