It is tough to believe that we are already half way through the first quarter. Before we know it, the end of the first quarter will be here. As I have worked with various teachers in the building and co-taught several classes, I have been impressed with the positive energy and mindsets of teachers who want to do what is best for our students. It has been amazing to see the thinking and design that so many of our staff are doing to create engaging learning experiences for our students.
Earlier this month, I worked with our 6th Grade ELA teachers to provide an introduction to Design Thinking. We started by teaching Design Thinking vocabulary. The students were charged with using empathy to get to know their partner. They were pushed to deduce insights to determine their partner's needs in order to create a personalized background for their iPad. Check out the full activity in this hyperdoc. Students found this activity to be interesting and it really pushed them to step outside of themselves to create a meaningful design for another person. For many of our 6th graders, this was a challenge. They had to learn how to ask questions that dug deeper and were more than just one word answers. We modeled how to ask good questions and had them write their own questions prior to the activity. As we moved toward the prototype phase, one student commented that "I think that I need to go back and ask my partner some more questions." I responded "Exactly. That is the beauty of Design Thinking, we can go back and do a different stage at any time."
The highlight of the experience occurred when students shared their design with their partners. I attend this sharing of the screensavers with several of the classes and it was truly a magic moment for so many of our students. There were lots of smiles and high fives. Most students felt that their partner did a great job getting to understand them and creating something very personal and unique. I was blown away with many of the designs. Below this post is one of the more interesting backgrounds that students created. The young man who drew this screensaver did so by hand on the iPad. He learned his partner's favorite colors and that she loved cats. As a result, his creation was well received and his partner shared that she would pay money for this screensaver.
As we continue to implement Design Thinking across China Grove Middle School, our teachers being challenged to think creatively and boldly about how to connect Design Thinking to their curriculum. In our next challenge, I will highlight the work that 7th ELA teachers will be doing with Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. One of our newest teachers approached me several weeks ago with an extraordinary idea about how we could combine Design Thinking with the novel. We are currently developing this project as students finish reading the novel. I am so inspired by this new teacher's willingness to think beyond the box about how to make her curriculum more relevant to her students.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.