Creating a Generation of Problem Finders
Our school was fortunate to have a very gifted consultant by the name of Ewan McIntosh visit us last year to help in creating a better vision and direction for our new design center that is currently being built at NIS this school year. In order to better understand Ewan's approach to design thinking, I visited his NoTosh website to learn more. I watched several of his videos and was left feeling quite inspired to say the least.
One of Ewan's beliefs is that we must move away from more traditional practices of helping our students to become problem solvers to a different approach and journey that focuses more on creating Problem Finders. Find the problem first then design a way to overcome this problem or obstacle. Removing barriers that stand in the way through thoughtful design becomes an important part of this process.
Design Thinking, Problem-Finding and Its Relevance in PE?
I believe that it is very possible to take the problem finding approach in PE and use it to help springboard our students' capacities to overcome self-identified areas of needed growth. These areas can either be conceptual or actual skills based in nature.
Putting it into Action in PE
By putting it into action we must make student learning outcomes explicit at the very start of the unit. Have a look at our school's design thinking approach at the elementary school level The visual below was created by John Rinker, a fantastic educator, who used an original version of the model from designingthinkingforeducators.com and re-created it to meet the needs of his PYP Design Thinking Center in our elementary school.
I will do a brief summary of how I intend on addressing each step of the design cycle and apply it to my instruction within my PE program. I have changed the names of each step to reflect how I want to put the model into action in my classes. I have tinkered with many aspects of design thinking in PE, in particular my Athletics unit last year. I am going to make more of an attempt to use the cycle in my grade 5 striking and fielding unit and evaluate its effectiveness as we progress as we go. I believe that the cycle itself totally promotes inquiry every step of the way.
Discover----->Exploration of Skills in PE
During this phase I intend on getting the students do a very general exploration of the necessary skills at the beginning of a unit.
Define------>Problem-Finding Related to Student Learning Outcomes in a PE Unit
After the students and I discuss what the learning outcomes are for a unit, I want to allow them the time to identify which student learning outcomes they may have difficulty in developing during the unit. They must think about specific reasons why they would have difficulty in meeting these outcomes. This is the pre-assessment phase of the unit.
Brainstorm----->Activity Planning to Help in Meeting Identified Problem Areas in PE
During this part, I would get the students to come up with a number of potential activities and to essentially create a plan for how they may be able to overcome their identified area of needed improvement.
Prototype------>Putting ideas into Practice
During this phase, the students would be putting into practice ideas that they came up with in the brainstorming stage of the design thinking cycle. It is ongoing over a couple of weeks. However, during this time, as teacher, I will lead a number of mini-activities for them, so there is still a teacher directed component within this cycle.
Evolve----->Evaluate Effectiveness of their Plans for Improvement
During this stage they may have to evaluate if they have been successful in improving upon their identified areas of weakness and may have to go back to the brainstorming session listed above. During this phase, they may have to get the teacher to step in to help them out. Formative assessment in terms of student reflection will play a bit part in this phase as they will record their learning throughout the journey.
I will be blogging about the journey in putting this cycle into action over the next few weeks. Come back and read about it if you are interested. Thanks!