Design Thinking in the Classroom (Part 1)

By Chelsea Leach (@leach_theteach)

Thinking is an amazing thing. It gives us a chance to organize our experiences, to go back and reflect, or to be mindful. It is an undeniably powerful tool and a fundamental building block of learning. Thinking creates a pathway to knowledge, allowing us to seek solutions and solve problems. Though I am sure Microsoft would disagree, thinking is the most vital weapon in teacher’s toolbox.

It is easy to forget that technology is not a gateway to effective teaching especially in today’s educational paradigm, where the traditional good versus evil narrative has been replaced with Apple versus Chromebook. Remember when knowledge was gathered by more than just keyboard clicks into a search engine? Let’s go back all the way to 2009, when Kayne was interrupting Taylor (clearly not thinking), and effective teaching was not determined by the number of apps you used in your classroom.

Teaching is in my DNA, and when I decided to become an educator, I did so to support young learners through the shift in academic culture. But while I was busy studying and living in the college bubble- go Blue Hens- the world of academia was drastically changing into a conglomerate of technology and competition. Now, eleven years later, I am still here, focusing my attention on the learner as an individual and desperately trying to keep up with modern blended platforms.

How does a modern girl with traditional practices adjust? I’m thinking…I’m thinking…I’m thinking that thinking is the answer to blending both technology and the individual effectively.  More specifically, design thinking. In the classroom, design thinking helps to create a learner-centered environment. Learners are able to work with teachers to design their own projects and pathways to reach a goal.

As I learn more through good old research- please no Wikipedia- and my collaboration with Providence’s DownCity Design, I am going to reflect and share my findings here.  My goal is to include design thinking in my classroom to motivate students to seek knowledge through topics they find engaging and interesting.

DCD Logo 2

DISCLAIMER: My future posts may include more than just design thinking. What can I say? I am walking contradiction. I am a millennial but also an overachiever. I am interested in technology but I am not interested in technology replacing traditional teaching methods. Sometimes I think too much and sometimes I don’t think at all.

So get your coffee cups out friends- every time you see the word thinking, take a sip. By the end of this journey you will learn lots about design thinking, or at the very least be addicted to caffeine. You’re welcome for both!

***Part 2 of Chelsea’s series is scheduled for next Friday, 5/25/18.



Chelsea Leach is a seventh grade social studies teacher at Kickemuit Middle School. If she wasn’t a teacher, she would traveling the world for Nat Geo. Follow her on Twitter @leach_theteach.

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