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  • Writer's pictureMelissa

Design Thinking: Important Things to Remember

Updated: Dec 31, 2018

Good teaching is not about your ability to follow directions using the pacing guide to cover district curriculum. It's not about being the keeper of knowledge in your classroom. It's about meeting students where they are and helping them grow from there.

Design Thinking Model

Three years ago when I started a makerspace in my classroom, I wasn't using the design thinking model. I discovered it later and found it to be a great tool to help students take their work in Genius Hour to the next level.

Melissa Young, my school district's Ed Tech Specialist, and I presented a session at the MSTA convention titled "Design Thinking in a Makerspace". We had participants design a chair as they worked through the process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing, while constantly considering user feedback to improve their designs.

Since engineers start with inexpensive materials, we did the same and limited our supplies to aluminum foil and paper. Just as students often do when they first encounter the design thinking model, the educators in our sessions had concerns about their ability to be successful.

As a group, we highlighted some important things to remember about design thinking.

* Prototypes are just that, prototypes. They aren't supposed to have the finished quality of a final product.

* Fail fast, fail early. For kids who are used to finding the right answers for an assignment, it can be a challenge at first to be working on an open-ended project where there are unlimited correct answers.

* Sketches in the iteration phase are not about your artistic ability. They are simply a way to convey ideas.

* Use inexpensive materials because to work through rapid iterations. The more time and money you have invested, the harder it is to let go of a design when you need to move on to a different idea. Invest those resources later after you have lots of feedback and are getting closer to a finished product.

* Design thinking is rooted in the NGSS standards, but can also help cover standards in listening and speaking and other content areas depending on your curricular connection.

* Design thinking builds students' capacity to problem-solve and to think critically and creatively.

* Tell your students, "I'm a learner too." Model for them what it looks like to learn. To fail. To try. To persevere.

Resources For Design Thinking:

Design Thinking - Digital Innovation Resources

Video Playlist - YouTube

Global Day of Design

Symbaloo Webmix

Check out these awesome chair designs from some wonderful Missouri teachers!

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