“Read Design Magazines” and Student Projects

With student-generated projects, students have the ability to display their knowledge in creative ways. A student may be given a topic, question, or idea to explore. The student may create or repackage their new knowledge into a variety of  formats. As students create, I am curious about how they make design decisions–whether a Google Slides presentation, infographic, or video.

For example, when students are creating an infographic, many online tools are available for students. Google Drawings and Canva are two favorite tools. These two tools provide so many options for students, but how do we guide students to choose the most appealing options available for better design?

Daniel Pink, keynote presenter at the AASL National Conference several years ago (AASL 13th National Conference), discussed ideas from his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. He also provided cards highlighting his ideas. I was in the crowd and received one that stated, “Read Design Magazines.” Looking through design magazines will “sharpen our eye and inspire [our] mind” (Pink 2006). The presentation and notably the card stuck with me–I still have the card hanging on my office bulletin board.

I strive to improve how I guide students to design intentionally appealing and thoughtful projects.

Ideas for Getting Started

Provide examples of good design in the library. Include these examples on your website and your library walls.

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” discussion should occur when utilizing tools that offer a lot of options. Show an example that includes all the options (many fonts, images/graphics, animation, etc.) and discuss what happens if you use less of those options.

Understand the basics of the tools you want students to utilize. As mentioned, Google Drawings and Canva are great tools for design.

Demonstrate the design process with students. Create a quick mini lesson where you work with students creating one design. Go through the thinking process together. Discuss why you might use one feature and not another.

Provide examples with your instruction. The examples do not need to be content specific. Find examples from all areas that show font style, background, and more. In addition, show poor examples of design and discuss why.

What are some other options to help students design appealing projects?


Pink, D. (2006). Read Design Magazines [Leaflet]. Author.

Author: Becca Munson

Becca Munson, Librarian, is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 23 years of experience in education. She is currently a school librarian at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS. Becca continues to find ways to positively impact student learning with literacy initiatives, technology integration, and building rapport with students and staff. Follow her on Twitter to view the library in action @bvwlibrary and @beccamunson .

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models, Technology

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