Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reflections on #MakerEd and #dtk12chat

This week has been packed with invigorating twitter chats! (I'm blessed with incredibly self-sufficient children who build blanket forts and draw treasure maps while I tweet.)  Tuesday at 3pm PST was #MakerEd chat, with the driving question around how we find and evaluate "Making" resources, and what a "Guide To Making in Schools" might look like for either teachers or students.  Wednesday at 6pm PST was #dtk12chat, or design thinking K-12 chat.  The first in this series, the chat aimed to establish common language and definitions around design thinking in K-12 education.  Both were incredible, and really help solidify my understanding of both movements and started my wheels turning for how to apply both within my school!

These are by no means official archives of either chat, but collections of the tweets, resources, and mini-conversations that stood out most to me.



Our driving question on Tuesday really emerged from an earlier conversation about how to "scale" Making in education.  For many teachers already leading Making, the processes - interation, creative use of tools, developing delicate crafting - come so naturally that a "guide" seems unnecessary.  So how can we "guide" other teachers towards this model without constraining them out of true "Making"?  Here are a few ideas that came out:

9 Jul I gravitate towards guides to get started, but they're too complex/wordy/step-by-step! I think I need 1-pager intros to diff tools.

9 Jul the idea being more about "here is what you can do here" than about "here, do this while you're here"

i think the educator commitment is to help kids find ways to learn, so, yes, it takes relationship-building & inquiry & iteration

Let me be clear that my first year of eschewed standardized, leveled and kid-appropriate instr and FAILED.

Start with guided learning first then open the whole space. I think it gives better idea of possibilities.

I want guided discovery for the experience of grappling with entirely new ideas, of experimenting blind, grabbing happy accidents.

a tacit piece of tutorials i want to help makers articulate is how much stuff should be out in which piles

As teachers we have a responsibility (which I shirk) to document and share our learning, both to model for Ss & as a indp resoursce

Could start w a shared GoogleSite - pics spaces, detail pics of tool org, 1/2-p tool intros...

"what you build in your hands, you build in your mind. " that's one of my aphorisms for Design / Design Thinking /


I still don't get "design thinking" as a discipline or content focus. Hopefully keeping my mouth shut in will help

I think because comes naturally to you... Det'ing need, understanding "customer" (even if self), iterating.

If PedagogyX is something people do naturally, unconcioussly, unnamed … then do we need workshops and binders?

PedagogyX YOU do naturally... How guide other tchrs to dev'ing that flow? PCK of ?


So, yeah, I signed myself up to start a shared Google site where we can share our progress in our Maker spaces and programs!  Mine is going to start out in our shared Middle School Science Room, with plans to build a larger, more glorious space in our new building (which hasn't broken ground yet).  This will be a big experimental year!

James Tiffin Jr (@JimTiffinJr) is - like me - in the process of defining and building out a new Maker program and space, including a "Habits of Mind" list.  I will definitely continue to pester him, especially after his appearance at #dtk12chat Wednesday!  We clearly see eye-to-eye.  Vinnie Vrotny (@vvrotny), whom I met at ISTE, is also transforming an old lab into a Maker space!



Wednesday was the *first* #dtk12chat, and we collected quite an amazing bunch of teachers to discuss the place of design thinking in schools!  I'll openly admit: I've been a bit of a design thinking skeptic.  It has seemed very heavy on steps, process, and vocabulary.  This chat really helped open my eyes to the depth and meaning within the process, and see how it can be applied non-linearly as more of a mindset!

(I really enjoy scrolling back through rich twitter conversations and seeing my own lightbulb turn on...)

Here are a few ideas that came out:

agree, I think the empathy piece is what really sets design thinking apart from other solution oriented processes

I don't think meaningful solutions can be found without the empathy piece. Otherwise, it's just a band-aid.

I like how you see it as a continual process, not just an end product

That is key in empathy, the ability to go beyond just understanding and reach a degree of identifying w/ others

I love that design thinking also incorporates the physical aspect of building prototypes and field work!

To become DT as a strategy, I think that the empathy is used to determine how your solutions will be used/perceived/received

  1. Would like problem-solving "empathy" defined more clearly. I usually think of SEL be-nice, think-of-others - hard to translate.
  2. Often thought of as walking in someone else's shoes. Experiencing her/his position, experiences, perspective.
  3. So req's asking probing questions, since your 1st "read" of the prob/situation might not be everyone's "read"?
  4. Right. And those questions can also help the person with the need better understand it.

I think I struggle w/ term "empathy" in because have to probe yourSELF too, to deeply understand need. "Empathy" incl self?

the difficulty with learning empathy is knowing its more than a siloed step.

you can't just hop out of someone's shoes and move along after you've tied the laces :)


2nd Question Q2: How does design thinking apply to education?

If is incorp in mindset, then we ask 5-10 q's before take definitive actions. No knee-jerk. Yes?

Ask enough questions of enough people to deeply understand the human needs associated with the problem at hand.

Then it also demands a growth mindset to be successful as well, no?

there is such a tendency to rush to the end… and once they get there it is over DT goes against that

So have to be careful not to hang on terms/steps, but rather integrate process into daily routine & thought processes.

That's when it has a chance to become a disposition, or way of acting.


BIG Q: Am currently coaching EDUCATORS through prototyping. Tips on breaking bias of expertise/experience????


Collective societies like Aboriginal culture focus more on self-in-relation & DT tends to default to that

Q3: What are some examples of design thinking in action?


We gotta get on the Dweck train of growth mindset & drag the stragglers aboard kicking and screaming

our sprntndt sent a rocking letter with Dweck's book to all new hires Exciting 2 see the train moving!

Constantly kicking my closed mindset self in the face; it's my default & my students' often

The fact that you recognize that means you have a growth mindset.


In presenting , like at conferences, how do we get past steps/vocab/"make a wallet" to deep understanding of this?

The DT toolkit for educators from and riverdale is also great:


Final Thoughts Q4: Thoughts going forward?


So... future topics that came out of Wednesday's #dtk12chat :

1.) Schedules / School Structure
  1. One major hurdle in implementing seems to be allowing enough time for the process to work
  2. agree with you on this one (making note for future topic) Flexibility & ability to pounce of DT opportunity KEY

2.) DT, STEM, and Community Connections
  1. does anyone have examples of design thinking used in real curriculum development connecting businesses and k-12 lessons?

3.) DT 201 : getting beyond the steps to incorporating the mindset
  1. In presenting , like at conferences, how do we get past steps/vocab/"make a wallet" to deep understanding of this?
  2. I think that is a great question for a future chat.


  1. I'm pleased with the notice that the"Seventeen Things" list is getting. It's hardly a perfect list, but it's a great way to get started.

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