iDiploma Design Challenges Underway: Feedback and Assessment

The past two weeks Innovation Diploma has been immersed in the design challenges that spawned from the curiosity journaling they did back in early September. Currently five groups are working around these student generated HMWs:

  • How might we amplify joy in our day?
  • How might we make sustainability part of our DNA?
  • How might we share the Innovation Diploma story with others?

Students originally teamed with their advisory groups, but throughout the process, they have reconfigured into five groups. As they navigate this design challenge, the facilitators are providing both in the moment feedback, as well as personal, one-on-one feedback during bi-weekly meetups with individual students, and we are responding to their needs by offering mini pop-up classes based on their “need-to-knows.” So what does a snapshot of this look like? Well, yesterday one group conducted interviews while another group prototyped a scale model of their product. A third group set up a pop-up class with Mr. Boden on Photoshop to help them create the next version of their prototype. Another group divided tasks amongst their team, so that one was in the art studio sketching, another was conducting and recording interviews, while yet another subset was collecting footage of various iD groups in attempt to compile a video prototype that helps tell the iD story. There was a great deal of physical movement and each group is really tackling content that is largely unrelated (one group needs a proportions refresher while another group needs geometry to help with building and yet another needs advice on wording and messaging to a certain audience.) So how do we keep up? And how do we assess all the learning during the messy work of design thinking?

During our debriefing session as a teaching team, we realized we are making a huge mistake by waiting until the end to assess our students against the rubric. We are heavily assessing their process, but it doesn’t feel as meaningful because it’s not tied to the discrete skills we believe are necessary to develop as a design thinker. How can we provide even more meaningful feedback in-the-moment that leverages the language we’ve already use in our rubric?

Before we launched this Module, we built a design thinking rubric using building blocks from the EdLeader21 rubrics that includes 14 performance areas. The entire document is 13 pages long. I’ll admit, it’s overwhelming. We contemplated what to cut, but each time fell short and found ourselves talking about how complex the design thinking process truly is, and that this rubric is already boiled down to the bare bones. So how do we make this rubric manageable, readable, and friendly enough that we can anchor our in-the-moment feedback to text that will help the students begin to articulate the muscles they’re building as designers? Our current solve is a color coded card deck that we can use with our students in-the-moment. This feedback tool will help us have a conversation with an individual or a group about how a comment like that will never work is showing that they are still developing their creativity skill, specifically in their “openness and courage to explore,” which is one of our performance areas. Or we can point to a card that reads “Creative Production and Innovation” and use the language there to talk about the quality of a product created digitally using Photoshop or Illustrator rather than a hand-drawn sign. That way at the end of the challenge the rubric isn’t just text they saw but forgot all about. It’s familiar language that they are becoming increasingly more aware are skills that are required as design thinkers and innovators. My hope is that eventually, iD students will use these cards to help push each other in their creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills.

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