Known-to-Unknown taking risks in the pursuit of better

Wednesday, March 8, 2017: Part I-An Innovator's Mindset (#Immooc s2ep2)

About a year ago, if you asked me what came to mind when I heard the word INNOVATION, my number one response would have most likely been TECHNOLOGY. Throughout the first chapter of The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros defines innovation as a way of thinking and explicitly dispels the connections I made to tech; something to which I gave much more credit.

I don't disagree with him on this idea, however, aside from my classroom position, I am the technology chairperson for my building…so I live and breathe technology. I am very proud of the chances I am taking in my classroom with the use of our 10 ipad minis. To me, these chances were innovative because my intentions have always been, as Katie Martin says in her Ted Talk "to provide optimal learning experience for my student."

Most recently, I redesigned our science notebooks into a digital format. I Started with a problem-some 7 year old can't take legible notes and perform investigations at the same time. Handwriting and sketches didn't help them study for their performance tasks at the end of the unit. Using Book Creator, my students now have a way to type in their thinking (or using the talk-to-text feature), use the pen as a colorful drawing tool, and take photos and videos of their investigations. I love that this allows me to share their books with their families in the form of videos or pdfs. I also love how simple it is to publish these ebooks to iTunes for family and friends to download. This to me has been a change that has optimized the learning and sharing of knowledge in my classroom. I continue to ask if it's working for my students...and make adjustments when needed, but here's an example of my first: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/let-me-teach-you!/id1113829265?mt=11

In Chapter 2, four critical questions are provided as a way to reflect on one's own teaching. Stepping outside one's own body and observing your classroom can be a harsh reality on a rough day. Would YOU want to be a learning in your own class? That's the question you ask yourself if you are even a tiny bit hesitant to make big changes. It is extremely important to understand our students if we want to provide opportunities for each of them to make an impact in our world. Knowing their passions and creating a true learning community with all stakeholders involved will allow us to facilitate innovative ways to share ideas-the book report template you used when YOU were in school needs to find the paper shredder! How about playing 20 questions with your favorite author via Skype as your presentation!!! Lastly, the most important thing a teacher can do to support learning is to reflect on what's happening in their room. "How did this work for our students?' should be a question asked daily! Maybe it is working…but can something new…work better!?

One additional question, I would suggest asking is "What opportunities are being provided for my students to take risks and follow those passions?". I'd say this is a sub-question related to creating that true learning community, but you may have a wonderful learning community without the ability for students to reach a global audience.

Of the 8 Characteristics of the Innovator's Mindset found in Chapter 3, I feel I exemplify being a risk-taker the most. I always enjoy a good challenge, and I'm not afraid to try something new! I model for my students this attribute by accepting that which goes WRONG as a learning process rather than a failure. The only way to create that environment of risk-taking is to truly believe that along that path to your product, with every mistake, with every distraction towards success, you gain something that will take you to an even NEWER and BETTER road less traveled.

Monday, March 6, 2017: A Culture Shift Towards INNOVATION

I'm currently reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, a book which you will regularly see me reference. I was fortunate to get to hear him speak as the 2014 MACUL conference Keynote Speaker. What an inspiration. I consider myself on the intro/extrovert fence...especially when in a venue such as COBO Hall filled with thousands of educators and innovators with imaginations far more developed than mine. I walked up to George to introduce myself. I had no idea what to say, and I'm pretty sure I didn't say anything of substance...but I knew that I had to connect with him somehow.

Lucky for me, it wasn't my last encounter with the Canadian - obvious within his first few words! My district had snatched an opportunity to invite him to speak to a small group of teachers and administrators at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. It was a highly-motivating day and a great way to kick-off a new year. It was the day of my first video reflection on Twitter - talk about "put yourself out there!" We were also gifted a copy of his book and it's been an ongoing adventure since then!

After missing "Season 1" of the Innovator's Mindset Massive Open Online Course (IMMOOC), I am here for Season 2! In a culture of Social Media...why not use it to our advantage!? Twitter has become a global resource for communicating with educators and sharing ideas with the most inspirational people. #IMMOOC is a space for learning and growing with others in the field of innovation, technology and learning and to reflect on that learning.

As George says, "Taking risks is moving from the Known to the Unknown in the pursuit of 'BETTER'." This is me...taking a risk-putting my thinking out there for others to question and support. Join me on my journey...to th'UNKNOWN!

Created By
Eric Andary
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Created with images by Alexas_Fotos - "boards height balance" • avantrend - "gear mechanics wheels" • Sean MacEntee - "iPad" • andresantanams - "scientist lab caterpillar" • fdecomite - "Itunes" • geralt - "personal group world" • www.audio-luci-store.it - "babies at the blackboard" • fireboat895 - "Sunset after the Storm" • Alexas_Fotos - "time for a change new ways letters"

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