At Northside, we use design thinking as an intentional approach to embedding thinking skills into our middle schooling program. It is a framework onto which we hang specific thinking skills to achieve specific learning tasks. The thinking skills are those identified by ongoing education research as having a more-than-average impact on student learning and outcomes. Teachers already practise many of these skills, so we help find consistency, share more internally, and identify what skills work best at which point in learning (McIntosh, NoTosh Institute).
So, what is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is the exploration and creation of outcomes using elements of logic, imagination, intuition and reasoning. It is solution-focused and action oriented, and uses both analysis and imagination.
In Design Thinking, three phases of creative conversations allow for the development of creative ideas:
- The open phase, commonly known as divergent thinking, is about getting started and pushing boundaries, getting all the ideas out on the table and letting them sit, rather than deeming them good ideas or bad ideas.
- The explore phase, or emergent thinking, involves making connections and building on what you’ve opened with.
- The close phase, or the convergent thinking phase, involves organising your ideas and concepts to choose the best way to move forward.
(The Lab Strategy)
Where does Design Thinking happen in the Middle School?
Year 7 – Think Tank:
A weekly lesson whereby students get to take part in many activities that enable students to demonstrate and identify thinking strategies and give them an introduction to setting and solving challenges / problems using the design process.
Year 8 – Design Dilemma:
A whole day simulation at the end of semester which presents students with a mystery that needs to be solved using a number of cross-curricular activities over the course of the day.
Year 9 – Challenge-Based Learning (Design Thinking Challenge):
A six-month elective that enables students to focus on a topic or issue that they are passionate about. They are required to develop a design challenge and follow the design process over the semester and eventually showcase the process and project at the end.
The Challenge-Based Learning Showcase
The following photos represent just a few of the fantastic projects completed by the Year 9 students who participated in Challenge-Based Learning in Semester 1. Their projects covered a broad spectrum of topics, from fitness to mental health, and honed many skills including writing, photography, coding and project management.