“The Godfather is the I Ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? ‘Leave the gun, take the cannoli.’ What day of the week is it? ‘Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday.’ And the answer to your question is ‘Go to the mattresses.’ You’re at war. ‘It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not personal it’s business.’ Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death.”    You’ve Got Mail      

I love this quote and I am not really sure if it applies to the question “My design topic is selected, now what?”.  However, it makes me smile because for me the hard part of the design thinking process is selecting my design topic so when I have figured that part out, I go to the mattresses.

In the Discover mode, as a teacher it is a great opportunity to put all the power, freedom, and hope into your students and allow them to “discover” their design topic.  Yes, and  you can steer them towards an area of discovery, veto a selection or two, or narrow the field a bit but when given the chance to choose their design topic (good or well, ok) the students will own it and drive it home.  Now this is not your only option in discovering your design topic.  A spontaneous moment in learning or an opportunity might arise that will provide you the perfect excuse to pounce and start a design thinking challenge right then and there. During a novel study, a current events discussion, a break down in the culture of the classroom/school might bring about that golden ticket chance to well, begin a design thinking challenge. Discover these moments.

There are so many ways a design topic will present itself, naturally, strategically, or even the old school way of plotting and toiling behind the scenes to craft it for presentation.  The question still remains, “Now What?”  That depends:  age of students, geographical location, technological access, school demands of staying the course or embracing authentic learning, flexibility of your plans, your colleagues plans, and just plain old flexibility….

In the Discover mode, once the design topic is selected go to the mattresses (I mean students) and start with questions.  Gauge their knowledge on the topic.  Do a visible thinking routine i.e. Stop, Look, Listen or Think, Puzzle, Explore. Depending on the age as well as exposure to certain topics, your students will need to be given time to research and gain some factual knowledge to assist them in dialoguing and interviewing others about the selected topic. Helping students understand the geographic, demographic, and/or economic aspects of the topic will help them in the Empathize mode engage their users with more understanding and a deeper curiosity to their stories. 

So my short answer to “Now What?”: go to your students with the topic at hand and let them tell and show you what they know.

Now what? Empathize mode: Find your users + ….