Sunday, December 30, 2012

Take Your Kids Outside

Want to transform learning? Take kids outside. A lot. So many of my favorite moments in learning came when I was outside exploring, getting dirty, and breathing in the learning. As important as I think that high levels of technology integration is for the future of our students, the blind spot of education system is not using the natural beauty that is a strength of our nation. Places like the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, The Great Smokey Mountain Institute at Tremont, and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab are but three of hundreds of partners that want to work with you as an educator. Watch this video below, then tell yourself that you are doing enough in this area for your kids. It is essential for building the future stewards of our planet.

Five for Friday- Holiday and Video Edition

Loved stumbling on this school that does incredible expeditionary learning. 

Why is There Corn in Your Coke? Great video on how we are addicted to high fructose corn syrup. 

The History of Life on Earth- Crash Course on Ecology. Great set of flipped, blended learning opportunities for students. 

Are we missing the boat on not bringing some of these ways of learning to the classroom? 

Looking for some incredible Google Forms that are already done for you? Check these out. 

We need to be innovative with Common Core, not just plug it into our current systems. 

Peak Oil? Peak Education?

There is so much complexity to the ideas and concepts that we teach and explore in schools. It makes teaching easy and being a facilitator of learning really hard. The infographic below caught my attention the other day. It showcases the gap between the oil that we need to meet demand and the current diminishing oil returns that the planet is giving us. It shows that by 2030, we will have 43 million barrels per day available from our current sources with a demand of 108 million barrels a day with our current projections for consumption. The gap will need to be filled by oil that we have yet to find. It is amazing that in 18 years that we need to close this gap. The alternative is to move away from oil and find a more sustainable way to consume energy on the planet. I wonder if the people working on this project will continue to beat the drum of closing the gap or will they find a more innovative solution, a more sustainable solution. Seems like we have the same choice in education. Do we continue to beat the drum of closing the achievement gap with the same methods that have brought diminishing results or should we look for a fresh, sustainable, innovative way to more forward to serve the kids of the future?


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celebrating the Journey of Learning

How you get there matters. For too long, the conversation has been on the finish line in education. The finish line is a place that allows us to compare each other. The finish line is where everyone can celebrate together. The finish line is where they hand out the the medals.

After a while though, all the finish lines look the same. There are hundreds or thousands of people that haven't even allowed the sun to set on the day before they are thinking about what is next. The finish line becomes less and less fulfilling. For some, this is when the realization happens that in running and in schools and in life, the journey matters, and the true pleasure of things comes from HOW you made it to the end instead of the focus being just on the end.

As a runner this means, enjoying the beauty of your surroundings during those long runs, feeling stress fade and peace grow during a random Thursday morning run, and preparing for race day so that your nutrition and gear is just right. As a school, this means doing learning the right way by having kids experience learning, dive deeply into topics that they are passionate about, and work together with others so the beauty of diverse opinions blossoms.

For too long, schools, communities, businesses, and elected officials have been lured into staring at the shiny medals at the finish line when more focus needs to be HOW we educate our next leaders, scholars, and citizens.

The lure of the finish line is starting to fade for education also, and without the end, many will be lost, so encourage our friends to focus on the little things that happen each day that can truly make the journey one of energy and happiness for all learners. Only then will the right goals be celebrated at the finish line.

(These videos seem to do an excellent job of talking about the HOW of education. Enjoy.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Five for Friday-Links and Ideas

Good Piece from PBS on Digital Citizenship 

Environmental Sustainability starts with conservation. Nice piece on vampire drawthroughout our houses. 

Incredible set of links surrounding wealth, poverty, and economic justice. 

Some information about Digital Learning Day

Principals Advisory Council is working on examining how we could qualify for the Bronze Award for Eco-Schools USA

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Transparency, Vulnerability, A Road Forward?

Marketing works. Certainly not a revelation of a comment, but it is amazing that we are in a time when everything is packaged in a way that moves it as far away from its warts as possible Clean coal isn't clean, and The Learning Channel features Honey Boo Boo. When we run from the warts and condemn the imperfections in life, we get to a point when we can't even talk about making them better. A society that is willing to grow has to be vulnerable enough to discuss their blind spots, their strengths that are actually their weaknesses, and their invisible people. I have a huge desire for more transparency and less layers of marketing on everything. Looking for a complex answer to the complex tragedies of New Town, CT and other locales, maybe this is a piece of the answer. Let's get real.

Releasing the Passion of our Students- TEDxMRH

I'm in the middle stages of planning the first TED event at a school in Missouri for April 19. It will be TEDxMRH, and it will be a day of innovative voices surrounding topics of leadership, scholarship, citizenship, and stewardship. I'm most excited to hear the voices of students and teachers as they talk about their passion for learning and their hopes and dreams for learning and schools in the future. Part of the day will feature some TED videos, and I'm considering this one below. This young woman speaks about the importance of learning for learning sake. Very powerful. Also, if you are interested in being a part of the event, please contact me, and we can discuss speaking, attending, and various other ways to participate.

How do you describe the benefits of technology integration at your school?

Building a strong sense of why surrounding technology integration continues to be an essential challenge for schools. Even in places where families and communities support high-tech career, the gap in understanding between communities and schools surrounding the purposes of technology integration can be very high. For us, technology integration is about giving students voice and choice. Two essential elements to keeping our students energized and engaged in their learning. Why do you want to integrate technology at  your school? Until you have a good answer, expect push back, skeptics, and more to fill the space and time surrounding this issue.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Five for Friday- Links and Ideas

Does poverty matter in shaping education?

Powerful video about the importance of building empathy

Do you practice uncommon appreciation of our kids?

Continue to believe that Project Based Learning resources at the Buck Institute are second to none. They also have some fantastic on-line classes.

Do we have enough space to talk about economic justice in our middle school learning?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Five for Friday- Links and Ideas

There is a growing energy surrounding the idea of makerspaces in schools as a way to teach design, critical thinking, and more. 

A University of Missouri student is doing a film on how testing impacts students and school. The final product should be interesting. 

What are we doing to build a sense of wonder in our students? How can we build on our desire for kids to wonder about ideas and topics?

What does it really look like to put the learner at the center of the learning design? Can we truly push our thinking to allow this to happen?

Great piece from TEDxYouth talk about learning for learning sake by a great student.