I’ve just completed a pretty darn nice 2 weeks off for the holidays. Tomorrow I head back to 2 days of PD before the students come back to me on Wednesday. I’ve been spending the last couple of hours fine tuning my first design project of the year.

This is my first year of teaching MYP Design at Meridian World School. And so I’ve been creating as I go, as far as what I cover next with my students. Things that work this year will be tweaked and recycled for next year. Things that didn’t go so well will be revamped or scrapped for next year. It’s all part of the DT mindset and, either way, I learn a ton along the way.

Back in August (2015) I decided that I wanted to do a Cardboard Chair project this year. There are several versions out there but I chose to follow this one. I modified it, as necessary, to meet the level of my 7th graders and the time I wanted to spend on this project. The beauty of this is that I am working with something that has worked in the past.

I took the major parts of the project as written ( Research, Design Sketches, Drawings, and Model) and I added a beginning (Admin) and an end (Build and Presentations). Then I went through each of these and wrote out some sub-parts. For example I listed time for building and presenting the prototypes for feedback prior to their final build.

Next steps were to figure out how many days and weeks it would take and to look at the school calendar and see what things might impact these times. In doing this I noticed that our Diploma Program (DP) students will be doing their Group 4 Projects at about the same time I wanted to finish my project. I had my Authentic Audience – DP Parents can help pick the design champions.

As I worked backwards on the calendar I started filling in the key steps and, before I knew it,  I was back to early January and I could start finalizing my plans for these first two weeks of the semester.

Let me go through my checklist:  I have a project launch day where we will assign groups, write group contracts, and do the Question Formulation Technique (QFT);  I have a presentation day and an authentic audience;  I have days for research on key components for my subject area (Form, Function, Resources);  Students will explore empathy through their design plans; and, Students will do research, create sketches, and will build prototypes to get feedback prior to their final build.

I have been able to marry most of the Gold Standard PBL elements with most of the Design Thinking elements.  This will be a five week project from launch to final presentations. It will encompass the majority of the first six weeks of the grading period. I’ll need to add assessments and plan for materials but, in the end, I am all set for the first 6-weeks of the semester. In a couple of weeks I’ll be ready to start finalizing my next project. I’ve already approached a gym teacher to design some exercise mats. I’ll write about that one soon.

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