I discovered something that’s maybe not right about that lesson plan you last made.
In a discussion about learner agency with students in my school, a top-achiever highlighted a hidden metaphorical “elephant” in every classroom …
“I don’t want to THINK about the work or show INITIATIVE because my teachers have worked hard to PLAN lessons and I like them and don’t want to upset their plans … so I just keep quiet and wait for instructions” – Grade 7 student.
I’m sure this is an issue in nearly every classroom, unless teachers plan activity to push for students to become truely part of what’s going on, rather than just compliant, albeit nicely intentioned, followers. How much do you want your students to actually critically think about what they are going through?
This conversation was happening because we were exploring the use of Design Thinking (DT) as a general approach to all learning in the classroom. The aim was to provide a process that could become a norm in the classroom and prompt the students to work together to at least attempt to explore and tackle any learning, especially if their agency could be turn the work into something impactful.
I presented DT to them with one of my “slick”, professional looking diagrams, including a website that explained each stage to them with a video. This issue for me was that this was the beginning of a DT process of my own to improve how DT was presented to students in class. Needless to say, Grade 7 students did not engage with slick and professional …
“It’s too much of a complete change”
“It’s too grown-up and off-putting”
“We’re only used to being told what to do”
“I don’t want to think about school work”
and then a voice said …
“…and there’s no Avocados!”
The other students laughed and then when the boy showed his cartoon avocado animations on Youtube, there were more laughs. I ran with this and suggested DT was missing Avocados, and there was much comedic agreement in the room. It was this that spurred a productive conversation about making DT accessible (and fun) to kids. This would help engage them and break them out of their classroom habits of compliance. To add to this, one sharp student pointed out that to learn a new way of working, they would have to learn it in the existing approach to learning things … “instructional worksheets.”
I said “… not ideal … but good point!”
So here you go, as part of our on-going Design Thinking process to design a presentation of Design Thinking for young people not used to high-levels of agency in their classroom, I give you version one of The AVO-CAN-DOs!! (and version 1 of the worksheets).
Please Tweet or comment feedback as the studnets will be interested to see what you think.
Click pic for PDF with worksheets.