News Post

Lower School Teachers Bring Design Thinking Method to Colleagues, Students
Lower School Teachers Bring Design Thinking Method to Colleagues, Students
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Providence Day School Lower School teachers are working to instill solution-seeking skills and deeper empathy in their students after attending a design thinking conference in June.

Providence Day School Lower School teachers are endeavoring to instill solution-seeking skills and deeper empathy in their students.

Eleven PDS Transitional Kindergarten through 5th-grade teachers attended the Fuse 2015 DEEP design thinking conference in Atlanta, Ga., June 3-5.

They were among the 100 teachers, school leaders and engaged citizens to take part in the total immersion conference in design thinking, a methodology that takes a human-centered approach to solution seeking and problem solving.

PDS Lower School faculty already had been utilizing many aspects of the design thinking process as it compliments project-based learning, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and Lower School’s social responsibility curriculum.

The PDS’s teachers’ primary conference takeaway was learning the steps involved in design thinking and that empathy is a key component of the process.

“In our classrooms, we thought we’d begin by shifting our vocabulary with students, using phrases such as, ‘I like,’ ‘I wonder’ and “how might we,’” said Kim Alix, Lower School science resource teacher.

“We will work on modeling empathy in our classrooms and incorporate more activities that allow students to ‘fail up.’ Ideally this will help students hone their solution-seeking skills and to develop deeper empathy from their classroom community to the global community," she said.

To help initiate the process, the teachers facilitated an in-service training session for their fellow Lower School faculty Aug. 11, prior to the start of classes.

The teachers worked collaboratively, using the design thinking model, to solve problem-oriented tasks and to design a 3D model of their ideal teaching space.

“The in-service afforded the teachers one more link in the continuum of solution-based, process-oriented versus product-oriented methodology to use with their students,” said Alix. “Our hope for the future is to apply the design thinking method to real-life situations while seeking solutions that benefit our school community and those beyond.”

One of the PDS's core values is that students should be astute thinkers and persistent, creative problem solvers. Learn more about PDS's mission and core values.