The Independent Day School
Inside the Classroom

Design Thinking

What is design thinking?

IDS is one of Connecticut’s leaders in teaching Design Thinking to students and training schools and libraries in its practice. Design Thinking is defined as a process for creative but practical problem-solving by groups of learners. This methodology encourages empathy, creativity, collaboration and rationality, which stimulates divergent thinking. Design Thinking builds a student’s capacity for flexibility and resilience by working through a challenge, building prototypes, and developing alternate solutions to a problem.

Where and how is it taught?

In the early grades, Design Thinking instruction may occur in the classroom as students create their own class rules for behavior or construct weight-bearing chairs for their stuffed animals with LEGOs. Third graders create reed flutes in the Design Lab in their study of Peruvian music. Middle School students take Design Thinking classes twice a week and learn basic engineering, model making and principles of design and collaborative learning.

IDS has specific design lab spaces: a computer lab with 16 computers and a 3D printer, a meeting space for brainstorming and project planning and a workshop with hand carpentry tools.


The Design Thinking Process

A group of IDS teachers, administrators and friends have developed and refined the following model of the Design Thinking Process as it is used and taught at IDS.  Their work was informed by design principles, communicating with designers in a number of fields, and discussing best practices with other middle schools using Design Thinking models in their classrooms.  We also developed a brochure for parents who are often encountering Design Thinking as a mode of student learning for the first time.  

Nightline on Design Thinking

A video on Design Thinking from Nightline with Ted Koppel
  • Part II                                                                                                                  
  • Part III 
IDS has used this video to introduce parents to a number of important design principles — the nature of teamwork; the importance of many voices in learning how a design works; low-resolution prototyping; and perhaps most importantly, the importance of generating many ideas in order to imagine a solution.

Articles on Design in Schools & the World


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