Sunday, April 6, 2014

What about Innovation Day, EVERY Day?????

As I walked classrooms last week there was a lot of positive energy. The classrooms where students were the most engaged and the most interested in what they were learning were the classrooms where students were leading their learning. To just name a few: students were coding with Khan Academy in Balthazor's math classes, and students created parachutes to test acceleration, gravity, and air resistance in Moretti's Physical Science classes. Here is a short clip of photos and videos from last week. A common theme you will see is technology, however; application of concepts does not always mean technology integration.

Innovation Day last year was a huge success for our students. This year our students are once again looking forward to May 22nd to be able to innovate. Why is it that we are limiting our students to only one "Innovation Day?" I know we talked as a staff about having two days in the year as opposed to one. Hold on to your seats and let this sink in for a minute...... If we know that students need autonomy, mastery, and purpose to have true motivation, then, why are we limiting ourselves and our students? We could make every day Innovation Day. We could provide our students access to the "basic/fundamental" information that is needed before the school day, and then allow our students to apply that learning while at Crystal. This is not a novel idea, we have heard about "flipped" classrooms for quite some time. There are many of you on staff that are ready for this style of instruction. Our students are begging for it!!

I was talking to a colleague last week about what I envision Crystal classrooms looking like. After I explained what I would love to see for our students, he said, "Why don't you do it?" After I threw out the regular "excuses" he once again asked me, "Why don't you do it?" As most of you know, that statement is not one that I can let sit idle with me. I do need to make it happen. I want to make it happen for our students. I think every day about the ways that we can provide opportunities for our students to be able to innovate and create. I want to provide "spaces" for our students to take what knowledge they have and "tinker," "manipulate," "collaborate," "design," and "develop," not only an end product but develop their minds and their inter personal skills.

Saturday morning I spent time brainstorming with my husband and kids about ways that we as a school could tap into our students' creativity. Without standing in front of you right now you cannot begin to see my passion and energy on this topic. I want it to happen so badly for our students. When I was in Ken Baptista's class on Friday I was talking to a sixth grade boy who is clearly a Minecraft aficionado. He began to ask me about whether he could work on Minecraft on Innovation Day. I told him that we had several students last year that worked on Minecraft and that they somehow ended up in the same "workspace" and that we did not crash the server. He almost jumped out of his seat with excitement and asked me, "Did you set up a Crystal Minecraft Server?" I had to tell him that we did not, and that I wasn't familiar with what he mentioned. He went on to explain the process to me and further explained that there is a MinecraftEdu that is solely for educational purposes. He gave me a few Youtube links. At the end of our conversation, he said that maybe someday someone here could create a new Minecraft world template for Crystal. I looked at him and said, "Why don't you make that your Innovation Day plan?" Again, he jumped with enthusiasm turned to his Chromebook and started typing away for his plan. I tell you this story to solidify the fact that our students have ideas and potential beyond our imagination. We need to create spaces that foster that imaginative energy to flow and develop.

Give me your comments, suggestions, and ideas on this. Feel free to leave your comments on this blog post. I know that my next step needs to be at minimum to set up a lunch time space for our students both during A lunch and B lunch that will allow for this process to begin. I have ideas for apps for our school that I want our students to take ownership of and develop if possible. I also know that there are ideas out there that I couldn't even begin to think of and I need both you and our students to help start this new journey for Crystal. If we ever hear someone say, "Why don't you do that?" We need to remind ourselves that we can do it, we just need to find the right way to implement our new ideas.

OUTLINE: To describe something in a general way, giving the main points but not the details. Outline is to show the edge of something, or draw around its edge, so that its shape is clear. 

Many more great things are in store for Crystal!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


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