Thursday, June 2, 2011

Innovation Day

Thanks to the inspiration from @stumpteacher (Josh Stumpenhorst) and @4thgrdteach (Pernille Ripp) I decided to give the idea of Innovation Day a try.  Instead of going it alone, I enlisted my phenomenal colleagues to see if they were interested in partaking on this risky end of the year adventure with me.

We modified the planning sheets from others that had gone before us and began having individual conferences with students to help them plan the process and materials needed.  We stressed to the students that we were not going to do any of the thinking or the planning for them.  What we did stress were three things:  They needed to learn something, produce something, and present their product and process.
As I, and my colleagues had that natural fear of loss of control creep in on us leading up to the day, we decided to keep faith and trust the process of those that experienced this before us.  I am so glad we did display that trust because today was unbelievable!

I had many takeaways from the day but two really seem to have stuck with me.  One thing I noticed right away was the passion these students have to learn and create.  Not one student had an issue with coming up with an idea.  Two of probably 200 students showed up today without any supplies, however 5 minutes into the day had another idea ready to go.  Students got started right away and I was a buzz taking pictures, asking questions, and enjoying their hard work.

My second takeaway was the hardest.  I had the hardest time staying in my room today.  Don’t get me wrong I loved the work of my students, however I was so curious what other classrooms looked like.  I checked them out a few times as other teachers came to visit our room, which allowed me to duck out and take pictures.  What I noticed was the same passion, no matter what room I was in.

A final thought I had about the day was..I think if we do this next year, we need to find a way for our kids to tour other classrooms to view what other students created.  I think gallery walks will be in order for next year.

Thanks again for being the inspiration to our innovation Josh and Pernille! You Rock!  Clearly displayed by the model guitar below!

Here are some of the many things that came to life today:
Wrigley Field Model
D-Day Model Omaha Beach
Scene from Star Wars Clone Wars Movie with Legos
Model of the Titanic
Still life drawing of the Titanic
Model of Lincoln Park Zoo
Purse and Wallet made from Duct Tape
Magnetic Ice Arena
Model of Lion’s mouth
Animal Museum
Invention using electricity and simple circuit
Model of a game
Model of our playground
How to catch a fish seminar with live Bluegill
Model of a jungle
Model of a guitar
Wooden Birdhouse
Robotic basketball car
Invention Velcro novels
Invention: a shirt that turns into a pillow
Model of the Twin Towers
Gum (students made from scratch)
Model of a black widow spider
Eifel tower still life and paintings
A chain reaction with objects (think Mousetrap game)
Model of a city
A fancy cake made of clay
Model of USS Kittyhawk
Solar power fan
Research papers and posters
Video documentary of Innovation Day
“Modding” video games
Model rockets
Board games
Model of a castle
Boats that can really float
A model of an alligator
Model of a B-12 Bomber
Model of a tank
Model of American Airlines Arena
Model of a soccer field
Model of a Native American Dwelling


  1. What a great adventure. I wish I had been able to do this before our school year ended. Congratulations to you and your students for a wonderful day of learning.

  2. Congratulations! I am so glad that it went well and that you were able to do it with other classrooms. Now think of a school-wide Innovation Day, that would be cool!