Friday, August 28, 2015

@LSinnov8tions: The Journey Begins

In June 2014 I began reading Pure Genius by +Don Wettrick  and immediately knew that I had try to create the same type of learning path for the students entrusted to my care at La Salle High School. The Journey began about midway through the book when I began also taking in everything I could from his website The Innovation Teacher and then tracked Don down on Twitter @donwettrick.  By the end of the book I was completely hooked and already planting the seeds with administrators that this was in our future.

Now Don is an amazing individual and within 48 hours of my first email to him I was in a phone conversation picking his brain for ideas on how to get this thing going. A couple of email follow ups and some Twitter contact and I was selling the concept to our new Vice Principal of Academics, Edgar Salmingo (@mrsalmingo).

By January 2015, I was in our Junior classes selling the idea to students.  The pitch was, that this class was going to be amazing and that this was going to be their opportunity at a little academic freedom in order to pursue their passion projects in a Google 20% Time model 100% of the time.

By May2015, I had my class roster set and began meeting with students to set up Twitter accounts for @LSinnov8tions and assign the Summer Reading book list for students to choose  which author's  brilliance they would bring into our classroom. People like Dan Pink (@DanielPink) , Drive, Jonah Lehrer Imagine and Tina Seelig (@tseelig), inGenius were just some of the possibilities for students to learn from. (Innovations Summer Booklist)

In July I hosted our first two Twitter chats #LSHSInnov8 to begin learning to use Twitter and sharing ideas.  I was surprised at how many students were not familiar with Twitter and learned quickly not to assume anything about students previous knowledge and understanding.  Only four students attended that Wednesday morning Twitter but the exchange taking place was full of anticipatory excitement of the what this course was going to be about. One student was immediately followed and retweeted by several coin Tweeters as he had mentioned he wanted to learn coding as part of his project. The immediacy and reach of Twitter was definitely on display.  While I was disappointed that only four students joined in I simply chalked it up to the morning time and student avoiding the idea of school. I was even more disappointed when only one student appeared for the second chat forty-five minutes late.  I realized that even though the students were excited about the class they were not excited enough to give up their summer yet and think about school.

I did host a third Twitter the Sunday before school began and my excitement was raised once again by the twelve students who joined in and shared their summers, some of their reading commentary and beginning plans for their innovations projects.

And that brings us to Day One the start of the Journey.

The first day of school always has a certain air of anticipation and excitement as students share their summers, figure out what classes they have income and renew friendships.  However in my thirty years as an educator I have never experienced the energy that these students exuded as they talked about the possibilities ahead of them.  The excitement level was palpable and these future INNOV8TORS were ready to begin our journey.

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