EdCamp Atlanta is honored to have Alabama Sweet Sixteen Educator, Julie D Ramsay, as a Guest Blogger.
Julie D. Ramsay, NBCT
Fultondale Elementary School
Author: Can We Skip Lunch and Keep Writing? Collaborating in Class and Online Grades 3-8
What is Innovation Day? Innovation Day was born in the business world and originally called a FedEx Day (because it’s delivered in 24 hours or less). Anyone who has read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, is familiar with this concept which increases productivity and motivation among their employees while fostering creative thinking and problem solving. The employees are given employees the time to explore new and creative ideas during the regular work day. These ideas made their way into the innovative classrooms of Josh Stumpenhorst and Pernille Ripp (and into my Google Reader).
An activity that gives students the ability to drive their own learning and fosters creative thinking and problem solving is an opportunity that I really want to provide to my students. They would be given one day to learn about any subject that interested them...one that we didn't study in school. I knew this concept was new to everyone involved…administrators, parents, and students. Because we are a nontraditional classroom, I knew my students would be the easiest to prepare for this activity, but as we know, often other adults are the last ones to try a new idea. I went to our new administrator and explained the Innovation Day concept with the proposed learning outcomes. I asked if we could have one day out of strict schedule to try this out. Thankfully, she agreed. Thanks to Pernille, I adapted her pre-planning sheet to send home to the parents. I also sent an email explaining the concepts and my learning objective to the parents. Every parent supported our day and returned the pre-planning sheets signed.
Now it was time to prepare the students. As with so many activities in the classroom, I knew that the success of this day really depended on how well the students had prepared before the actual day. About two weeks before our Innovation Day, we began readingMistakes that Worked by Charlotte Foltz Jones. This fascinating book includes a host of daily items that we enjoy daily that were created by accident. They are organized into short stories which worked well with our schedule. This book fostered some amazing, deep discussion about creativity, pursuing your passion, and thinking outside of the box.
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