LC5 Made The Front Page!

Our learning community’s partnership and visit with our local Spruce Grove Public Library to introduce our students to their brand new Innovation Lab was featured in the Spruce Grove Examiner this week.

Here is the article written by reporter Karen Haynes:

Ella Morrison didn’t seem shy as she belted out the lyrics to her favourite songs during a tour of the Spruce Grove Library’s Innovation Lab on Jan. 16. Morrison was using the library’s GarageBand technology to record her voice. - Karen Haynes, Reporter/Examiner

Ella Morrison didn’t seem shy as she belted out the lyrics to her favourite songs during a tour of the Spruce Grove Library’s Innovation Lab on Jan. 16. Morrison was using the library’s GarageBand technology to record her voice. – Karen Haynes, Reporter/Examiner

The Spruce Grove Public Library’s (SGPL) Innovation Lab is open for business and students from Greystone Centennial Middle School know first hand just how cool this library addition really is.

From Jan. 13 to 16, Grade 5 students from the Spruce Grove school toured the library’s Innovation Lab, testing its virtual reality program, Lego robotics, GarageBand software, 3D printer and circuitry systems.

“Libraries are not just about books anymore and they haven’t been for a long time,” said Leanne Myggland-Carter of the SGPL.

“We are a community hub — for many ages and stages in life… We have intergenerational learning going on. Kids come with their parents and grandparents, and they are helping each other. It’s a community based learning space,” she said.

Dana Ariss, a Grade 5 teacher from Greystone said the partnership between the library and the school was a prime opportunity for students to learn about the technology and resources that are available to them.

And it perfectly complemented the school’s recently completed Innovation Week, which finished right before the Christmas break.

“It was such a valuable experience for the students to see what there is. For them to have one-on-one building time, creation time and play (time), that’s where they construct their own knowledge. To give that to our students is something that is an absolute must,” Ariss said.

From Dec. 15 to 19, Greystone students participated in their fifth Innovation Week. For four days, students are challenged to question, investigate, process and create a final project in an area of deep interest to them.

“They go through the design making process. It helps students to have an understanding of themselves as learners and how to share their learning,” Ariss said.

Focusing on some of Alberta Education’s cross-curricular competencies — knowing how to learn, think critically, how to identify and solve complex problems, and how to create something innovative — students started their projects by zeroing in on what they are passionate about.

“It’s unbelievable the amount of dedication and perseverance these kids demonstrate. It’s something that is important to them,” because they take ownership of their projects, she added.

The projects included sewing, clay animation, creating special effects and make-up art for film, robotics, stop motion, caricature drawing, and others with a focus on engineering, horticulture and baking.

“The main focus is not just on the final project but also on the process: how did they get to this point; what did they learn; where did they fail; and how did they learn from the problems they faced.”

Greystone Centennial Middle School will host its sixth Innovation Week in the spring of 2015. At the end of the week, parents will be welcome to visit the school and see what the students have accomplished.

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Classroom Learning – December 2014 Recap

December was an absolute blur as we finalized projects and dove into our very first Innovation Week. I have a few additional photos to post for you as during Innovation Week teachers are separated from their classes and are spread out amongst students from all grades and so I was not able to capture every moment.

There are a few photos to add as well from other happenings in our classroom last month!

Innovation Week engagement!

Innovation Week engagement!

They built their gingerbread houses and then wired them using circuits for Innovation Week!

They built their gingerbread houses and then wired them using circuits for Innovation Week!

We also had the opportunity to connect with three other classrooms and program developer Gretchen Noelle from the app Kodable to learn about computer programming and coding. Students had the opportunity to learn about how computer coding their own apps and games feature math, language arts and science. Some were so fascinated, they made their Innovation Week projects centred around coding.

Skyping to learn about Code.

Skyping to learn about Code.

Innovation Week in Tweets!

This is a collection of all the tweets and activities from our Innovation Week!  Please visit our student’s blogs to read their reflections from their projects.

#IWeek5 – Day One

#IWeek5 – Day Two

#IWeek5 – Day Three

#IWeek5 – Day Four

#Iweek5 Showcase

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 .