20% Project Brainstorm: The Idea Factory

Monday, the sophomores took part in an Idea Factory, borrowed (yet again) from Kevin Brookhouser. I decided to change the name and drop the word “Bad” because at this stage, no ideas are bad ideas. They are just ideas. This has to be easiest lesson in my class to date, and I got some amazing ideas! Check out these samples:

3rd Period’s Idea Wall

6th Period’s Idea Wall

The plan was simple: Students worked with their tablemates to create as many possibilities for 20% Projects. Good ideas, bad ideas, ugly ideas. Write them down. I gave them 20 minutes to get all this out, and as an added incentive, I offered the group with the most ideas a little prize. That’s it.

They immediately got to work and raced to get ideas down. Sure they came up with some ridiculous ideas, such as build a time travel machine, but they also had some great ideas, like start a girls’ lacrosse team. When their time was up, I told them that in order to get the full effect of the Idea Factory, they had to mimc what the big companies do. In these situations, people get together in a room to brainstorm and put their ideas up for everyone to see. That is how they can start narrowing down and selecting which ideas work, which don’t, and which need some tweaking. And often, it’s the ideas that need tweaking that end up being the most rewarding.

That’s where the Idea Wall came in. The students had 10 minutes to fill up the whiteboard with ideas. No white space allowed.

They had fun crowding up against the wall and racing to claim space. They didn’t know they were claiming a reason to be heard.

After the board was filled, I gave them some time to take it all in. Some students took pictures of the board; some pondered ideas. All in all, lots of laughs and lots of learning.

This is a lesson I definitely plan on replicating. Because of time and curriculum constraints, I didn’t have the luxury of working this into the AP classes, which I really regret. Next year, when I take this on for the entire school year, I’ll be sure to do it with all of my classes (maybe even yearbook!).

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