Students and teachers using technology to drive innovation is a theme woven throughout this year’s Follett Challenge.

A student-developed vocal warm-up app … Graphic novel biographies … Robotics competitions: Students and teachers using technology to drive innovation is a theme woven throughout this year’s Follett Challenge.

While schools await the live Follett Challenge winner announcement tomorrow at 12 pm CST, we’ve had the opportunity to take a closer look at many of the video entries. What did we find? Stories of innovation, technology integration, and success that every educator needs to hear. While each of the schools that entered this year’s challenge defined 21st-century learning differently, it is clear that innovation is very much alive in our schools.

Some of the more dynamic entries illustrate how the library is driving technology and curriculum decisions within the school, while shifting the focus from teacher-led to student-led, inquiry-based instruction. To keep the voting process fair, we can’t name specific programs or share links to their video entries yet, but we wanted to highlight five examples of innovation that captured our attention:

  • To improve communication skills among students, one school broadcasts a student-run TV studio.  During each broadcast, students highlight each other’s creative work. As part of the school’s Respect Project, designed to foster civility and manners, students create and edit videos highlighting the value or manner of the month. Those videos are broadcast on the student newscast. Through the TV studio, students must collaborate and become producers of 21st-century media by shooting, producing, directing, and executing the live broadcast.
  • As part of a performance-based learning initiative, students in another entry created, designed, and built their own recycling bins to improve sustainability efforts at their school. The project required students to identify issues in the current waste management program, research solutions, and collaborate with students in other areas of the school, such as broadcast and robotics, to execute an advertising plan to promote their solution.
  • In another entry, a student describes her innovation project that began when she learned from her music teacher that vocal warm-ups should change depending on the type of music she will be singing. Through research on appropriate vocal training, the student is now developing an app that leads singers through the perfect warm up. Now that’s innovation!