Sunday, February 22, 2015

Professional Development Can Be Fun!

This past week I had the chance to co-facilitate a 90 minute professional development session on Design Thinking. I laughed as I watched the teachers get into character roles to design chairs for their partners. To say it was a blast is an understatement. In fact, my cheeks hurt so bad from laughing and smiling that I think it took me a day to recover!

When asked by Mr. Emery to co-facilitate this session I knew it had to be fun, exciting, and applicable to K-1 learners. So the challenge was to figure out an imaginative way to bring Design Thinking to life. Shelley Cervantes and I looked at a few Design Thinking challenges available on the d.school's Design Thinking wiki (https://dschool.stanford.edu/groups/k12/). I also posed the question to the #dtk12chat group on Twitter to see what ideas they would throw out there. We decided to do the Chair Challenge but with a slight twist. Participants in the session would take on the roles of some famous characters from both books and movies. Here are some samples of the character cards that were given at the beginning:


Teachers got a quick overview of what Design Thinking is and a little of the research behind it. Then we moved them right into a rapid cycle Design Challenge. Rapid Cycle design challenges are intended to be finished in an hour...I haven't been successful with that yet but I'll keep trying. They went through each of the stages of the Design Cycle: Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, Reflect. Here are a few pics from the empathy and brainstorming portions:


The best part was when we told them about the prototyping portion. We set all the materials for prototyping on the floor in front of them and gave them 7 minutes to build a prototype. Maybe one of the best parts was watching the initial lunge for materials after telling them they had 7 minutes only to build their prototype. Here are a few photos in an attempt to capture the fun!


It was amazing to see the creativity behind their prototypes. From Mrs. Joseph's multi purpose chair to Miss Diddle's hover craft and soundtrack for Frog and Toad. Coach Braund's design for Coach Hick's (who was Pinkalicious for his character) was spot on and super crafty! Below are pictures of the prototypes created by the K-1 teaching staff.


Shelley did a wonderful job wrapping up the session by giving examples of Design Thinking that she has implemented this year. She shared what has gone well and what has been a struggle. If you want to read more about her first grade experiences with Design Thinking, check out her blog:

Or click on the links in our presentation below that direct you to Shelley's posts about DT.

Want a glance at our presentation...enjoy!
*Some slides did not upload properly, email thoma.1@napls.us for a copy of the actual presentation.


To make my day even better, I rushed from the K-1 to the 1-8 building to present about PBL. This is a HUGE passion of mine as well. I was able to move through a quick Professional Development session on this topic with some help from Stephanie Brewster who talked about Engineering is Elementary (http://eie.org/). Below is the presentation I created for that if you are interested in learning more.

*Some slides did not upload properly, email thoma.1@napls.us for a copy of the actual presentation.

Being given the chance to present about two topics I'm extremely passionate about left me smiling and excited about what's to come in my future. I've learned so much in the last three years as a technology learning coach, and I have a lot of people to thank for opportunities like these that inspire and ignite all the things I love about being an educator!