Techniques for Inspiring Innovation and Iteration in the Classroom

Innovation is creating something completely new from scratch. Iteration is creating a different version of something that already exists, like making it better. Inventors are innovators. They can also make existing inventions better. Help students become inventors in their own right with these teaching techniques.

1. Creative Endings

Have your students stretch their creative minds by completing an unfinished paragraph. Provide the start of a paragraph, and instruct your students to be as creative as possible when finishing it. There are no right or wrong answers. Here's an example to get you started:

I was in my basement and found a secret door! I slowly started to open it and...

2. Challenge the Status Quo

To be innovative, students will challenge the status quo. Start by explaining what is the status quo: the way things are or have always been done. Have your students challenge this idea by asking them the following questions:

  • What needs to be challenged?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What is the greatest risk?
  • What can you expect?
  • What can you learn?

Once you've prepped your students' minds, have them explain what action they will take to challenge the status quo.

3. Unlocking Zero-Based Thinking

Zero-Based Thinking is a way of thinking about things. Students can be much more innovative and creative using this method. It is about thinking with no limits. Encourage students to start thinking in this manner when faced with a problem. Have your students break into teams. Ask them to imagine that they are designing a new fridge. Make sure they don't discuss what they DON'T like about their current fridge. Make sure they discuss what their ideal fridge should be like.

4. The Iteration Corner

Create a designated section of your classroom for iterative ideas. The Iteration Corner is where students will make something better. Have them think of a new version of something that they like. Set up a station of different things that are "old". In another station, have all the latest versions of these same things. Students will compare the old versions with the new. Students will answer the following:

What's different between the two versions?
What do you like best about the new version?
Name one thing you would change about the new version. What would your next iteration look like?

5. The Innovative Corner

This is where students will make something new or different. Set up a station that will let students think of new ideas. Have examples of new things throughout history. Students will think up their own ideas. There's no limit to their imagination. They don't need to be realistic. They do need to reach a demand in today's culture. Have students describe their new ideas in an oral presentation.

Utilize these free resources in the classroom to get your students in the innovative mindset:

Examples of Iteration and Innovation matching activity.

Great Innovations Throughout History timeline poster.

Innovation in an American Icon research activity.

Check out our pinterest board for some more FREE worksheets from our Life & Workplace resources:

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