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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rose/Bud/Thorn and Design Thinking

Ever feel like Acronym Based Education (ABE) is taking over?   It can lead you to trouble.  Especially when they can mean two different things, like saying LMS.  Do you mean a Learning Management System or a Library Media Specialist? Oy vey.

ABE aside, be patient in today's entry, as we'll end with a great feedback technique called Rose/Bud/Thorn.  But first, some context.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is something I've always wanted to explore and learn more about, so I was excited when our district announced some PD opportunities through the Buck Institute this summer.   Like many things in education, PBL often blends and overlaps with other strategies and modes of learning.  For example, personalization pairs nicely with PBL, as does another: Design Thinking (DT).

I won't presume to lay out the intricacies of Design Thinking in a short blog entry; I'm very much an early novice in learning it myself.  (This Design Thinking toolkit might be a good place to start.)  A few months ago, our Curriculum Assessment Coordinator Susan Dugle and the Southside Elementary Instructional Coach Robyn Marcum went to a PD on Design Thinking, based on a framework created by Stanford University's Here's a basic overview they learned from the PD and shared on how DT approaches a problem that needs a solution:
  1. Gaining Empathy.  Research the topic, and if possible, interview the person who has a need.  Dig deeper by asking clarifying questions to gain a deeper understanding.
  2. Reframe the problem.  Determine the true needs of the person/problematical situation, and develop insights from what you've experienced in your research, interview, or brainstorming. Define a problem statement: "______ (Name) needs a way to ______ (user's need).  Unexpectedly, __________ (insight)."
  3. Ideate.  Create solutions to test.  Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Go wild. Reflect.
  4. Iterate Based on Feedback. After reflecting, try to create a new and the most viable solution.
  5. Build and Test.  Make the "final" product and apply it. At the end of the process, reflect what worked and what could be improved.
It is the necessary context of DT that leads to the heart of today's entry: the Rose/Bud/Thorn strategy. (RBT). Although it pairs nicely with DT and PBL, it is a great way to get/give feedback that would be helpful in any context.  First, let Dr. Lisa Palmieri discuss RBT in this two minute video:

As Dr. Palmieri said, RBT can take about 10 minutes of class time and is more about "gut reactions" to how things went; it is NOT meant to be a time for finding solutions. (In the Design Thinking overview above, RBT would fit best in step 3 and the first half of step 4.)

The great thing about Rose/Bud/Thorn is that it is just fine in an analog environment.  All you need is three different colored Post-Its and a surface to stick them to.  However, if you want to consider digital alternatives that might be more permanent, interactive, and/or engaging, here are some ideas:

  • Use three different PollEverywhere polls (one Rose, one Bud, one Thorn) where students can respond via texting or the web. As an added bonus, create a word cloud with each poll (for example, a Wordle) to see if there are any commonly occurring words or phrases.  You can easily do a word cloud within PollEverywhere; here are some directions how.
  • Use Padlet to post responses.  This is probably the closest digital equivalent to the analog version of Post-Its on a wall. You may make three clear sections on the "board" and make sure to follow a consistent color scheme for each post.  The URLs to Padlets can easily be shared to others, and can stay put to look at later.
  • Do Post-Its the old fashioned way, but you or a student can capture the data with an iPad or iPhone with the Post-It Plus app.  You can take a picture of up to 50 Post-Its (works best if they are square), digitally group them in "boards" as you see fit, and share.  You can even export the finished boards in several formats, such as PPT or PDF. (The app is free but you can get additional tools ["Editor's Kit"] for an in-app purchase of $1.99. )

Good luck on improving feedback!

Special thanks to Mary Cantwell for writing the original article on RBT,  and the 1/7/15 tweet by Wicked Decent Learning (Dan Ryder, Jeff Bailey) that brought my attention to Ms. Cantwell's text.

Note 4/29/15:  After publishing this entry, I got the name of the people behind Susan and Robyn's Design Thinking PD discussed above: at Stanford University.  The link is now inserted above.


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