Posted in Criterion 4

Design Thinking

Claire Amos’ blog on design thinking is very thought provoking. Project Based Learning is probably the closest I have come to using design thinking as a way of teaching a unit of work. However, I think that I have used it without being aware of it as a way of solving problems that my learners have in coming to grips with what we are learning.

It seems to me that design thinking is very similar to problem based learning but has a better title and different subcategories. It would probably lend itself nicely to the social sciences, science and technology. I’m not quite sure how I would incorporate design thinking as categorised in the picture into English at this stage but will keep pondering. I’ll probably have a flash of inspiration at 2am and any ideas are welcome.

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So, how have I used design thinking as a teacher to help my learners?

Empathy
I noticed that some learners were not engaged or were not achieving well. I wanted to help them to achieve what they were capable of and engage them in the process.

Define
The problem was how to engage and motivate my learners so that they were able to achieve at a higher level.

Ideate
I decided to try project based learning. This involved less teacher led learning and more choice and voice. I went to Making it Mobile in 2012 and learnt about the Bloom/Gardner’s matrix so my PBL units are now often accompanied by this.

Prototype
My first PBL unit was for a film study of Edward Scissorhands for year 9. I also created one for The Tempest for year 10. These are both on the TeachersPayTeachers site if you have some spare cash and want to check them out!

Test/Feedback
The year 9 unit was very successful and my learners enjoyed more freedom and time to collaborate together and create some cool presentations. We also had a Skype session with Bianca Hewes in Sydney who was studying Tim Burton as an auteur with her same-aged class. The year 10 unit was not successful for the majority of the class. It was too loose for the type of learners that I had and I had to modify it it along the way to provide more guidance. The top learners in the class did well but they would have with whatever I gave them.
In response to the year 10 failure I developed a Blooms/Gardner’s matrix to accompany the project outline. I have not trialled this with Shakespeare yet but have used it with other projects and it seems to bridge the gap between instruction and self-direction by providing a range of activities to choose from. This gives the learners who are still developing self motivation focus and a place to start.

I have really enjoyed doing PBL and will continue as it has motivated and engaged more learners. My challenge now is to incorporate the Design Thinking principles also. My thinking cap is on…

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Author:

I am an English teacher of year 9-13 students at Whangaparaoa College. I enjoy incorporating the use of technology in the classroom and researching effective ways of engaging students. In 2012 our school introduced compulsory BYOD for year 9 and I have enjoyed this challenge. I am an advocate of Project Based Learning and plan to increase my use of this teaching style. I am also a musician and enjoy playing in local bands. If I can include music in my teaching in some way, I do it!

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