One of my favorite workshops to do with teachers is, “Developing Design Thinkers.” There are so many ways to use the Design Thinking process in every part of the curriculum, and it is just plain fun! I recently learned about a tool that I will definitely be incorporating next time. It’s called, “Protobot,” and it was developed by one of the professors at Stanford’s d. School. Protobot is an online randomizer that will propose different design challenges. Some of them are thought-provoking and some completely absurd. But the surprising combination of objects and purposes is what makes Protobot the perfect warm-up activity for promoting creativity. Here are a couple of the prompts I got when I clicked the “Randomizer” button:
Anyone who teaches can probably imagine the giggles these would elicit from students, especially the last one! The designer, Molly (@MollyClare), has some suggestions for using Protobot with different sized groups. You will also notice that my link takes you to the English (safe mode) version, which you can change by clicking in the top right corner. She teaches college, so sexuality and alcohol are possible references in the “unsafe” version. Either way, you might not want to go the completely random route if you have super young students, and take screen shots of potential ideas instead.
Here are some other options for generating design thinking challenges in the classroom. And don’t forget that I have a Wakelet of books to use, including picture books, that inspire creativity and design thinking!
One of the more enlightening activities I’ve done with my students in the past is to have them brainstorm things that “make them scream” whether from fear or exasperation, and use those words and phrases to reproduce the Edvard Munch masterpiece, “The Scream.” You can read in this post how I learned a valuable lesson about making assumptions one year when we did this. For our products, we used iPads, WordFoto, and the Green Screen app by DoInk. There are other ways to do Green Screen on different devices, but I haven’t found something as good as the WordFoto app, which is a paid app only on iOS. However, the absolute genius on projects like this is Tricia Fuglestad (@TriciaFuglestad), who has done quite a few Scream projects with her art students. You can get a preview of one of them here, or purchase one of her TPT packs that compile the ideas and instructions that she has created over the years (see the top of her haunted blog post for links to those).
Here is an excellent lesson on how to analyze “The Scream.” This video gives a short history, and directions for making your own Scream painting. I also like these instructions for creating a yarn version.
As it was World Mental Health Day on October 10th, and that is a topic near and dear to my heart, I also want to include a link to this article about the artist and his own struggles with insecurity and depression. Also, here is a list of children’s books that deal with fears and phobias.
I’ll be adding this to my Halloween/October Wakelet collection. You can check out the rest of those resources here!
As some of you may know, I updated my Dot Day resources in August. Depending on your cup half empty/half full point of view, you could see that post as a little late (since I was updating a post from 2014) or a little early (since Dot Day is every year on September 15-ish). I will be adding this e-book link to that post. The Rich Potential of International Dot Day is a free e-book available from Apple Books. Created for this year through a collaboration by Apple Distinguished Educators, the book begins with a quote from The Dot author Peter H. Reynolds, “When the going gets tough, the creative get going! Cheering on educators and parents — everyone who will help kids make the most of this school year!” There are 5 sections of activities in the book: Drawing, Sound & Music, Photo, Film, and AR (Augmented Reality). The creative suggestions are designed to be used with iPads, though there are ways many of them can be adapted using different devices. For example, there is a “Your thoughts in dot” time lapse activity suggested by ADE Miriam Walsh using the Pages app that could also be done with Google Slides and Screen-Cast-o-Matic, and “The Ripple of Your Actions” from ADE Simon Pile merely requires milk and food coloring. Altogether, there are over 30 innovative suggestions in the book for ways to celebrate International Dot Day this year. Whether you are at home or at school, take advantage of one of these opportunities to make your mark on the world.
Rob Morrill is a Innovation Lab teacher who was invited by Tinkercad this summer to write regular blog posts about projects he has done with students. You can read more about Rob’s experience and expertise in his introductory post. One way to keep track of the projects he adds is to visit this page, which is a “roundup” of all of the posts he has published so far. You can also visit Rob’s website. I’ve been wanting to try a lithophane project, and now I’m even more inspired after seeing his instructions and examples.
In case you’ve missed it, Tinkercad is one of my absolute favorite entry-level design programs (and it’s free!) that I discovered when our school got its first 3d printer. It keeps improving, and you can move from simple designs to really complex ones to accommodate all abilities. Here is a post I did at the end of last year about Tinkercad Design Slams. It’s also one of my recommended online tools to help students develop their spatial reasoning. You can integrate so many parts of your curriculum (especially math) into Tinkercad projects, as well as develop creativity and that Design Thinking mindset. Even if you don’t have a 3d printer (see my post on questions to consider if you are thinking of acquiring one), students love to show off their Tinkercad designs virtually, and they can be exported into other programs. For more ideas on using Tinkercad with Design Thinking, see this post on the City X book.
By the way, Tinkercad has a teacher dashboard that you can use, where you can add classes, students, and assignments. And, did I mention it’s free?!!! Don’t worry if you haven’t used it before. They’ve got you covered with their tutorials, and your students will help each other out. (Mine invariably discovered something I didn’t know about the program every time they used it.)
Sometimes I look at my blog stats and notice that a particular post has suddenly become popular and I have no idea why. Then I re-visit the post (usually one that is years old) and realize that half of the links don’t work anymore. So, I try to update it just in case more people end up reading it for whatever obscure reason. However, since the post I noticed today is from 2014, and Dot Day is actually an annual event, I thought it might be about time to write a new Dot Day post.
International Dot Day began in 2009, and was inspired by The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Similar to the Global Cardboard Challenge, Dot Day is a celebration of creativity and innovation. You can learn more about its origins and download free resources here. As the website states, Dot Day is generally celebrated “September 15-ish.”
Most of my links from 2014 and other past posts do not work any longer, but here are some that still exist:
I am slowly updating a lot of my materials, and I just completed my “Back to School S.C.A.M.P.E.R.” A quick recap of S.C.A.M.P.E.R.: S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is an acronym used to help one remember some great tools for creative thinking. “Substitute” is the first tool, followed by “Combine”, “Adapt”, “Modify”, “Put to Another Use”, “Eliminate”, and “Rearrange.” I originally created a TPT packet several years ago, after being inspired by Miss Trayers in this post. But I am trying to offer more of my materials for free and digitally.
S.C.A.M.P.E.R. makes a great activity any time of the year, and especially during the first few days of school as you try to learn more about your students and how they think. I would often do the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. prompts on my own while they worked so they could learn a little bit about me as well. They can be used as warm-ups, in centers, and even reward activities.
I have developed a few S.C.A.M.P.E.R. products over the years, and my students love it when I pass out the activity pages. My more recent updates include Google Slides and Jamboard versions, such as this one for the Winter Holidays and my St. Patrick’s Day set.
There are always several students that wow me with their unique responses. You can see some student examples from a few years ago here.
I used a template from SlidesGo to make my updated Back to School S.C.A.M.P.E.R., as well as illustrations from Storyset.com.
Here is the link to the Google Slides version of Back to School S.C.A.M.P.E.R.
Speaking of Jamboard, I will be adding this to my Wakelet of Jamboard templates. For more Jamboards that promote creativity, I definitely recommend the ones by Julia Dweck, all of which she has linked here.