Entrepreneurial Thinking In The Classroom

3 years ago, I participated in a Teacher-in-Residence Program on Entrepreneurial Thinking at the MaRS Discovery District. It was a 4-week program designed to determine how we as educators might be able to use the skills of Entrepreneurial Thinking with students in the classroom. While there, I worked with a colleague – Alison Fitzsimmons – ona Water Inquiry Project that we used in our classrooms. This was the beginning of what has been a journey in discovery for me. While I work on the skills with students and try to show their transferability no matter the subject area, the part that I still need to dig deeper into is how might I connect my students and their ideas to actually bring about change or create a difference through the solutions that they are designing.

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In view of the rash of recent hurricanes, we started the year by exploring Forces Acting on Structures. I currently have a group of grade 5 students who are working on hurricane solutions. Through videos and online and print texts, we’ve taken the time to investigate the devastation caused by the most recent hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, Jose & Maria. We’ve studied the forces acting on structures and what might make for a more sturdy construction through our Straw Tower Building Activity. After a deeper understanding of the problem, students were tasked with participating in a “Crazy 8s Activity” where they had to come up with 8 of their wildest solutions to either minimize the devastation of future hurricanes or to assist with cleanup and support for those already affected. They came up with some amazing ideas! After having the chance to discuss their ideas in different pairs, students selected the idea that they would like to further research and design.

We’ve been building our solutions ever since. Students have worked to create solutions such as:

  • a program that gets volunteers into areas where they are most needed to provide food and clean-up;
  • a poster campaign to inform viewers of the connection between littering and global warming;
  • structures that can withstand the impact of a hurricane;
  • and food delivery systems to get food to those who need it most.

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Now that we are nearing the end of our building phase, students are working on presentations identifying the problem, their solution and justifying why it is the ideal solution for a specific group of users. Exciting as this is, it has now created a new challenge for me. How might I connect my students to people or organizations in order to have their ideas come to fruition in the real world? I’ve empowered them to consider that they may be able to make a difference and they have created amazing solutions and pitches for their ideas but how do I connect them to people or agencies that might be able to bring these ideas to life? How do I get them to really have an impact in the world? I know that part of it is networking but where do we begin? This is the piece that I am still wrestling with and would love to have some input on how we might be able to really have students bring about the change that we would like them to be able to have in the world. Let’s start a conversation. Please share your thoughts and ideas of how we might guide students further along in this area. I’m open to any suggestions!

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Updated: October 30, 2017 — 10:59 am

The Author

Arianna Lambert

I'm a grade 4/5 Teacher in the Toronto District School Board who loves integrating technology and mindfulness in the classroom. Through inquiry and Entrepreneurial Thinking, I work with students who are engaged in meaningful learning opportunities while looking at ways to make the world an even better place. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of co-facilitating the STE(A)M Certificate Course for Junior Teachers in our board. For the last 2 years, I have been fortunate to co-moderate #tdsbEd, Twitter chats for educators in the TDSB. Through conversations on trends in Education from STEAM to Mindfulness, it has become an online community of educators dedicated to improving their practice to ensure greater student success, well-being and achievement.

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