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Gillispie School / Elementary  / Design Thinking: Reflection is Key to Strengthening Children’s Understanding

Design Thinking: Reflection is Key to Strengthening Children’s Understanding

We strive to develop open-minded collaborators and articulate communicators at Gillispie. Every child and adult has to navigate working with others on a daily basis and the tools needed to be an effective collaborator and communicator are not ones students are born with. Skills like these need to be explicitly taught, practiced, and reflected upon just as any other subject in school. Through group projects, students have a platform that not only develops these skills but also helps them apply curriculum content in different ways. 

At the completion of a group project, reflection is key to strengthening children’s understanding. These reflection sessions allow students to share strategies, celebrate successes, and take on challenges with a “fail forward” mentality. This Design Thinking mindset is one that we encourage during all projects which are iterative in nature and ask students to look at “failures” as a springboard for learning and improvement.

The language used during reflection sessions must be explicitly taught and practiced, and good questions guide the process: 

  • What went well today in your group? 
  • What challenges did your group face? Did you overcome those challenges? How?
  • What will you do differently next time? Why?
  • What is your group going to do differently next time? Why? 

These questions allow students to not only hear from their classmates but reflect upon their own process and think about changes that could be made to make their next work period better than the last. It also gives teachers the opportunity to coach students through challenges and highlight specific successes that will help to inform the rest of the class. 

The reflection sessions are critical to building student skills for effective collaboration and communication.

Brian Belsha, Science Specialty Teacher

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