Tapping into the Creative Potential of Teachers and Students as Designers


Nicole Snedden
National Board Certified Teacher
Minnetonka Public Schools

Julie Baeb
Innovation/Design Thinking Consultant
Minnetonka Public Schools

Lisa Reed Tonka
Coders & Makers Middle School TOSA
Minnetonka Public Schools

Eric Anderson


Learning Units/Health, Safety, Welfare (LU/HSW)

How applies to HSW:

This topic will apply to:Welfare Aspects of architecture that engender demonstrable positive emotional responses among, or enable equal access by, users of buildings or sites.   Examples: Building design and materials, methods and systems, construction contracting, ethics and regulations governing the practice of architecture, preservation, adaptive reuse, and the study of environmental issues.


During this hands-on, minds-on session, participants will explore the unique and inspiring design outcomes when architects and designers authentically engage with teachers and students throughout the design process. This session will begin with the story of a midwest school district and a grassroots movement called “Design for Learning”, which focuses on involving student and teacher voice, a modest budget, and organically embedding the curriculum into the design of learning spaces.     Next, participants will have an opportunity to collaborate with actual students from a local Chicago school, to rethink an existing space. At the core of this workshop, participants will work through a charrette using the Human Centered Design process. They will discover first-hand the benefits of involving students including: the barrier-free creativity of youth, enhanced standards-based learning opportunities for students and the power of teacher and student buy-in for a space that they helped design.   The session will end with a reflection on how this process compares and/or contrasts to current models of design, and a rich discussion of next steps and takeaways for designers and educators.

Learning Objectives:
  • Participants will explore how to reimagine existing spaces and envision new learning spaces, in a cost effective way.
  • Participants will learn relevant strategies of how to tap into the creative potential of teachers and students as designers.
  • Participants will rethink the way they engage key stakeholders in the conversation and creation of learning spaces.
  • Participants will learn about Human Centered Design and how this problem-solving tool can support innovative work around learning spaces.
Primary Competency:

Community Engagement: Leads the internal and external communities through a discovery process that articulates and communicates a community-based foundational vision, forming the basis of a plan for the design of the learning environment. The vision is achieved through a combination of rigorous research, group facilitation, strategic conversations, qualitative and quantitative surveys and workshops. Demonstrates the skill to resolve stakeholder issues while embedding a community’s unique vision into the vision for its schools.

Primary Domain:

Process: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.

Secondary Domain:

Toolbox: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the approaches, methods and applications when transitioning from design and concept into reality, actual existence through quality performance, execution and/or product.

Additional information:

Additional information includes: We are in the process of connecting with a local school in the Chicago area to bring in students and staff for this workshop.   This workshop would benefit if it could be capped at a maximum of 30 participants so there can be quality connections/work time between participants and students.