Innovat-Ed Learning


How To Get Started with Design Thinking

by Steve Will

You may have of heard of design thinking or even had some training in design thinking, but you haven’t taken the plunge into using it in your class. Maybe you’re interested in using it in your class, but you just don’t know how to start. Getting started in Design Thinking can be a little intimidating so here is a quick guide to get you started.

Define a Problem

Design Thinking is not just for a woodshop or art class. It can be used to teach anything from literature to mathematics. Starting with a Generative Topic can be the key to getting into Design Thinking. You have a great opportunity to engage your students based on the words you use. If you are going to be in a position to inspire your students you need to feel inspired yourself. Most of our traditional topics can very quickly be given a new lease of life by developing a more generative topic title. We need to be able to literally propel our learners into the topic with these few words. The title is their first introduction to a design thinking project and so should immediately inspire them to be involved.[1]

You as teachers will be able to refresh existing content in short order and create an inquiry-focused title that really kicks things off well. These titles will help teachers to plan ahead what their design thinking work will look like, the places where it merges with other subjects and the curriculum coverage they can achieve.

Your Next Steps

• Find some colleagues to discuss your topics.

• Share a traditional topic title and curriculum goals - where do you normally start?

• Share ideas for new provocative titles.

• Record every single idea, one under the other on some large paper.

• Turn any questions into statements.

• Keep adding ideas until you hit upon a natural stop.

• Take a look on at the talk titles - search key terms related to your topic - TED talks have some great titles you can draw inspiration from.

• Share your ideas so far with someone else to get some perspective.

• Discuss which title ideas you like the most so far and why?

Checklist for Generative Topic Titles

Use the following questions to scrutinize your title ideas once you have a couple you like:

• Does it pass the “So what?” test?

• Is it epic and big scale, not tiny and ‘fake’?

• Does it cover more than just one curriculum subject or topic?

• Does it spark your natural curiosity?

• Is there enough potential material in which learners can immerse themselves?

• Can it be made accessible, feasible to access for every learner?

Bonus question: When you share it with other people do they make that "Oooooo, mmmmm?" sound? (You'll know it when you hear it!)

Once you have the generative topic title, you can now generate the specific questions or problem to be given. An example:

Community for Unity: How can our community unite to benefit our school?

Create a Project Plan

Once you have decided on the challenge/problem that you would like to work on, you can start to plan your design project. The first task will be to find the right amount of time for the project. The beauty of Design Thinking is that you can do a project in a small block of time or over an extended amount of time. It only depends on the depth of the challenge and the product that you desire to receive at the end of the process.

Whatever the length of time you choose, the process is the same. You will just get more in-depth thinking, collaboration and creativity with an extended time frame!

For more information on Design Thinking visit

Design Thinking Planning Guide

[1] Ford, P. Design Thinking: Immersion 1 Develop a Generative Topic Title. Retrieved from

Positive Website Changes are Coming

By: Kay Little

How many times have you been on your Smartphone or iPad trying to find a phone number on the District or school website, only to be frustrated with the difficulty of finding what you needed because of the tiny print? Our current website design will soon be updated with a responsive template, which will be much easier to navigate no matter what form of tech you are viewing the website on – a computer, iPhone, Android, iPad, or any other device.

When we first go live, your school website will have the same colors as the district, but no worries – that will change once we reconfigure each site’s colors. Please be patient as the changes are made, and know that it is a work in progress. If you want to update your teacher webpage, you will still do it the way you have always done it. If you are a webmaster or have editing rights for your school site, please do not add any pictures to your homepage. Please let me know of special events ahead of time if you would like me to get pictures for the web.

A few weeks after we go live with the new template, I will hold training for the webmasters from each site. I am also happy to meet with you individually if you need help. Just let me know how I can assist you in highlighting the great things that happen every day in the Lakeside Union School District.

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A Nicer YouTube!

Educational videos are essential for students to help build background knowledge, give different perspectives, and add life to the learning environment. How often have you shown that perfect educational video only to be surprised with annoying ads, or other suggested videos with inappropriate content. Well now there is a way to avoid all of that. Have you seen “NicerTube”? It’s a great way to show educational videos to your class without having to worry about ads, related videos, and other distractions.

There is no registration needed, and it is very easy to use. Here is how you can share videos using NicerTube:

1. Choose the educational video you want to share, and copy the URL.

2. Go to, and enter your YouTube Video URL

3. Select your background, color, and design

4. Click to continue

Once you personalize the background, color, and design, you can share the YouTube videos without any worry about ads or suggested videos showing up. This is a great feature for teachers who want to flip their classroom. You could put your NicerTube video into a learning management system like Haiku, then have your students watch it at home for homework. Students will be able to watch the video without distractions, and will be ready to share what they learned.

If you'd rather download the videos to use, directions are on our blog.

Picture This: Enhancing Student Projects through Photography in Elementary Classrooms

By: Kay Little

In March, Sandy Patterson and I had the opportunity to teach a session at the CUE Conference held in Palm Springs. Our session was entitled, “Picture This: Enhancing Student Projects through Photography in Elementary Classrooms.” In our session we shared many ideas for student projects. Some of the projects included a) student-made ABC Books on Forces and Motion b) a project on weather that students made in Comic Life c) Adjective videos that students made using the Flipagram app to show what they know about adjectives, d) iMovie trailers on forces and motion. The planning sheets, rubrics, and resources can all be found on our Common Core blog.

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We Are Social!

Infrastructure Upgrades Begin

Monday, May 25th, 8am

All School Sites, District Office, and Maintenance Facilities

Security camera software and server upgrades will begin towards the end of May. This project, estimated to take 6-12 weeks, will provide personnel with access to security camera feeds from any computer, anywhere. In addition, archived video feeds will allow for better tracking of events taking place at our facilities.

Over summer break, the wireless infrastructure will be upgraded. The process will take the entire summer break. When staff return in August, they will experience faster and more robust access to our wireless Internet.