The design cycle is nothing new, but it is to our grade three students. Using the visible thinking routine ‘I see, I think, I wonder’ students unpacked the inner circle of the MYPs graphic organization of the design cycle. (We are introducing the design cycle to grades one through six, with simplified versions for the younger students.) Some of their observations and wonderings:
“The arrows connect them together, but you can’t go straight from create to investigate. I wonder why.”
“Ya, you have to plan or evaluate before you can get from investigate to create or the other way.”
“That kind of makes sense. You wouldn’t know what to investigate unless you evaluate or plan.”
“It doesn’t have a starting point. Can I start anywhere?”
“I think we are at the creating part now.”
“Our team is still planning, but we might investigate next because we haven’t solved the problem of how to use the switch yet.”
Even after short but focused inquiry into the design cycle, students were better able to focus their projects — they knew where they were and where to go next. Our goal is to empower students with these types of metacognitive tools, and it’s amazing to see nearly immediate differences in their thinking and processes.
I’m a strong believer in having students come up with and justify their own processes, and I’m trying to find a way to marry the idea of using the design cycle with the idea of using student-created processes. I’m not there yet. My own experience tells me students will get to the formally created process by way of their own process, but I wonder if there is a better way. What are your thoughts?