Launch Book Study

I'm excited to participate again in my second book study! The book we are reading - LAUNCH by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani - is about how to create an environment that promote creativity, problem solving, and engagement. I'm really enjoying the book so far, especially the chapter I cover: The LAUNCH Cycle.

This book study is part of the #D100bloggerPD and is led by the wonderful Jenny Lehotsky. Check out her thoughts on chapter 1 about why we need creative classrooms. The incredibly thoughtful Annie Forest covered chapter 2 on her blog, in which teachers can find out what type of creative teacher they are. I'm leaning towards an Artist, as I absolutely love creating new lessons for students!

The LAUNCH Cycle

This chapter begins with the story of one of the author's harrowing experience with his newborn son in the hospital. He learned that it was a very expensive machine - $20,000 - that saved his young son's life, and wondered about the people in the world who do not have access to such life-saving machines. He then explains that students at Stanford's (school of design), also wondered how they could help premature and low-weight babies around the world. Students at Stanford eventually went on to create a low-cost blanket that they then sold to hospitals in Africa. He ties the story back to the main message of the book: design thinking is the process used to solve problems in our world.

What is Design Thinking?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no one perfect method to design thinking. As a science teacher, it is very frustrating when teachers require students to memorize THE scientific method, when in reality each problem requires a slightly different type of method! Design thinking is very similar to this - it is not a "one size fits all" approach, but it can be used as a more general framework for approaching design problems.

The LAUNCH Cycle

The authors layout the LAUNCH Cycle for design thinking as follows:

Look, Listen, and Learn

Students need to not only be problem solvers, but problem finders. This step starts with empathy and the question, "Who needs help in the world?"

Ask Lots of Questions

Once students have identified a problem, they will have a lot of questions. We should encourage students in their curiousity at this stage.

Understand the Process or Problem

Once students have some questions, the next step is to research to find answers. Depending on the class, some students will need more support than others at this stage.

Navigate Ideas

Brainstorming is key at this point, and students will need to think creatively to try to find solutions to their problem. Whiteboards are a good tool to promote the flow of ideas!


Students begin to create prototypes for their solution - they turn their idea into something real. Note: students will often want to skip the first four parts and jump to this one, but it is essential for them to go through the whole process to really understand all facets of their problem!

Highlight What's Working and Failing

In my opinion, this is the most important step. Students need to recognize that learning and creating are processes that can always be improved. It's called a prototype for a reason - it's meant to be changed!

Ready to LAUNCH!

When students have completed the cycle, it's time for them to LAUNCH their solution to the world! This is an essential step that teaches students to use real and authentic feedback to analyze how well their solution works and challenges them to think about what they could have improved.

Design Thinking in Action...

The authors close the chapter by discussing the power of design thinking with an example of Caine's arcade. It's a very cool story if you haven't heard of it and demonstrates the power of the LAUNCH cycle in action! The authors point out that Caine's arcade didn't take off until a filmmaker helped the boy's story go viral. Without that last essential step - the launch - Caine would have been left alone with his cardboard aracde.

Closing Thoughts

This chapter broke down the steps to take when promoting design thinking in your classroom. While reading, it became clear to me that the only thing that holds back students from using this process is the classroom environment - not their age, economic status, or subject area. As teachers, it is our job to step outside of our comfort zone to promote this type of thinking in our students so that they can learn the skills to be successful in life.

Our next post on #D100bloggerPD will covered by the totally creative D00 iCoach Mona Towner. She will be discussing the first step of the LAUNCH cycle: Look, Listen, and Learn. If you'd like to learn with us, here is a link to a ThingLink with the blogs for each chapter linked.


Posted by Lauren Slanker on 11/28/2016 7:30 am


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About Me

Lauren Slanker

I am an 8th grade science teacher and team leader at Freedom Middle School in Berwyn, IL. I love reading, traveling, and being curious! I live in Chicago with my husband Tikhon and our pets - Louie and Miles. This blog is my place to learn and reflect on my teaching so that I can continue to grow into the best teacher that I can possibly be!


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