Schools, like mine, are creating “Innovation Labs” and “Maker Spaces” dedicated to implementing the 4C’s (collaboration, creation, communication, critical thinking) and developing projects that utilize the design thinking process. Building a culture of support, encouragement, and reflection provides the necessary safe environment for all to experiment and explore.
I want to engage and motivate my students to think outside the box, to realize that there are problems all around us that need to be solved in innovative ways, and to understand that they can design the needed solutions.
Achieving this lofty goal means reprogramming my students.
I teach high school and by the time students enter my classroom, they have learned, in many cases mastered, the game of “playing school.” It is unfair for me to simply throw my students into a completely open ended, student directed environment when their experience has been based in teacher driven, direct instruction. Students have learned to upload information and supply the teacher with the “right” answer that was listed on the “study guide”. Attempting to solve a mystery, design an innovation, or dive into a driving question that seems to create more questions than answers can lead to confusion and frustration.
It is so important to spend time building a supportive class culture and scaffolding the skills students will need through short activities and learning experiences before launching into a major project. I am always searching for tangible examples that provide a framework for my students without being a demonstration of “this is what Mrs. Girard says would be an A”. I’ve found a great resource that can be used not only to engage student creativity, but also motivate educators to design lessons that encourage students to design, create, dream and innovate.
I will be using Time Magazine’s 25 Best Innovations from 2014 as a springboard for the beginning of next semester. I remember watching Back to the Future as a kid and wanting a hoverboard. Well, they exist and you can preorder one for $10,000! Lockhead Martin recently announce a breakthrough in the development of a nuclear fusion reactor in the next 10 years! And don’t forget the perfect holiday gift for that special person who can’t take enough selfies…The Selfie Stick. From a tablet that interprets sign language to wireless electricity, these innovations have something in common…each solves a problem and fills a need. The list explains the impetus behind each invention and introduces the reader to those involved in the solution. It’s a quick read and incredibly inspiring! I got so excited just thinking about what my students will create in the future and how they will change our world that I had to write a blog post about it!