Every educator that is searching for a process that would allow for student voice and choice should read this book! A.J. Juliani (@ajjuliani) and John Spencer (@spencerideas) provide the "how" that is often fleeting but is necessary for more educators to make a meaningful jump in their educational practices.
My mission is to empower students to use their voice and to show their creativity and passions in their work. LAUNCH presents a format in student friendly language that will allow for students to use design thinking in order to answer a challenging question. If you are searching for something to re-energize your practices for students, A.J. and John provide a process, that is flexible, that you will flip your role in the classroom to now be able to mentor, guide, and facilitate students in doing meaningful work that will impact their community.
Using Design Thinking To Boost Creativity and To Bring Out The Maker In Every Student
By John Spencer and A.J. Juliani
We Believe/I Believe
I believe every student is naturally creative and every classroom should be filled with creativity and wonder.
I believe all kids are unique, authentic and destined to be original.
I believe my role is to empower kids to make an impact on the world around them and fully believe in themselves.
Chapter 1 - We Need Creative Classrooms
“The new digital divide is less about access and all about creative opportunities.” Pg. 16
Would you rather have a disengaged trained test-taker or a fully engaged creative thinker?
Design thinking is not a separate subject, it’s a different way of doing things.
I will fail. The only way to blaze a trail is by taking risks and failing forward.
Creativity is for all of us, not a select few.
Creativity is a process that requires structure.
I have everything I need to unleash the creative potential of my students.
I want my students to think of themselves as makers and creators.
Chapter 2 - Finding Your Creative Approach
- Loves creating from scratch
- Why not reinvent the wheel?
- View creativity as natural, messy, and inherently, well, normal
- Data is cold and sterile compared to the vibrant stories of learning
- fascinated by ideas and constantly working to tweak things
- Thinks systems and structures are fascinating
- Sees value in creating order from chaos
- Can remind others sometimes creativity happens through systems and structures
- enjoys designing and developing new systems from scratch
- Masters at getting other creative types to work collaboratively by designing the invisible system
- tends to focus on fixing problems
- Always on the search for a better solution
- More interested in how things work instead of why things work
- Creativity is practical and hands-on
- subversive, actively working to tear down a broken system in order to create something better
- Often attuned to the quiet injustices kids face
- Can be considered a rebel who arbitrarily disobeys the rules
- Adept at keeping things fresh and pushing innovation in unexpected places
The Point Guard
- Make experiences rather than product
- Ability to see potential outcomes and patterns in various situations
- Ability to think differently in the moment
- Looks effortless but it isn’t
Schools need to embrace all types of creatives.
I believe I am part Hacker, Artist, and Point Guard creative.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts; each individual’s tasks, roles and accomplishments, coming together, can do exceptional work.
Chapter 3 - The Launch Cycle
Look, Listen, and Learn
Ask Lots of Questions
Understand the Problem or Process
Highlight What’s Working and Failing
Get ready to Launch!
Phase 1 - Look, Listen, and Learn
Phase 2 - Ask Lots of Questions
Individually and collaboratively
Individual first, the group brainstorm.
Sentence starters may be needed.
Phase 3 - Understand the Problem or Process
Gather as much information as possible.
This is an essential aspect of project-based learning because the depth of this phase will truly impact the rest of the process.
Phase 4 - Navigate Ideas
“Whiteboarding” - navigate multiple ideas until a general plan can be formed
Loose, chaotic, and open until zeroing in on a specific concept and shaping it into a specific idea
Phase 5 - Create
In my experience students will want to skip the first four phases and jump right to this phase. Structure or foundation essential for focused process.
Phase 6 - Highlight What’s Working and Failing
Students determine what works and what doesn’t and work out the glitches.
Need to have a clear vision on what quality looks like and how to assess it.
Stanford d.school - “Our bias is toward action, followed by reflection on personal discoveries about process.
The seven stages take time initially but will eventually save time.
Design thinking can work in all subjects with creativity.
Design thinking will work with any aged student.
When making actual products.
When there is significant time to go through the entire process.
When I have the freedom to do this work.
With standards-based grading where students can continue to work towards mastery.
When the specific problem is important to the student(s).
Without a Launch, the audience of one, will be lonely.
Chapter 4 - Look, Listen, and Learn
“Don’t seek to be the best, seek to do your best.” Sarah Thomas
Start with awareness.
7 Ways to Tap Into Student Awareness
1. Start with the observation of a phenomenon
- pg. 71
2. Tap into natural wonder
- pg. 73
3. Start with awareness about a specific issue
- pg. 74-75
4. Start with empathy towards a specific group
- pg. 77
5. Start with a specific problem that needs to be solved
- pg. 79
6. Start with a product idea
- pg. 81
7. Start with a geeky interest
- pg. 83
Action Plan Template - the launchcycle.com/action
Chapter 5 - Ask Tons of Questions
“Every child is born with a natural curiosity. It would s not something we have to teach, but it is something we must cultivate and nurture.” - pg. 94
It all begins with wonder.
Students should ask as many questions as they answer.
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask a question.
Creative classrooms are the ones where students are able to question answers as often as they answer questions.
How Do We Help Students Ask Better Questions?
* I will be getting these 14 tips hung up in the classroom
1. Question Everything
2. Do Wonder Days
3. Give feedback on questions
4. Model the process
5. Practice it often
6. Spend more time playing
7. Provide support
8. Explain and model the different types of questions
9. Embrace student choice
10. Use multiple grouping options
11. Slow down
12. Follow rabbit trails
13. Share your own questions
14. Reduce the fear
Example - look up Anastasia Academy in Denver, CO
Chapter 6 - Understanding the Information
Research isn’t about reading, it’s about learning.
Understanding Your Questions Criteria
- The questions should connect to the main topic
- The questions should be specific
- The questions should be object- and fact-based
- The questions should ultimately lead to research that will help students find solutions and create products
1. Make the research process flexible
2. Pay attention to bias
3. Start early in the year to get more practice
4. Expand your definition of sources
5. Provide scaffolding...but not too much
Broader Definition of Research
1. Research Through Reading
2. Multimedia Research
3. Exploring Data
5. Hands-On Research
The research and understanding phase can be fun. The goal is to their research to the larger problem they are trying to solve.
Chapter 7 - Navigating Ideas
Ideating - wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint or make a meal from scratch and not think about the ingredients
Pump the breaks and have the students make a plan, not jump right into creating.
- Hold the students to this because it will get out of control if the students are allowed time to move forward without a plan and then the frustrations will be too great for all parties
Part One - Brainstorming
Brainstorm in isolation first - allows introverts time to process
Group storming - number students - threes find a different group
Add Bad ideas
Combine two or three unrelated ideas
Have a firm rule that there are no dumb ideas in the brainstorm phase
Experiment with group structure
Round-robin - one by one
Sharing ideas on one digital document
Be clear on specific topic of a brainstorm
Be intentional about the physical space of a brainstorming session
Create breaks for individual reflection
How can you build on someone else’s idea?
Have a brainstorm leader whose job it is to write down the ideas and guide the brainstorm.
Move students around.
Try multiple visual methods.
Don’t use a timer.
Part Two - Choosing An Idea
Plenty of debate and discussion
Step 1: Adding Details
What is missing?
Step 2: Consolidating Ideas
What trends do you see?
Step 3: Setting Up Criteria
What are you looking for in your design?
What do we want to accomplish?
Step 4: Narrow Down the Best Ideas
Top two or three
Which ideas are the most original? Most realistic?
Step 5: Choose the Idea
Which idea solve the problem best? Why?
Which idea fits with the skills of our group?
Part Three - Figuring Out the PARTS
Product Idea - What it is? How it works?What resources are needed?
Audience - Who is the intended audience?
Roles - How will members communicate? What are the different roles?
Tasks - Due? Stages? Materials? Pg. 144 Example Chart
Solution - What are the problems this solves?
Biography of the idea - not celebrating the person, but how the idea morphed and with collaboration was able to be successful
* I love this idea of having students research an idea instead of a person
Chapter 8 - Creating
“The classroom should reflect the world for which we are preparing our students. If we are asking them to create, innovate, and be outstanding as graduates, then our classrooms should be creative, innovative, and outstanding places to learn.” - Jenny Magiera, author of Courageous Adventures
This phase is where the students will have the most fun, at first, and then may experience “project fatigue.”
The “Houston, we have a problem” moment in each process will define me as a creative teacher.
If there is not a problem that needs to be thought around, under, and through, "we" are not being innovative enough and taking the risks necessary to advance our learning to its greatest potential!
Every roadblock is a chance to solve a problem.
It Takes Time
- need to give students time to experience this phase
- could provide templates, tutorials or one-on-one time
It Feels Scary
- share your own fear as a maker
- Promote growth mindset with students
- Encourage risk-taking as part of your classroom culture
- Switch to standards-based grading
- Keep the creative work meaningful to students
- Fear festers when it is hidden
Classroom Management Issues
- What procedures and expectations need to be taught ahead of time
Not Enough Resources
- prototyping is about imagination, dreaming and working with your hands to create something
- Forty-five minute design challenges
- Sometimes, it’s about re-purposing the box
It Gets Boring
- It’s hard as the teacher to step back and let students endure their boredom
- A common trait of all creative people is they work
- Boredom is a choice
- Learn to distinguish between boredom and confusion
- Keep working, no matter how you feel
- Remember what’s important
- Cultivate creative habits rather than simply winging it
It Doesn’t Have Meaning
- Cannot be about grades for students
- Cannot be about money for teachers
- Take notice of what you do when no one is “telling what to do.”
- Take notice of what you do when you are “suppose to be doing something else.”
- What types of information do you read and watch
- Create your own “March Madness Interests” bracket
- Give yourself a trial period
- Get started - purpose gives you the “Why?”
Chapter 9 - Highlight and Improve the Product
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
- Elon Musk
Ongoing mini-cycle of highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the product and then improving it based upon that feedback.
Failing sucks. Failing isn’t fun. Failing is infuriating.
- Each mistake is critical towards the final product.
Embrace the journey. When I create a safe place for my students to face their fears, I am allowing the students to develop character.
Peer Feedback Process - 20 min. - pg. 182
To keep testing and revision interesting...
1. Change up the grouping
2. Help the students become better critics
3. Emphasize all great products went through multiple iterations
4. Break it up into small revisions
5. Create the right environment for revision
6. Devote more time to revision
7. Use student conferencing
Chapter 10 - It’s Time to Launch!
“The currency of the future is Ideas.” - Sabba Quidwai
Students need to sell their work to their audience - marketing
“If you have an idea, a product, a service, or an event that you care about, you [the student] ultimately want it to reach an audience.” Pg 196
7 Reasons Why Kids Should Learn Marketing
1. Marketing is a vital life skill
2. Children need an ethical foundation to marketing
3. Students learn about rejection
4. Students develop courage
5. Students grow in their creative confidence.
6. Students become critical consumers of information
7. Students become more apathetic
Should contact with audience happen throughout to get their feedback to make revisions to first iteration?
Part One - Clarify Audience -
What beliefs, values, or attitudes does your audience have?
Part Two - Figuring Out Your Methods -
What platforms will you use to share your work?
Part Three - Convincing People to Buy In -
How will you persuade your audience without being deceptive?
Part Four - Launching
How will you release your product?
“When we talk about design thinking, creativity, innovation and the maker movement, we can’t forget what’s most important: giving students the opportunity to make an impact right now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not when they graduate. Right now.” - A.J. Juliani
Action Plan - launchcycle.com/action
Anastasia Academy in Denver, CO
Mr. Dylan Wince
I am not a writer but I am writing. I have learned too much to not share my journey.