Minnetonka School District has embraced a pervasive culture of innovation throughout their district for a number of years. One hallmark of this culture is the Big Idea Hunt– a forum where ideas are crowdsourced amongst the entire staff, discussed and reformulated with peers, and ultimately realize implementation each year.

A recent idea was brought to the Big Idea Hunt by Nicole Snedden, who was at the time a 5th grade teacher at Minnetonka’s Clear Springs Elementary School. She had been exploring the impact of the learning environment for her students and came upon The Third Teacher book. She submitted a Big Idea with the aim of empowering purposeful change in learning environments throughout the district.

The initiative was dubbed Design for Learning and ultimately took off as another Minnetonka Big Idea. Nicole, along with Eric Schneider, the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, gathered a team of educators from across the district to champion the charge for transformation. There is a ground swell of excitement for the initiative and the team sought guidance in navigating the path forward. How could that excitement be best channeled to generate positive and purposeful impact for students across the district?

Nicole and Eric brought The Third Teacher+ team, in association with David Jakes Designs, to the district for an intensive two-day workshop to tackle this question. At the workshop’s heart was a full day session with the Design for Learning team exploring the design process and implementation inspiration.

We experienced the design process to weave together Design for Learning with the district’s recently developed Teaching and Learning Framework. We utilized that Framework as a foundational structure aligning localized action with broader learning objectives. And we came up with ideas both reasonable and silly: how about a way to declutter spaces, District Dump Day- $1 per pound!

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The Third Teacher team further developed an Implementation Guidebook that details the unique adaptation of the design process developed in the workshop. The I3E Guide– Initiate, Ideate, Implement, and Evaluate– discusses questions and activities to build a bridge between the Teaching and Learning Framework and the Design for Learning implementations that will occur across the district

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