Developing a Designer’s Mindset — the Design Abilities in Action

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Explore and create : Creation lab

Amanda Haughs  
Make the shift from design thinking as a set of step-by-step instructions to a mindset. In this interactive session, educators will learn about the design thinking model, the design abilities, and how to engage students in more creative, authentic and empathy-based learning experiences.

Audience: Coaches, Principals/head teachers, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: PC, Chromebook, Mac
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: A google account is helpful but not required.
Topic: Instructional design & delivery
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  • Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Purpose --
Educate others about design thinking, the design abilities and the way the mindsets and abilities encourage empathy and creativity. Demonstrate how design thinking helped our students develop a problem-finding mindset grounded in a desire to improve the world around them. We will also demonstrate how design work improved students' comfort levels with working in ambiguous situations and problems, including generating their own ideas; making, failing, and reiterating; and accepting and using constructive feedback in their work.

Provide concrete examples of standards-aligned design thinking + creation work in our classes (including students's use of technology tools -- including Adobe Spark, greenscreen technology, laser cutting, simple circuits, Scratch, and Raspberry Pi computers-- to prototype and share their learning).

Educators will leave with an understanding of the design thinking process & design abilities

Participants will understand ways of integrating design thinking practices into standards-aligned instruction

Educators will walk away from session with at least one new idea/plan for integrating design thinking or design abilities into a cross-curricular project in their own classrooms


Stoke/Improv (5 min)
Design thinking process & the Stanford’s Design Abilities (10 min.)
Creativity sprint (5 min.)
Examples of design abilities in the classroom (10 min.)
Empathy exercise (20 min.)
Collaborative planning time for participants (25 min.)
Creativity sprint (2 min.)
Q & A/wrap up (10 min.)

Supporting research

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Amanda Haughs, Campbell Union School District

Amanda Haughs is an educator and learning designer at the new Campbell School of Innovation in Campbell Union School District (San Jose) in California’s Silicon Valley. Her focus is on engaging all students in meaningful and authentic cross-curricular learning experiences. As a 2015 PBS Lead Digital Innovator, 2016 Silicon Valley CUE Outstanding Educator, Google Certified Educator, Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, and Leading Edge Certified Professional Learning Leader, she works to develop creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills in students via digital making and computer sciences, design thinking opportunities and multi-disciplinary, project-based instruction.

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