how 4walls taught londonderry middle school a lesson

A lesson in Creativity and Technology

Update: Check out the Manchester Union Leader’s story on our work with Mrs. Roy’s Creative Computing and Media class.

Early last school-year, we decided we wanted to get involved with the community. But we didn’t just want to spend a day picking up trash.  Sure, we might be talented when it comes to picking up trash (Mark even wanted to be a trash collector when he was 2. For a toddler, he was really serious about a good city job with benefits). We wanted to do something that let us use our talents to give something back.

That’s how we got involved with Londonderry Middle School. When we proposed our idea to work hand-in-hand with LMS teachers and students, Mrs. Carolyn Roy, LMS’ Creative Computing and Media teacher, and Ann Collacchi, the school’s Curriculum Coordinator were excited to have our team visit the classroom to show “Studio 273” how creativity and technology come together.

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We started by walking the students through our own brand, how we created it, and what the thought process involved.

Part Career Day, Part Marketing Crash Course, and Part Art Class, All Mashed Up Into One

With modern technology becoming a major part of our daily lives, Mrs. Roy and Mrs. Collacchi knew that their students would benefit from technology education that goes beyond “computer class”. Our immediate goal was to show the 8th grade students how they can use  technology for more than just word processing, spreadsheets, and video games. The broader goal? To  put them in our shoes, and make them the creative team responsible for their client’s success. In this case, the client was Mr.s Roy’s Class. Their objective? To sell “Creative Computing and Media” to the Curriculum board with a fresh new brand and video, created entirely by them (with a little help from 4 Walls).

Working with the students took us through our entire process, giving them first-hand knowledge on how they can use technology, messaging, and creativity to get the proper exposure for the ideas they care about.

The Process

For every aspect of the process, a different team member visited the classroom to talk to the students about the many aspects of brand development, including early concept-work, developing a clear message, and creating a logo or mark.  Throughout the project, the students formed groups of creative teams, with the ultimate task of presenting their idea to the “board members” (the 4Walls Team)  via Skype. In the end, we chose what we felt to be the strongest concept and helped the students refine it further into what would become their official class “brand”.

Messaging and Content Creation

After helping the students identify the “audience” that their client would be trying to reach, Mark walked the students through his brainstorming process for coming up with the kind of concepts, themes, and messages that resonate with the audience at hand. In the office, this usually involves a fair amount of back and forth discussion, brainstorming, and trial and error. In the classroom, it lead to a whiteboard full of concepts, themes, and ideas that would serve as the foundation for Studio 273’s brand.

Mark talking to LMS students about messaging and branding

For Mark’s portion of “instruction”, the task for the students was to come up with a slogan or mission statement that would educate their audience. This process also helped them brainstorm for logo creation. Instead of a lecture, the class had a creative discussion similar to what we’re used to in our office.

Art Direction and Logo Creation

Once themes, concepts, and messages were identified it was Eddie’s turn to play teacher. By approaching the task at hand as a project for a client, the classroom transformed into a creative collaborative that felt more like a studio than a schoolroom. Part art class, part lesson on the importance of color, imagery, and tone — Eddie’s work in the classroom gently guided the students towards the graphics they believed would resonate with students and administrators.

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Eddie’s lesson with the students focused on the creation of a logo, why the tiny details matter, and how it all comes together.

Before long, the students were encouraged to put their ideas to paper for "Studio 273's" new logo.

Before long, the students were encouraged to put their ideas to paper for “Studio 273’s” new logo.

The Board Meeting

With ideas sketched and concepts outlined, the 4Walls team linked up with Mrs. Roy’s students in numerous sessions on Skype to give the kids pointers on their designs, ideas on how they might improve, and a crash course on how we refine our ideas when we’re working on marketing and branding projects for our own clients.
Check out this short clip that shows the kind of feedback we had for students. We were seriously impressed with what they came up with!

Our first "meeting" with the kids, via skype!

Our first “meeting” with the kids, via skype!

Selecting a “Winner”

Choosing the strongest brand for each class was incredibly difficult. So many teams of students went above and beyond to bring clever ideas to the table that we were sure would capture the interest of students and educators alike. After choosing the strongest brand from each class, the class worked together to refine that singular idea, which Eddie then turned into a final design.

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So What Now?

After working with Londonderry Middle School students for the year, 4Walls recently had the honor of standing with Mrs. Roy and Ann Collacchi at a Londonderry School board meeting, where the pair discussed how important it is for students to understand the real-world necessity of both tech-literacy and creativity. The school board got to see all of the work the students created, and unanimously agreed that the creative computing and media program was an essential aspect of the modern middle schooler’s education. For our part, we’re proud to have shown Londonderry Middle School a different side to “technology education”, and we can’t wait to get back in the classroom.

Sasha speaking on behalf of 4Walls at Londonderry's school board meeting.

Sasha speaking on behalf of 4Walls at Londonderry’s school board meeting.

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