#IMMOOC I’m a risk taker.

I’m a risk taker. I love to learn new things from twitter, podcasts, books, friends, and even billboards! I enjoy trying new things with my students and helping them find enjoyment in learning. I truly believe that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life! I see it as my mission to help children find a love of learning that will last them their lifetime. My purpose is to help them find their passion and explore it. I teach first grade and I constantly think about my students as adults. What I design for them in first grade will help them in their future.

I #innovate4littles in my classroom because they CAN ! The first time I tried Genius Hour, I did it because I just knew it couldn’t be done with littles and boy was I wrong! At the time I taught kindergarten and they ran with it. Littles are natural risk takers because no one has told them they can’t yet and so they believe they can! That year, my littles inspired me to be a risk taker through their hard work, learning, and application of standards and content though self guided experiences in Genius Hour.

I am a risk taker for my littles because they take risks everyday. I empathize with them because it must be so scary! So, I join in and model taking risks, failing, trying again, and hopefully succeeding. I hope that my risk taking inspires them to love learning for the rest of their lives and become innovators of whatever they choose to have a passion for. I hope that my littles never work a day in their lives!

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Why I choose to #Innovate4Littles #IMMOOC

I decided to join the #IMMOOC a massive open online course (MOOC) for educators focusing on the book Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. I saw this hastag flying around twitter and had no idea what it was until recently. I decided to join because it seems to be a transformative PLN. I am super excited to join this community of inspirational and innovative educators.

In January 2017 I started thinking about my teaching and why I make the instructional choices I make. There is a lot of energy right now around being innovative. I worry that this will become a buzz word and lose it’s power. I also worry because there are many who believe young children cannot handle innovative instruction. They are just too little. I had the idea while talking to my bestie, Caitlin McCommons, about this because we believe that littles are capable and #innovate4littles was born! We believe that littles (K-2 students) can participate in the exciting, challenging, fun, innovative learning experiences that big kids get. We also know that these experiences need to be scaled to be developmentally appropriate for our littles. We created #innovate4littles as a way to share and curate innovative practices we use in our classrooms.

As part of the #IMMOOC we were tasked to answer the following question:

Why is innovation in education so crucial today?

I believe that as this world changes, children need to learn to be brave and flexible. There are problems that need to be solved and we need to grow learners who are creative problem solvers. We need to teach children to be brave in the face of a problem and flexible enough to try multiple solutions. We need children to be brave enough to collaborate with people near and far and flexible enough to listen to different perspectives. We need children to be brave enough to take on careers that don’t yet exist and flexible enough to change the careers of the future. In order to teach children to be brave and flexible, I need to be brave and flexible with them. That is why I choose to #Innovate4Littles.

#FailForward with paper airplanes

Today was a hectic day. Track 2 tracked out and needed a home base for the day so the track 3 teacher could move into her room. So the track 2 teacher and I decided to #innovate4littles! We planned a paper airplane STEM challenge. It was hard. It was fun. It was dramatic. It was challenging. It was busy. It was engaging. It was amazing. It was innovative!

First, we watched this video. (Don’t judge the weird voices. It was the best we could find on short notice.)

And then we challenged them! We asked them to make a paper airplane that could fly far and not catch on fire. 😜 We showed them a paper airplane book (which a friend called out to identify as a how-to book! 🤗#elaKW2 #innovate4littles)

Then we gave them the rules:

  1. make an airplane
  2. write your name on the airplane
  3. the only material you can use for your airplane is paper (no tape, no glue, no scissors, no paperclips.)

We told them they could use youtube kids to search for how to videos, use the how-to books we had or teach each other if they already knew how to make paper airplanes. The kids immediately broke into their own working groups to build some airplanes. We walked around and called out what we saw for some of the lone roamers to find a group. “Chloe is teaching this group how to fold a paper airplane.” “Ian found a video on youtube kids.” “This group is following the how-to book.”


The room was buzzing with students folding paper. I won’t lie, there were tears. A LOT of tears. Teachers sat down with the stressed out kinders to slow down the steps, model, provide extra hands to stabilize paper being folded, and pause videos at the right moment. Coaching, scaffolding, good teaching.


Then they were ready to test their creations. We went outside to fly them. (We didn’t measure distance this time. That will come soon though!) Kinders teamed up to see who could fly theirs farther than the other. They made sure to start at the same standing spot to be fair. They struggled again because the wind blew the airplanes in crazy directions. (#scieKE1 #ssKG21)

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Finally, we brought them together to debrief. We discussed how it was hard for everyone. Almost every kinder had to use more than one sheet of paper to make a successful airplane. One kinder even used 13 sheets of paper before getting a flying airplane! We talked about how you can learn from something not working. How you change to make it work. How struggle makes your brain grow. How even though it was hard everyone who kept trying made it work. How paper airplanes are like reading, writing, and math. Because mistakes are good, not getting it the first time is good, struggle is good. Then we watched a video on Class Dojo about Growth Mindset. And discussed how it connected to the paper airplanes and learning.

Sometimes you need to take a break from your pacing guide and teach life lessons.

Please share a time when you switched gears and tried something like this with your class.