Kristina’s Aha Moment Leads to More Student-Centered Learning

An HFLI Design Thinking workshop experience earlier this month prompted Kristina Norsworthy and her colleagues at Pleasant Grove High School’s Digital Media Academy to rethink an upcoming cross-curricular project.


The project was originally designed to have students create a documentary for the local Sacramento public broadcasting station to increase the station’s profile and presence in the community.

“Everyone loves the project, but what’s the challenge? Starting with the idea of a documentary defines the direction of the project for kids from the beginning. During the workshop, I had an ‘aha moment’ — let’s have them investigate the problem through Design Thinking, and give them the freedom and framework to develop ideas that their teachers might never have envisioned,” explains Kristina.


Now, students will address a challenge that doesn’t have a pre-defined solution: Design a way to increase viewership and awareness of our local public broadcasting station.

“I was really nervous whether my team was going to be accepting of this new direction. We had already put in a lot of work to create the concept. But they were supportive. We just have to be okay for the prototypes to be an unknown. With Design Thinking, teachers are not the disseminator of the info, we are more like the shepherd. It’s really student-centered teaching.”

The school is a part of the Elk Grove Unified School District, which is a Ford NGL community. Partnering with communities across the country, Ford NGL leverages the power of workplace relevance and business relationships to excite young people about education and to prepare them for success in college, careers, and life; HFLI’s Design Thinking Workshops can help teachers build their capacity to reach these goals.

“We anticipate that the shift from a project-based learning approach to Design Thinking means that our students will explicitly gain soft skills and develop a stronger connection to their community. I’m hoping they will feel that they have accomplished something by helping someone else.”


Schedule an exploratory call to learn more about bringing an HFLI Design Thinking workshop to your school or district. Contact us at

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