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ETAP 623 Fall 2013 - Wilde

Design by Shula Ponet

Intent of Project

Using Design-Thinking and Inquiry in Teaching Literacy

The intent of this course is to show educators how to use design-thinking and inquiry-based learning in a literacy classroom.

Topics that will be covered:

  • What is design-thinking?
  • What is the design-inquiry cycle?
  • What does the design-inquiry cycle look like in practice?
  • How can educators use the design-inquiry cycle to develop curriculum?

Learning Outcomes

Learners will be able to:

  • identify examples of inquiry in the literacy classroom. (Verbal and Intellectual Skill)
  • identify definitions and examples of design thinking. (Verbal and Intellectual Skill)
  • apply the design-inquiry process to formulate literacy curriculum. (Intellectual and Cognitive Strategy)
  • list the steps of the design-inquiry process. (Verbal and Intellectual Skill)
  • choose to use inquiry-based learning in their literacy teaching. (Attitude)

Needs Analysis for Using Design-Thinking and Inquiry in Teaching Literacy

Intent: While inquiry learning has been greatly explored in science, math, and technology, there is much less information about how to employ inquiry-based learning in literacy classrooms. As the literacy lead at a design-focused school, I have worked on a team to create a design-inquiry cycle for ELA classes that provides a framework to integrate inquiry-based learning with the design process created by the Stanford Institute of Design. The intent of this course is to help literacy teachers write curriculum using the design-inquiry cycle and to create inquiry-based activities to teach literacy skills.


Gathering Information: In order to better understand the need for this course, I surveyed four literacy teachers at my school teaching grades 6-10. They were asked questions about their use of Understanding by Design, their use of contextualized learning, their application and understanding of inquiry-based learning, and their comfort level with the design-inquiry cycle.


Summary: A summary of the responses can be found in this Google Survey Summary


Analysis and Revised Intent: In general, teachers expressed a decent understanding of the cycle. Teachers expressed moderate use of the context for their units and their essential questions. The surveyed teachers had extremely varied definitions of inquiry-based learning. One of the teachers believed that inquiry-based learning was only accessible to students who have already achieved mastery of subjects and are highly motivated and independent students. In terms of their use of inquiry-based learning, the surveyed group was split on their comfort level with and use of this type of teaching. They expressed moderate to high interest in using the inquiry-design cycle in their classroom.

Largely, the intent of the course will stay the same. I am now aware that it will be necessary to clearly define inquiry-based learning early on in the course to improve teachers' understanding of this type of teaching. I also now know that I will need to emphasize means of scaffolding and differentiation for lower-level students for use in inquiry-based activities. Additionally, I will need to clarify and highlight the benefits of using the design-inquiry process to quell teachers' fears about their students' learning.

Performance Objectives

  • Learners will demonstrate an understanding of design-thinking, by matching its components to their definitions.
  • Learners will classify inquiry-based learning, by defining examples of inquiry-based literacy learning.
  • Learners will discriminate design-inquiry cycle steps by matching them to Common Core Standards.
  • Learners will generate a design-inquiry unit by writing the steps their students will take in the design inquiry cycle, including scaffolding and differentiation.

Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map Design-Inquiry.jpg
Design-Inquiry Lesson 1 ICM.jpg
Design-Inquiry Lesson 2 ICM.jpg
Design-Inquiry Lesson 3 ICM.jpg
Design-Inquiry Lesson 4 ICM.jpg

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. Learners define inquiry-based learning using prior knowledge.
  2. Learners read 3 sample classroom scenarios that demonstrate teaching a literacy topic or concept in parallel ways (one inquiry, one traditional) and identify which learning experience they believe is inquiry.
  3. Learners adjust their definition of inquiry-based learning.
  4. Learners read a brief explanation of how inquiry-based learning is used in the ELA classroom.

Lesson 2: Design Thinking

  1. Learners watch a video about the Stanford Design Process.
  2. Learners play a matching game in which they match each design step to its definition and an example.
  3. Learners look at a brief description of Design Thinking from Stanford Institute of Design.
  4. Learners are provided with additional resources to implement design thinking from the d.school at Stanford.

Lesson 3: Design-Inquiry Cycle

  1. Learners read a brief introduction about the creation of the Design-Inquiry Cycle.
  2. Learners play DesignQuiry, a game in which they experience the Design-Inquiry cycle in a brief, imaginative form.
  3. Learners demonstrate their understanding of the Design-Inquiry Cycle by inserting descriptions of each step of the process into a graphic of the Design-Inquiry Cycle.

Lesson 4:Design-Inquiry Curriculum

  1. Learners will look at an example unit using the Design-Inquiry Cycle.
  2. Learners will create an essential question for a Design-Inquiry unit.
  3. Learners will fill in a template or google form to create the steps of their own Design-Inquiry Cycle for their students to experience.

References and Resources

Barron, B., Pearson, P. D., Schoenfeld, A. H., Stage, E. K., Zimmerman, T. D., Cervetti, G. N., & Tilson, J. L. (2008). Powerful learning: What we know about teaching for understanding. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gagne, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C., Keller, J. M., & Russell, J. D. (2005). Principles of instructional design.

Lim, J., Reiser, R.A., & Olina, Z. (2009). The effects of part-task and whole-task instructional approaches on acquisition and transfer of a complex cognitive skill. Education Technology Research and Development, 57, 61–77.

Krajcik, J., & Blumenfeld, P. (2006). Project-based learning. In K. Sawyer (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 317- 334). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Stanford Institute of Design. (n.d.). d.school. Retrieved from http://dschool.stanford.edu/

King, R. (2011, 11 23). Using inquiry projects to teach language arts. Retrieved from http://www.thoughtfullearning.com/blogpost/using-inquiry-projects-teach-language-arts

Richardson, A. (2010). Exploring text through discussions: Accountable talk in the middle school classroom. English Journal, 100(1), 83-88. Retrieved from http://bcverticalteam.wikispaces.com/file/view/Accountable Talk - Richardson0001.pdf

Rufo-Tepper, R., & Ponet, S. (2013, 02 22). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/game-on/

Williams, J., Homan, E., & Swofford, S. (2011).Supporting students in a time of core standards: English language arts, grades 3-5. Urbana, Illinois: NCTE. Retrieved from https://secure.ncte.org/store/supporting-students-3-5