I first heard about Innovation Day from Pernille Ripp in 2011, who had found out about Innovation Day from Josh Stumpenhorst, a 6th grade teacher from Illinois. I followed her on twitter, and she tweeted a ton leading up to Innovation Day, during Innovation Day, and after Innovation Day. When I viewed her blog and saw how excited she was about this, I knew I had to give it a try. I decided to do it the Tuesday after Memorial Day that year.
What is Innovation Day? Innovation Day is a day dedicated to student-regulated learning. Students can work independently or in groups on a project that suits their interests. 2 weeks prior, students are given a planning sheet and are given their expectations. They have to learn something, produce something, and present something. Students are then in charge of their learning for one entire day! This approach was inspired from Daniel Pink's book Drive, which highlights FedEx Day, an approach the business world has been using to allow employees to investigate their passions and work on projects they are interested in.
Within the first 30 minutes of my first Innovation Day, I knew it was something special. Our school began at 8:02, and by 8:15, students were already in their working spaces and on-task. Had that been a normal day, I would still be asking kids to leave the closet area and get working on their morning word study. Their passions came through in a huge way, and showed me how we have to allow more time for choice in our curriculum. You would think that on a day where students are in charge of their own learning the teacher would be free to accomplish tasks, as the end of the year always provided a long list of to-do's in a classroom. I didn't get a chance to sit down, as I went from one project to another throughout the day. We also broadcasted out on UStream throughout the day. Check out our channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/team-bond-innovation-day For our sharing, I had families come in during the evening to view the projects. We also shared our projects in the hallway near the office.
For the 2011-2012 School Year, I set a goal to have an Innovation Day each marking period. I only met that goal for the second and fourth marking period. Even though, having 2 Innovation Days was an improvement! This time for sharing I had a parent record their presentations on a Flip Camera, and I posted them to YouTube. They had to share what they made, note any challenges they might have had, and what they liked best.
I was excited for the second Innovation Day, in hopes that with one under their belt, the projects would be even better! There was more collaboration with our second Innovation Day, again scheduled the Tuesday after Memorial Day. We welcomed in small pets, more Legos, string tricks, character education, and much, much more. We even had our volunteer from the Walled Lake Library Storyteller's Connection, come and read to us about Famous Innovators! Check it out!
For the 2012-2013 School Year, I had hopes again for doing Innovation Days even more. Though I didn't have Innovation Days spefically, I did have days reserved for innovation. We participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge in the Fall, we started having BYOD Days every Thursday beginning with Digital Learning Day in February,and we had a day reserved for creating a better desk design through PBL. Our 3rd Annual Post-Memorial Day Innovation Day will be Tuesday, May 28, 2013, and we will be showcasing our innovation throughout the day live on You Tube using the On-Air feature of Google Hang Outs! We will broadcast at 10:00, 12:00, and 2:00 on the channel: www.youtube.com/teamthirdgrade.