Breakout Group: Innovation 101

Breaking Out of the Box: Students as Innovators

March 22, 2017

Breakout Group: Innovation 101

Mentor(s): Emily Kirsch (
Kyle Liao (

Breakout Group Summary: Interested, but not really sure where to start? Come and join us for a chat to explore the ins and outs of a variety of classroom innovations: Inquiry-based learning, cross-curricular and arts integration, flexible seating.

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Discussion Questions:

Discussion Notes:


Resource Name


Audience/ Grade level

Description: Why/How/When to use

Examples of Innovative Units, by Emily Kirsch

Original Innovative Units

1-6, but could be modified

These units were created during Masters’ classes for a degree in Elementary Education. Some were taught in full, others only partly, but all include examples of lesson sequence, assessment, resources, and analysis.

What is Inquiry-Based Learning?

Inquiry-Based Learning: Developing Student-Driven Questions


The staff and students at Wildwood IB Magnet School in Chicago, IL walk you through the basics of Inquiry-Based learning. They speak of its purpose and provide some examples in K-8.

Planning Inquiry-Based Learning Opportunities

Phases of Inquiry-Based Learning


This article walks you through the four phases of inquiry-based instruction: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend. Can you find ways to apply parts of this in your own instruction

Inquiry-Based Learning = Driving Questions

Example Research Document for Students

Upper grades, but could be modified

Inquiry-Based learning is dependent upon the ability of students to ask good questions. This document pairs with the above link and is an example of a document students could use to organize their questions (from Wildwood Magnet Schools).

A Collection of Resources for Inquiry-Based Learning

Resources and Downloads to Facilitate Inquiry-Based Learning


Thank you to Edutopia for collecting all of these great resources!

What is Flexible Seating?

Flexible Seating and Student-Centered Classroom Redesign


An overview of flexible seating in the classroom - article also includes many links to research and benefits of this shift.

Transitioning to Flexible Seating

Flexible Seating Reflections

Mainly K-5

This teacher provides an honest reflection on her transition into flexible seating. She also takes the time to answer some “FAQ” that many teachers will have with this big change.

Creating a Classroom Environment that is ‘Brain-Compatible”

10 Tips for a Classroom Redesign


This article pairs well with the flexible seating introduction. I absolutely love the tips on creating a “brain-compatible” environment in the classroom. This in itself is an innovation!

Re-designing learning spaces for 21st Century Learning

Classroom furniture ideas from Steelcase


How do we design classrooms to foster a variety of learning purposes and multiple teaching modes? How does classroom design affect how innovative students can be?

Tips from a Teacher on Project-Based Learning

Learning by Doing: A Teacher Transitions to PBL


A short look into a teacher’s experience transitioning into a PBL classroom. Teacher provides good tips for those planning to try it!

Inquiry-based Learning in a Real Classroom

Anthony Johnson: Johnsonville


A short article on how Anthony Johnson, a teacher from North Carolina, found success in innovation.

Project-based learning Performance Tasks

Defined STEM


Sample performance tasks from Defined STEM that requires students to design real world solutions.

Design Thinking: a methodology for student innovation

Design Thinking at Avenues


Design Thinking is a methodology for creating original designs and ideas through a process that flows from brainstorming to iteration to final product. Avenues, a private school in NYC, utilizes this process to give students framework for being innovative.

Favorite Children’s Picture Books for Teaching Science

Science through Picture Books


A comprehensive list of picture books for teaching science. Provides an excellent, alternative entry point for innovative thinking.

Ways to Make Cross-Curricular Connections in Instruction

Cross-Curricular Connections


A great intro into thinking about cross-curricular instruction. Gives four examples of ways to integrate curriculum from other subjects. I recommend this as a starting point!

Using emojis in the classroom

Emojication Desktop App

All (ELL especially)

An application that adds emojis and an ever expanding library of image icons into text in order to help English Language Learners access content

Chrome Toolbox

Assistive Technology

All (Especially students with special needs)

This is a collection of great tools/extensions for assistive technology.

BIE Project-Based Learning



Discussion Questions:

What is innovation?

What are different types of innovation in the classroom?

How is innovation important in the classroom?

How do you see innovation fitting into your curriculum? (It could be the smallest ways possible!)

What skills does fostering innovation teach students?

How have you tried to get your students to be more innovative in the past?

What roadblocks have you faced when it comes to innovation?

What do you wish you could with innovation if you had total freedom and unlimited resources?

Discussion Notes:

What is innovation?

Why innovation?

-Think of startup companies: Rapid solutions to problems in the “real world”

-Technology is always turning over quickly, “keeping the margin of error alive in innovation”

-Genius, creativity, accepting failure (students need to see teachers fail, too)

-”Creating a culture of mistakes”

-Letting students be the teachers

20 teachers to make it worth the license.

Assign moderators to maintain the chat.

Google Slides Q&A - Article:

How to do innovation?

Roadblocks to innovation

- Trust students to be the owners of technology, let them decide the app or method of expression

- When thinking of seating think: What is this classroom asking learners to do?

-Here is an innovative classroom:

- Let students design their own assessments?

- Logistics of borrowing the computer cart

- How do we redesign how computer carts are used?