By: Ms. Glace
What an incredible year it has been so far teaching second grade at St. James! One of things that I love so much about SJA is the continuing education that is provided for teachers here through workshops and seminars. One of the first assignments that I was given as a teacher here was to attend a daylong faculty workshop on design thinking. At the time, design thinking was a concept about which I knew very little. I soon came to find myself intrigued with the idea and excited to incorporate it into my second grade curriculum. The design thinking activities that I plan for my class provides an opportunity for students to create meaningful solutions to problems that are presented to them. My students work collaboratively to follow the design process, which calls for each group to think, make, test, and improve. My goal is to create a class of young innovators who not only have the skills and knowledge to solve the problems of the future but the confidence to do so as well.
One of my favorite parts of the design process is that it encourages creativity and critical thinking skills from my students. At the end of the second grade unit on pilgrims, I challenged my students to create a boat, much like the Mayflower, that would carry all of the supplies that they would need to make a trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Each group was given a bar of clay with which to build their boat and several materials that they would need to fit inside. Before building, the students brainstormed ideas and designed their boats with paper and pencil. Then they put their plans into action and tested their products in the “Atlantic Ocean” (a large bucket of water). Those groups whose boats did not float were encouraged to make improvements and try again. This is one of the most important values that design thinking teaches. I want my students to learn that it is okay to not always succeed the first time but that it is important to always go back and try again. Design thinking has become an important part of our routine in second grade and I look forward to seeing what kind of creative inquirers and innovators my students will become as a result.