Friday, September 25, 2015

The Bad Idea Factory

Today was a Passion Project Day.  It is only the 3rd one, but I'm already getting a little worried about it.

You'll be able to see from the pictures below that passion for the Passion Project seemed to wane as the day went on.

Today's goal was to start generating ideas, both good and bad.  I am getting a lot of my ideas from Kevin Brookhouser's book, The 20Time Project. One of his ideas was the Bad Idea Factory.  It sounded like a good idea and a possibly rocking good time with the kids, so I wanted to try it. 

I did a little google searching for other teachers that gave it a try.  I came across a blog post of Karl Lindgren-Streicher's on the day he tried it in his classroom.  He talked about how he 'borrowed' from Kevin Brookhouser and Kate Petty (I've met her in person through a friend.  She was my sister's teacher.).  I pretty much did the same thing he did.  It sounded fabulous.

So, my plan was to have them free write on some questions about things they have always wanted to do for about 20-25 minutes.  These were some of the comments I heard and exchanges I had during the free write session:

"Miss Barron, what if I want to be a median?"

"A median?  You mean like in math or in the middle of a road?"

"No, like with your mind."

"Oh, you mean medium."

"I want to learn how to drive using my feet"

"Miss Barron, how do you spell bungee?"

 For the most part, the free write portion went well.  The Bad Idea Factory portion on the other hand. . . went really well too - during 1st period.  The kids and I had a blast and they did a pretty good job of filling the board up (as you can see).

Period 1

Things started to wane a bit as the day went on...

Period 2

Period 3
Things in 4th period with the 11th graders (periods 1-3 are 10th grade honors students) seemed to pick up a bit, but the majority of what is on the board was written by one student whose bad ideas all had to do with cars.
Period 4

Period 5
 I was a little disappointed in 5th period.  There were some "bad ideas" that I erased before taking this picture because they weren't very nice to certain people.  It made me kind of sad that they didn't seem to know what they were essentially saying was hurtful.

This activity just didn't go as well as I thought it would based on the descriptions from Kevin Brookhouser and Karl Lindgren-Streicher.  I'm wondering if it has to do with the socioeconomic and racial make up of my students.

There was one point during 4th period were a student noticed that one of the bad ideas was actually a good one, or could be turned into a good one:  texting while driving.  I used the opportunity to have them explain how we could turn that into a good project.  They came up with one I hope one of them does:  create a campaign to warn teenagers of the dangers of texting while driving.

I guess I can chalk this one up to a mostly misadventure. 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have learned after writing that chapter that it's probably a good idea to lay some ground rules. Don't write anything that might hurt others. The bad ideas should be fun bad, not angry or hurtful bad. Also avoid ideas that are simply blatant violations of the law. Thanks for giving it a try.

    1. Those are some good ideas. I'll be sure to come back to this post next year if I think of giving it a try again. Thanks.

  2. My bad idea board became more of a bad research question board. Students would write a question they were supposed to research for 45 min and found it only took them 2 min to answer the question with Google. We discussed the questions on the board and they would quickly realize they needed at least 5 questions about their topic to fully understand it. It was a total successful accident. Good luck!