Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World

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Are you preparing a new generation of innovators? Activate your students' creativity and problem-solving potential with breakthrough learning projects. Across all grades and content areas, student-driven, collaborative projects will teach students how to generate innovative ideas and then put them into action. You'll take learning to new heights and help students master core content.

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Part I: Setting the Stage

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Part I

Setting the Stage

Starting with the end in mind is a well-regarded approach for designing learning experiences. What’s the end goal for bringing innovation to school? It helps to begin with a common language for talking about this big idea. It’s also worth considering the qualities of innovators so that educators can encourage these habits of mind in their students—and in themselves. Finally, we need to consider the new skills that will be required to help us reach the goal of a more innovative society. Part I sets the stage for this transformation by building your background knowledge about innovation.

Chapter 1

Coming to Terms With Innovation

On a chilly weekend each January, about five hundred teachers, school leaders, students, and others come together for EduCon, an event known for sparking deep conversation about thinking and learning. Hosted by Science Leadership Academy, a public high school in Philadelphia with a national reputation for excellence, each EduCon focuses on a different theme. In 2011, it was innovation. At the Friday-night kickoff event at the Franklin Museum, a panel of esteemed thinkers demonstrated the difficulty of coming to terms with this word that we hear with such great frequency.

 

Part II: Building the New Idea Factory

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Part II

Building the New Idea Factory

In hot spots across the country, pioneering educators are making innovation a priority. Schools engaged in this exciting work offer us a research and development lab for figuring out how to teach about innovation. Some are introducing their students to design thinking, a deliberate framework for problem solving, which we’ve been hearing about in previous chapters. Others are giving students a chance to think like engineers or influence their communities through games that have real-world implications.

As we take a closer look at these schools and classrooms in the following case studies, put on your own critical lenses and consider: Which ideas are you ready to borrow now? What seems possible longer term? What feels out of reach in your current situation (and why)? Each case study ends with practical suggestions for how to get started.

Interspersed with these examples are five Strategy Spotlights to further expand your innovation toolkit. Inspired by the work that innovators do outside the classroom, these strategies have ready applications to the world of teaching and learning. By bringing more of these strategies to school, you can start to build a new idea factory that meets the needs of today’s learners.

 

Part III: Moving From Thinking to Doing

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Part III

Moving From Thinking to Doing

Bringing more innovation to your school or classroom requires a shift from thinking to doing. Part III focuses on taking action—a hallmark of innovators. First, we’ll meet some educators who use their networks to help good ideas grow. In the last chapter, we’ll suggest action steps that may be appropriate now or in the near future. Why such an emphasis on action? Let’s trust the advice of legendary innovator Leonardo da Vinci: “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Chapter 9

Spreading Good Ideas

As we’ve heard throughout this book, innovators know how to take good ideas to scale. Their efforts may start small, but game-changing ideas need to engage a wide audience if they are going to take hold and make a lasting difference. In this chapter, we hear how educators use their professional networks to extend and improve upon effective strategies.

 

Appendix A: Additional Resources

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Appendix A

Additional Resources

Educators who want to infuse the curriculum with a focus on innovation can draw on a wide range of resources. The following resources provide additional information and, in some cases, classroom materials about the key ideas introduced in this book.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking for Educators—www.designthinkingforeducators.com

Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators, a free downloadable resource on this website, contains the process and methods of design, adapted specifically for the context of K–12 education. The toolkit was developed by IDEO, a global design firm, in collaboration with Riverdale Country School, an independent school in New York City.

Stanford d.school K–12 Laboratory Wiki—https://dschool.stanford.edu/groups/k12

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, also known as the d.school, has developed extensive resources to integrate design thinking into K–12 education. The K–12 Lab Wiki provides how-to information for teachers interested in using design thinking as a methodology for creative problem solving. The wiki includes an introduction to the design thinking philosophy along with curriculum resources and design challenges.

 

Appendix B: Innovation Rubric

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Appendix B

Innovation Rubric

This sample rubric suggests language for assessing specific innovation skills. The three skills included here—think creatively, work creatively with others, and implement ideas—are based on the Framework for 21st Century Skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009).

Suggests obvious or previously attempted solutions

Defers to others in brainstorming process

Demonstrates limited ability to express thinking

Shows limited ability to test ideas or invite feedback

Gives up when ideas don’t work or are not well received by others

Can think beyond conventional or previously tried solutions

Learns to build on others’ ideas

Can make visual representations of thinking (such as sketches)

Shows ability to prototype, test, and evaluate ideas

May be frustrated by failed attempts

Uses multiple strategies to generate original ideas

Can lead others in brainstorming

Can represent thinking in various forms so that others can understand and respond to ideas (such as sketches, prototypes, or storyboards)

 

Appendix C: Discussion Guide

ePub

Appendix C

Discussion Guide

Bringing Innovation to School describes innovation as a process that is both powerful and teachable. Discussions with colleagues will help educators deepen their understanding of innovation and consider how they might equip students with a new set of skills to tackle 21st century challenges. This guide is intended to encourage productive conversations about the challenges and opportunities of teaching innovation.

Part I: Setting the Stage

Chapter 1: Coming to Terms With Innovation

1.  Chapter 1 begins with several famous quotes about innovation. Which comes closest to your current understanding of this term?

2.  John Kao describes innovation as an evolving concept with four historical stages. What role do you imagine your students playing in shaping the next stage of innovation? What new skills will they need to think innovatively and put ideas into action?

3.  This chapter describes the efforts of several social innovators. Are you familiar with social innovators who are working to improve your community or solve a problem that you care about? What makes their problem-solving approaches innovative?

 

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