Igniting Innovation Week 5

Drafting her proposal for coding a Science-based video game for kids.

Drafting her proposal for coding a Science-based video game for kids.

Innovation Week 5 planning at Greystone Centennial Middle School (GCMS) began Friday morning for all students in our school (grade 5 – 9)  interested in inquiry, project-based, problem-solving and the innovative creation process. We have a unique opportunity at GCMS to implement this incredible week-long program that challenges students to question, investigate, process, create and share in teams on areas of deep interest.

This video created by our Assistant Principal Jesse McLean from previous Innovation Weeks held at GCMS showcases the incredible things that can happen when students are provided with the opportunity to explore their curiosity for the world around them:

The theme for Innovation Week 5  is “How Do I Learn?”. Innovation Week allows students to take away a greater understanding of themselves as learners and how sharing their learning while being open to receiving and providing feedback will allow for growth. It ties directly with Alberta’s Cross Curricular Competencies. Innovation Week provides our students with opportunities to experience one or more of the following competencies:

  • Know how to learn
  • Think critically
  • Identify and solve complex problems
  • Manage information
  • Innovate
  • Create opportunities
  • Demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to work cooperatively with others

Knowing just how powerful of a learning experience this would be for our students, we worked together as a team to learn. Students who wanted to work in groups split themselves up amongst their peers’ classrooms and teachers worked with individual groups.

Teachers then guided them through the Design Thinking process to create a proposal based on the following criteria created by our Educational Design Team at GCMS starting with our Inquiry Process:

The Inquiry Process Wheel

The Inquiry Process Wheel

  • What is your guiding question?
  • What is your plan for the project?
  • What will you do to prepare for your project? What research or preparation will you need to do? What resources will you access?
  • Will you connect with an outside expert? If yes, who will your expert be? How will your expert assist you? How and when will you connect with your expert?
  • What will you need to move from the preparation to the action phase for your project? How will you move from research to actually creating your project?
  • Materials you will provide
  • What will you create as a final product?
  • Who is your audience and how will you present your learning?
Working on their proposals!

Working on their proposals!

This may seem like a straightforward task, however it was quite a challenging prospect for students to think outside of the box and in most cases to think like the box doesn’t exist. Some knew what they wanted to explore, create or learn more about but found it difficult to explain the why and how.

To assist them with this process, upon completion of their proposal, students were guided by teachers through the Ideation and Prototyping stages. They used the guiding question they developed and were challenged to come up with 100 ideas to help answer it in a constrained set of time.

This is what happens when time constraint is used in a manner in which to fuel learning and processing for the first time:

So much intense pressure to push our brains!

So much intense pressure to push our brains!

Challenging enough for the students remain engaged and enjoy it!

Challenging enough for the students to remain engaged and enjoy it!

The ideation process was so intense to watch that I knew I had to take some video to demonstrate just how powerful the right amount of pressure to generate as many ideas and solutions can be:

At the time we had about 15 students in the room and the grand total of ideas geared towards their projects in 10 minutes of ideation was an outstanding 852!

The number of ideas generated in 10 minutes of Ideation.

The number of ideas generated in 10 minutes of Ideation.

The power in this was that it allowed the students to tap into their brain processes. They focused on generating more and more ideas with a guiding frame of “Yes, and… ” instead of “No, but…”. I found that the time constraint helped to break through the barriers. Some used strategies of movement, others spoke out loud while partners furiously wrote, others wore headphones and tapped into their own minds.

We then went back and reflected on the ideas. We knew that some were going to be silly or not very applicable, but there were many that would be useful. They then drafted a prototype of their project, which along with their circled top ideas, lists of ideas generated and proposal, was submitted for approval.

I am so excited to see this process go into action as Innovation week officially begins the last week before our holiday break from Dec. 15-19th. All participating students will spend that entire week working in teams with teacher and expert guides on their projects. Students will be blogging reflections on their learning process and our theme of “How Do I Learn” daily to share with the world and on Friday Dec. 19th, we will host an open Gallery Walk to showcase their projects to family, school and community members.

If you’d like more information or want to see previous student projects and learning from Innovation Week, please visit Jesse McLean’s Blog – http://jessepmclean.com/tag/innovation-week .


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