Thursday, January 24, 2013

Innovation Day #1 - The Beginning

Friday is INNOVATION DAY #1 in my Math Classes.

I want to see this implemented school wide. But, I need to experience it myself. So, my classes are having Innovation Day every Friday for the rest of the year.


I got the idea from Josh Stumpenhorst, Stumpteacher Blog. Other schools have called it "Genius Hour" and you can even follow #geniushour on Twitter. The idea is based on the 80/20 Rule at Google.
 Google give it's Engineers 20% of their work week to spend creating things that interest them. This work is completely separate from their usual daily assignments. Other companies have done the same thing. This policy has helped Google remain the leading Search Engine and true Internet leader. It is the GOLD STANDARD for companies across the world.

I'm bringing Google's 80/20 rule to Garrett High School.

My students have been given every Friday through the end of the year to Innovate, Create, Research, Study, and learn about what THEY want to learn about. Tomorrow, we will begin the road to teaching CREATIVITY to students through practicing CREATIVITY. The other 80% of the time we, as teachers, will lead and guide students in the paths WE CHOOSE. Tomorrow they will do the leading.

I introduced this topic on Monday and already MANY of my students are planning their projects. I have a student who is going to work at creating an IPAD app for me. Neither of us know exactly how to do this. But, he has already been researching how to make an APP. Frankly, this student is brilliant in many ways. He has a great mind for computers and programming. He has already TAUGHT HIMSELF some pretty complicated computer programming. I can't wait to see what he creates.

I have another group of students who will be working on a film. They are also pumped and have done some preliminary work on their project. I do have a LARGE number of students that DON"T HAVE AN IDEA WHAT TO DO! Unfortunately, this is a SAD commentary on education. We have sucked the creativity out of our students. Many of our students struggle when we leave them on their own to create. I even see this in my traditional math lessons. When we do "DISCOVERY" types of lessons, I get the most whining and complaining. Students would prefer to be given a text book full of identical problems that they can workout like a factory. BORING! and not very LIFE LIKE! Students have learned the system. Most of our students have figured out "THE SYSTEM" and are comfortable with it. Then here comes "Mr. RHOADES" and he changes the system. It really stretches them and makes them uncomfortable. If we want students to create, we are going to have to help them to RELEARN their creativity.

SO, what does this have to do with MATH? One of the most important objectives I have for my MATH students is to teach them to plan, organize, and problem solve. Math teaches you to take problems, break them down into small pieces, organize the pieces, and follow theses pieces to a logical solution. In real life, problem solving, producing, or creating may or may not involve a lot of numbers and formulas. But, all the things I teach my students are crucial to creating and being successful. They may never have to use the Quadratic Equation again after they graduate. But, the REAL math skills we teach them will be used everywhere!

Tomorrow is the start of a very SCARY day for me, the traditional MATH teacher. I am already apprehensive. Do you  know why? Because I'm not going to be in control, the students are. That is scary for this 52 year Math Teacher. WISH ME LUCK or should I say, WISH MY STUDENTS SUCCESS!

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