Inspiration Needed to Innovate??

One of the podcasts I listen to regular is John Spencer from The Creative Classroom. His podcast from last month "We need to Trust Teachers to Innovate" had me thinking about other ways to bring in Design Thinking.

As with previous years, I only see students for 30 to 40 minutes. This means I don't have time to do a full Launch sequence with students. (John Spencer co-created "Launch" with AJ Juliani) We tend to do Design Sprints hitting pieces of the process (check out my Instagram for more). This last one creating a Jack O'Lantern. This lesson was more about feedback and using that feedback to create multiple prototypes before the final version was due.

Getting back to John Spencer's podcast, it got me thinking about how I could innovate reading fluency. It got me thinking about how I could take our choice board and think outside the box like many of my 3rd graders were wanting me to do. As I was thinking about this idea could it really live within my fluency group?

The thing a really like about John is that he is a teacher. He understands everything that goes on within our walls but is ideas push traditional thinking. My takeaway--Innovation of the little things, give voice & choice and take learning outside of the box and off road! My Fluency Choice boards give students a chance to be author, filmmakers, artists, and engineers I'm giving them voice & choice in how they want to build their reading fluency.

Its a blind leap based half in data and half in something needs to change with what they are doing to improve their reading fluency. I'm also stepping into the unknown as I experiment with this idea.

This image John helps me visualize and rationalize my idea in the hopes that I'm not in the weeds. "But here’s the thing: innovation requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our attention on best practices and codify these ideas into tightly packaged curriculum, we will inevitably fail to experiment."

So, I ditched what most would consider a fabulous Tier 3 Reading Fluency technology based Reading Fluency trial based on the fact the data didn't support going and asking for the money to buy the licenses to continue using the program. Talk about being stuck between the data and the need to change my intervention--I went with innovation.

The Choice Board I created uses technology because it will force my students to think outside the box and will make them become artists and filmmakers. And I don't have a problem with this as it fits my students' strengths while they work on their weaknesses. (A bonus in my book!!)

Most of these apps they have used to support reading comprehension, others are new but with a tweak all with tackle fluency. All I added was a dice. Students will roll the dice at least twice over the 30 minutes I have them. All their work will be turned in to Seesaw each day.

One thing John points out is "Have your students publish their work to a real audience. For all the fear surrounding social media, we make a mistake when we say, “avoid this” without saying, “try out this.” Too often, the goal is to avoid a digital footprint at all cost rather than finding ways to create a positive digital footprint."

I have been toying with the idea of having them podcast--going back to Launch. I'm wanting them to see the purpose so they need to launch it to an audience other than me and mom. But I'm not sure.

As I move to paperless with groups, I'm finding ways to bring a touch of innovation to each group. It's the baby steps and knowing its ok to fail. My students and I embrace our mistakes. We use them an evidence that we are learning and work to learn from them. We are all learning to grow from feedback--just like they did with the Jack o'Lanterns.

In both cases, I wanted and found real audiences for my students. This needs to happen for reading fluency. I just have to keep looking. What can you give students voice & choice with to help you innovate in your classroom? Try something... and play!!

Until Next Time,


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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