Driving higher-order thinking and project-based learning with design


By: Margaret Julian

How do you help four secondary schools and 250 teachers incorporate technology into the classroom?

It's a question that Joseph Martin and Diana Allison, Technology Integration Coaches at East Stroudsburg Area School District, are constantly trying to answer for 6th-12th grade classes in their school district. Joseph and Diana rotate between multiple schools to coach teachers from any content area on finding ways to deepen learning with technology.

Related: Quick guide to scientific research poster presentations

One of the technologies that Joseph and Diana use to increase higher-order thinking without overcomplicating the learning process is Lucidpress, a cloud-based design platform. Learn how teachers and students use Lucidpress's intuitive user experience and robust feature set to collaborate on assignments that increase complex judgmental skills such as critical thinking and problem solving from home or at school.

Design that drives higher-order thinking

Time and again, Joseph and Diana have seen Lucidpress help students take the concepts they're learning and put them in their own words, infusing class material with their unique personalities. Whether they create and present an interactive lab report or publish a magazine about a historical event in social studies class, students practice higher-order thinking as they decide what to include and how to design the piece. These projects also help students become more emotionally and personally invested in the learning process.

In addition to increasing personal investment, completing design-oriented assignments also helps students ask critical questions about the visual elements needed to communicate a message effectively. For example, visual design can affect credibility—you probably wouldn't want to present a science report in garish colors. Adding design encourages students to become more sensitive to audience and context as they convey information. In Joseph's own words:

"Tying in visual literacy and media literacy along with the content students are learning allows them to think deeper about the material. They need to be able to justify why they include visual elements, such as an embedded YouTube video. The ability to add new layers to content in and of itself allows them to go much deeper than they would if they were creating a simple poster."

Whether they're creating a trifold brochure or poster, and whether they're starting with a template or designing from scratch, students at East Stroudsburg Area School District have become more invested in lesson content as they use Lucidpress to embed videos, integrate images, and select colors to express classroom content in their own way.

Robust technology that's easy to use

Looking to standardize and streamline technology and software across high schools and middle schools in the district, Brian Borosh needed a design solution that was easy enough for middle school students to learn but robust enough for complex high school projects.

Once again, Lucidpress was able to deliver. "Teachers in the district love Lucidpress for the ease of use," Brian says. Because Lucidpress is so intuitive, students and teachers from a variety of age groups and technological familiarity were able to start designing right away. In addition to being easy to use, Lucidpress provided all of the essential design features:

"As a former desktop publishing teacher, I needed to be able to teach all of the elements of layout, design and templates. I needed to be able to talk about objects. I can do all of that in Lucidpress."

With the robust features and an intuitive interface, high school students use Lucidpress to create and publish a school newspaper. Middle schools create lab reports, trifolds and brochures for science classes. In fact, even the administrative team has inquired about using Lucidpress to create curriculum directories they can distribute to parents to inform them about their program of study.

Here are a couple examples of student designs in Lucidpress:

Cloud-based software that saves class time

One challenge with other design solutions the school district tried in the past is that students didn't have access to the design software from home. Teachers had to spend valuable class time on design assignments instead of asking students to work on incomplete assignments after school. Joseph explains:

"When students worked on a design at school, they often could not work on it at home. We needed a design solution that students could access anywhere, anytime. We needed to eliminate excuses that students didn't have enough class time to finish projects. We could finally tell students that they could finish outside the school day, which allowed teachers more time to do other things in their class. Lucidpress was a huge classroom time saver."

Collaboration that drives project-based learning

The East Stroudsburg Area School District wants to give students ample opportunities to learn collaboratively, and Lucidpress delivers:

"We like our students to work collaboratively together, whether it be in the classroom or after-school clubs. The collaborative nature of Lucid products enabled students to work on a shared document and to provide each other with constructive feedback during the creation process."

With Lucidpress EDU Premium, it was easy to set up collaboration between classes—even between schools. Cross-curricular projects helped students to create deeper connections with the subject matter and collaborate with their classmates on a variety of projects:

"Lucidpress EDU Premium made sense because we could set up an enrollment via their district Gmail account, and it was easy to share with everyone. Having everyone's account in the same container made things much easier to manage. With so many cross-building clubs that are from our north and south high schools and our extensive cross-curricular projects, seamless collaboration and easy account management were essential."

What do cross-curricular, project-based assignments look like? Joseph provided a quick example:

"If a 9th-grade science class wanted to do a project with a social studies class, students could create one document and they can work simultaneously."

With innovative, cross-curricular assignments that encourage higher-order thinking and project-based learning, East Stroudsburg Area School District is bringing students, teachers and administrators together to communicate visually. What could Lucidpress do for your school?

Bonus: Printable case study

View, download & print this case study here.

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A follow-up to our 2019 State of Brand Consistency, this report is a deep dive into the content ecosystem. We surveyed 452 business professionals from various backgrounds to find out how content is affecting their brands. We’ll look at how confident we are about content (both our own and other businesses’), how content is paying off, and how much time it’s taking to produce.

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Margaret Julian

Margaret Julian is the content marketing manager for Lucidchart. An MBA graduate from Brigham Young University, Margaret is passionate about content, branding, and product marketing strategy. In her free time, Margaret dances, hikes, reads, and experiments with new ways to incorporate chocolate into any recipe.

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