Will the most effective innovation strategies please move forward?

Formative, summative, diagnostic, benchmark… just a few of the assessment types that educators utilize on an ongoing basis.  Beyond that, there are the dreaded ‘standardized tests‘ which cause many to cringe.

The articles this week do a good job distinguishing the different purposes of each.

That being said, the video that we were asked to watch, was questioning the role of assessments (as well as the content) that we are teaching students of today.

That’s where the material this week took me (truth be told – it was the past few weeks of this class that have me considering the following)…

How are we preparing the students of today (my own children included) for their futures?  What specific things am I doing to move students forward with purpose?  How can we be sure that the skills we are working on with students are valuable to them as problem solvers and innovators?  How can we give students the skills they require for jobs that don’t currently exist?

uberof202 ff via flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

In the library, I have a unique perspective to consider these questions with.  I get to spend large portions of my time looking for engaging resources (books) that my students will love, fostering reading skills, as well as modelling a love of reading (at least this is what I hope I am doing in the time I spend in this space).  I still see that as necessary learning though, we need reading whether for purpose or pleasure to function and be successful in life.

Beyond that though, where does my role place me – and how do my lessons and assessments allow students to grow as problem solvers and innovators?  Do I balance necessary skill sets with the freedom to consider ‘real life problems’?

A couple of years ago, I started learning/talking to teacher’s about Genius hour.  The concept evolved from Google’s “20% Time” .  I’ve had many classes attempt this process once or twice, but to my knowledge, none have committed to it going forward.



After experimenting with Genius hour (without any real traction), I am going to continue to promote the concept with any classrooms who are willing to work on it, but it’s become a space that I don’t feel effective in, because I don’t have control over a classroom full time.

For the last year or so, I have heard more and more about Maker Spaces.  Initially, this concept really frightened me (it seemed super tech-y, and way out of my comfort zone).  When I thought of maker-spaces, I thought of coding and robots, and well, things that I have almost zero experience with.  Additionally, I was told it is expensive, so I started to back away from the concept.  Eventually (mainly through my PLN and Alec’s classes) I started hearing more about the maker movement, and the multitude of mediums it can include.

I think this is where education should be going (if it’s not really heading there already).  Technology is dictating that our future is uncertain:  it is not static and always changing.  It is because of this that we need to demand that our students are innovators and problem solvers – we need to expect this of them.  We make up part of the global economy now, and if we would like to compete on that large scale, standardized tests are not going to get us there!

This year, I have decided that I am going to hold a ‘maker day’.  This will be a day in which all students in my school have the chance to come to the library and ‘tinker’ and make things – both with technology (coding), and creating with their hands.  A minimal budget will be established for this first year, and it will be built on yearly as the interest develops.  With any luck, teachers will be asking when they can sign up for this and how they can implement it within their classrooms.

I’ll keep you ‘posted’ on the progress!


7 thoughts on “Will the most effective innovation strategies please move forward?

  1. Hi Amy, great post. I like how you connected assessment and maker spaces. I think this connects really well to last week’s posts as well. Maker spaces are certainly examples of self-determined learning and Education 3.0. I am interested in hearing how your event goes. Do you think you will incorporate any kind of assessment into the event?

    1. Thanks Naomi- I was really throwing around all of the items this week’s group provided while still considering Web 3.0, and really, the Ted Talk was what resonated most with me this week (additionally in my role, a lot of my assessments are quick benchmark and formatives-and honestly, I can’t say I consistently do them with technology).

      I literally ordered a few of the things I needed today, and while I’m waiting for the mm to ship, I’ll be devising and planning all of the centres I will offer for different grade levels!

      I wasn’t planning to assess, more try it to see and adjust as necessary – but now that you bring it up, I think perhaps an exit slip or writing prompt might be warranted.

      Thanks for the questions- and I plan to blog about the experience (although it won’t likely happen until after this class is done, so you’ll have to stay tuned)!

  2. Great post once again Amy. I love how you have innovation and problem solving within this post. The maker day project you plan to implement sounds really valuable for your learners. Have you read the children’s book What Do You Do with an Idea? Here is an amazon link: https://www.amazon.ca/What-Do-You-Idea/dp/1938298071

    I had a parent bring this book in a couple of weeks ago as part of our Mystery Reader time at school and I fell in love with it. This is the description on the amazon page and I feel it’s very fitting to the idea of innovation:

    “A little boy has an idea, but is perplexed on what to do. Share it with others? Pretend it doesn’t exist? This idea is not to be deterred, it won’t leave – it needs attention. Encourage thinking big and dreaming outside the box.”

    Thanks for another great read and I look forward to hearing more about your “maker day”!

    1. Thanks Erin!

      I LOVE that story – and I’ve gathered quite a few through the course of ‘genius hour’ and when I was thinking about starting coding. I would also recommend: “Beautiful Oops”, “The Girl Who Never made Mistakes”, “The Most Magnificent Thing” (one of my favourites), “Going Places” (another favourite).

      I will let you know how the day goes – will definitely be posting about it!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share your ideas with me!

  3. Oh boy, can I relate to that lone little goldfish right about now. I’m not sure if magic is happening, but I’ve never thought so much about or talked so much about any class I’ve ever taken in about 12 years of university. The first heard the term “Makerspace” when I read a tweet by @BradLatzke… It is certainly not a part of my current paradigm, but I have a feeling it will be before I’m done this Master’s! Good for you for taking the initiative to help the students at your school to become “makers”!

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