Highlights from The Innovator’s Mindset Chapters 6 & 7 #IMMOOC

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We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. ~John Dewey

This week I am sharing my highlights from the chapters 6 & 7 of The Innovator’s Mindset. These chapters focused on learning, particularly engagement vs. empowerment and solidifying learning through reflecting.

Some things resonated for me, specifically the quote from Bill Ferriter about empowerment, and the pages in which Couros juxtaposed School vs. Learning.

At first thought, engagement is something I believe we as teachers look for in our students- we want them to be engaged in the content, engaged in our class, actively doing; engagement is a good thing, right? Reflecting on Ferriter’s quote though, makes engagement more something we are doing to our students to get them to want to learn what we have to teach them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as Couros said, something we as teachers should keep in mind when our students are with us. Perhaps we can have both. Perhaps our students can be engaged and empowered at the same time- they can engage with our content and be empowered with choice to use their strengths and passions to share their learning, pursue their questions, and learn more.

I’ll leave you with these highlights.

Chapter 6

  • It is imperative that we teach learners how to be self-directed and guide their own learning, rather than rely on others to simply engage them
  • “Engaging students means getting kids excited about our content, interests, and curricula.” Empowering students “means giving kids the knowledge and skills to pursue their passions, interests, and future.” ~Bill Ferriter
  • If you had to choose between compliant, engaged, or empowered, which word would you want to define your students?
  • “Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.” ~Harriet Rubin
  • Our job as educators and leaders is not to control others but to bring out the best in them.
  • We need to create the same opportunities for our students as those we would want for ourselves.
  • Innovation cannot be relegated to a one-off event.
  • The shift in our thinking must focus on what learning truly can be, not what is has been.
  • School is scheduled at certain times. Learning can happen any time, all of the time.
  • School is standardized. Learning is personal.
  • School often isolates. Learning is often social.
  • School promotes developing your own questions and finding answers.
  • Thinking you already know the answer can keep you from exploring new options.

Chapter 7

  • Before we decide how best to communicate our vision, we have to establish one; we have to articulate the desired characteristics of our learners and the optimal learning environment.
  • The people who help set the vision and mission are most likely to embrace it.
  • If we want innovative students, we need to be innovative leaders and educators. If we want to create a culture of innovation  we must first focus on furthering our own learning and growth.
  • Providing choice allows students to build on strengths and interests to make learning relevant and fulfilling.
  • DEAR time should be an opportunity not only for reading, but to also “Drop Everything And Reflect.”
  • It is important that “innovation” does not become an event for our students but the norm.
  • Let’s start asking kids to find problems and give them a sense of purpose in solving something authentic.
  • Teaching students how to assess themselves, rather than just do it for them, provides another opportunity for reflection.
  • Portfolios are a great way for learners to share their knowledge and document the learning process.
  • Looking back helps students develop their own understanding of where they have been, where they are, and where they are going.
  • What if we recognized and built on learners’ strengths?
  • Dreaming is important, but until we create the conditions where innovation in education flourishes, those dreams will not become reality.

It’s New(s) to Me!

This afternoon I learned about a new Google Docs feature- or, I should say, it was news to me because I do not recall having seen the option before. We can (now) add up to three columns to our Google docs. Imagine the possibilities that this feature will allow! Take a look. Thanks to Ryan Lynch for sharing this on Twitter!

Next is something I think you will really love! I learned this from Richard Byrne‘s Free Tech for Teachers newsletter that pops into my inbox weekly. JoeZoo Express is an add-on for Google Docs that you can get from my favorite store, the Chrome Web Store. What JoeZoo does is gives you a selection of comments to choose from (or you can add your own) which will make reading your students’ papers and offering feedback a snap! You can also create and add rubrics right there in the add-on and it will become part of the document.


Being classroom teachers, you probably have some sort of classroom library or set of books that you may let your students or colleagues borrow. Perhaps you have a sign-out sheet on a clipboard or cute stickers in the front of the book that says something like, “This book belongs to the classroom library of ________” , or maybe your name is emblazoned on the front cover in sharpie. While they all work, Google has come up with another way! It is an add-on for Google forms called Check-It-Out that you can get in the Chrome Web Store. You begin a Google form as usual, but you enable the add-on Check-It-Out to create the items. Then, when someone selects that item to check out, it is removed from the list of options and moves to the To-be-checked-in section (or whatever you choose to call it). The great thing about it is that because you are using Google forms, you are able to then see which items are out, who has them, and when they come back in. For more on this tool including a video explaining how to create your check out system, please read this post.

I have been reading a lot of articles and posts lately on personalized learning and thought I would share this opportunity with you to join in on a webinar next Tuesday from 1:00 – 2:00 PM Eastern Time called, “Beyond the Buzzword, Personalizing Learning at the Elementary Level”. Included with this link is also a free 16-page guide to Creating a Personalized Learning Plan for Every Student that you can download and begin using.

Finally, as one who often refers back to John Dewey and his educational philosophy, this next article from the Shipley PLN Lower and Middle School Edition on reflective questions to get your students thinking about learning is right up his alley. As I learned in my American Education Reform course that I took via Coursera, Dewey believed that genuine learning only occurs when humans focus attention on solving genuine problems AND then reflect on those experiences which makes future intelligent thought- intelligence comes not from just doing, but doing and reflecting. So perhaps you will choose to use these questions as exit tickets, reflection prompts, or just ways to encourage your students to think more deeply about the learning that is going on everyday in your classroom.

For more great articles and videos, please visit the Shipley PLN Lower and Middle School Edition.