Creating Innovators

creatinginnovatorsIt’s so true…anyone who’s spent time in an elementary school classroom knows students start with endless imagination, curiosity, and lots of creativity…that is, until they learn how best to answer the question (versus asking the thoughtful question).  Our students, considered digital natives, spend more time on devices today (even IN our classrooms) than not.  When they are not in our classrooms, they are still “going to school”—just on the Internet.

So how do we create innovators in our school setting everyday?  In his book, Creating Innovators, Tony Wagner explores what parents, teachers, and employers in the 21st Century should do to develop the capacity within our youth to become innovators.  Adults in a child’s life are the first ones to nurture creativity and spark imagination while teaching the child how to persevere and learn from failure.  There are patterns developed in childhood creative play leading to special interests and deeper purpose for career and life goals.  Play, passion, and purpose, he concedes, are the driving forces for young innovators.

I’ve challenged our classroom leaders to read this book as a pipeline for creative talent, taking note of the ideas that might create change in their learning environments through play, passion, and purpose.  My personal thoughts on parenting, education, and mentoring have changed in quite profound ways from studying these innovators.  This generation of learners/innovators lives in a radically different world than we did growing up…global economy, connectivity, and strong competition being just a few of the drastic differences.  As one of my teachers noted during our conversation about this book the other day, “I’m not teaching a subject anymore; I’m here to teach a process for learning that will follow them always…how to successfully teach themselves.”   🙂  Learning to learn with the daily explosion of technology available brings new meaning to “lifelong learner.”  Tony Wagner is right:  “What makes this generation of innovators unique, and what ultimately give me faith about their future, is that no matter what they encounter in life, they will find a way to figure it out.”  Here’s hoping we do our personal best to foster innovation daily!

‘Snow kidding!

IMG_3157Our LME Staff returned in force early this morning to spend a full day creating, collaborating, and sharing innovative work.  Through various iPad apps, our campus iBook Playbook, team-building activities, and special “tech talk,” each member actively participated in IMG_3156communicating consistently across the curriculum.  From homemade omelets at breakfast to sweet flavorful treats as an afternoon snack, our Miller Team flourished.  Special thanks to our Mt. Peak friends for a fun afternoon session with you!

We are ready to welcome our learning community in a couple of days and look forward to seeing our learners in action.  Here’s hoping you are savoring those last few days of summer because it’s nearly time…’snow kidding!  🙂

Conversation and Thinking Games

While visiting with a small group of learners this morning, I asked the question:  “What is one important thing we have today that we didn’t have 10 years ago?”  Expecting answers like the iPhone, Kindle, X-Box 360, or wikis, this precious little voice says, “that’s easy, Mrs. Van—it’s us!”  🙂  Yes, there are advancements daily and keeping current at LME on the latest and greatest trends is a full-time job really (as a parent myself, it’s simply overwhelming at times).  Beyond all the great technology and newest gadgets though, I asked questions during our conversation to dive deeper into their thinking.  For example, as an adult, I still yearn for those conversations and thinking games I did with my parents growing up while we commuted to lessons, practices, and the like.  For instance, we had a game called “Would You Rather.”  Dad asked:  “Would you rather live in the mountains or on a beach and why?  Would you rather share a milkshake or a sundae and why?”  We also played a game called “Favorite Things.”  Mom picked a category (songs, movies, sodas) and we all shared our top favorites in that category.  One of my daughters created a game she called “What Doesn’t Belong?”  We took turns naming items and asking the others to explain which is unique and why.  They especially liked this game because there were usually several correct answers:  “Owl, ostrich, and eagle”  (ostriches can’t fly and owls hunt at night, for example). Here’s Mr. Van driving his car and asking me questions . . . .

Funny games like these promote thinking and creativity at higher levels; they also create stimulating conversation, something young learners crave in particular.  Just like my conversation with my small group this morning, here’s hoping we all take a little time to listen, ask, converse, and think in clever ways!

Note:  Our 4th Annual LME Chili Cook-off and BINGO Night is tomorrow evening starting @ 6:00 p.m. in the cafe; we hope to see you there!