The Greatest Lesson I Never Taught: Designing Experiences That Engage Students

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Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Delaine Johnson  
Mike Lawrence  

If you’re doing all the work, who’s doing all the learning? We’ve discovered that the best lessons are those we don’t actually teach, but in which students research and present their own ideas. Jump in and discover the power of harnessing student creativity, design thinking and student agency through collaboration.

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Student agency, choice & voice
Grade level: 6-12
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Teaching, Learning and Assessments
  • Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences addressing content standards and student technology standards.
For Educators:
  • Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

It is our job as teachers to ensure we are encouraging student agency and inquiry. This session will provide attendees with tools, resources and strategies to create a welcoming and engaging learning environment to ‘stay in the question.’ We will explore design-thinking approaches, including encouraging empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. Participants will engage in collaborative activities, a design-thinking challenge and brainstorming practical ‘use-it-Monday’ applications and more. Each strategy will employ affordable and accessible apps, resources or websites appropriate for participants.

Ultimately, attendees will be challenged to rethink the far-too-common practice of “inviting students to compete for yesterday’s knowledge,” as described by Francois Taddei, Co-Founder & Director, CRI-Paris at the 2019 #LearningPlanet Assembly.


5 min.   Welcome! We start with a question: what could you design in less than 24 hours?
15 min.  Design Thinking: An Exercise
5 min.  Brainstorming Experiences, Audience Share Out
15 min.  Asking the Right Question: Question Formulation Technique Exercise
5 min.  Brainstorming Experiences, Audience Share Out
10 min.  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Team Project
5 min.  Questions / Comments / Audience Reflection

Supporting research

The Digital Transformation of Education: Connecting Schools, Empowering Learners. 2020. Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, UNESCO.
“Beginners Guide to Design Thinking:"
“Creativity at Work:"
United Nations -
Teach SDGs -
ISSC, IDS and UNESCO (2016), World Social Science Report 2016, Challenging Inequalities: Pathways to a Just World, UNESCO Publishing, Paris.
CRI-Paris -
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Creative Confidence by David M. Kelley and Tom Kelley

More [+]


Delaine Johnson, Clovis Unified

Delaine Johnson teaches AP Computer Science Principles and serves as a technology integration TOSA at Clovis Unified School District. She holds a Master of Arts in Educational Technology. Delaine is a Google for Education Certified Innovator (#googleEI) and Certified Trainer (#googleET).

Mike Lawrence, California Student Media Festival

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