Buckets of Thinking: Student Design & Storytelling Kits

Last year I started something novel for me as a high school teacher, but somewhat ho-hum for the elementary teaching ranks: school supplies.

I requested each student acquire a personal design kit, a collection of tools that would prove useful to the sorts of exploring and understanding we would be doing during the year under the tenets of design thinking.

Design thinking is empathy-fueled, user-centered problem solving.  DT involves a great deal of interviewing and uncovering, brainstorming and ideating,  sorting of collected data and insights, and piles of rapid prototyping before producing a solution and thus beginning the feedback and iteration process all over again.  I requested students provide the following:

Design Kit Starter Set

Medium and/or Fine Point Sharpies (2)

Dry Erase Markers (not yellow) (2)

Colored Pencils (small pack)

Colored Markers (fine or medium) (small pack)

Scissors (1 pair)

Glue Sticks (2)

I priced it out using back to school sale prices and figured all of the above could be acquired for $10 or less at local retailers.

I also made certain the above could fit inside of a gallon-sized freezer bag.  I purchased the freezer bags along with six plastic dishpans (one for each class) on a heckuva deal at Target, used my Target card to save 5% and give back a percentage to my kids’ elementary school.  Forty bucks and I had bags to spare and tubs I could reuse from year to year.  All of the kits fit nicely on a standard TV cart.  And since we no longer need the TVs with our LCD projectors, I was able to find a cart easily.  Portable.  Flexible.  And students have their own supplies at their disposal, making life much easier for me overall.  (If a student couldn’t afford a set, I had some classroom supplies — my stock just lasted much, much longer into the year.)  Plus, students had option to take their kits home at the end of the year. Most didn’t.  Bonus.

All of this led me to a pondering a storyteller’s kit and what that might look like.

It is just a brainstorm.  Nothing prescriptive here.  May be some ideas are amazing and others are terrible And in the process of thinking about what my students would need to tell some story in a digital landscape, I again stumbled on that idea of older gen smart phones.  Many families have them kicking around the house, stashed in drawers and cabinets, too expensive a purchase to discard, too old to be of immediate value.

What if students had old cellphones available as quick and easy audio/video recorders?  How might that change the game?

What might you include in such a kit?

What hurdles would you face in helping students develop such kits and, perhaps most importantly, how might those hurdles be surpassed? 

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This post originally appeared on my UMF EDU 571 Learning & Innovating with Digital Storytelling course blog: http://umfedu571digitalstorytellingsum14.blogspot.com/2014/08/storytelling-kit.html

About Dan Ryder

Dan Ryder & Jeff Bailey, co-founders of Wicked Decent Learning, a blog, podcast, Twitter feed and who-knows-what-all-else devoted to teaching and learning in Vacationland and beyond. Teachers, dads, actors, writers, geeks, buds.

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