I’ve added the word listicle (list-formatted articles) to my vocabulary this week as I researched for this piece. They seems to be one of those things that you either love (apparently our brains love them) or hate (as is evident is this listicle – ironic). While I’m sure they are overused, it looks like they are here to stay, so now it’s my turn to add to the craze.
Why am I on about listicles and what’s the relation to this weeks readings?
For our upcoming kindergarten How the World Works unit of inquiry our students will be inquiring into how materials can be manipulated to suit a purpose. The unit has great links to design thinking and I’ve been using David Lee’s Design Thinking in the Classroom and our readings on Deep Learning to redevelop the learning experience with my kindergarten colleagues.
Previously this unit introduced design thinking through a teacher-created “scenarios’. The challenge with these scenarios was that they were not authentic for a kindergarten student and they lacked applying their knowledge to a real situation, an important aspect of deep learning discussed to detail by Fullan and Langworthy. We are after real-life design thinking problems that support critical thinking. We want to align with Paulo Freire’s idea of developing critical thinking by structuring this experience to promote student thinking. We don’t want to provide the answers, but instead provide the problems that allow for creativity and critical thinking.
How can we leverage technology in powerful ways during this unit?
I see two ways in which this unit of inquiry can link to technology in authentic, powerful ways.
First, our students will be collaborating and documenting their learning journey via Book Creator (and later via Seesaw). Book Creator provides an easy-to-use platform for the students document as they work through the design process. It seamlessly brings together test, video, photos, voice and more in a way that accessible to every kindergarten student.
Second, technology will allow us to connect with experts. I recently stumbled across a post on Twitter from my PLN asking for experts to support student projects. They sent out a Google Doc with descriptions of the projects and within hours they had experts from around the world offering their time to support the inquiry. I think this unit would be the perfect opportunity to do something similar. A 10 minute Skype call connecting a group of kindergartners with an expert can provide a significant amount of inspiration.
I’m inspired to see what other connections we can draw to promote high level uses of technology.
And finally, 5 amazing real-life design problems for kindergarten students
The design problems I’ve listed below are authentic for our students, but they might not work in your classroom. However, they are great inspiration to help you develop design thinking in your classroom.
Also, note that I’ve presented problems, not solutions. Of course, I have tons of great solutions to these problems, but that’s not the learning process. We are after student creations and ideas!
- How can we turn the outdoor space behind our kinder classrooms into a learning space?
We have just a meter or so of space behind our kinder classrooms before a retaining wall and fence that leads to a small gardens cared for by our grade 4 students. We’ve love to use this as a learning space, but it is currently dark and damp… what can we do?
- How can we improve the audio quality on our learning journal (Seesaw) posts?
We often hear so much background noise in our Learning Journal posts. How can we help our audience hear what we are sharing better?
- We are running out of work spaces for all students, how can we create more?
Our kinder classes are growing, but we don’t have enough working spaces for all our students. How can we create spaces to fit the learning needs of kinder students?
- We see lots of shopping bags in kindergarten – how can we reduce the number of plastic shopping bags that we are using?
Unfortunately, Japan loves plastic shopping bags and they often make their way into our classrooms. How can we get away from using these bags?
- Our kinder bathroom isn’t inviting and a bit smelly! What can we do?
The bathrooms next to our kinder classrooms don’t smell so great and are shared by most of the school at recess time. What. Can we do to make them smell a bit better and be a bit more inviting?
That’s it. What ideas do you have for real-life problems at your school? Would love to hear them as they might create some good inspiration for us!