Global Innovation Summit – Reflection

This week, I had the opportunity to attend The Global Innovation Summit as part of our Apple Distinguished School recognition. During this time, we had the opportunity to connect with some of the other innovative schools from around the world. Throughout my time here, I recognized just how much we are doing to provide our students with a quality innovative education. I also came to recognize where else we can go with our integration of STEM and VAPA, how else we can provide opportunities to our learners, who else we can partner with and learn with and what else we can do to offer opportunities to our learners.

Learn, Lead, Innovate

Learn, lead, innovate was the theme of the #AppleDistinguishedSchools conference. Each session and event was strategically planned to demonstrate these themes.

  • Learn: develop a learning community with educators who Apple has deemed as the most innovative schools around the world
  • Lead: find opportunities to be innovative, lead your personal and professional learning to use technology as the tool
  • Innovate: with the support of technology, create opportunities that are not only new but an improvement on existing practices (for more about this definition, see @gcouros blog post on Are You More Focused on the ‘New’ or the ‘Better’?)

We can give a voice to everyone within the right context. Especially whnever we have stakeholders who are struggling with ideas and new practices, we can hear from them and better understand their perspective. When we listen to why people are unhappy, how powerful would that be to use their comments to reflect on our practices and purpose? Would this be beneficial to hear their voice and build a cohesive learning community?

Learning Environments that Evoke a Feeling


“The technology is not the story, you are the story.”

Randy Nelson

Global Innovation Summit Apple Distinguished Schools 2018

What kind of an impression do our learning environments evoke? Have we become blinded by the appearance of our learning environments? What environmental constraints can we positively impact?

So many of our teachers do an amazing job of offering flexible seating, spaces for brain breaks, aromatherapy, temperature control. All of these things are within our control and when we reflect upon the environment we are creating, we have an impact on the culture and feelings that arise as soon as our learners walk into the classroom. The room environment is the first thing that impacts our learners. How powerful would it be if the first emotion felt is positive?

Innovation and Leadership


Learning can be transformed when we start to create shifts in our thinking for the better. This cannot happen without a reflection on existing practices.

The modern learner’s newfound capacity to take full control of their learning is the most profound educational shift…ever!

Will Richardson

To help us shift this thinking, we can use a few questions to guide our planning.

  • What opportunities are we giving students to be innovative and collaborative?
  • What opportunities are we providing that allows students to create something that demonstrates their learning?
  • How are they sharing this?

Integrating STEM and VAPA

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We have some amazing specialty programs that are already established! How powerful would it be if we started relying on our students to lead some of the end of the year culminating activities?

During the conference, we met with a team from The Young Women’s Leadership Network (TYWLS)  who coordinated a Digital Dance Project.  This Digital Dance project is an event that incorporates STEM and VAPA concepts while remaining student led and organized with support from teachers who specialize in each area.

  • STEM:
    • Science: connect dance to a scientific concept to create an interpretive dance
    • Technology: choreograph around coded Arduinos or Ozobots
    • Engineering: design and construct moving pieces to be part of the set design
    • Mathematics: I have not figured this one out yet, but I would love to collaborate with others to brainstorm
  • VAPA:
    • Art: set design planned and created by students – collaboration with the engineering department will be crucial, costume design with LED lights and coordinated lighting
    • Dance: students compose a choreographed dance
    • Music: use of GarageBand to compose music for the Digital Dance Project
    • Theater: dance is incorporated into the theatrical play

It is the FeelingIMG_3596

What do we want our stakeholders to feel? How do we achieve that, how do we make sure that we are giving opportunities that will help all learners feel those emotions? If we are being purposeful about considering emotions and feelings while designing lessons and planning our units, how will that impact our schools and the learning going on?

This fundamental question, and the power that can be seen if we “Change One Thing.” This will help us craft around our intention. I encourage you to ask yourselves what kind of experience fo you want everyone around you to have?

How do we signal that there is something magical here?

Randy Nelson

Global Innovation Summit Apple Distinguished Schools 2018

Continued Learning


There are many opportunities to expand on our existing learning. This can go beyond what is done during professional development sessions and with our teams. For more opportunities to develop skills in using technology in class, check out Teacher Tuesdays at Apple and the


How would it impact our students if we all continued pushing ourselves as learners and helped our own brains grow in areas we are already passionate about or in areas where we may have shallow depths of knowledge?

Providing opportunities that allow learners to create, lead, and innovate will help empower them and give the time and space to be innovative while integrating the academic requirements of education. How would this shift impact the community within your classroom and within our school?