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#IMMOOC Week 2: Opportunities for Innovation

How can you create opportunities for innovation in your teaching?

This week, I referenced my #BookSnaps from Chapters 1-3 and couldn't stop thinking about the quote above on page 25. "When we think differently about the things we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities." Innovation is a way of thinking. If I just think differently about activities I do daily, I can create new innovative lessons. I took a few moments this week to stop and think differently before a class walked into my elementary general music classroom. I wondered how I can think differently about my lessons and create more choice, allow opportunity to share their awesome with the world and/or find a way to empower my students with a task.

It was pretty amazing how a handful of moments to think differently about my instruction transformed my week. I'll share one example.

My first graders are working on using their solo singing voice with two or more pitches. So, we read the book, "Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" by Mo Willems. Children love this book. A bus driver asks the reader to make sure the pigeon doesn't drive the bus. I asked the kids to sing "Oh, no" each time the pigeon asked to drive the bus. We practiced singing those two pitches over and over again throughout the book. After the book, we played with the iPad app, Sock Puppet.

The next time they came to music, they were super excited to create their own Sock Puppet skit. I set them up for success with guidelines for their skit and armed them with some tech tips so they could be as independent as possible. I sent them on their way and watched with a happy heart. The room was music to any elementary genereal music teacher's ears. Children were singing in all corners of the room and super excited to share their creations.

Here's the part where I took a moment to think differently. A child in another grade level had asked me if we could share an activity we did in music on Seesaw. He said, "I really want my parents to see what we did." I answered with enthusiasm that I would get the video of our activity to him today so he could share. I thought to myself, "Kids love sharing their creations." Then it hit me. Kids SHOULD share their creations with others. It really is that simple. It was then that I decided I would offer this opportunity to my first graders. I told them we could a) share our skits with our parents in Seesaw but also, b) I could share our skits to the world through our classroom Twitter page.

What happened next was so rewarding. You would have thought I promised them a million dollars. When I told them we could share on Seesaw and/or our classroom Twitter page, the energy level in the room sky rocketed. Their little minds were blown. I heard students say, "I can send my skit out into the world?" I showed them our new classroom Twitter page and told them yes, we could send this out to the world. In fact, we SHOULD send our awesome out into the world. The world needs our awesome.

And just like that, the children were in it. We went to work and the level of engagement was through the roof. They chose their puppets, set, and props and when everything was just how they wanted it, they sang their little hearts out so they could get their skits just right. I teared up a little as I looked out into my classroom. It was that awesome.

I took this already fun, engaging lesson but brought it to a new level. The most surprising part to me about the whole thing was that it really only took a moment or two to think differently about what I was already doing. These are the ways I can create opportunities for innovation. As educators, we need to take the time to reflect, think differently, and take little steps towards innovation.

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