Design-Based Learning at Center X


The goal of Design-Based Learning at Center X is to introduce educators to the Design-Based Learning methodology through high quality professional development and coaching.

We work collaboratively with schools, districts, teachers, educational specialists, and administrators to support the development of engaging, socially conscious, student-centered, interdisciplinary curricula that address the needs of diverse learners while meeting grade level and content standards.


The Design-Based Learning at Center X Project applies and builds upon the Doreen Nelson Method of Design-Based Learning ™. Successfully taught in K–12 classrooms since 1971, this student-centered teaching methodology engages students in seeking and solving curriculum-based problems as they build a city, colony, civilization, or other small, contextual model in the classroom.

Design-Based Learning is structured around Essential Questions described in the standard K–12 curricula content. Encompassing all subject areas, Design-Based Learning is an interdisciplinary methodology that ignites creativity and motivates civic engagement to teach critical thinking and problem solving.


In a Design-Based Learning classroom, the teacher acts as a facilitator, observer, and guide. Students learn that their opinions count. They gain confidence in explaining and justifying their thinking as they try out ideas in a safe environment and find that there are many right answers and perspectives.

Design-Based Learning is a research-based methodology integrating civics and life skills to deliver the required K–12 curricula. Teachers have the flexibility to determine how and when to use a comprehensive sequence of connected, curriculum-related Design Challenges to teach the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Visual and Performing Arts Standards, English Language Development Standards, California History-Social Science Standards Framework, etc.


Jessica Heim, Director of Design-Based Learning at Center X