How might my classroom be redesignedto better meet my students’ needs?Michael Schurr, a 2nd grade teacher in New York, realized that he never asked hisstudents what would make them comfortable in the classroom. He decided to talkdirectly with his students to figure out the best design for their environment.Based on his students’ input, he was able to redesign his classroom to betteraddress the needs and desires of his students. He lowered the bulletin boardsso that his students could actually see the content he’d spent hours assembling,and created a more comfortable semi-private space for the students to studyby rethinking the student cubby space. His students are more engaged andmove more fluidly in the classroom space. Now Michael consistently engages hisstudents in helping him more effectively shape their learning experience.Michael is using design to re-imagine his classroom through the lensof his students’ eyes.Teacher-designed
How might we create a 21st centurylearning experience at our school?The faculty at Ormondale Elementary School in California wondered if theywere preparing their students well for the future. They decided it was time tocollaboratively design an approach to teaching and learning that they felt wasupdated and relevant for the 21st century.Collectively, they embarked on a design journey and came to an approachthey call “Investigative Learning,” which addresses students not as receiversof information, but as shapers of knowledge. The faculty continues to evolveand share this approach with new teachers through the creation of a Manualof Investigative Learning to keep track of their philosophy and methods. Theyhave gained support from their school board, and have become recognized as aCalifornia Distinguished School.The faculty at Ormondale Elementary School uses design to address theneeds of their evolving student body.School-designed
How might we redesign our approach tocurriculum development and deliveryto center around the needs and desiresof our teachers and students?With a movement toward student-centered and personalized instruction, theHoward County Public School System in Maryland is using Design Thinking totackle next generation curriculum redesign incorporating 21st Century skills.Currently, there is a disconnect between the existing paper-based curriculum andthe interactive digital resources that are now available anytime, anywhere forteachers and students.Tapping into teacher, parent, and student behaviors in and outside of school,the design team collected inspiration around the ways that people engage withinformation and interact with curricular materials. Understanding the desiresof teachers, students, parents and administrators has helped the team rethinkcurriculum delivery as well as develop resources to replace, augment, andenhance current curriculum documents.Howard County is using design to re-conceptualize curriculum creation anddelivery to meet the needs of all learners.District-designedSchool-designed
How might we redesign our high schoolto elevate student engagement andacademic outcomes?Consistent low student achievement results at Castle High School in Hawaiidemonstrated the need for a redesign and restructure of the school. DesignThinking Hawaii, a non-profit organization that engages volunteers to applyDesign Thinking to big challenges, partnered with the Hawaii Department ofEducation to reimagine the Castle High experience.Through a series of mini-charettes, Design Thinking Hawaii has collected theneeds and interests of learners, teachers, and families and engaged the largercommunity to imagine new solutions that could help the school be more effective.The adopted plan captured the community’s priorities in new content andstructures, and Complex Area Superintendent Lea Albert is enabling the schooland community to prototype and iterate core curriculum, character education,and support services. This is the first public-school model in Hawaii to co-designits offerings with community, targeting systemic educational problems.Design Thinking Hawaii is using design to provide the state with input thatwill shape the redesign of Castle High and other schools in the community.Community-designed
“Students just aren’tinterested in learningabout fractions.”“There is no teachercommunity network.”“The pick-upand drop-offprocess atschool is anightmare.”There are a lot of problems in educationtoday but each of these concerns canbe seen as an opportunity for you todesign new, improved solutions for yourclassrooms, schools and communities.“Communicationwith parentsisn’t effective.”“I just can’t get mystudents to payattention.”DT for Ed Toolkit6“The schoolpick up anddrop offprocess ischaos.”“The classroomorganization doesn’taccommodatedifferent learningmodes and shiftingclass sizes.”“Effectively managing multiplelearning-levels in one classroomfeels impossible.”“Current communication betweenadministration and teachers doesn’tgive everyone a voice.”
“Students come toschool hungry and can’t“The assessment rubricfocus on the work.”doesn’t accuratelyrepresent learning.”The needs of today’s learners are evolvingas rapidly as the technologies that competefor their attentions. At the same time, ourorganizations and systems are stretchedto their limits to keep up with the changingdemands of the times. As an educator, youare distinctly positioned to keep a pulseon students’ evolving needs making you uniquely qualified tounderstand and design for thechanging needs of our schools.With over 3 million teachersin the US alone, and with avast international network ofenthusiastic educators, youstand in force on the front-lines ofK-12 education. Existing schoolprocesses and currciulum are structured toaddress district and state wide needs, butevery school is different.“I feel soalone in mywork.”“Parents don’tsupport homelearning.”DT for Ed Toolkit7But, because you understand your studentsand your school like no one else, it is youropportunity—and your responsibility—tocreate solutions for the challenges youand your school face everyday. As Einsteinfamously said, “We can’t solve problems byusing the same kind of thinking we used whenwe created them.”Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale—from an interaction with a student to engagingparents to managing your schedule todeveloping whole new approaches to systemwide reform — the challenges facing educatorsare real, complex, and varied. And they neednew answers. As such, they require newperspectives, new tools, and new approaches.Design Thinking is one ofthese approaches.“We’re not preparingour kids adequatelyfor the future.”“School schedules don’t“District-wide changes don’t align with teaching andauthentically accommodate learning rhythms.”differing communities.”
DT for Ed Toolkit8I have seen teachers start to redesign their classroom spaces byinterviewing their students.and develop new curricula by brainstormingand then prototyping out a unit.The fact that teachers are using humancentered design techniques to understand their students better makesstudents feel more engaged in the changing learning environment.The fact that the teacher is becoming the designer of his or her ownclassroom experience professionalizes the role of the teacher and allowsfor the most valuable change–authentic change driven by the students’needs rather than a school or district mandate.Design thinking is a creative act and lets teachers understand that theact of creating a really effective learning environment is an art thatis both reflective and intentional. If we want to change education andlearning to make it more relevant, more effective and more enjoyablefor all involved, teachers need to be the entrepreneurial designers andredesigners of the “systems” of schools and of the schools themselves.Dominic, Head of School
DT for Ed Toolkit9ContentsThis toolkit is for you.10What is Design Thinking?11What can I use Design Thinking for?12What does Design Thinkinglook like in action?13The Design Process14If you only remember a few things 160. Getting Started181. Discovery241-1 Understand the Challenge261-2 Prepare Research291-3 Gather Inspiration332. Interpretation382-1 Tell Stories412-2 Search for meaning432-3 Frame Opportunities463. Ideation483-1 Generate Ideas503-2 Refine Ideas544. Experimentation564-1 Make Prototypes584-2 Get Feedback605. Evolution665-1 Track Learnings685-2 Move Forward70AppendixGetting Started Worksheets7576
DT for Ed Toolkit10This toolkit isfor you.This toolkit can help you create solutions for everyday challenges.The toolkit offers you new ways to beintentional and collaborative whenyou are designing new solutions foryour classroom, school, and community. It hones your skills and empowers you to create desirable solutions.In this toolkit, we have layed outa series of steps that can help youdevelop new, innovative solutionsdesigned with people at the center.more fungettingunstuckimprovedcollaborationWhat will DesignThinking get me?effective ways toengage studentsThis toolkit equips you with the process and methods of design so youcan be more intentional about facing and solving for your current challenges. Businesses, social entrepreneurs and other innovators haveused thse methods for decades tocreate solutions for many differenttypes of challenges.As educators, you are alreadydesigning every single day—whether it’s finding new ways toteach content more effectively,using your classroom space differently, developing new approaches toconnecting with parents, or creatingnew solutions for your school.We know that your time is preciousand demands are high, and it mayoften feel that the system in whichsolutions thatfit my individualclassroom, schoolor districtmore creativeconfidenceyou educate is not as nimble as necessary to keep up with the rapidlyevolving demands. However, youalready possess the skills to solvefor these kinds of challenges.The methods in this toolkit areadapted specifically for you and giveyou the flexibility to work within yourexisting constraints.This is an invitation to experimentwith design processes. Let it inspireyou to approach challenges differently and experience how DesignThinking adds a new perspective toyour work.
DT for Ed Toolkit11What isDesign Thinking?Design Thinking is a mindset.Design thinking is about believing wecan make a difference, and having anintentional process in order to get to new,relevant solutions that create positiveimpact.Design Thinking gives you faith in yourcreative abilities and a process for transforming difficult challenges into opportunities for design.It’s Human-Centered. DesignThinking begins from deep empathyand understanding of needs andmotivations of people—in this case,the students, teachers, parents,staff and administrators who makeup your everyday world.It’s Collaborative. Several greatminds are always stronger whensolving a challenge than just one.Design Thinking benefits greatlyfrom the views of multiple perspectives, and others’ creativity bolstering your own.It’s Optimistic. Design Thinking isthe fundamental belief that we allcan create change—no matter howbig a problem, how little timeor how small a budget. No matter what constraints exist aroundyou, designing can be an enjoyableprocess.It’s Experimental. Design Thinkinggives you permission to fail and tolearn from your mistakes, becauseyou come up with new ideas, getfeedback on them, then iterate.Given the range of needs yourstudents have, your work will neverbe finished or “solved.” It is always inprogress. Yet there is an underlyingexpectation that educators muststrive for perfection, that they maynot make mistakes, that they shouldalways be flawless role models. Thiskind of expectation makes it hardto take risks. It limits the possibilities to create more radical change.But educators need to experiment,too, and Design Thinking is all aboutlearning by doing.In short, Design Thinking is theconfidence that new, better thingsare possible and that you can makethem happen. And that kind of optimism is well-needed in education.
DT for Ed Toolkit12What can I useDesign Thinking for?You can use Design Thinking to approach any challenge.However, there are a consistent set of challengesthat teachers and schools seem to face, and theycenter around the design and development of learning experiences (curriculum), learning environments (spaces), school programs and experiences(processes and tools), and system strategies, goalsand policies (systems).Sometimes these challenges are tackled by a district team—especially for the more complex challenges that involvemultiple stakeholders; sometimes challenges are addressedat the school level, with a core team of representative educators driving the process; and sometimes these challenges areaddressed by educators or small teams of educators themselves which is where grassroots change begins to happen.CURRICULUMSPACESPROCESSES AND TOOLSSYSTEMSHow might I inspire students to engage inconcerns of the environment?How might I use my classroom space indifferent ways to help set my students atease?How might I engage parents as anintegrated part of their students’ learningexperience?How might we reinvision curriculum for anentire district while providing for individualschools’ differences?How might I create a comfortable spacethat meets the many needs my studentshave throughout the day?How might we recruit the best teachers toour school?How might we track the development ofstudents’ character traits over time tohelp shape our school philosophy moreintentionally?Every day you design ways to interact withyour students around content. You canfollow a design process to be more intentional about connecting this content to theinterests and desires of today’s learners byfinding out more about the things that theydo outside of school and connecting that tothe content you are bringing to them.How might I engage my students in compelling ways around learning world history?How might I develop students to be activeseekers of knowledge in subjects that theyhave little knowledge of?How might I help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to increase theirvocabulary?The physical environment of the classroomsends a big signal about how you wantyour students to behave. Right now wetend to think of our classroom spaces asstandard kids in rows, sitting in desks.By rethinking the design of our spaces, wecan send new messages to our studentsabout how they should feel and interact inthe classroom.How might we reimagine our school’slibrary for the needs and interests oftoday’s learner?How might we create an exciting and effective space for teachers to collaborate?How might we design our high schoolcampus to best engage and supporttoday’s learner?Your school has already designed a set ofprocesses or tools that may or may not besetting up your school for success. This istypically outside of the classroom and specific interac
Design Thinking? Design thinking is about believing we can make a di!erence, and having an intentional process in order to get to new, relevant solutions that create positive impact. Design Thinking gives you faith in your creative abilities and a process for trans-forming di"cult challenges into opportu-nities for design. Design Thinking is a ...