Who we are.  How we work.

"Design Workshop is a time every week that helps us learn more and try new things.  It is a chance to let our imaginations burst with ideas." 

"Yes, I want the next third grade to have fun and build.  Not like, “Oh I can’t do this or that.”  I want them to be proud and be surprised by how good they can do."

"It made me learn how to be social with a lot of people by talking with other people."

 Some students' reflections after our first year's experiment pushes us to continue the journey.


Ever wonder how you might keep up with educational innovation and not lose your mind? Flowing it together into one mighty river we're trying to chronicle our experiments in fusing design thinking, design technology and STEAM. Our hope? To inspire flexible mindsets and collaborative learning skills that our third grade students will need to survive the future!

Who are we? Two teachers who have worked collaboratively for eight years at a prominent international school in Tokyo. We both teach grade 3 but we've taught multiple grade levels at Taipei American School, Singapore American School, Walworth Barbour Israel and International School of Manila. We have lots of experience in the field, at home and abroad.

Inspired by design thinking work at the Nueva School, our school's new strategic objectives adopted in 2013, and our own classroom experiments in grade 3, we decided to focus on embedding a weekly design tech experience into our curriculum. Every Friday, for about two hours, we presented the kids with design tech challenges. We've called it "Genius Time." Over the course of the school year we tried to sequence activities that bridge an understanding of scientific thinking and design theory. We've just begun to delve into the potential of this type of mind work with our students but our initial experiments make us excited to share and explore more.

Most of our work is inspired by our interest in Carol Dweck's research on cultivating a "growth mindset".  The thread that connects our experiments is our desire to instill our students with a sense of efficacy which results in a "passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval".  Tony Wagner's research also serves as architecture for our thinking as we strive to mold students who can "communicate, collaborate and initiate."



Some of our key beliefs about how students learn include:

  • Who you are impacts how you learn.  Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group.
  • Learning is not something that’s done to you, it’s something you choose to do.

  • Respectful and trusting communities are the key to growing ideas.

  • All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. It is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

  • Individual development and group development are integrated so that everybody moves forward together.  Students are encouraged to compete, not against each other, but with their own personal best through studying authentic models.

  • Students need time to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need to exchange their reflections with other students and with adults.

Questions? Contact us: Dana Melvin: dmelvin@asij.ac.jp or Susie Mutschler: smutschler@asij.ac.jp

You can also check us out on Twitter: 3Me and 3Mu




A quick synopsis of Dweck's work on mindsets


Tony Wagner's website


For more information on growth mindsets check out Dweck's book.

Hope you have a great time exploring design tech potential with your students!   

Hope you have a great time exploring design tech potential with your students!