The Fute guidelines Design thinking can be used as a teaching method in different ways. Here are the FUTE guidelines for how best to use design thinking in your classroom.

Time needed: 20 minutes

One of the main goals of introducing Design Thinking in schools is to create an innovative mindset and therefore to teach pupils and teachers to work with challenge framing and idea development.

Here are some examples of how it can be done, starting with different types of motivation and student age groups.

Broad concepts like biodiversity or sustainability, immigration, inequality or ”peace” but also more specific issues like social media, food waste, stress or lack of areas for children to play in the city could be interesting starting points for a cross-disciplinary course.
Based on these broad concepts the pupils should ask each other how they experience the issue, do research amongst their family and friends and engage in further desktop research on the subject chosen.
On the basis of those results they formulate specific challenges to investigate and work with, for example, ”How can young girls be made aware of how social media influences them?” or ”how might we create habitat areas for bees and insects in our schoolyard?”
Working with such problem areas would require the pupils to gather knowledge about the functionality and programming of social media, to study the natural habitats for bees and insects and the impact of a lack of biodiversity on humans.
This would create a motivation for investigating certain aspects of for example biology, psychology and computer programming.
To create solutions the pupils would also have to learn how to create a website, design a campaign, build a bee hive or plant flowers that would attract bees and insects and other kinds of subject areas.


  1. In what way would you incorporate design thinking into your teaching?

  2. Which tips do you think are most important to use in your specific situation?

CASE STUDY Using design method for “making the school a better place”

Time needed: 5 minutes

A large team of teachers and pupils across a school began to plan a project to make their school a nicer place for everybody.


Discover each group member’s goals, ambitions, and expectations.

They used Expectations (method no. 03) for sharing what specific changes they would want the project to bring to their everyday school life: An end to bullying, better physical surroundings, better eating and exercise habits, etc.


Transform problems 
into challenges and solutions by asking “How might we….”

In a Challenge Framing (method no. 07) workshop, the problems were reformulated as challenges such as: “How can we improve every classmate’s enjoyment of school days?” or “How can we ensure that everyone has a friend?” “How can we make lunch break a calmer experience?” “How can we make it more fun to exercise during school?”


Go out into the world to experience, observe, and find inspiration.


Get out of the classroom, talk to people and gain knowledge, insight and inspiration.

A team of eighth graders was in charge of the project to improve pupils’ eating habits. They started by gathering information they already had about the topic using The Anthropologist (method no. 21) and The Journalist (method no. 23).


Discover what categories emerge from the research collected.


Map phenomena, activities and happenings to uncover challenges and patterns.

Next, Clustering (method no. 25) was used to sort the information into three categories: physical space, food and behaviour. They also mapped their insights with Day Cycle (method no. 28) to learn how the canteen was used during the day.


Transform research and information into fictional characters.

The team used Personas (method no. 29) to create four fictional characters who represented different types of pupils in the school, for instance “Thomas,” a 16-year-old in his final year of school, who loves fast food and hanging out with friends and “Sarah,” a 13-year-old quiet girl, who prefers to chat with her friends and brings her own food to school, etc.

This approach allowed the team to identify new possibilities for creating different areas of the canteen for different types of behaviour and also using the canteen outside of the lunch hour for different activities.


Build a 3D model to develop or showcase an idea.

The team then used Prototyping (method no. 40) to create three prototypes, scale models of the new canteen made out of paper, cardboard and small objects. The approach enabled the team to discuss and evaluate the design of the new canteen. Finally, the strongest elements of the three prototypes were combined into one prototype that was presented to several stakeholders such as pupils and teachers.

Download all the case study cards here!

CASE STUDY Using design methods in arts and crafts teaching

Time needed: 5 minutes

As part of the arts and crafts programme at a nearby secondary school, the staff of a retirement home had invited a class to help redecorate the home’s lounge, which the nursing home staff found boring and clinical.


Identify the information and inspiration needed for a challenge.

The craft teachers and pupils used Fact and Inspiration Finding (method no. 08) to plan how they could gather inspiration and knowledge about the needs of the residents and their taste in colours and themes


Build a shared understanding of
 tasks and destination.

First, they created a process map using Road Map (method no. 13). The average age of the residents was over 90, so the pupils had to carefully plan how to initiate a conversation with them about a pleasant lounge environment.


Get out of the classroom, talk to people and gain knowledge, insight and inspiration.


Take photos to look at your challenge in a new way and remind yourself of the context.

As a result of thorough consideration, the pupils used The Journalist (method no. 23) and conducted interviews, asking residents about their favourite seasons, colours, landscapes and childhood memories. They also used The Photographer (method no. 22) to collect pictures of favourite belongings at the retirement home.


Use diverse expert ideas and knowledge to generate ideas.


Transform problems 
into challenges and solutions by asking “How might we….”


Discuss and
 select the most important aspects or criteria
 for a specific project.

The project continued as art workshops with the pupils, residents, family and staff using Multi Perspectives (method no. 34). The pupils also used Challenge Framing (method no. 07) and Success Criteria Grid (method no. 11) to specify that they wanted to create a decoration piece that related to the residents’ stories and lives, and also clarified what aesthetic criteria it should fulfill.


Show and Tell to express thoughts,
 ideate and experiment.

The arts and crafts teacher felt that the pupils’ original design ideas lacked richness and personality, so she gathered the pupils to do Show and Tell (method no. 10) during the sketching and designing segment, but also during the testing and making part. As a result the pupils came up with new ideas by sharing their work with others, which allowed the class to evaluate, elaborate, inspire and ideate together.


Create a framework of ”constraints” to stimulate focus and  creativity.

They also used Creative Constraints (method no. 35) to restrict what kinds of materials and shapes they could use. The final project was a unique, joyful and co-operative arts and textile ensemble for the lounge of the retirement home.

Download all the case study cards here!

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5C and 6C Models © Anne Katrine Gøtzsche Gelting and Silje K.A. Friis.