Since this unit is about the Design Thinking process, the secondary component connecting it to the human body is completely optional. However, I do believe it is a great starting part for introducing students to thinking about problems and solutions with understanding, creativity, and empathy. While students will learn the most by being an active participant in the process, I cannot see them doing this successfully without some direct teaching and modeling first. I will employ the following strategies to teach my students the Design Thinking model.
Direct teaching: Direct, implicit instruction of each step of the process will be presented to students. Students should be aware that it is the process that they are learning just as much as any content. Students should be able to recognize the five stages of the design thinking process and use the proper name and vocabulary related to each stage. Direct instruction will serve as the introduction to the process.
Anchor charts: Anchor charts, or posters, that detail the components of each stage of the design thinking process will be created and posted as a teaching aid. Students and teachers will be able to refer to them at anytime while learning and applying the design thinking model.
Role-playing: To help build empathy, students will role play what it is like to “walk in another person’s shoes” by using props to simulate blindness, deafness, and/or a broken bone. Care must be taken that students remain safe as well as respectful.
Modeling: Students will need to see the design thinking stages in action, modeled with appropriate actions and behaviors. I like to use a “fishbowl” technique of modeling, where myself and a few students will sit centered around the rest of the class. While we model the appropriate group interactions, the students outside the circle will make observations and take notes about what they notice to be discussed in a follow-up conversation.
Prototyping: I will have a variety of craft materials available for the construction of simple prototypes. Materials include different types of paper, post-it notes, index cards, pipe cleaners, paper clips, binder clips, push pins, aluminum foil, different types of string, rubber bands, craft sticks, straws, toothpicks, Styrofoam, biodegradable packing peanuts (they stick to each other when moistened), glue, tape, scissors, etc.… Additional materials can of course be added as it relates to the projects being created and whatever supplies are on hand.