But this time around, I am working in tandem with our Graphic Design teacher whose class meets at the same time as my Speech class. We have created a joint challenge that requires our students to work in small teams of both Speech and Graphic Design students.
The theme: "We Believe" (which is the new branding phrase for our school).
The objective: Create a large display that reflects what a variety of groups within our community believe. Each team is responsible for choosing a target group and, through the Stanford d.School design thinking process, creating a poster-size design that communicates the beliefs of the target group. The designs will all be added together to create a larger display. This students must then formally present their designs to an authentic audience.
The graphic design students are primarily responsible for the visual designs, which can be flat or multi-dimensional. The speech students are primarily responsible for how the information is communicated (either through words on the poster or through an audio/video element that is attached as a QR code) and then designing and running the final presentation.
Week 1 Progress and Reflection:
May 12 (45 min): We launched our project by bringing both classes together for a quick introduction to design thinking, using David Kelley's TED Talk "How to Build Your Creative Confidence" (see above) as the focus. The lively discussion allowed us to help students think more expansively about what it means to be creative, and to introduce the terminology associated with the Stanford d.School design thinking process.
Reflection: I highly recommend David Kelley's TED Talk for this purpose. It's 11 minutes long, leaving plenty of time for engaging discussion. I asked students to come up with the questions a designer would have to ask to fix a product, and that led us very smoothly into the terminology. I was really pleased with this experience.
May 16 (85 min): Students were introduced to their new joint teams, then led through a 70-minute "Crash Course" design challenge, loosely based around the Stanford d.School Crash Course. Students engaged in the Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, and Testing phases to create an item their partner could use for their lockers. Not only did this help solidify the concepts of design thinking, but it allowed the new teams to get to know each other a bit better. By the end of the class, the teams had also chosen a target audience for their actual design challenge. Their homework was to interview at least 3 members of the target audience.
Reflection: A crash course is always an exercise in structured chaos, and students who are used to more "traditional" methods of learning often scoff a bit at this experience. But by the end of it, they are having fun and usually asking for more time to prototype. I was happier with my revisions to the instructions this time around--having them design something for a locker worked well--but I found that trying to run this with 50 students was a lot more challenging and left us less time for reflective discussion. Next time, I would split the teams into two classrooms and have each teacher run a challenge.
May 18 (85 min): This was Day 1 of our actual design challenge. Today we focused on definition and ideation. Class started with the Stanford d.School post-it note activity, found in The Bootcamp Bootleg (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). From there, students filled out a modified definition statement, then jumped into ideating potential designs and plans.
Reflection: Students expressed confusion and discomfort at not having exact instructions on what to do. We had deliberately chosen not to give them too many parameters, fearing that it would limit their creativity. But I did worry that perhaps the confusion was also getting in the way. After the class, the Graphic Design teacher and I decided to spend a little time separately with our classes the next day to clarify our expectations.
May 19 (45 min): We spent 30 minutes in separate classrooms, going over our joint rubric and the specific expectations for students in each of the two classes. We then got the teams together again for 15 minutes for quick team meetings before heading into the weekend.
Reflection: This was a much needed and appreciated "time-out". Going over the rubrics helped us clarify the general expectations and alleviate confusion over process and final product. My Speech students were more relaxed by the end of the 30 minutes and therefore more excited about the process moving forward. I saw more creative thinking as a result.
That brings me up to date--this week we have two class periods, both of which will be dedicated to prototyping and testing designs. I'm looking forward to seeing what our students can do!
Look for upcoming blog posts on our progress!