Active Learning with Design Thinking
In order for students to take an active role in their learning, they must work with and use facts, skills, and concepts to solve complex real world learning. Design Thinking is a process that can be used with students to solve these types of problems. Authentic learning through design thinking is accomplished in collaborative groups, not for the sake of collaboration but because the tasks assigned are demanding and require the role and expertise of each member within the group. Students must start with a problem or design challenge that is created at the appropriate level of difficulty because students will disengage if the problem is either too hard or too easy. Students then discuss and explore the problem through inquiry and work to find a solution. Students prototype and create tangible solutions that address the problem. This process is guided by an instructor but ultimately students take ownership of their learning by creating a solution that is actionable. This is a VERY oversimplified explanation of Design Thinking with the intent of only highlighting that Design Thinking is an effective strategy to increase the creative output of our students. There are incredible organizations and individuals doing great work with Design Thinking in K12 Education. Here are a few resources of interest - Design Thinking for Educators | Nueva School | Center for Design Thinking Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
Reframing Our Questions
Don’t Settle For the First Answer
Tina Seeling, Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, teaches several classes on creativity and is known to push the thinking of her students. It is not uncommon for Tina to give assignments that may at first sound outrageous such as “create 500 flavors of icecream” or “find a small filled trashcan - now you have 2 hours to makes something of value.” Assignments like these are powerful because they force students to push through the first ideas that come to mind. It is often not until the second or third wave of thoughts were creative ideas begin to surface. Allowing students time to think and process is critical in the creative process and time feels scarce in most classrooms. Many times we are in a hurry and are ready to move on to the next lesson, subject or project. I wonder what would happen if we allowed students to linger longer on problems? Students might solve less problems, but my guess is that the quality of work will improve dramatically.
Next week, we are fortunate to have an entire day with all of our Kindergarten teachers and will focus on nurturing creativity in the classroom. We are thankful to our parent community and LAEF for supporting ongoing professional development!