Monday, February 9, 2015

Pure Genius Week 2: Why Innovate?

Let's get started with -- what is innovation to you? And why do you think it's important to innovated? As I said in the introduction last week, you can comment to our post and/or respond to a comment by another participant each week. The more interaction there is between participants, the richer and more beneficial the conversation will be.

If you are just entering the conversation this week, welcome! Be sure to scroll down to last week's post and introduce yourself. This is important so I know who you are when it's time to send out PGPs. Also, if you haven't started reading the book, it's not too late to purchase it and get started. The digital and paperback versions can be purchased from Amazon. If you have a group of more than 5 participants at your school or district and are interested in purchasing paperback books in bulk, please contact Shelley Burgess at daveburgessconsulting@gmail.com.

For next week, please read chapter 2, "Creating a Culture of Innovation & Leadership." 

51 comments:

  1. To me, innovation is the ability to think creatively to solve problems and adapt when new problems arise. I think it's essential to innovate in education because we often have to solve problems without resources. Innovation allows us to approach and solve these problems in a fresh way, understanding that our solutions will change as the problems evolve.
    The relevancy factor is huge as well. If I'm teaching general music out of my 10-12 year old textbook, neither the songs deemed as new nor the recording technologies will be relevant. It's necessary for me to innovate to find the way to teach beyond that text to keep the students engaged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have found that relevancy is the key when attempting to solve problems creatively. Relevancy for me provides the motivation and the drive for students to carry on and follow through.

      Delete
    2. I completely agree that innovation is the ability to think creatively to solve problems and adapt when new problems arise. I also agree with your relevancy comments. I also teach general music to K-5 students. There are many songs in our textbook that are not relevant to today's youth. I have to be very innovative to make sure that these songs are creative so that students will enjoy them to the fullest. I'll share a quick story about relevant with you. I worked at an elementary school two years ago that had textbooks from 1992, no CD's and an out of tune piano. They also had no money available for a music fund. So, old books, music from my keyboard and barely any instruments....talk about innovation/creativity at its best!

      Delete
  2. To me innovation means: Having not only the ability to create a solution to a problem, but to be able to know where to go to find the answer. I feel it means to be able to research a topic (a real world problem) to be able to create a new solution to it. I also feel it gives the researcher the ability to be wrong at times to help understand when they are getting it correct.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that mistakes can strengthen future efforts when viewed positively. Making errors and corrections builds persistence and patience. When students enter my math classroom, they see a poster that says 'Mistakes are proof that you are trying.'

      Delete
    2. Learning from mistakes is really what will be expected of students in the workforce, if you think about it. How often do companies hold your hand and teach you where exactly to find everything? Not often. More often than not, you are given a task and expected to complete it. Teaching our students how to search for themselves to find an answer is key.

      Delete
    3. Totally agree! As a Social Studies teacher, the history of the world is full of "problems" that have a variety of responses. There are precedents for innovation, failures, and successes...this is why I find inquiry-based lessons and student constructed knowledge based on primary sources beneficial in the classroom.

      Delete
    4. I always learn through trial and error. I want my students to know it's okay to not be successful on their first try. I know most of my learning has taken place by learning from my mistakes and failures.

      Delete
    5. This was a powerful part of this chapter for me as well. I have a severe fear of failure, which has limited me in the past. I have had several students with the same fear, who want me to tell them all of the "right" answers. I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone in the past few years and have been encouraging my students to do the same - think for themselves, take risks, make mistakes and try again! So far, the results have been worth the risk.

      Delete
  3. Innovation is at the heart of education. You cannot be successful in life if you do not push forward and try new things, and this is especially true as an innovator. One of my central goals as an administrator is to encourage others to take calculated risks and inspire students to do the same. An innovator does not necessarily have to develop something completely new but also understands when to modify existing systems in order to take what's there to the next level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could not agree with this sentiment more. Sometimes ideas or pathways from the past become viable in a new situation or setting. If we continually strive to improve at our craft we will find new and more effective ways to reach our objectives. The obstacle to that process is getting stuck in a routine or methodology without the means nor concern for evaluating its effectiveness. Innovation or tweaking the process keeps it all fluid and adaptable. It also contributes to your awareness that you can influence progress and success if you are invested in something's evolution, in my opinion.

      Delete
    2. I concur with the author, "Innovation brings new solutions to problems that arise in a changing environment." Currently, I am listening to an Audible Book that deals with a group of people traveling west to Texas in a wagon train. They used innovation when their supplies ran out or the wagon needed fixing. They couldn't go on Amazon.com or the corner grocery store; they were innovators, pioneers, manufacturers, and originators.

      Agreeing with the perspectives above, innovation uses our past experiences in new experiences, situations, and settings. Innovation is not new, as the commercial states, it's "redefined".

      Delete
  4. As an educator I view innovation as a break through or discovery that someone makes on his or her own. It may not be the first time that someone has accomplished this feat, and I don't think that we can easily make determinations about what is and what is not 'innovative'. Therefore, I might disagree with the author who claims that the term is overused. I recall reading "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind", an account of a young boy who brought power to a village in Malawi decades after the modern world enjoyed similar luxuries, yet no one denies the label 'innovative' to that story. Likewise, there are first graders working in creative ways that are not at a level of complexity to be considered innovative when accomplished by their twelfth grade counterparts. I do appreciate Wettrick's comment that "innovation in education is education"; as students and teachers alike we can move beyond our present point of progress without any restrictions about how we act on new ideas. I look forward to being inspired in the coming weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Tammy's point is a good one. Innovation occurs at different points for different people. What is innovative to me has probably been previously discovered by someone else, but it is a break through to me at the time. I understand the author's point that advertisers may overuse the word innovative, but I don't think we need to worry about overusing the word for ourselves or our classrooms.

      Delete
    2. Yes! I totally agree! Sometime I come up with an activity or an idea that I think is totally innovative only to find out that the teacher I am team teaching with has done it before! It is great though because often I have a different twist on it and a new perspective to a tried and true activity usually makes for a very successful lesson!

      Delete
  5. Innovation to me is always striving for improvement with current situations and looking for solutions as I encounter new problems. This process has greatly influenced the choices I have made in my life and is a cornerstone in my work with my students. Innovation is important in education because it is a process that is a critical life skill and a key ingredient to being a life long learner. I feel strongly that as a counselor and educator I model for and provide my students with the opportunity to develop this skill of "innovation".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Too many times we get "stuck in our ways" and afraid to try new things.

      Delete
    2. I agree as well, innovation is "always striving for improvement with current situations and looking for solutions as I encounter new problems" I find myself constantly making changes/improvements to my activities and lessons with students. I work hard to not get stuck in a rut doing the same ol' thing say in and day out.

      Delete
  6. I think that innovation occurs when we truly grasp Einstein's statement that "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" finally isn't working. Sometimes innovation means returning to past practices that DID work, but didn't fit the current new trends or align with the software we are using. In our current educational climate, rote memorization is frowned upon, though it served the Greatest Generation and their Baby Boomer children quite well. They didn't discuss whether 3 X 3 = 9; it was. However, there are some innovative practices that must be introduced in order to better serve our current visual/kinesthetic student population. Have you polled your students? A recent survey in a local AP social studies class revealed ZERO auditory learners! We are considering how to meet standards while making the class much more interactive and innovative to address the impact of technology on brain development.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Innovation to me is trying new things in the classroom to get the students interested in what is being taught to them. So many times I hear students at the high school level say "I'm bored." So, I try to "spice" things up a bit to get them engaged in the learning. It is important to be innovated so the students "buy into" their learning. New ideas and technology are going to get students more interested instead of doing the same old lecture and worksheets over and over again. I don't repeat many lessons in my classroom because, I too, want to be motivated to teach to them. Every year I switch up different novels that my English classes read. That way, I become more innovative in my lesson planning.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Innovation is stepping out of one's comfort zone to try something new. Innovation is thinking outside the box. Students today are millennials and generation z. They don't learn in the same way or see things the way many of us do. Their values are different and how they view outcomes are different. They are digital natives and computers and cell phones are an appendage. This generation uses verbal communication less than previous generations. Good or bad it is the world we are in now. Innovation helps bridge the gap. If we don't change, we become stagnant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely agree. Your last statement reminded me of my English professor at Michigan State who frequently quoted Claudian, “Change or Die.” We have to find new ways to reach each new generation. I loved the author’s quote from his father, “I don’t care if you teach for the next twenty years; just don’t teach one year twenty times.” So many teachers are doing this and it just isn’t engaging this current generation of students.

      Delete
    2. I loved the author's quote from his father too! I would love to post that in the teacher work room!

      Delete
  9. I found this great quote today, and even tweeted it out because it speaks of this idea. "Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be." Innovation is not just about trying something new. It goes beyond that, thinking toward the future and creating something new to stick for the betterment of the future. Innovation takes risk-taking to a new level and establishes something completely new and different, built on previous constructs, but makes it better. That better product sticks. It is a transformation. I think about our products that we use daily, such as the cell phone. The iPhone was an innovation because it took what already existed, but transformed it into something new and better for the future. Innovation is critical in education. I look at our current educational system. While we speak of 21st century skills, we are trying to stick them into a 20th century construct - that is not innovating. Our educational system must innovate and transform if we are to truly prepare students for the future, a future that is very different than ours. We must think differently, outside the box, and create something new for our students so that they can create and innovate, building their skills for their future.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think it is important to remember that innovation does not require technology, nor does using technology make something innovative. I believe the lines blur between these two at times. We believe if we are using technology in our lessons we are being innovative. Innovation, in my opinion, is about pedogogy not technology. Innovation is finding new ways or engaging ways to learn. Innovation requires us to break our of the educational norms and stretch ourselves to new levels. Innovation about is about learning not about teaching. Students need opportunities for authentic learning and a practical environment. Being innovative is finding ways to make this happen. Push each student as much as possible whenever possible to provide the greatest growth. Finding different ways to do this in an individualized way is what innovation is about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How TRUE....Innovation is about learning not about teaching. This is something that many of us in education have trouble accepting. If we allow our students to take control of their learning...they are our greatest innovators.

      Delete
    2. Wow! I love how well you put this into words! As a kindergarten teacher, I think one of my most important jobs is to introduce a love for learning and that they can take an interactive role in their own learning for life! One thing that I try to model is my own journey of learning. This includes admitting my own failures within the classroom and creating a solution to the problem. Teacher innovation can be seen from year to year through growth and adaptations made based on successes and faulures, knowing your class, and the differentiation you provide to each of your students (such as Brain said with the individualization).

      Delete
  11. I could talk about innovation, learning through failure, and the TV show MacGyver all day; but what stuck with me most from this chapter was the situation where the teacher requires all students to start at the same level regardless of prior experience. I'm guilty of this...even though I try my best to convince students to take risks in the classroom, I don't provide them with enough opportunities to go beyond what we are working on in class. I challenge some students, but occasionally let it slide when they complain about higher-level readings or modified assignments. As a result, I'm holding some students back from achieving greatness. When I completed my High Ability license, this was something I was focused my lesson planning on, but since changing schools I've found myself falling a little short in this department. I want my students to become global citizens that explore, dream, and discover (thank you Mark Twain for that inspiration) within class and outside of school. I fail to achieve this goal nearly everyday in some small way.

    I want to conclude by echoing Jennifer Martin's comment above about stepping out of one's comfort zone. That's where I live! My travel motto is that "life begins outside of your comfort zone," and I experience it all the time in the classroom as well. Teaching with primary sources, and ditching the textbook, scares me all the time, but I'm invested in their value to student learning. Sometimes they disagree with my interpretation, sometimes they agree, and sometimes they just don't get it...but each of those have their value; and the greatest part of it is that we all, including myself, learn something new everyday!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ok…I have tried to start this post about 5 times…and I truly can’t decide how to describe innovation. It isn't a tangible “thing” and I don’t believe it can be taught. In his post above, Brian Knight said: “Innovation is about learning not about teaching” and I think he may be on to something. When we allow our students the freedom to choose how they learn a concept…and they take the opportunity to create an authentic learning experience for themselves (with guidance from the teacher), then innovation occurs. It may be loud, chaotic and messy…but when students are engaged and learning in ways that appeal to them, then innovation is in play.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is a hard one. Innovation is when you have a problem and work alone or with others until the problem is solved. Working with others may not be the people you can physically touch but those you find on the internet and solutions you find in books.

    Have you ever watched the show Shark Tank? My husband and I watch it all the time. Most of these people try to solve problems until they find a way to fix the problem. And most of the time you hit yourself in the head and say why didn't I think of that. It was so simple.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I really enjoyed the author’s comparison of teaching to video gaming and all starting at the “same level.” In beginning band students really do start at the same level, but as the year continues students’ skills progress at differing rates. How to accommodate this discrepancy by keeping advanced students motivated can be challenging. This is where innovation is needed. By the end of 6th grade many band students quit band thinking they have done “the band thing.” Innovation will be the key to keeping them interested and showing them that “the band thing” is not just playing an instrument, but experiencing all that goes with playing that instrument. This year we have introduced several new things to the band curriculum to give the more advanced students a way to move ahead and feel challenged.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lots of things stood out in this chapter when talking about innovation. The descriptors I enjoyed the most were:

    "Bringing new solutions to problems in a changing environment."

    Relevancy, Collaboration, Education

    "Constraints lead to creativity."

    When applying this to my school, I wondered, how do we as a school reward risk-takers and innovators?

    ReplyDelete
  16. To me innovation is creativity in teamwork, motivation, ingenuity, development, planning, vision, brainstorming and inspiration in any environment. Working with younger students brings me joy as I am able to show them what it means to have passion and how to use it to discover, solve, work together in becoming the leader of their own learning.

    After reading the first chapter, I have taken a step out of my comfort zone and registered for my own Twitter account. After a former student showed me what it meant to "follow" someone, I am now following Don Wettrick's Twitters. ( If I am checking my Twitter app every hour, would that qualify me as addicted?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am definitely in an addictive phase, too. I have been on Twitter for a few years, but had lost interest. Reading Pure Genius motivated me to engage in Twitter again. Mr. Wettrick is a master teacher. He does not know me, but he retweeted my praise of his book. Because of that, I became connected with people who have a common interest in teaching. Right now, that driving interest for me is Genius Hour. By simply pressing a button, he was a catalyst for my own growth as an educator. Happy tweeting!

      Delete
  17. My idea of innovation matches up pretty closely with what was described in the first chapter. Being able to take a problem and find unique ways to solve it is a skill that is important to both students and teachers. As a first year teacher I have already felt that I have fallen into a rut as far as doing the same thing everyday when I teach. I've found that being able to reflect on what I do and if it is effective is the first step in myself starting to be innovative. The more experience I get the better I feel about stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things in the classroom to get my students excited about the material. I think being innovative in the way you try new methods by using what you have available instead of letting the lack of resources you have at your disposal was a great point. While using technology is a great way to find innovative practices it also shouldn't be what limits you if you don't have it. Instead, finding a way to accomplish what you want to do without it is a way of being innovative that I had not thought of before.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Innovation is allowing yourself as the instructor to let go, a bit, in an effort to allow the students the freedom to guide their own educational journeys. Yes, it is difficult for educators to let go of the control we have over daily activities and lessons in our classrooms, and it is easy to perform the same lesson we did last year, or even the year before; however, that's not being an innovative teacher, or even an effective teacher. I have found that I work ten times harder than I used to by allowing my students the opportunity to explore their own interests. I am learning right alongside my students about an array of topics, while also hitting each of the standards outlined by the state. My students don't know we're covering standard RN.1; instead, they are reading and analyzing multiple nonfiction articles and critically thinking about the implications of that writing with regard to their personal research. Tackling this standard, as well as the others, is much easier to do when the student is passionate about the subject. Allowing them the freedom to choose that subject is best for everyone involved in the learning process.

    The term "innovator" can be overwhelming, but it also can be thrilling and eye-opening, for both students and teachers.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Students figure out very quickly which classes and teachers welcome innovation and which ones do not. So many things have shifted my way of thinking since I first became a teacher. I admit it has been challenging to change from a textbook, checklist style of teaching to viewing my classes as opportunities for students to have choices and create more projects than always taking a test at the end of each unit. One of my first attempts at giving students more freedom was in letting them choose their own research paper topics. This might seem simple, but I teach 9th grade English. In the past I always provided students with a list of ten to twenty topics I knew would yield plenty of resources and be strong topics for potential papers. This was not inspiring, nor interesting, to the students. When we became a 1:1 school, my excuse about available library resources was no longer valid. The past three years I have let my students choose their own topics, and the papers have been so much more interesting, creative, and well-written. At the heart of innovation is passion, curiosity, and excitement. When teachers step back, students are allowed to become more innovative. We did not adopt a textbook this year, and I am more innovate because I have to be. I have to create the road map for my students. I have rediscovered a love for my content area because of this. Now, I am giving my students more choices and freedom, hoping this will foster greater growth and expression. Some students do not like choices and freedom because it forces them to do more than click answers on the computer, but this is what innovation looks like for myself and for my students this school year.

    ReplyDelete
  21. To me, innovation is thinking outside the traditional box. It is not being afraid to take risks and not being afraid to fail. While much of what I teach does not allow for much innovation (middle school reading intervention class), I try to insert it when I can. I inspire students through creative writing prompts. I give mini projects related to our topic that push my students to be thinkers and problem solvers. While students don't always "get it", I see their struggles with innovation themselves as my challenge as a teacher. The only way to learn to be more innovative is to be given the freedom to innovate more!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Innovation is something that is always changing. In order to keep up with technology we have to be willing to move with the times. Kids are always up on the latest things, we should be too. It is important to keep kids engaged in what interest them. This may not always be an electronic device, I have several kids who would much rather hold a book than use a Kindle. I have mixed emotions about students being put in charge of their own learning. The two problems I see with this are apprehension to be a self –starter and laziness. Students are so programmed to do what they are told or to follow a set of instructions; I think many would have trouble thinking outside the box and imagining their own assignments. The second is laziness. How many times do kids ask, “How long does it have to be,” then they use word count to meet the requirement. I think letting students choose their own projects definitely is a great idea but there seem to be a small number of students who would take this seriously. I can see most of them just doing the minimum to get by. However, I think high achievers, advanced learners, and students serious about getting into a highly-selective college would welcome the chance to spread their wings and show what they are actually capable of accomplishing.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Innovation is important because it taps into the potential of the human spirit. We can't get caught up in the thinking that we are only going to learn and apply so much or that there are limits to how the human mind works. New solutions to old problems, or old solutions to new problems, it doesn't matter. We need to have the courage to explore the unknown and try something that may just not work out. We all have a schema to how people are taught and how people learn. A lot of that has to do with how we were brought up and how we were taught. But what we are now finding out is that learning does not have to look that way, and in many cases, doesn't work that way. Few things are more satisfying in life than discovering, for yourself, how things work or how to apply a new skill. That's where innovation comes in to play.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think the concept of looking at innovation as a process is critical. You can't just label something as innovative or not by comparing it to a list of standards. Innovation is pushing past what exists and finding answers to problems that have yet to be found or even striving to solve problems that may not even exist yet. To me, the most important part of innovation is the ability to think beyond what is and explore what could be. Of course, this is also the hardest part. In a world where we are constantly trying to quantify and qualify skills like critical thinking skills and creativity in order to prove something about ourselves or our schools, innovation is a challenge because true innovation can only be measured by the usefulness or impact of the solution which cannot really be determined at the time of its creation. Instead, it can only be determined after being used or applied for a period of time and at the end its usefulness, we must again innovate to continue the process.

    ReplyDelete
  25. My opinion of innovation is thinking, creating & designing things outside of the box with resources currently available. Many educators believe that buying the latest and greatest equipment is the answer. I do not agree and love when students design something amazing using both old & new materials & technology. I especially like the following statements in Chapter 2 from page 14.

    "Working around bad experiment is a blessing."

    "Having everything you want is a curse.The constraints of limited equipment and technology forced students to get creative to make their projects look professional."

    ReplyDelete
  26. Being innovative is absolutely essential in the classroom today. I agree with many of the above responses that it is creating new ways or new methods for solving a problem or presenting an idea. The kids we are teaching now are growing up in such a different world than we did that coming up with fresh and innovative ideas on how to present material is essential to their learning. In order to reach the students teachers need to come up with new ideas. You can not use the same method for problem solving and expect to get different results. That being said, not everything needs to be "new and improved." Adding an innovative spin to tried and true methods produces exceptional instruction.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I struggle to explain what innovation means to me, but I do know innovation does not happen alone. I do know that my students, our students, need to embrace the process. For this to be possible in my classroom,I know that it has to start with me.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Innovation, to me, is thinking outside of the box and encouraging the same type of thought process in others. I think it's important to innovate because thinking and being like everyone else is just boring!

    ReplyDelete
  29. For me, innovation as a teacher means not using the same resources year after year and/or finding a new way to use the resources in a new way to improve on your classroom.
    It's important to keep things new and fresh. It's good for you, as a teacher, to not do the same things year after year because it allows you to build upon your classroom and that makes it interesting for both you and your students.

    ReplyDelete
  30. For me, innovation means being willing to take risks and suffer through a few failures. It is so easy for me to choose order in my classroom over a little chaos and creativity. I teach math and can get be too controlling about keeping order in my room. When I let go and try something a little risky, I am always surprised by how much my students enjoy something different. After reading this chapter, I want to really work on finding some new and creative activities for my classroom next school year. I liked how this author was encouraging teachers to go ahead and keep a few successes from last school year but to try and come up with new ideas to add to them.

    ReplyDelete
  31. For me, innovation means being willing to take risks and suffer through a few failures. It is so easy for me to choose order in my classroom over a little chaos and creativity. I teach math and can get be too controlling about keeping order in my room. When I let go and try something a little risky, I am always surprised by how much my students enjoy something different. After reading this chapter, I want to really work on finding some new and creative activities for my classroom next school year. I liked how this author was encouraging teachers to go ahead and keep a few successes from last school year but to try and come up with new ideas to add to them.

    ReplyDelete
  32. To me, innovation means taking what you already have and changing it up to better meet the needs you have now. Using resources in ways that are unexpected and not the "prescribed" usage. Innovation is important because while resources may be scarce, our world is ever changing. Not a year goes by that there isn't some change that has been made in how the world runs. As the world changes, so do people, especially young people who are still finding themselves. Because of this, if we don't innovate, we lose them because they will have "been there and done that".

    ReplyDelete