Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the 15 years I’ve been engaging students in design projects, it’s that there’s never enough time. Our Extraordinaires design club at Perkiomen Valley Middle School East began its work this year on December 1st and for the past two weeks we’ve been working through the design process as a way to get to know each other by building partners our interpretation of The Most Magnificent Thing . (Thanks to Kriscia Cabral at Scholastic’s “Read-Write-Think” website for this lesson.)
In addition to the caveat about design and time, I should add that the return on that investment of time, in terms of developing empathy and creative confidence is immense. During their interviews as well as the early stages of their designs, as they were sketching and tinkering around with materials, I discovered, as I always have, that the level of thinking and processing that’s happening is almost unmatched by anything I’ve ever done in my classroom.
As students have to consider which bits of information from their interviews provide insights they can use to create a final design solution, they are constantly evaluating, synthesizing, testing, discarding, and reiterating until, as in Ashley Spires book, they find a solution that fits their vision and their partner’s needs.
Two weeks ago we had some students miss our meeting, and that slowed down our process, but last week we were on again and set to work in earnest, with most students completing their designs for their partner. We need only present our ideas next week. After a short reflection writing on the process, we’ll be working on an “unboxing” video of the students as they open their Extraordinaires Design Studio kits and take a look at the product in earnest.