Why Innovate?

Innovate: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods to solve problems.

Innovation is essential to creating and sustaining a teaching and learning culture that will prepare students for success in a rapidly changing college and career landscape. Arkansas schools are reimagining and transforming teaching and learning to prepare students for a future we can only imagine. Schools of Innovation are part of this transformation.

There are compelling reasons why many communities are seeking the transformation of our schools. We believe that innovation is essential to creating and sustaining student focused learning and a culture that will increase students' readiness for life after secondary school, in college, career and community. We agree with the work of Duty and Kern (2014) and "recognize that the process of moving from a culture of improvement focused on fixing current problems, to a culture of innovation that builds and tests new solutions, is incredibly challenging and requires fresh thinking."

Seven Factors Driving Innovation

In our research and work with schools, we have found that creating and nurturing a culture of innovation is essential for transformational change that is sustainable.

We believe that student-focused learning "represents the deepest and most engaging kind of learning and is at the heart of personalized learning and teaching."[1] We believe educators facilitate opportunities for students to bring unique life experiences, strengths and interests into the learning environment so that students will:

  • form trusting relationships
  • develop their own personalized pathways and incorporate their own interests
  • take ownership and responsibility for what, how, and where they learn
  • become empowered and capable of self-regulating their own learning
  • advocate for their learning needs
  • make meaning and connect with the world through rigorous academic experiences

We believe that TOGETHER WE CAN create a culture which:

  • Transforms mindsets at the community level and beyond
  • Influences innovation at the local, state, and national level
  • Builds and sustain a strong network of schools who support and learn from each other
  • Improves teaching and learning to create and sustain student focused learning systems

Images from Duty & Kern (2014) http://learningaccelerator.org & 2Revolutions
[1] http://i3.cssr.us/student-driven-learning

Where do I start?

Early innovators have shared some of their lessons-learned with us. The four most important lessons they have learned may help you avoid discomfort down the road, and even prevent you from experiencing a derailed innovation!
  • Figure out what, or whose, needs you are trying to meet with the innovation.
  • Figure out your innovative learning solution before you select your technology.
  • Consider student fit, teacher fit and leader fit-one size does not fit all!
  • Monitor and measure your efforts and results.
  • read more

What is a school without bells?

Barriers: perceived and real

Why is innovation worth it?

School of Innovation Highlights

Focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Use of innovative, consistent, systematic planning, reflecting, and refining processes to create and support a project-based learning environment


  • Structured schedule to provide flexible student learning times for integrated learning times that focus on STEM education, language acquisition, blended learning and teachers with ample time for vertical and horizontal planning and professional development
  • Focused critical thinking strategies
  • Extended learning beyond the boundaries of a regular school day by providing opportunities for parents and students to participate in 24/7 learning from any location with internet access
  • Increased student ownership with the implementation of school cabinets that are run by students

Focused on the needs of the individual student and rooted in relationships, rigor and relevance
Offering students a variety of opportunities to learn from mistakes, to try again after mistakes are made, and to celebrate successes

Options for juniors and seniors who have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and are on track to graduate to be on campus only for necessary classes and to -

  • Enroll in post-secondary work (college or technical classes)
  • Participate in a community project (for college admissions or scholarship purposes)
  • Job shadow and work with a mentor
  • Work in a paid employment position
  • Actively participate in a school service organization

Focused on establishing a model elementary school of innovation known for excellence, resourcefulness, and continuous improvement
Opening the world to students with a departure from the way things have been and increased confidence in a successful and meaningful future that includes each and every student


  • The opportunity for all students to attend a 45 minute Spanish language class daily taught by a native speaker using the immersion method
  • The ability for students in grades 5 and 6 to earn graduation credit for Spanish I and Spanish II courses
  • The support of a Digital Learning Facilitator to enable students to be successful communicators in our digital world
  • The infusion of music and visual art into the curriculum and taught within the context of the classroom curriculum

Focused on enhancing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative
Providing more students the opportunity to learn about STEM career paths


  • The incorporation of the career curriculum and art concepts in STEM classes
  • The opportunity for 8th grade students with two elective classes, such as band and athletics, to enroll in STEM courses instead of fine arts, career development, and physical education

Focused on delivering instruction through integrated units of inquiry
Using a creative, integrated model of instruction to change the expectations of the ways in which time, curriculum core content, teaching and learning are structured in schools in order to create more opportunities for students


  • Music, physical education, and fine arts integrated with core content
  • Gifted and talented program standards as part of concept-based curriculum units
  • Student-led conferences


Focused on enhancing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and hands-on learning that engage families and community
Providing an accelerated pathway for students to earn associate degrees and/or industry-level certifications, in addition to high school diplomas, by the end of the 12th grade


  • Students from six district schools participate
  • Each student has a specific focus in a STEM area
  • Students receive course credit based on demonstrated competency rather than clock hours
  • Rubrics used to evaluate competencies

Located in Los Angeles, CA, the Incubator School offers the following:


  • Project-based learning
  • Personalized blended learning models
  • F2F and online instruction
  • Self-paced learning
  • Tablet or computer for every students
  • Three period days, each 2.5 hours

Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, MySchool@Kent offers the following:


  • Provides options for students in 20 local school districts
  • Co-teaching face-to-face and online instructors
  • Structured pace that gives options for credit acceleration and/or credit recovery
  • Satellite schools within local community
  • Flexible schedule that provides students with more personalized support
  • Students receive their own laptop and wifi card for anytime, anywhere instruction
  • Shared campus with Career & Technical Center
  • Course/schedule options integrate with project-based learning program and CTE program

Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, Innovations Early College High School offers the following:


  • Blended learning environment
  • Self-directed and self-paced learning
  • Personalized education plans
  • Competency based curriculum
  • Shared campus with Community College and Career & Technical Education Center

Additional details can be found here: 2014-2015 SCHOOLS OF INNOVATION

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