Launch: Design Thinking

The way educators teach and the way students learn has evolved so much in the past few years. We strive to blend high expectations and rigor with student creativity, innovation, and curiosity. Megan and I have mentioned on the blog a few times how important student choice is to the equation, as well. 

I truly believe that for students to move to those higher levels of engagement, they have to make a meaningful connection. Their curiosity must be ignited and fostered and we know that looks different depending on our students' needs and interests.

So how can we create learning environments that meet students needs, challenge their thinking, and motivate them to move to the next level?

I recently was participating in a Twitter and saw someone mention the book Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker In Every Student by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. The educator in the Twitter chat was a bit skeptical about the maker movement while also teaching content at a higher level but said this book changed their view. I must say that I have a growing list of books I am reading through and moved this one to the top of my list. It may be one of my new favorite books.

In the book, it discusses the Launch Cycle:

Look, Listen, Learn
Ask Lots of Questions
Understand the Problem or Process
Navigate Ideas
Highlight What's Working and Failing

I especially loved how the authors broke each part of the cycle down specifically.  A powerful piece was questioning. It said to ask a good question is like training for a marathon, we must train our students and regularly use strong, higher level questioning  and create an environment so that it is an active habit of mind.

The authors further explain the cycle of teaching content and sparking interest, teaching the students good questioning, understanding the clear picture of what the problem to solve is, collaborating with others to create, looking at what is working and what is not (learning through mistakes), and sharing their product with others which can lead you back to the beginning of the cycle.

Without giving too much of the book away, the essence of it all is that we have to allow creativity and create an environment where it's okay to make mistakes and learn from it. We must also continue to hold high expectations for our students. We should want more for them because they deserve it. We have to help make what they're learning come alive.

I love the quote on page 166 that says, "We are human. We've always been creative. We are natural makers. And when we create, we come alive."

What this describes is far more than maker spaces or genius hour (which are amazing), it is about changing the way we teach. What is even more exciting is seeing so much of this already taking place in our local schools.

What are some ways you are creating opportunities for curiosity and creativity in your classroom or on your campus? Please feel free to share in the comments below, we would love to hear them!


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