Innovation in Schools
What are Innovative Leaders doing?
Region 11 Examples
Student Ambassador Board for Region 11
Fort Worth ISD
I am currently working on a project with all of the 11th grade students at one of our High Schools. It's a take on the TV Show Shark Tank. We call it Lit Tank. The kids have to come up with a business, product, or community service project that ties in (in any way) to literature and literacy. They create a pitch website and a presentation that are judged by our "Sharks". The winners get giant fake $1 million dollar checks and bragging rights. The kids are free to choose anything they want to do within those parameters. They choose their own groups, set up their own work schedule (they have a 3 week period), and decide how to delegate the work load. Their teachers and I facilitate the process and act as resources as they write a business plan, budget, create a social media advertising campaign, write a persuasive essay, find mentors and write formal business letters to them, and create their final presentation to our judges.
The students love this project because they have so much freedom...so many choices. Then they realize...that with that freedom comes responsibility. That with choices comes the need to make decisions (in consensus). It's an amazing learning experience for the kids (and us).
Next year, we plan to try opening up the groups beyond their own classrooms. Thanks to Google Apps for Education, we believe we can accommodate teams across different teachers/class periods...and since the kids have asked for it...we are going to try to make that happen for them next year...giving them even more choices.
The challenge with this project is giving choice to kids who are so entrenched in the spoon-fed traditional system. They flounder around quite a bit at first...they wait to be told to do something or seem to lack the ability to figure things out for themselves...but with a little coaching and some guided questions, they tend to get back on track. It's just a shame that this is a consistent issue...it's made it very apparent that our kids are not asked to choose very often (they get really stressed, flustered, or overwhelmed when they get a chance to actually make their own learning decisions). It's definitely pointed out an area of weakness in our district.