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System-Level Driving Questions: Setting an Innovation Focal Point

Leveraging a driving question to spark innovative teaching and learning practices


Each year, the Personalized Learning Department at Dallas ISD chooses a driving question for their cohort of schools based on an area of inquiry they want to learn more about. This question serves as the focal point for their professional learning, classroom, and school innovations. In the 2020-2021 school year, a year filled with unprecedented circumstances, they wanted to focus their question on creating and celebrating special moments within their community. As such, their driving question for the school year was “How might we design this year to have an extraordinary impact on our community?”

“Over the past year and a half, it was really important for us to pause and make sure that we are designing this year to have a positive impact on others, despite the hardships we continually face. When we kicked off the year for our leaders and teachers with this question, we leaned on The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Health for inspiration on what memorable moments are made of. This focus has helped us stay focused on creating peak moments for our students and staff.” - Kristen Watkins, Director, Personalized Learning- Dallas ISD


This driving question was inspired by the book, The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, and became a central practice innovation point across personalized learning schools. In response to this question, schools developed and piloted their own approaches and learning experiences that fostered pride and connection with their communities. These authentic learning opportunities enabled students and teachers to learn about topics that mattered to them.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.