I can't believe that we are already mid February. I began this month with an absolutely amazing, yet chilly trip to San Antonio for TCEA 2023. I met so many phenomenal educators there and this conference continues to be one of my favorites. It's a large conference with a small feel. I got to connect with many educators that I am connected with in person for the first time, reunite with some old friends and make many new connections. 

Coming up in less than 2 weeks, I have my next set of conference presentations at the Perfect Blend conference. This virtual conference is 100% FREE and a great way to sneak in some Saturday PD. The 25th is also the Teach Better 12 hour live, so it will be a super busy day for me!

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called K = Kick Off Collaboration Activities Even With Your Youngest Learners.  After writing my blog post two weeks before this one, I knew that this blog post had to be next. Getting our students to create is essential, but helping them to collaborate can be easier said than done. This post scaffolds best practices I have discovered to scaffold this journey and ensure success.

This week, we will focus on L = Launch a Student-Led Design Process. My mission in sharing the Tannenbaum Tech message is to empower both educators and their students to use technology in transformative ways that amplify student learning and engagement.  One way to empower our students is to facilitate a student-led design process.  Doing so will not only engage our students more but give them opportunities to be content creators in authentic tasks.

L = Launch a Student-Led Design Process

In the past couple of years, I have noticed more and more of a focus on design thinking. As I embarked on my ISTE Certification journey, I was not surprised to see this show up there as well. Standard 1.4 Innovative Designer states, “Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.”  When you dig further into this standard, it states, “ Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.”  There are lots of design processes such as the scientific method, project based learning and design thinking. 

Using Design Thinking for A Student Tech Crew

So as the 2022-2023 school year started with all of this in mind, I decided that I wanted to give design thinking a try. I founded a student tech club at my school and used Design Thinking to lead students through first identifying problems that they could solve in the school and then have them build empathy, prototypes and more to solve these problems. 

1, Empathy

We began with Empathy. We brainstormed why our school needed a student tech crew. The image to the right shares what we came up with. This task was not an easy one for my group. They wanted me to give them the answers and I found that I needed to work with them to scaffold responses by asking lots of questions

2. Define

With these ideas in mind, the students selected an area that interested them the most and we formed work groups. Students worked together to gather more information about their identified problems by forming questions and selecting a way to collect data. Many groups chose to use Google Forms, while some groups created paper surveys.  They engaged in productive struggle as they gathered this data and prepared for the next step.

3. Ideate

Using the data collected, all teams decided that they wanted to create instructional videos. To guide them, I created a guided slide deck to help them plan their videos. These slides included Getting To Know Their Audience, storyboarding, and writing a script.

4. Prototype: Students worked together to plan their videos using the ideas that they had brainstormed earlier. Most groups chose to work in Canva to create their videos. Creating videos in Canva was a new skill for most of them so we needed to work together to accomplish this task.

5. Test:  Students created their videos and tested them with a small group of targeted students to see if any adjustments needed to be made.

Has the process been smooth and easy? No, both the students and I needed to adjust to a new way of thinking. But as my students get more accustomed to having agency, I see gradual progress. It is making all of us think in different ways and I like how design thinking makes my students think of issues from the user’s point of view. This group is with me for the first 14 Mondays of school and at the end of the month, Group 2 will begin.

Preparing for Round 2

With these gains in mind, I decided to see how I could further amplify the purpose of this group during Round 2. I met with Lindsay Lyons, podcast host of Time for Teachership, and we recorded a lesson study based on this idea. Rather than begin the same way as last time, we decided to start with this question:

What is the formula for becoming digital leaders?

To test this new question out, I tried it with my existing group. Here's what they said to the left.

My Own Design Thinking Process

As I led my own students through a design thinking process, I was embarking on one of my own. I wanted to facilitate a student tech crew after learning more about them this past summer at our FCPS Onward conference. I designed an initial process to lead my students through it and tested it out. With Lindsay's help, I returned to ideation to revise my initial process based on the first run.  Together, we brainstormed a 14 week unit consisting of one hour sessions that include case studies to build our students' understanding of what it means to be a digital leader. I start this next round in about two weeks. I am excited and nervous about this changes but I am ready to take that leap.

Don't be afraid to let your students lead and engage them in design thinking- these are the skills that they need for the future and we give our students a gift as we facilitate them through these processes.