Bridging the Gap: Finding Ways to Create Innovative Classroom Practices


This Spring was filled with wonderful opportunities to connect with educators seeking to dive into progressive, innovative classroom practices. CraftED Curriculum hosted interactive workshops to explore the barriers and opportunities that teachers face when trying to implement innovative techniques in the classroom. Participants from a range of backgrounds came together to share experiences, brainstorm solutions, and inspire each other to take innovative methodologies into the classroom.


Understanding the Barriers to Innovation

As educators with a passion for innovative classroom methodologies, we share one thing in common: barriers. Despite our passion for Project Based Learning, Design Thinking, and Maker Education, we each face challenges when it comes to bringing these techniques into an innovative classroom practice. Lack of resources, planning time, external mandates, and “traditional” environments all make it difficult to bring these ideas to life. That’s why we made sure our workshops included time to identify and discuss each of these barriers, helping to enable a realistic and solutions-oriented dialogue.

Sharing Insights Among Diverse Voices

Through our Design Camp, Deeper Learning Conference, and FutureNowEdu, we were able to bring many different voices and experiences into one room. Together, we formed a collective approach to help bridge the gap between traditional teaching styles and more innovative methodologies. This dialogue helps individuals take small steps towards a greater, systemic change. Furthermore, it creates a network of like-minded people, who are able to share learnings and successes well into the future. If you are interested in attending one of our project based learning workshops, learn more here, or reach out to learn more about our upcoming events.

Our Process


Our CraftED project based learning workshops are structured to combine a range of perspectives, identify strengths, and brainstorm creative solutions. Much like project based learning, this format allows us to collaborate and apply ideas to real-world scenarios. Here is an overview of the flow of each working session:

  1. Empathy-building Exercise -Each participant spent time journaling on the perspectives of parents, teachers, and students who are experiencing innovative teaching practices. This helped us to further explore the challenges and opportunities of innovative classroom strategies. It also helped us develop a fresh lens for possible solutions.
  2.  Collective Brainstorm – Together, we shared our insights during a silent carousel exercise. In a silent carousel, participants pass papers, Post-it’s, and drawings to communicate and build on one another’s ideas. We walked the room to collect problems and solutions that we often face in implementing innovative teaching practices. This step helped us ground our ideas in a practical context.
  3.  Forming Solutions – Next, we formed a group of passion-based thinkers. This group focused on how to best “bridge the gap” from traditional to innovative classroom techniques. They explored the gap between parent and teacher, student and teacher, and teacher and organization. The outcome was a Doodle, with concrete steps and resources to share with the larger group.
  4. Gamestorming Social Networking – We knew one of the most important outcomes of these conferences was to keep the conversation going. We took participants through an exercise that allowed them to meaningfully connect with one another, facilitating long-term discussion and sharing.


Key Takeaways

Our workshops were filled with meaningful exchange and conversations on innovative classroom techniques. Together, we created:

  • A list of resources for educators looking to explore innovation in their school/classroom.
  • Strong visuals to recall ideas and inspire memories of the discussions we had.
  • A network of connections with like-minded educators who are facing similar challenges in their work.

Key Insights

Almost every workshop had a similar theme; by bringing the right people into one room, we were able to brainstorm realistic solutions and identify strategies to bring innovative classroom techniques into practice. Regardless of the conference or location, the outcome was the same. Every one of us is yearning to improve teaching and learning in our context. It felt good to find our people and to come up with some actionable next steps. As we closed out each workshop, we encouraged the room to continue the connection. We shared our learning through social media, using the hashtags: #deeperlearning #pblchat #shareyourlearning and of course tagging @craftEDcm and @tobiabrooke -we hope you do too!

About Innovative Classroom Learning

Innovative classroom learning includes a range of teaching techniques that are designed to increase engagement, develop creativity, encourage collaboration, and utilize real-world challenges to deepen understanding. This can include project based learning, roundtable discussions, design thinking, maker education, brainstorming, and other non-traditional techniques. These innovative methodologies are often student-centered and may have multiple forms or outcomes. These approaches can be used for a wide range of ages, abilities, and subject matter. In fact, innovative classroom techniques are ideal for synthesizing information across multiple subjects and fields of study. Learn more about innovative techniques for the classroom by reviewing our CraftED Resources for new project based learning ideas, attending a workshop, or taking one of our project based learning online courses.

The Benefits of Innovative Techniques

Researchers around the world agree that innovative classroom approaches are beneficial to students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Furthermore, it’s clear that these new approaches can reach diverse student populations that may require something different than the traditional format. Here are some of the benefits we strive for at CraftED Curriculum:

Increase Engagement

These projects are designed to get students to think independently, propose solutions, and collaborate with their peers. These activities can increase engagement with the topic and support long-term problem-solving skills. Read how this elementary school used project based learning to create more meaningful experiences inside and outside of the classroom.

Foster Collaboration

As adults, we find that most work environments rely on collaboration between peers. Why not incorporate this practice into innovative classroom techniques at a young age? By encouraging dialogue, teamwork, and shared responsibilities, students are set up for more success in future scenarios. Stay tuned for our upcoming course on Student Collaboration in Project Based Learning.

Inspire Creativity

Design Thinking is an excellent way to encourage more creativity in a classroom environment. In this methodology, students come up with user-centered solutions that may differ from traditional designs. Not only does Design Thinking spur creative outcomes, but it is fast becoming an important skill in some of the country’s most forward-thinking companies. Read about this 3rd Grade Audio Tour project designed to teach peers about their changing community.

CraftED Services

At CraftED, our mission is to help teachers integrate innovative classroom methodologies into their current practice. By understanding the barriers, challenges, and opportunities in this field, we are able to support teachers in bringing Project Based Learning, Design Thinking, Maker Education, and more into their classrooms. We offer a range of services to support teacher across the county:

PBL Workshops

Our workshops are suitable for teachers at all levels of education. During each session, we encourage discussion and collaboration. This not only helps participants deepen their knowledge, but also expands our growing network of like-minded individuals. Our current offering of workshops include:

  • Project Based Learning
  • Assessments
  • Project Coaching
  • Project Reflection and Refinement
  • Getting to Deeper Learning through Field Work
  • Developing Mindsets for Deeper Learning
  • Collaboration for Deeper Learning
  • Planning Project Exhibitions
  • Planning a Powerful Project Launch

If you are interested in learning more about our workshops or wish to plan a session at your organization, get in touch here.

In-person & Virtual Coaching

At CraftED, we tailor our pbl coaching sessions to your individual needs. Whether you’re just starting out with innovative classroom techniques or looking to enrich your school’s existing program, we can provide support with project design, calendaring, creating reflection activities, collaboration tools, project brainstorming, standards alignment, sequencing, and more. Read more about our recent work with teachers like you. And if you’re not local, check out our Virtual Coaching option.

Speaking Engagements

One of the most effective ways to introduce innovative classroom techniques to your school is through a CraftED speaking engagement. Each pbl speaker creates a presentation is tailor-made for your organization. Our topics include Project Based Learning, The Community Classroom, and more. Have something special in mind? Get in touch to develop a custom seminar.

Curriculum Design

CraftED offers project based learning curriculum design support for mathematics, literature, history, sciences, and more. In addition, we are passionate about helping our teachers weave together separate modules and other innovative classroom techniques. Our curriculum design assistance includes help with creating projects, conceptualizing the scope of an educational plan, and preparing resources to support each lesson.

More Resources

If you want to learn more about innovative classroom techniques, there is a wealth of information at your fingertips. You may wish to start with one of our books or publications or browse through our selection of online pbl resources.

About CraftED

CraftED was created by teachers, for teachers. Founder Dr. Jennifer Pieratt used her real world experience to develop a service that is convenient, effective, and inspiring to teachers from all levels and fields of study.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today.