Design Thinking – Day 2

By: Paula Hollohan

Today, for the first time, we gave our Elementary edition of the Design Thinking workshop and then another iteration of the Secondary version.  The only difference is the task that the students work through.  In the Elementary version, our task follows the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Here’s the thing.  Students are requesting that we supply curriculum connections and that our task be something they can experience and then replicate in their classrooms.  We are not trying to connect design thinking to a specific part of elementary or secondary curriculum simply because we want students to create those links themselves.  In order to show some examples of these links we are collecting information about various tasks on our libguide and we will be adding to them as we come across other great examples.

Using Design Thinking in the classroom will require students to choose the curriculum content that they feel best suits this process.  They can then plan what the process will look like in their classroom and see how it develops.

Design Thinking lends itself to the study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects very well but is harder to imagine in Social Studies or English Language Arts.  Our rationale, in tying both workshops to familiar stories, is to show how design thinking can be used in the humanities.  The work around this use of design thinking is really just in its infancy and showing students the example connected to these resources shows them a path less traveled.

Why don’t we prototype something practical like a toothbrush or a play structure?  We are hoping students see that it may be easier to plan for design thinking within the science curriculum.  In grade 4, Simple Machines, students can be given tasks like playground design that will include most simple machine illustrations.  This process would take some time and developing a prototype would definitely be at least a class on its own.  Unfortunately, in our 80 minutes, we can introduce students to the process but would have to give up too much to include the prototyping.

And so we come to Thursday. Tomorrow we will teach 4 workshops in a row and will try to publish a blog by the end of the day if we are still standing.

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