Design Thinking in Elementary school


One nicer elements of 21stcentury learning is the integration of the real world into the school world.  More and more the outside is creeping in and peeking around to look at how and why we do what we do in schools.  This is annoying and intrusive, and presumptuous. It forces us to be reflective and often suggests that we rethink stuff.


Design thinking- How engineers, designers, and scientists approach challenges. They generally count 5 steps in the process:

  1. Empathies
  2. Define
  3. ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

In most of the literature out there when they combine design thinking and education they quickly jump into Project Based Learning. I am a big fan of that too, More than once I have sat with teachers and engineered a lesson to incorporate more student voice or project options.

In the elementary world, I think those 5 Design Thinking steps translate into 6 steps (because smaller legs need more steps and smaller words too.)

  • Learn the challengefinal-version-alternate-e1463477404277
  • ASK a bunch of Questions
  • UNDERSTAND the process
  • NAVIGATEall the ideas
  • CREATE a prototype,
  • HIGHLIGHT and fix the Glitches.



Thanks to a couple clever Ed. Professors and the power of Mnemonic devices, you can remember and find out more about this by thinking of it as the LAUNCH cycle.

When I watch teachers present the start of a big unit I look for these. They are a good place to start a conversation and great ground to move forward on




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