Saturday, March 29, 2014

Set Your Action Higher

If things are easy... set your 'action' higher. It might sound better to you and many others when you do.

Common sense is often ignored in education. Strive to hear where things make sense. Sometimes all it takes is listening... especially to students

Sometimes we get used to looking at things one way...

Strive to see things differently. Some good shifts start happening when you do.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Project Ignite in Montpelier, VT

Many thanks to the folks who attended Project Ignite! in Montpelier, VT and to Charlie Wilson and Lucie deLaBruere for organizing the event. 

It was a privilege to be asked to speak to the group and share the rLab story.

Summing up all the layers of the rLab in less than 10 minutes is a challenge. 

Here's the (updated) PDF version of the presentation I gave. This one gives a better overview of how the course was built.

If you'd like to chat more about the rLab... I do all the time and would be happy to help. Some schools I've worked with are interested in adopting the whole construct and some others in incorporating bits and pieces of it into their existing courses. I'd be happy to share whatever pieces you're interested in. In it's glory, the course can be disruptive. That's a good thing. I've always thought rethinking educational practice, especially traditional ones, is healthy... especially for students. 

Examples of what folks have been interested in:

  • core elements of the lab: PBL, Student Proposals, Topic choice
  • PBL lab 'assignments' and the evolution of them
  • Framework for open topic choice
  • inquiry based topic exploration: identifying icons and then project mentors
  • collaboration guidelines outside school walls
  • student proposals to administration
  • having students design their project rubrics
  • disruptive (and sensible) shifts the course can generate
  • strategies I used to mentor all the different project threads over the years. With so many projects in so many diverse areas... I'll tell you I learned a lot.

Many folks also asked about the research I did on my sabbatical. I looked at innovative schools in seven countries primarily on:

  • inquiry based and PBL education
  • rethinking the school schedule
  • creating innovative student classes and / or programs
  • new learning environments
  • school architecture and designing learning spaces
  • innovative adult ( and student) PD programs / models
  • Leadership structures that foster (and prohibit) innovation

I'd be happy to talk about those anytime too. Just drop me a note.

Congratulations to all the Ignite! award winners. It was inspiring to see all the great work on display and hear the shared stories.

Time for some dinner! 

Keep moving forward...


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guest post on Tarrant Institute of Education

I contribute to a List-Serv called School-IT. It's a great mix of educators in Vermont actively discussing technology. As part of that discussion thread there, I received a note from the Tarrant Institute of Education that they'd like to post a response I wrote

The invitation does remind me that I do have to reserve time to write again. I have many articles in queue that need finishing... School lunch programs, school schedule innovations, professional development in schools, interviews with innovative educators, and leadership traits that foster and inhibit innovation in schools... to name a few.

It's been a busy few months. Lots of innovative projects in motion.

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education."

"We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living." MLK

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Potential in the Hour of Code

It's 'Hour of Code' week, and there's quite a buzz about it.

Some tout 'Hour of Code' as a 'publicity stunt for politicians,' some others that it's a waste of time, and some still as the best thing since, well, (computer) code was invented... or something like that.

Of course, it's what you do with it after 'the hour.' Getting some hype and introducing things to youth (or adults) is a bonus. The hope is it's not a 'one hour and done' deal.

Start somewhere... and then keep the conversations going.

Grab whatever device you have access to use and give it a try, especially if you've never 'coded.'

The hope is that the hour can get people interested in thinking differently toward more experiments, peer grouping... and even shifts in 'computer' / 'technology' curriculum in schools. 

Combine coding with making... games, apps, machine to computer interface (Arduino, LilyPad Arduino, Makey Makey, Rasberry Pi, etc)... creative student exploration and projects? Now that's interesting.

"Hard fun"... Seymour Papert said that 30 years ago. Get kids involved in making things and solving tough problems.

Bring people with you and dive in.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tips for Crafting Presentations

Ever wonder how you can take better pictures?

Want to learn some visual design tips?

Need some ideas on how to conjure better presentations?

I've passed these tips on to many over the years... and here they are for you too.

Best way to view the presentation below? Click the icon to expand to 'Full screen' on the Google Drive toolbar below.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Keep Moving Forward...

It's been some time since I wrote here! Things have been pretty busy.

When my Spring sabbatical trip came to a close in mid-August, I did settle in for a bit (at Burr and Burton) to build curriculum in the scripted formats on the subject tracks that had been chosen (quite abruptly) just before I left in January.  I'd mentored so many student projects in those subjects over the last eight years and made incredible community connections therein... so it'd be pretty easy. 

But, it all wasn't sitting right for me. I felt the need to continue lobbying for student topic choice in their education, expanding internships and the multidisciplinary work that can spin with it. I wanted to pursue even more discussions on shifts schools can make to open up individual and community learning opportunities... especially student capstone work.

So when a late offer came up to do just that, and after some soul searching, I decided it was officially time I moved on. I took a position at Burlington High School in Vermont in Technology Integration and to participate in the Partnership for Change Initiative.

Hey, I thought I'd do something with all that sabbatical research, right? ; )

I've been working on many great projects already in Burlington... designing new classes, creating opportunities for internships, promoting the school as a community learning center, reshaping approaches to web development, helping teachers explore the creative capacity of technology with students, and contributing ideas on the plans to build a new high school.

Looking back... my sincere thanks to the incredible students I worked with at Burr and Burton, so many peers, the project consultants - all the experts called on by the students in their project work, all the visitors to the Lab, the incredibly supportive communities that support the school, and to the school itself. I'm truly privileged to carry so many lasting friendships into the future.

The rLab (II) at Burr and Burton, 8/2005 - 8/2013

I like this picture of the rLab above... a little rough around the edges, minimalist, student designed diverse work spaces. It was truly a self-organizing system... as it's always said from day one on the top of the rLab blog, built on student and parent / guardian feedback. Students took on some great (and incredibly diverse) projects and made some forward thinking proposals that really opened up thoughts on how technology was used at the school. Promoting student inquiry into the process of education, I always felt at least, was a healthy goal... and still do.

It's tough to close up shop sometimes... but it's also exciting. 

I always did love the iconic signoff from the late CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite. I always felt it was a fitting sign-off the day, and in this case the eight years I spent teaching students at Burr and Burton Academy...

"And that's the way it is," (the close of my role in the rLab at BBA, back on...) Friday August, 23rd, 2013.

There are many articles in queue for publications coming up... my travels to High Tech High, an innovative school lunch program, and traits in school Leadership that fosters innovation to name a few.

I'll be writing as a guest blogger, and requests are coming in for presentations on opening up innovation in schools. I'm looking forward to all of them.

It's good to be creating and collaborating again. Keep moving forward, indeed.