Our district had three two-hour delays and one snow day this week, so ‘frantic’ might be the best descriptor of most teachers in the building. Cutting down assessments or cramming traditional lessons into 34 minute blocks is tough on us, but probably tougher on students. Imagining a year from now, I’ve been wondering whether Innovation Lab projects will be more flexible under the weight of snowy schedules. Is an individualized project easier to jump in and out of? If students are self-pacing and self-scheduling, are disruptions less disruptive? We think so.
GHS’ Innovation Lab is unique, but it is not the only project-based school program out there. We’ve seen that before in Hawaii and California and New York. Another was brought to our attention in April by our own media center specialist Susan Morris (video below) and the same school popped up again this week after a visit by our partners at GLP. Newton North High School’s own Innovation Lab is a home base for the hands on community problem solving that has permeated through their entire school. Newton North is back to the top of the list of next schools to contact and visit.
Our own team ended up at Greenwich Academy this week, a local private school of around 800 girls. Our headmaster spoke there in January and mentioned Innovation Lab. Their faculty asked us back to speak on Wednesday. It felt strange – sitting in front of sixteen other teachers and answering their questions about how we develop projects. We’re still planning! We’ve only implemented this style of learning in a comparatively small way in our own classrooms. However, at some point in the last couple months, there’s been a shift in our roles from researchers of project-based learning to those who can and will implement it in a deep way. We’re not experts, but we’re learning from those who are and closing the gap between us.
Newton North HS Student on his own learning:
Greengineering at NNHS:
Susan Norris’ video of NNHS’ Innovation Lab