Today we did a visit to the Innovation Class at Noblesville High School!
Don Wettrick’s classroom doesn’t look like an ordinary classroom. We came in for a visit to Noblesville High School and got to see Don’s Innovation Class. I’m not familiar with many high schools that have an Innovation Class. It reminded me the most of a Stanford Design School class reimagined for high schools.
Don wasn’t wearing your normal teacher attire either — I think the school had some sort of dress up day — but the green pants and Hawaiian/Cincinnati Reds shirt definitely stood out.
In the Innovation Class students are encouraged to tackle more open ended problems and work to build the solution. Sometimes that is a film project, sometimes that is an engineering project, and sometimes that is a coding project. Sometimes it is something else entirely.
We got to speak with several students who have been coding up some pretty amazing projects at Noblesville High School. One student is building a tool for his school to allow students to get hallway passes on the iPad, and it even provides adminstrator and teacher tracking. The school has 1-to-1 iPads so it works well. Another student was building several games for iPhone. They’ve started a coding club at the school and may start teaching a student-led class to help spread their excitement on to other students.
When we walk into Don’s class he is on Periscope. They are Periscoping a student debate — for the uninitiated Periscope is a live streaming app. A few seconds in we are being Periscoped as well, and we end up Periscoping our CodeHS demo for students as well as many of Don’s Twitter followers.
There are several ways to react. One way is to be fearful of the technology, to stick with the old ways that used to work, and another is to embrace and experiment with the technology that is coming anyways.
Technology is sweeping across industries and schools, and for educators there are several ways to react. One way is to be fearful of the technology, to stick with the old ways that used to work, and another is to embrace and experiment with the technology that is coming anyways. Don’s approach is wholeheartedly on the side of experimenting with the technology. He explains his methods on Twitter, his students write on blogs on Medium, and he is Periscoping — and Periscope only came out a few months ago.
There is an energy in the class which is really exciting — students have projects they are excited about and have the opportunity to build them.
There is an energy in the class which is really exciting — students have projects they are excited about and have the opportunity to build them. They need the core skills — and for many of those projects the core skill enabling it is coding — but after the core skills are in place they have the opportunity to build creatively.
I believe students have launched companies out of this high school classroom, as well as get patents and launch apps on the App Store.
They are hoping to make coding a bigger part of what they do, and it’s clear why — it unlocks a lot of creative potential for students.