I pride myself on being up on educational strategies but have to admit that Design Thinking slipped right past me until I attended an amazing workshop by EdTechTeacher entitled, Creating Innovators with Design Thinking and Maker Spaces. The maker spaces part was what sold me on this but after a 2-day low-tech workshop, I knew this absolutely HAD to become a part of my curriculum!
What is design thinking? The simple answer is, “Design thinking is a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result.” (from Wikipedia)
However, it is really so much more. Design thinking starts with empathy – gaining a strong understanding of what the user needs; not what the designer thinks he/she needs! The image below from Stanford’s d.School shows the framework for design thinking.
Here is another image that includes details for each segment of the process.
The hook for me was the empathy! The reason – last year I worked with students on creating a collection of memories from that grade. What I noticed over and over was that students were more concerned with taking selfie after selfie rather than collecting photos of events and friends! Yes, young children think a lot about themselves. That’s normal. But, if there was something that could be done to help guide children to think of others, isn’t that what we would want to do to develop empathetic citizens?
On returning home, I started looking for resources to continue my learning. During a visit with our new headmaster, Ian Craig, discovered that design thinking WAS being taught in our middle school and I had no idea! Also, Ian told me this had been a focus at his previous school so he will be a wealth of information.
The end of school was near and everyone was ready for summer vacation. In other words, it was really important to find something that would challenge the students! I asked the students to produce something that would “teach” something to their peers. I wanted to share one particular project because it certainly showed ingenuity and resilience!
Collin and Tiernan asked if they could use the green screen to teach soccer fundamentals. I mentioned the app, Green Screen by Doink and showed them where the green screen was kept. A bit about our green screen – it was made from a trifold science board (cardboard). No, it wasn’t the sturdiest thing in the world but that didn’t stop these boys! The funniest moment was when the boys brought the green screen back to class in pieces (you can see it split toward the end of the video)!
Is this a “polished” video? No! Would a real green screen have worked better? Yes! What’s important is that the boys worked with what they had on hand to create an informative soccer fundamentals video that will be helpful to other students. Did they learn a lot? You bet! And that is exactly what makes their creation so valuable!
I never cease to be amazed at the creativity of students. Giving students a squiggle to start a drawing is something I’d done with children when I had my own homeroom! Last year, I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to let the students create using MS Paint.
Last week I started something new with the 4th graders – Fantastic Fridays. On the board, I wrote a list of activities. Some were things they’ve done before but never seemed to get tired of it. Others were completely new.
Osmo – a unique way to physically interact with the iPad
The students were SO engaged! Yes, there is a time when you have to teach skills but choosing your learning is critical! We, as teachers, must make time for that as well. Be sure to walk around and listen in on conversations – the dialog, the problem-solving, the planning is amazing!
The girl who was using Ozoblockly even returned after school so that she could show her sister what she’d done in class.
She also wanted me to video her Ozobots dancing in tandem. Here they are:
The last question the students asked as they exited the lab was, “May we please do this again?”
After one and a half class sessions of Lego building, the first graders were ready to add the final touches to their MyCreate stop-motion videos. (See Who Doesn’t Like Legos for a description of the project.)
The students air-dropped their videos to my iPad which was hooked up to the projector. And, how they LOVED seeing their work shown on the “big” screen! We only had one issue with the MyCreate app – no matter what we tried, we had one iPad that would not save the movie to the camera roll! I checked every setting, turned the iPad off and on . . . but nothing worked. We went to plan B – we just used another iPad to video the video in the MyCreate app!
To share the videos with parents, I decided the best way would be to combine them in iMovie. Here are the classes’ movies.
Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class
Mrs. Crumley’s Class
Mrs. Kee’s Class
For a first attempt at using the MyCreate app, I thought the students did an amazing job. The hardest part, as you’ll see in the videos, is keeping the iPad in one place as the photos are taken. Doing that helps the video “flow” but it does take practice.
What I enjoyed the most was watching the group dynamics; how the children worked together to plan and build.
Ever since the fourth graders were “caught” by the first graders working with Legos, the little ones have been asking, “When will it be our turn?”
Well, this week their turn finally came. I wish I could have everyone use the Legos at the same time but I just don’t have an unlimited supply! So, the students were divided into groups of three and were given a baggy stuffed with assorted Lego bricks, wheels, doors, and windows.
The directions were: Make a stop-motion video of what your group builds.
The children were introduced to the MyCreate app ($4.99). This is an easy-to-use stop-motion app for all ages. The camera is built-in so students can easily take a series of photos to show change over time.
The most challenging aspect of using any app like this is convincing the children that the camera and object being photographed should be stationary. It is SO easy for one or the other (or both) to move and that really does disrupt the flow of the video. Fortunately, the app uses onion-skinning to view the previous image which helps line things up for the next photo.
Helping steady the photographer!
My plan was to have students build something from whatever was in the baggie but they were soon begging for more! A quick change in plans resulted and the groups were allowed to send one person to collect additional Legos.
I was amazed at how well the groups worked together to plan their structure and then to build and photograph each step. Of course, Lego building can never be limited to a 40 minute class session! Next week, we’ll finish creating the stop-animation videos and post to the blogs. I can’t wait to see the finished products!
One of our first grade teachers came to me right before the 100th day of school. She wanted to have the students take photos of their 100th day learning stations and “somehow use technology” to share what they learned. She had some wonderful ideas but time seems to always be a factor!
After tossing around some ideas for creating a way to share, we decided on my favorite “go-to” app – Book Creator. I borrowed the first grade iPads and air dropped a template to each so everything was ready to go when the students arrived.
Thumbs up and ready for the next step
The children had taken 5 to 6 photos of their group at each station. They were shown how to add photos, label names, and create a title.
Creating the page
Next, it was time to record, save the book as a video, and air drop to me so I could make the class video.
finding a nook for quiet recording
Here is Mrs. Kee’s finished video – learning about 100!
Recently the fourth grade classes worked in small groups to create a Lego ABC book to share with kindergarteners. (Click here for post about making the book.)
Our sharing took place on a beautiful afternoon so we gathered the iPads, the kinder students chose a “big” kid for a partner, and off we went. The little ones were enthralled with the 4th graders but what surprised me is how well the older students did with their young charges!
While the big kids weren’t too eager to hold hands with the little ones (that was my suggestion that fell flat!), they were great at keeping them entertained with the book, talking to them, asking about their interests.
The only problem we encountered was getting too far away from buildings and then we’d lose Wi-Fi. But, that was an easy fix.
We returned to the lab with a few minutes to spare. That allowed time to finish viewing the Lego Book and share other apps.
It was a really good experience for our oldest Lower School students to interact with our youngest ones! Looking at the smiles on faces makes these kinds of activities worth every minute.
A couple of weeks ago, I purchased 8 Ozobots. Ozobots are small robots that can be “programmed” by using a series of color combinations (OzoCodes) drawn by markers on white paper. These were introduced to a 4th grade class that just happened to have some skilled Ozobot users!
After watching a couple of the students, I decided to ask their teacher if they could share their knowledge with a first grade class who happened to also have some college student observers from TCU.
We got permission and I presented the plan to two students who were absolutely thrilled to be asked! They suggested two others so we ended up with a fabulous group of four! I was a bit concerned that they would be somewhat intimidated by the college students. Didn’t even cross their minds – one boy told me, “No problem! I can teach the college kids.”
The fourth graders arrived before class started. They had spent their weekend drawing Ozobot paths to share with the younger ones!
The first graders were in awe of the older students! One little girl stated, “I just love these 4th graders coming to teach us Ozobots.”
What leaders these older students are! Our four young teachers were amazing! They all walked around providing tips and offering any guidance needed to make sure the little ones (and the college students) were successful at drawing codes for the Ozobots.
At one point, one of the fourth graders pulled me aside to share, “Uh, Mrs. Arrington, that little boy is getting marker on the table. What can I use to clean it up?”
And, as the older students left, I was asked, “Can we come back next week and teach?” We will definitely have to make that happen!
What is an Ozobot? A tiny robot that can be programmed by drawing “OzoCodes” using colored markers. Various color combinations cause the Ozobot to perform different functions.
To celebrate Seuss Week, the first and second graders were given a couple of hat shapes that were missing parts of lines. The children drew codes in these line breaks to program the Ozobots.
The third graders drew their own hats. (Or, at least these were supposed to look like hats!)
For the younger students, it was easier to concentrate on drawing the color codes rather than create a hat and draw code.
Even with the older students, there was some frustration that the Ozobots didn’t do what they were supposed to. We talked a lot about how everything had to be “just right” – lines not too thin or too thick. A code has to have all the colors about the same size. If you color too hard with the blue marker, the Ozobot thinks the color is black. I told the students that the Ozobot is like Goldilocks who had to have everything “just right” at the Three Bears’ house.
Lots of practice and problem-solving occurs with this activity! It’s loud but, my goodness, it is loads of fun!