Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Bad Idea Factory

In previous years, Melissa had always done The Bad Idea Factory in her classroom. This year, we did it a bit differently. The huge whiteboard in my room often becomes a place for conversation among students. Sometimes when the kiddos walk in, there is a question on the board and they put answers up over the course of the week. A few weeks ago, we turned that space into our Wonder Wall and the kids had a lot of questions to post. The space has become communal and conversational. The Bad Idea Factory was no different.

I ran things just like Melissa did in the past. I introduced the concept of ideas germinating and morphing into other ideas. We talked about how someone can take one idea and come up with something completely different because their mind was able to move from Point A to Point D. Kids understand this and they have good ideas. Often the problem is that we don't ever ask them what their ideas are. Genius Hour depends on the kids' ideas. Those ideas are the entire content of the Genius Hour program.

"Think of things you're good at, you'd like to make, you'd like to invent, problems you would like to solve," I told the kiddos. "Write them on the slips of paper and post them to the board." They did. The ideas kept coming and coming. Now, sometimes we have kids who are a wealth of ideas; they cannot get enough slips of paper. Others come up with one or two and "can't think of anything else". We push those kids just a bit more to really dig down, read the ideas that others are posting, and try to come up with more. Often they do. When we are done posting, the kids take a few minutes to browse the board. There are a lot of laughs and a lot of "that's cool" comments. 

As the days went by after we did the Bad Idea Factory, many of the kids realized that those were not bad ideas on the board. They were really good ideas. We talked about that in class, how things that we initially think are bad ideas are, upon reflection, pretty good ideas after all. We talked about how self-editing can be devastating because if we don't even put forth an idea, we'll never know if it can work. One girl, Destiny, even took it upon herself to change the word "bad" to "good". Now, on our whiteboard wall, we have The Good Idea Factory. 

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