History/Social Studies


Sailing Through History

Elementary School

A Portola Valley teacher transformed her colonization unit into an interactive engaging project using Design Thinking.  For a synopsis of this project check out the video.

Maps With Meaning

Middle School

Sixth grade teachers used Design Thinking to augment their Maps unit.  Students broke into groups and took on the role and perspectives of geographers with different specialties (i.e. a focus on the environment, politics, or humanitarian issues).  For each region students chose a different specialty or focus.  Next, students researched the important details and locations in their region from the perspective they had chosen.  For example, one group started by investigating environmental issues in North America, while another group learned about the humanitarian issues.  Groups then created a prototype map highlighting important locations to present to the class and parents for feedback. After receiving feedback, students went back to their maps and revised them in preparation to create a single class map that incorporated all of the most important places reflecting the many different perspectives.

This challenge taught students about the relevant locations on maps and how they related to one another. Beyond that, they also got a chance to discuss current issues and how they related to geography and they saw how different areas of the map are more or less important depending on the lens through which they are looking at the world.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

High School

An AP Art History teacher from Monterey, CA, successfully integrated Design Thinking into his classroom through a homework assignment.  The original assignment consisted of students answering simple reading questions to prove that they had done the reading.   After attending a workshop on Design Thinking the teacher gave the students a second option- he challenged them to capture their understanding of the reading in a sketchbook by pasting an image from the text and surrounding it with smaller sketches, quotes and interesting information.  He asked that the final product be “an artifact of original mental activity.”  In the end the teacher felt that the students who elected to do the sketchbook option were better prepared for the essay portion of the AP test. They had taken ownership of their learning and therefore, developed a unique relationship with the text.


The most valuable part of working with CreatEdu was... "learning about the process and power of Design Thinking AND having the chance to practice it and apply it in our educational environment. Having [CreatEdu] available to work with small groups of teachers on specific projects was an important part of embedding the methodology."
-Middle School Principal

Design Thinking increases achievement and engagement by challenging students with real world complex problems and encouraging them to take risks. CreatEdu founder Coeylen Barry spoke about Design Thinking in schools at TEDx Denver Teachers in 2013. See the talk here.

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