21st Century, Inspiration

Slow Down!

After posting about Austin’s Butterfly, I entered into a discussion with a Twitter-friend:

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If you look, you’ll notice my tweet about a ‘slow-education’ was favorited:

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After following Joe, I checked out the website.  Similar to the concept of ‘slow food’ the principles of a slow education are:

  • Promoting deep learning in the context of a broad curriculum that recognises the talents of all students.
  • Believing that the quality of the educational engagement between teacher and learner is more important than judging student ability by standardised tests.
  • Supporting investment in education and in teaching as a profession as the essential moral foundation of society.

Further investigation led me to this video which is so cool and such a good reminder as to why we need to trust kids more, allow them more agency and freedom, and be prepared to let them take the lead in their own education.

I love the PYP Exhibition for this reason.  I am wondering though, if even this is something that we are sullying with our obsessive need to

1. be in control

2. checklist and rubric everything

3. keep learning on a tight, fixed schedule

What if…

  • ‘exhibition’ was a year round process
  • all units were designed with big ideas that allowed for individual inquiries
  • we created a space for kids to learn at their own pace

Imagine that school….

Reflection, Teaching

Nothing Like a Little Anarchy

 

 

What is the purpose of what we have learned today?  This is a question I have been asked by my students and a question I often ask myself when thinking about the types of things I am going to ask my students to do.  What I notice a lot of the time is that by fifth grade, many kids have figured out that there is a ‘right answer’ and that if they are not 100% sure what that answer is, they are not going to say anything.  In my book, Imagine A School, I imagine the following:

 

Imagine A School

 

 

Often I wonder if I am providing this for my kids or channeling them all down a one way street to sixth grade.  I want to be the kind of teacher that hands out the following oath and dares my kids to sign it like they mean it – and then teaches them like I mean it.

 

 

 

I just finished reading Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.  The book is told by 8 year old Max’s 6 year old imaginary friend, Budo.  Even imaginary kids can tell the difference between those teachers who “play school and those who teach school”:

“It’s strange how teachers can go off to college for all those years to learn to become teachers, but some of them never learn the easy stuff. Like making kids laugh. And making sure they know that you love them.”
― Matthew DicksMemoirs of an Imaginary Friend

 

What is most important to you as a teacher?

Brain Research, Innovation, Leadership

Blooming Orange and the Magical Number Seven

I love the color orange so of course, anything with “orange” in the title is going to catch my eye.  The people at Smart Tutor have been busy creating a new way of looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy with the creation of the Blooming Orange.  Now, Blooms’ Taxonomy is not new but this is a fresh way of looking at it.  Here is what makes it different:

  • the stages of the taxonomy are typically presented as steps or as a hierarchy.  In this diagram, they all take a spot on the outer circle to signal that most of the time, these skills do not occur in isolation but simultaneously alongside other skills
  •  careful thought has gone into choosing the verbs that fill each segment of the orange. The list is by no means definitive but serves the purpose of clearly articulating what you would see someone doing if they were “understanding”  or “applying” in their learning.

You may have noticed that there are seven verbs in each segment.  This number was decided upon purposefully as a result of research into how many discrete pieces of information the human brain can contend with at one time.  Newer research would say that the number seven is too high – that it is more like 3 or 4 – but the Smart Tutor folks felt that seven was a good number and would ensure all could be recalled.

Download the pdf’s here:

I think it is a good idea to share these types of things with students.  I also think they are good tools to use as a self-assessment of what you are asking of your kids as a teacher. What segments get the most of your attention?  What do your kids spend the most of their time doing?

Today I got some great advice from Simon Sinek in my mailbox that in the light of our Exhibition, I not only endorse and believe in, but I know to be true.

And isn’t that what school is for?  I asked that question during our Fifth Grade moving up (to Middle School) ceremony.  What is school for?  In my opinion, and to quote myself from my book “Imagine a School…” our goal should be to nurture

“passionate, persistent citizens, who are fearless and strong”.


Nothing there are being compliant, checking of boxes, waiting to be asked.

We need people who will take initiative, look for responsibility, lead without regard for title or power and care more than is necessary.  With that being said, how do you assign responsibility in your classroom? How would you answer the question,

“What is school for?”

Uncategorized

The Power of Putting it Out There

I “finished” my first book about five days ago.  Then I let it sit. And sit.  And sit some more.  And I told myself:

“I’ll finish it on the weekend…”

“I need to illustrate it….”

“I want to think it over….”

And then I was a little more honest:

“What if people think it’s crazy?”

“What if no one likes it?”

“What if people criticize?”

So, after writing the foreword, afterword and bibliography I emailed it off to my inspiration, Seth Godin.  Then I went to bed. When I woke up, he had replied.  It wasn’t good or bad, it was….nice. Never before have I realized the blah-ness of the word “nice”. I didn’t want nice!  I wanted passion!  I wanted adoration or rebuke.  I wanted anything but lukewarm.  And then it hit me.  The only way to get what I wanted was to suck it up and put it out there!

So I did.

I still would like to make it into a physical book (who doesn’t love a square book?) and I still want to illustrate it (or have someone brilliant like Peter H. Reynolds illustrate it! (swoon!)  But I also know that this is not a book that needs to rest within my iPad any longer. So I put it out there.  I shipped it.

At the moment, you have the option of downloading the PDF of my book FOR FREE! Yes, the whole thing, online, downloadable and free!  Why free?  Because I read some wise words from, no surprise, Seth Godin (note:  I do read things that other people write as well, I just happen to be drawn to Seth – try him yourself, it’s addictive!).  Will it always be free?  Yes. Will it be available for purchase – I hope so!

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In addition to being art, being a gift, this book is also a reflection of art and a reflection of a gift. The encouragement and support along the way, along with the critical, reflective feedback from trusted friends, helped to shape this book into what it is.  If you don’t have someone in your life who will give you 100% honest, thoughtful, reflective feedback – even when you are not going to want to hear it – you need to find that person.  And once you find that person for yourself, make sure to BE that person for someone else.  Not necessarily a reciprocal relationship but make sure you are putting yourself out there as a support for others too.

For me, “that person” is a friend and former colleague, Marina Gijzen.  Marina is a great teacher and an amazing person and I feel so fortunate to have worked with her in my career.  She is definitely one of those people who have moved me forward in my thinking, even when I didn’t want to move!

To all those who have left great comments, thank you!  I really, really appreciate it!  Today has been anything but lukewarm, and I thank you all for that!

Now, for book two…….