Creativity & Innovation

The official name for the newest course at Galesburg-Augusta High School is Creativity & Innovation. This course is an extension of the Genius Hour idea, where students work on projects of their own design, focusing on topics that interest them. Despite the large degree of student autonomy, this course is grounded in Common Core and National Art standards.

In addition to pursuing a creative interest they would otherwise not experience in our academic program at G-A, students will explore how artists make plans and ideas for creating art that affects social change. Together, we will answer the questions:

  • How can groups work together to solve social and environmental problems?
  • How can art be used to raise consciousness?

Through this exploration, students will further stretch their interests to include social issues and responses.


How does creativity & Innovation work?


At the beginning of the year, students will begin brainstorming ideas for a project proposal. Students may work alone or work in small teams, no larger than three students. While brainstorming, I will encourage students to make the project “Product Focused.” At the end of each project I want them to have made something that is a completed product. It could be a physical product like a graphic novel or a balloon that takes photos from the stratosphere. It could be a community building project, like the Faith Day that one of my students at St. Philip Catholic Central organized. It could also be a digital project like a short film or video game. My point here is that I want to quickly move from the idea phase of this project to the producing phase.


Once students have an idea of what project they want to pursue, they write a proposal. Students will answer the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of your project?  
  2. Are you passionate about it, what skills will you acquire while working on it?  
  3. Who else will this serve other than yourself?
  4. What will the final product be?

They will also create an action plan that includes long term and short term deadlines.


Creativity & Innovation students will create a digital portfolio. This is a free, real-world, identity-based website that showcases students’ growth and reflection over an extended period of time. Their digital portfolio may include text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. Digital portfolios are used to demonstrate students’ abilities and promote self-expression. Digital portfolios change, as students grow and change. Through their portfolios, students will:

  • evaluate progress, share their growth and defend changes to their plan
  • share their project work using multimedia and digital communication tools
  • reflect on the process of creating and innovating
  • document and reflect on the development and assessment of their learning.


Each student will find an expert who can help guide and inspire them. I hope parents will play a role in finding an appropriate mentor for this project. The expert will offer advice, provide informal leadership, and follow the progress of student projects. FINAL PRESENTATION

At the end of the project, students will give a presentation to students, teachers, and community members where they will show off their work. This will be carefully written, choreographed, and rehearsed to produce the best presentation they’ve ever given.


As part of their project proposals, students set goals for themselves. In addition to the weekly written reflections, students also conference with me about the progress they’re making on their goals. Ultimately, their grades are based on their level of mastery towards meeting both Common Core English and National Core Arts learning standards; as well as how well they met the goals they set for themselves. 


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Argues that high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world

Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level by Don Wettrick Encourages teachers and administrators to collaborate—with experts, students and one another—to create interesting, and even life-changing opportunities for learning .