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Welcome to Great Ideas! This section will include those innovative ideas and programs that are happening throughout the state. If your school would like to highlight an innovative idea, a unique project, inventive technology uses, or any other ground breaking or original topics send an email to Jamey Baiter at Make sure to provide a contact name and phone number within the email.

 Innovative Educational Programs

Building Mathematical Skills and Community Relationships Through Crash Reconstruction

Dr. Kelly Wamser Remijan from O’Fallon Township High School is always looking for activities to help her students build mathematical skills using real-world applications and careers. Recently she teamed up with Illinois State Trooper Brad Brachear from the Region IV Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit to show 9th grade pre-algebra students how crucial math is when reconstructing vehicle crashes.

Dr. Wamser Remijan described the accident reconstruction activity in an article for ASCD Express. The article is found at ASCD Express: Ideas from the Field.

Prosthetic Arm Design Challenge - Olympia High School

Chris Embry Mohr is a veteran science teacher at Olympia High School.  Since 2011, Mrs. Mohr has been involved with science education on a national level serving on the Life Science Writing Team to create the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  These standards were officially adopted by the State of Illinois in 2014 and she is working hard to educate her fellow teachers through workshops and graduate classes.  For the past three years, she has been integrating engineering design which is part of the new standards in a classroom project called “Prosthetic Arm Design Challenge.”  Utilizing a family farm accident as a real-life example, she asks students to design, construct, evaluate, and redesign a prosthetic arm that mimics the structure and function of a human arm to perform basic daily functions.  The project includes the following learning targets that engage students in all three dimensions of the NGSS (scientific and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas): develop and use a model to illustrate the structure of the human arm and how these structures allow the arm to move or perform its function; illustrate the relationship between atoms, molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems; design, evaluate, and revise a prosthetic model to mimic the structure and function of a human arm; and construct a model using tools and machines safely and accurately.  Students communicate scientific and technical ideas for how the prosthetic arm compares in structure and function to a human arm and develop a model to illustrate the role of cellular division (mitosis) and differentiation in producing and maintaining complex organisms.  This project requires students to evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on scientific knowledge, prioritized criteria, and trade-off constraints.  For more information about the project, contact Chris Embry Mohr at

No Job Left Behind

The No Job Left Behind initiative facilitates conversations between educators and businesses with the intent of helping students better understand the jobs available in manufacturing and logistics in Central Illinois. The initiative began in November 2013 when members of education and industry in Moultrie County were pulled together by the Eastern Illinois Education for Employment office and the Sullivan Chamber & Economic Development.  The program that started on that day has expanded to include Coles, Douglas and Shelby counties.  
In 2013 the program started with 20 people and has expanded to almost 170 people interested in meeting and discussing ways to help businesses find willing workers.  The partnership not only helps students understand the businesses in the Central Illinois Region, but is helping businesses in the region grow.   
No Job Left Behind has four working committees:
  • Marketing committee – promotes manufacturing jobs to improve the image of manufacturing especially to youth
  • Work Ethics – reviews programs that could be introduced to youth to improve work ethics and soft skills
  • Skills Gap Survey – administers an annual Skills Gap Survey forecasting jobs for the upcoming year
  • Student/Career Connections – organizes and promotes activities for students to connect with area manufacturers. Examples include Manufacturing week Tours and an annual Student/Business luncheon.
More information on the program can be found at​ 

Center for Career Discovery

Township High School District 214 has created the Center for Career Discovery. This center allows students to have authentic learning experiences that help meet their post-secondary goals and career path.

Learn more about the Center for Career Discovery

Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) Program

Entrepreneurship education seeks to prepare students to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities. CEO students are immersed in real life learning experiences with the opportunity to take risks, manage the results, and learn from the outcomes.

What is the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) Program?

 Innovative Ideas

The Illinois Learning Technology Purchase Program (ILTPP)

ILTPP is an Illinois cooperative of PK-12 educational institutions that aggregates the buying power and expertise to procure technology products and services at better prices than is available to individual organizations. The Program is focused on providing accessible, high quality and affordable EdTech resources for educational communities to improve student outcomes and accelerate innovation.  

ILTPP currently serves over 2 million students and staff with 760 member school districts, private schools, and educational service agencies. Membership is FREE to all PK-12 schools serviced by the Illinois State Board of Education. In FY18, Members saved an average of 27% on their technology purchases by utilizing ILTPP contracts.

Visit the ILTPP Website for more information. ​

Illinois Online Education Resources (iOER)

The iOER offers openly licensed education resources to support teaching, learning, and research resources that are in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. Openly licensed educational resources have enormous potential to increase access to high-quality education opportunities​. Switching to openly licensed educational materials has enabled school districts to repurpose funding typically spent on static textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning.

Learn more about iOER

 Innovative Technology Programs

Woodstock School District #200 - Coding for the Real World

Beacons, a very small transmitter designed for retail settings, offers 4th and 5th grade students in Woodstock a real-world coding experience often missing in education-specific coding applications. Under the guidance of District Instructional Enrichment Coach Tracy Jacobson, students have developed creative, innovative and authentic projects for use in the school environment, and are now expanding their projects to bring beacons to events and sites in the City of Woodstock. 
Beacons were provided by Learning Technology Center 2.

Learn more about iBeacons ​

Gibault High School eLearning Days

Students at Gibault High School in Waterloo no longer have snow days. Instead the school has turned to eLearning during days with inclement weather.

View more about Gibault High School eLearning Days

Jersey Community Unit School District 100’s 1:1 and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives

The objective of Jersey CUSD 100’s 1:1 and BYOD program is “to be ready for college, workforce training and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and non-print texts, in media forms old and new. The need to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum.”

To prepare for the 1:1 and BYOD initiative, Jersey 100 sent a team to work with educators at Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, North Carolina. Mooresville is known as having a cutting edge curriculum that maximizes the benefits of technology and digital learning. As a result of their planning and integration of technology professional development, students in grades 5-12 at Jersey CUSD 100 are using Lenovo X131e laptops or their own Wi-Fi enabled devices as part of their daily classes. Teachers facilitate the use of student devices by integrating instructional strategies that embed Web 2.0 tools, Internet research, and applications to engage students in curriculum content and collaboration with peers.

Jersey CUSD 100 Technology Department

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