Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Balancing Green Time and Screen Time

Using Technology to Connect Students and The Environment is an incredible resource for teachers and especially science teachers that are attempting to integrate the physical connection and digital connection that our students need for growing into the solutionists that our world needs. Being globally connected is essential, and this requires our students to learn digitally. It means having a digital footprint and serving as stewards in the cyberspace they fill. These are the identical outcomes that we need when we attempt to connected our students physically to the local space that they reside. We want students to create a soft footprint in their neighborhood as well as be seen as assets and stewards to the community. The delicate balance that no one can ignore is how do we build the right amount of green time and screen time into the lives of our kids.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Visual Thinking Strategies-Tools for Learning

When I learn about  a "new" concept or idea in education, I often feel very silly. It begins to eat into my being. I ask myself how could I have missed some of the pure gold that has been in front of my face for this long. I felt this way recently as I leaned into learning surrounding the Visual Thinking Strategies that were cultivated by Project Zero at Harvard. These "routines" are an incredible way to get kids thinking about their thinking and learning process. Too often, we make assumptions that kids have structured ways to think about the complexity of the learning taking place. If you aren't aware of the power that can come from these routines, check out this blog dedicated to sharing how teachers using these strategies to enhance student learning. How do we lean through that feeling of being silly about our ignorance to a place where we can absorb the best stuff no matter how old or known it already is to the masses?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Another Bright Spot on the Educational Landscape

I am always looking for fresh ideas and success stories in education. They are everywhere. Pockets of excellence throughout the country that are buried in the mountain of stories surrounding schools as place of failure. By listening to my connected learning allies, I continue to uncover gems in education. The latest was the Making Community Connections (MC2) Charter School. It is amazing to see how they are using the QED Transformational Change Model in such a deep way to build a vision and mission for excellence.

Is it that time of the year for you when the tank is empty, and you are longing for something different, something better for students? Begin looking for bright spots. They are like that moment when the sun hits our skin in the spring and the world feels right again. Find a new school this week. Dream about the place that you would want to work in a perfect world or the school that you would want your kids to attend. It is probably out there in some shape or form. Pursuing learning from that space.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Why Teach?- A Short Thought

This is cross posted at 

Serving others is the ultimate calling that all human beings possess. It is only through this service can we grow deeply in knowing ourselves. Teaching and the learning facilitated through teaching is the pinnacle of humanness. It allows a deep sharing of process and passion. It is in these spaces that we should all chose to teach. It allows for the neural connections of our human ecosystem to strengthen and shine as teaching is soul giving and soul receiving.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Day of Firsts

There is a subtle difference in being first and having an experience that is your first. The desire for being first can be overwhelming. It can hamper clarity in thought. It can leave you with tunnel vision about those things of true importance. Having a first experience though is a memory, a story, a context in which to build future experiences. I've been trying to wrap my mind around the power of this video that showcases the first kiss of a group of 20 people (whether they are strangers or not seems to be in debate). It is powerful. It draws me into watching it again and again for the subtle of each movement. There is something about first moments for everyone that is so powerful. Experiences are essential to the happiness of life. First experiences are the catalyst for this mindset. How are you fulfilling your need for firsts without confusing that for being first?

Can we ever really take a break from learning?

With Spring Break within reach, it begs the question about whether or not we have time to take a break from learning or whether it is even possible to take a break from learning. There is always a struggle within me to know when it is time to pause to reflect, slow my thinking, and recharge the battery or press forward in the work to create the best possible learning spaces for kids. Learning is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week adventure in this world, and it is hard to pause knowing the fire hose of information that includes incredible opportunities is passing us by. I often ask whether taking a break sends the wrong message to our kids about the needed work ethic to succeed. Does anyone else share a nervousness about the message that taking a break sends? The right answer to this question is elusive for me these days, but it may lie in an always playing, always working model that requires a tender balance and solid communication with those that surround you. Enjoy the time ahead, whether it is learning, playing, or everything wrapped together.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Language Matters

The words that we use about our students, our positions, and our frustrations make a huge difference in the overall success of the organization. Words matter. During my time when I taught kids the concepts of being critical readers and writers, I always enjoyed the study of linguistics. Recently, the New York Times created an incredible activity to support conversations around linguistics. I hadn't had a chance to work with it until recently, but it is a 25 question quiz that pinpoints where someone lives based on their responses. Language says a lot about our story and the story of those that surround us. I can imagine being back in the classroom asking the following questions. Is there a right answer to these questions? Do our current language patterns trap us into our place in the future? Which question made you want to learn more about the potential responses? Take time to take this amazing quiz, and as you complete it, remember the importance of each word that we use to shape and support our learning spaces this week.