Monday, March 30, 2020

Incorporating Daily Design

At the beginning of this school year, I reflected on this question posed in George Couros’s book, The Innovator’s Mindset. Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?

One part of our daily routine that I would dislike as a student is our morning procedure. So I changed it. A lot.

In past years, my students would quietly enter the classroom, unpack, get materials ready for the day, and start on the day’s morning work review while quietly eating breakfast.

It was quiet, calm, and all about compliance. That bothered me. I expected my students to enter and start work immediately. As an adult, my morning routine includes greeting my coworkers and thinking through my day.

Why were my expectations for my students so different?

So I completely threw out our morning work. I wanted to use our morning routine to set the pace for the day, so I needed something collaborative and creative. I also wanted to create a way to help my students transition from home to school, so our new routine needed to be motivating and exciting.

I decided to create morning design challenges. Now instead of compliance, it’s all about innovation, collaboration, and creative thinking. It’s not quiet or calm, and my students and I love it!

In an ideal week, student teams follow this pattern:

  • Monday: Discuss the needs of the intended audience. Independently sketch ideas.
  • Tuesday: Share ideas and sketch a final plan.
  • Wednesday: Create a prototype.
  • Thursday: Consider the needs of the intended audience, make improvements.
  • Friday: Share the prototype with the class.

Here are a few of the challenges I’ve given my students recently:

Create art to improve our playground or learning garden

Create a game for a child in a hospital

Design something to make watering crops easier

Improve a paper airplane design

Our classroom is much more lively in the morning, and my students enter with excitement about their tasks. We have had many opportunities to build communication and cooperation while learning about compromise and the value of out-of-the-box ideas. The tone in our classroom is positive and creative, allowing my students time to mentally shift into a great mindset to learn with. I can’t wait to see what they design next!

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