The Big Idea

You tell us what you want to discuss to learn and grow

Photo of Paula Marra
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Update from the gdoc

Let’s break this process into steps:

Step 1

Send an email to Faculty explaining what the Big Idea day is about!


“Dear all,

This coming ________we will have our Big Idea Day! Do you have an idea that you would like to implement in your classroom? Let’s work on that! Write your idea on the board that will be placed _______________________ or if you see an idea the resonates with you and you would like to work on that, write your name. Develop the question you would like to answer. I suggest you start your question with How Might We?”

Step 2

Now that the Board is up add the idea you want to develop or join an idea as a collaborator. Go wild with your ideas.

Step 3

The day is here, you have your team, work as a team to tackle your HMW! Look for information. Which practical outcome would you like to achieve?

Step 4

Share with another team what you came up with for your HMW, iterate if necessary and let us know what you need to make it happen.



Link to the Big Idea gdoc! I will be fleshing out a Step by Step process let me know if you would like to work on the gdoc too!



I am sharing here Jeremy Birk initiative at my school, which I found/find truly inspiring!

BIG IDEA DAY was inspired by similar projects in schools and creative companies:

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink describes companies that give their employees a day each month or so to work on projects of their choosing, as long as the projects were something innovative and as long as they worked in new teams. An Australian company, Atlassian, made these days a central part of their company culture and started calling them FedEx Day because the idea was to deliver results in 24 hours – express, overnight delivery! Once Pink described the Atlassian model in Drive, the idea of FedEx Days spread like wildfire in more creative companies.


The Big Idea Day is a day of autonomy and innovation.

Potential for Impact:

BIG IDEA DAY is about taking appropriate risk, embracing failure, trusting one another and building collaborative spirit that will facilitate work.

Value Pro/Pitch:

Imagine what is possible that we aren't currently doing. Think freely and wildly, without regard for limitations. We can deal with those later. Generate ideas; share them with colleagues; work collaboratively. Tell us what you need! 

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

Ask your colleagues 2 weeks before the actual PD Day to:

post a BIG IDEA question OR join as a collaborator on an idea

(Jeremy set up a huge Big Idea bulletin board) 

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How  you can get started:

Send an email to your team and explain the Big Idea day, send later on a follow up email with the instructions on how to place your idea or join an idea. 

Brainstorm HMW's so teams can have a model.

On the day send the team names out.

Big Idea 15 outcomes:

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Afterwards we had Peer Review and Self Reflection.



I haven't been able to sit with Jeremy so I will do the best I can to update this idea! This was an amazing PD day!



Original Post

At my school our Director of Innovation Jeremy Birk did something I absolutely loved. I truly think that the way he did it it is the way to go!

Three weeks before our PD day Jeremy sent an email out explaining the Big Idea and asked people to write on a board a question that faculty would like to talk about (I suggested that questions should be "How Might We?) some people wrote using HMW other just as you write a question.

There was also a space for you to write your name next to it, to show that you also would like to talk about the topic, if you didn't encountered a topic you liked you could suggest your own.

On the day people joined the team of the idea they wanted to talk about,  they wrote docs about what they have learnt, what they wondered and the next steps they would like to take.

Jeremy sent a feedback form to all school and EVERYONE loved the way this PD day was done!!!

I will elaborate more later. I will interview Jeremy so he can himself talk about the why and how!



Join the conversation:

Photo of Mahmoud ABDELRAHMAN

Paula Marra Nice concept Paula. Do you think it could be scaled-up to be applied at many schools at once? similar to how start-up weekend and global service jam initiatives are run. It may then offer more hands to one project and consolidate more efforts across schools. You can create starting kits for those who can't start it by themselves or feel they need help and support.

Photo of Paula Marra

wow! Love the idea of starting kits and doing at many schools at once! Will flesh this out more.

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