EOY Thoughts #IMMOOC #ITA17


  • Changing culture
  • Sense of Place
  • Student Centered, Student Voice
  • Design Thinking
  • Developing Mindsets

Been out of school for just over 3 weeks, but summer hasn’t really begun. This is the year summer of “what was I thinking?” and a whole mess of conferences and workshops. (Definitely bit off more than I can chew…. but it’s so tasty!)

I am almost at the point where it’s exciting and invigorating, but I know I have to process it all and get it organized in my head. Not quite there yet – but I think there’s a story.

First order of business after school exams ended was the opportunity to take a group of kids on an experiential learning trip to Iceland. The goal was to be more than tourists and bring back to our school an action plan that would lead us to a better vision of sustainability.

We did most of the usual things and a few less so: hot springs, hikes, geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes. We helped at a Turf House project and built a wall. We lived in an eco-village. We visited a geothermal power plant. We shopped in Reykjavik. We cooked, we recycled, we composted. It was amazing.

About halfway through our time in Iceland, my colleague and I decided that when it came time to make our action plan, we would structure the workday as a design thinking exercise. We felt that we could frame our experiences as the empathy piece, and asked the kids daily to reflect on how what we’d learned helped them construct their vision of sustainability. We crafted an essential question that would sort of define the problem and guide them in the brainstorming session. Our prompt: “What steps can we take to imbue our school with a sense of place such that it embraces a vision of sustainability within a community that is both highly diverse and very fluid?” We brainstormed – no post-it notes, no whiteboard, just pieces of paper and a table. We examined our ideas, talked and took notes.

This is an unfinished story. We are working through a Google doc of plans and intend to submit them to the administration by August first. But the important point is the attitude… the tiny shift in culture, the students taking charge; at one point in our planning day my colleague and I referred to their 10 minds as the leads in this – they retorted that no, it was us too and we needed to make sure we included the whole school community. Might not sound like much, but it was one of those ground-shift moments.

Again, it’s an unfinished story, but I think it’s coming together.

timing is everything #IMMOOC #ITA17

Today a colleague and I were talking about some school and personal goals. My colleague referred to a recent Sunday night news special on technology use and the brain. I’m not sure which show it was, but there is lots of recent stuff out there if you search fro it.

The conversation evolved into how we should be teaching our students to use tech for good not evil – and give them options. (that’s another story). But it got me thinking about all the good blogs and tools and other reads that have been so good, and how to keep track of it all.

That got bound in with some feedback from my faculty (I’m the department chair) on things we (yes, we) would like to do better…. I have  great department; I love them and they way we were together… And I stumbled on this in my newsfeed: Building a Learning Network.

It discusses ways to use Flipboard to build a curated collection for a PLN.  I’ve used Flipboard for years, but never in this way. I am also a fan of Diigo – but again, I’ve not thought of that for this sort of use either. I think I might try it – I like that the content is one-less-click-away than Diigo. It doesn’t bother me in Diigo to click through,  but if I am trying to help build a more innovative teaching practice, the easier I make it for faculty jump in and to follow, I the less time-consuming it becomes – and we all know time is the nemesis of teachers – and hopefully, the more likely for them to participate.

This excites and encourages me to try. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

on becoming student-centered – for reflection #IMMOOC #ITA17

One of my professional and personal goals for the year has been to become a more reflective teacher – hoping that by improving my teaching I am creating a better learning experience for our students. I’ve been reading and writing a lot (I have not mastered consistent blogging yet… that’s a big struggle for me).

Have found some great learning communities  and blogs to follow. The nice thing about blogs is that they are usually quick reads and can provide great ideas and/or food for thought.

This one from ASCD in-service  spoke to me, as we strive be more student-centered at my school.  The author is targeting how we treat students of poverty (and having taught in that arena, I can state: “truth.”)  but I think any time you read students of poverty in this piece, you can zip it out, and zip in “the jocks”, those with learning disorders, the cliquers, the weak ones, the gifted ones, etc.

It’s a worthwhile read and reflect on in those upcoming lazy (we hope) days of summer.