Design Thinking – Wallet Challenge

Wallet Challenge


This was certainly a fun kick off activity to this course. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with my colleague and fellow Design Thinking classmate Tara. The activity even attracted the interest of our Assistant Principal who happened to be in the area when our initial interviews were taking place. It is amazing how eye opening it is to talk to someone about such an important and ubiquitous possession as a wallet.

This is my initial sketch. It certainly shows how I design from my own mind’s eye. There is clearly no reference here of Tara’s wants or needs.

My interview notes give me a better idea of what my design should encompass. The interview process was fun and informative. I can see how getting to know the recipient or consumer of the design makes for better work.


Reframing the problem brought focus back to what `I should be creating…or did it? I truly believe that I had a good vision in mind for what Tara wanted and needed but when it came time to sketching out some ideas we both realized that we continued to design based on what we liked and what worked for us. Of course, we are still new to this concept and I can see how I would get better at it with some practice. Follow up feedback was again insightful in helping me to make adjustments to my plan and to refocus on the task at hand.


I was struck as I was reading and become more familiar with design thinking that it would be great to get feedback from my students as to how to organize my room. I teach STEM and I have tools, supplies, equipment and other resources around a beautiful large classroom space. I teach KG2 – Grade 5 and I am still struggling with how the room should be organized so that students can more independently find materials and tools that they need. One of the reasons why it is so hard is that I only see each class once in a six day cycle. This means that students forget my procedures and are not 100% familiar with where things are located in my room. This is something that is out of my control. The second problem is that the room is organized by me perhaps without considering the needs and wants of my students. I have made improvements and have found certain structures that work. I de believe that seeking the advice of my students would be helpful in making more improvements. They would also be more personally invested in the organization of the room and I think that would also add to the likelihood that the system would work better for everybody. I think that design thinking would really work and I intend to give it go with some of my 600 or so students.


I also see how design thinking would be great for assessment. I am a big believer in co-constructing assessment. It helps students really understand what the learning goals are and I think gives them a better way to envision how to achieve success in those learning goals. As I stated though I do have a lot of students. I am not sure how to make interviews meaningful and reliable when I have 100-120 students of a particular grade level. I am having a very hard time trying to wrap my head around that particular challenge. I do find that more informal interviews as a class or some casual conversations with students in passing is helpful with this. I wonder if changes made based on these conversations reflect the needs of the class as a whole or the needs of students I may naturally gravitate toward when seeking ideas. I am trying to rewrite a unit in Robotics for my Grade 4 class. I have some Grade 5 students that frequently come to my lab on their recess to tinker. I asked them for some feedback on my ideas for the unit and I where I could take the learning. I kept having to remind them that not everybody “gets” Robotics the way they do. To make this work with a small sample of students I certainly need to choose a diverse cross sections of students.


I found this to be a very enlightening and enjoyable activity. I certainly see the value in Design Thinking. I am excited to get to know more about it and to try to find ways to integrate it into my teaching practice. 


One thought on “Design Thinking – Wallet Challenge

  1. I too enjoyed this activity. 1) I like pushing my creativity, 2) It was fun to design something for someone else and 3) I love to tinker.
    I like how you included the students to see where they wanted to take the learning. Too many times, more than not I feel, we lose their interest because they weren’t asked or a part of the the planning. Also, good point about getting a diverse cross section. That way you’ll be able to deliver the lessons through differentiation.

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