Thinkering Studio - Spectrum of Project Types

Type Description
Recipes or Step-By-Step Tutorials

Examples: LEGO kits w/ picture building plans, Step-by-step science experiments
  • Can be used to develop skills or confidence that can be applied to more open projects later
  • Develop reading/following directions skills
  • Often faster to complete
  • Can be self-paced
  • Can reduce cognitive overhead
  • Fits with, "Learn the rules before breaking/bending the rules"
  • Fit with a well defined problem
  • Too constraining?
  • May lead to formulaic thinking only
  • Redundant if the tools/project is intuitive or below students' ZPD
  • Counter productive when using evocative tools
  • Is it different if the project has all students doing the same guided project vs individuals or small groups selecting unique guided projects?
  • Is it good to start w/ projects like this to build up skills and confidence? Do projects like this hinder creativity and problem-solving?
  • Does this fit well with a Gradual Release of Responsibility method?
  • Is this a form of scaffolding for hitting students' ZPD?
  • Can the constraints of the activity actually lead to creativity? (Creative limitation) If so, does that lead to doing recipe activities with a step or steps designed for personalizing/tweaking/hacking the projects?
  • Too likely to lead to a single or "right" outcome?
Recipe followed by Tweaks/Hacks/Personalizations

Following Assigned General Processes
Examples: Big 6, Design Process, 5 paragraph essay
T.S. Guardrails?

Written from T.S. perspective - need revision for this chart?
Examples: Thinkering Studio Jumpstarts
  • Done right, at the right time, can be a form of scaffolding that fits nicely with their ZPD
  • May provide the impetus for students stuck with Thinkerer's Block or reluctant students (including those stuck with "The teacher should just tell us what they want us to do" syndrome).
  • Curated resources can help the students engage with better resources (the library curates their books don't they).
  • Pages could be optional, pointed out only to those students who seem in need.
  • Could actually be part of students' sharing, creating a jumpstart page for their topic or adding to an existing one (curating)
  • Not necessary for students who have their own idea and actively seek outside help/expertise as necessary. May constrain their thinking in directions other than where they might head on their own.
  • By providing resources such as tips and tutorials, students may not fully engage in the seeking/research of resources.
  • By providing examples of projects and challenge ideas, students conceptions of what they want to do may not be as original, leading them to create what others have already created.
  • Students may simply follow recipes without ultimately becoming more creative in their processes and products
  • Can be a crutch when no crutch is needed
  • If you have made jumpstart pages, should you only selectively make students aware of them or should they be mentioned as one of many resources at the beginning of the year?
Free-Range Learning
Examples: Big Picture Schools, Re:Make, Thinkering Studio, Genius Hour, LEGO table
  • Fits well with an ill-defined problem

  • What prerequisites should be considered so that these projects don't end in ultimate frustration/failure?
  • Does the scope of these projects affect the likelihood of success? Does that depend on age, personality, and or experience?

  • What is the best balance of teacher/recipe directed and self-directed? Must it occur over multiple projects?
  • Where does studio-based learning (think Art class) on the spectrum? Does it deserve its own row above?
  • Where do design challenge type projects fit on this spectrum?
  • Is this a continuum?
  • Should students have experience of all these "types"?
  • Where do the guardrails (proposals, portfolios, journals, peer critiques) of Thinkering Studio fit in this chart? General Processes + Self-Designed?
  • How does this fit with, Thinking Space - Invent To Learn?
  • Anything to borrow from here,
  • How much do you directly help a student, guide them, give hints, or ask questions?
    • How helpful is ask 3 before me?