Design Thinking is people-centered problem solving, and it provides a framework for students not only to develop the 4Cs but also to develop empathy for others. At Baker-Butler we are working to infuse PBL and DT throughout the school in order to provide more authentic and engaging learning activities for all of our students. While there are several DT frameworks (see IDEO and Stanford's d.School), we have chosen to use DEEPdt (Discover, Empathize, Experiment, Produce).
As we have learned more about Design Thinking over the past year, we have received a lot of support from several groups and individuals, most notably Mary Cantwell, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation (MVIFI) in Atlanta, Georgia, and Elgin Cleckley & Jennie Chiu from the University of Virginia. We remain grateful for their enduring partnerships and support and guidance as we learn more about Design Thinking and use it at our school.
Our students last week provided a specific example of Design Thinking in action. Recently we added a new 2nd grade classroom in order to decrease our average class size. While this has been a positive experience overall, we know that moving students after the school year (and hiring a new teacher) can sometimes be a big change for students. One of our teachers, Ms. Baker, attended a professional development conference (MVIFI's fuse17) this summer in Atlanta, Georgia, that was on Design Thinking with a group of BBES teachers.
Ms. Baker recently conducted a DEEPdt (Discover, Empathize, Experiment, Produce) challenge with her students to help the transition to the new classroom. They interviewed students impacted by the move (those selected for the new classroom) and they visited the new classroom space (Discover), and then they used empathy to imagine what it would be like to be in the new space and what the new students (and teacher) would need to start a new classroom (Empathy). This led them to notice that the classroom needed a more personal touch as well as pillows for students to use during reading. They imagined what it would be like as a new student in the classroom, and what the students would want, and they created drawings and sketches of animals for pillows (Experiment). The next day they cut out and made these pillows, and then they delivered them to the new classroom (Produce). The students in the new classroom and the new teacher really appreciated the new reading pillows, but most of all they all felt supported throughout the process because others had thought of them and designed for them. The students in Ms. Baker's class used critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration (the 4 Cs) throughout this process. And it was all done largely by a group of 8 and 9 years olds over one school day.
|The DEEP graphic organizer for this activity -the students wrote the Post Its|
|Some of the ideas of what a new classroom would need|
|One of the pillow designs: a whale|
|Another pillow design: a shark|
|Sea horse design|
|The completed pillows (Whale, Shark, Sea Lion) in the new classroom|
In short, it was a great experience for these students not only to develop their skills in the areas of the 4 Cs, but also to have a practical and realistic example of empathy in action.This is but one spotlight of a growing movement in our school to use PBL and DT as frameworks for the learning all of our students will be doing at Baker-Butler.
We are excited about this new instructional model and framework and how it will continue to be used throughout our school this year.