being a teacher, control, projects, Student-centered

Hello Innovation Day!

When I first started teaching 4th grade, I must admit, I underestimated my students.  I knew that they were capable, but did not realize just how creative, innovative, and eager for a challenge this age of students can be.  (In fact, I would argue that any student really fits that description if we provide them with the opportunity, but that’s another post).  So this year as I re-honed my philosophy and knew that I wanted to create more hands-on, student-led explorations throughout the year, I knew we had to end the year with something magical.  Some sort of project that would show me and my students just how far we have traveled in our road to become independent, creative, problem solvers and thinkers.  Hello Innovation Day!

Innovation Day is one of those projects I wish I had imagined, but instead that honor goes to many corporations before me (Google FedEx Day), in fact, I cannot even take credit for bringing it to a school setting, other teachers I follow on Twitter have already done it.  And yet this will be the first one for me, for my students, and I am more than thrilled.  The idea is simple and can be adapted to any setting.

On May 9th, my students get to work on whatever they choose.  The requirements are simple; they must learn something, they must produce something, and it has to be done in one day.  All year, I ask my students what they would like to learn about and although I have been able to incorporate many of those items into my teaching, there are some I have not gotten to – Irish Castles, Big Ben, and more about animals are some examples.    Here is their chance.  The preparation has been minimal, students had to fill out this sheet (which is created by Josh Stumpenhorst and minimally adapted by me) and they need to think about their product.  In class we have been discussing various ideas and students have sought me out to discuss process.  That’s it.

My job this day will be to document the learning through video and pictures, and also to be of assistance if needed.  The students are supplying most of the materials, and are doing all of the work.  Ideas being floated around are varied such as researching snowflake patters, building a t-rex model, or creating a paper zoo – whatever they can imagine and build.  And me?  Well as my students reminded me on Friday; we don’t really need you Mrs. Ripp.  Ad what a glorious thing that is to hear.

3 thoughts on “Hello Innovation Day!”

  1. Pernille,This is great stuff. I am so glad you shared. The Magical Minds have become increasingly independent learners, but most of their choices are still within the framework of a topic I/school chooses. Innovation Day is a great way to support kids through the process of pursuing their own learning. What day of the week do the kids complete their planning sheet? Do some of them do work at home as well? Do you require they utilize skills or vocabulary you have been learning over the course of the year?Thank you for passing along this exciting practice.Happy Innovating,Erin

  2. Hi Erin,Great questions. The planning sheet was completed either at home or during recess several weeks prior so that I could discuss ideas concocted with the students. They can absolutely do some research at home, however, the bulk of the work should be in school, so they have to really think about time management as well since it must be "completable" within one day.The only requirement is that They learn something, I purposely did not tie it into one thing or unit because I wanted to see where the students natural interests lay. Most students are tying it in with history though and frankly it all ties in with our classroom since we have been working so diligently on being creative thinkers, independent learners and problem solvers. I hope that helps!Best,Pernille

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