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Feeding Student Entrepreneurship
January 14, 2016 | Volume 11 | Issue 9
Table of Contents
Strategies to Encourage Innovative Thinking
When introducing students to the concept of innovation, teachers can hook students' interest by discussing the U.S. Patent Office and its role in recognizing true innovation. A brief discussion about the Patent Office can help students understand that some ideas fail, or simply are not innovative enough. Many innovations, however, are successful and do end up as products or ideas that make a difference (about 60% of ideas submitted for patent approval are approved).
Introducing the idea of the formal patent approval process reinforces student understanding of innovation as a response to a need or problem. This approach can be used in different content areas to springboard students' exploration of the innovative process:
Students studying World War II look at innovations that received patents during that time. Which ones had to do with a response to the needs of the war? Why was innovation important during that timeframe?
After students explore the relationship between innovation and patents, they are ready to apply the innovation process to the content they are studying.
Figure 1. The Innovation Process
Brainstorm possible needs or problems and ways to respond.
Figure 2. Innovation Activities Across Content Areas
Innovation in the creative classroom can take many forms. For example, a 5th grade teacher presenting a unit on the Westward Movement asks students to come up with an innovative way to improve a Conestoga wagon and actually make their new and improved wagon. This assignment requires students to research how the wagons were used, determine what the needs were at that time, and respond to a need. Groups of students use the innovative process to come up with the innovation and move it forward to something they can actually create. They work together to apply math and the scientific principles of movement and mechanisms to create their modified wagon. If time does not permit, students do not have to actually physically create an innovation; simply analyzing their idea for an innovation using the steps in Figure 1 contributes to their understanding of this aspect of creativity.
Source: Sparking Student Creativity: Practical Ways to Promote Innovative Thinking and Problem Solving (pp. 97, 101–103), by Patti Drapeau, 2014. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
ASCD Express, Vol. 11, No. 9. Copyright 2016 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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