Teachers use Design Thinking all the time!

As educators we are encouraged to teach our students to be problem solvers. We read about students as makers and creators. We can search the internet for Design Thinking Process graphics to guide our students. John Spencer and A.J. Juliani wrote a great book, LAUNCH, to mentor us into using Design Thinking in our classrooms.

If you have not introduced your students to a Design Thinking Cycle because you don’t think you understand it well enough to advise your students through it, then think again. As a teacher you work through a Design Thinking Cycle every time you write your lesson or unit plans. You begin a new Design Thinking Process every summer when you determine various aspects of your school schedule and routines.

Let me walk you through one such Design Thinking Cycle.

It is mid-summer and you begin to wonder how your Guided Reading time should look this year. You ask yourself what worked last year and what did not. You think of that great anchor chart you saw on Pinterest and wonder how you can adapt that to your age group. You question the time frame of your Guided Reading block. Should you replace one of the picture books you use to demonstrate personification? What adaptations do you need to make for the incoming students? What behavioral needs will require adjustments in the independent stations you design?

Another week or two goes by and you find yourself imagining the possible answers to those questions you asked. You jot down ideas for new independent stations. You find yourself at the library or the bookstore browsing new picture books. You map out two new time frames for your Guided Reading block and compare it to the time frames you have designed in past years. You text the teachers your “new” students had last year and ask what suggestions they have for routines that set the stage for success.

Pre-planning arrives and you create the framework for your Guided Reading block. You set up your room to allow for student seating choice. Check to make sure that there are clear footpaths to the classroom resources (extra paper, finger reading pointers). You decide which anchor activities you will introduce and in which order. You create a system for students to rotate through the Guided Reading block.

During the first few weeks of school, have you making adjustments to the Guided Reading block as your class becomes a community of learners. You encourage the students to critique how the rotation system is working for them and you make a few more fixes.

You discuss with your grade level team what you feel is working and ask for your administrator to do an observation, for fresh eyes on a particular difficultly you are having. Throughout the year you note what worked with different stories and aspects to the Guided Reading block. Before you know it, you are at the beach in July and find yourself wondering how your Guided Reading time should look this year.

Granted, I have put in some “in a perfect world” ideas but the bottom line is that each year, teachers and administrators find themselves in Design Thinking Cycles. From designing the schedule for the school to what theme to replace, educators begin with wondering what something could look like or how something can be included in the school or class.

You have the experience with Design Thinking to give your students that same experience in school. You can give them the thinking tools they will need to be creative problem solvers throughout their lives by letting them begin with wonder.

Share your challenges and successes with Design Thinking: @edtechease on Twitter or https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/. Co-author of LAUNCH, A.J.Juliani has a blog, http://ajjuliani.com/blog/, that is well-worth following (I do)!

Originally posted on Wednesday, 14 March 2018.

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