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Cardboard Classroom

A Design-Thinking Guide for Elementary Teachers

How can elementary educators create a learning environment that is conducive to creativity, critical thinking, and student ownership of learning? By implementing design-minded real life examples in the classroom. All while achieving positive student learning outcomes.


  • Discover why design thinking is more the identity of the teacher than instructional strategy
  • Learn how design-minded teaching advances student learning and improves engagement
  • Study real-world examples and experiences of the design process in action
  • Receive comprehensive examples of projects you can utilize and adapt to fit your classroom’s needs
  • Obtain reproducible tools and templates to enhance your understanding of the material

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Cardboard Classroom

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Introduction: Lightning and Thunder
Chapter 1: But Seriously, What Does Design Minded Mean? An Overview of Design-Minded Teaching
Part 1: Putting Design-Minded Teaching Into Practice
Chapter 2: Define: What’s the Problem? What’s the Goal?
Chapter 3: Design: How Can We Solve the Problem?
Chapter 4: Build: How Do We Create a Solution?
Chapter 5: Test and Revise: What Happens When We Try Out the Solution and Respond to Data?
Chapter 6: Reflect: What Did We Learn?
Chapter 7: Put It Into Practice
Part 2: Becoming a Design-Minded Teacher
Chapter 8: Specific Designs
Chapter 9: Assessment in the Design-Minded Classroom
Chapter 10: Cure-Alls, Buy-In, and Trust


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9



  • Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2015). Unstoppable learning: Seven essential elements to unleash student potential. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Kaiser, A. (2020). Designing the future: How engineering builds creative critical thinkers in the classroom. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Marzano, R. J., & Marzano, J. S. (2015). Managing the inner world of teaching: Emotions, interpretations, and actions. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Resources.
  • Parrish, N. (2022). The independent learner: Metacognitive exercises to help K–12 students focus, self-regulate, and persevere. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
  • Wiliam, D. (2018). Embedded formative assessment (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.