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Showing posts from February, 2016

School From Scratch (#OSSEMOOC)

Design and build a school from scratch. This was the challenge presented by educators belonging to a group called OSSEMOOC (Ontario School and System Leaders EdTech MOOC). The inspiration for this challenge stems from a book talk revolving around George Couros's recent publication, "The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity".  


"We rarely create something different until we experience something different." - George Couros
Before we break out the Lego boxes or log into our Minecraft accounts, we need to consider the experiences offered to learners associated with "our" school. This will require input and conversations among community members. Once the vision, mission, and cultural expectations are established, the fun of research, planning, and designing the learning places can begin. Here are several themes I would bring to the "school from scratch" discussions. First, the school will be est…

Mapping Our Pangea; Visitors and Residents

"Using visitors and residents as a lens can help reveal underlying approaches and attitudes, which in turn, can help us support and engage the people we work with." - Dave White

Recently, I have been thinking about learning places, not only physical spaces, like our schools and classrooms, but also digital places like Google and Twitter. Seemingly continents adrift, I find myself asking, what is the proper coalescence of virtual and physical spaces for engaging modern learners?



Marc Prensky contends digital natives, those born after 1980, speak a different language, meaning they learn differently than digital immigrants because of technological immersion since birth. His recommendation, published in 2001, is for educators to learn the language of this century by listening to, and understanding, the native dialect. The digital native versus digital immigrant narrative became a favorite topic of debate for the next decade. However, the explosion of social media coupled with the …

Busy Hands and Big Hearts Fill Empty Bowls

"One great thing about this "Empty Bowls" project is seeing the students and staff connecting and learning in a fun, naturally authentic way."- Erika Varela, NBCT - Family & Consumer Science Teacher

This time of year, for about as long as I can remember, our Chemistry of Foods students, and their teachers, create a variety of delicious soups, and serve lunch to the staff in their decorated kitchen classroom. Minestrone, chicken noodle, broccoli and cheese; faculty and staff pay a few dollars to eat some hot, tasty soup while providing aspiring culinary artists the opportunity to demonstrate their skills authentically. For a few dollars more, the diners can keep the ceramic bowl, also created by our students. Proceeds from the Empty Bowls project are donated to the Palatine Food Pantry. Service with a smile, and also a few tears, students take tremendous pride in presenting a check that will help feed many people in their school community.


"Empty Bowls is a h…

BattleBots and Survival Skills

"The primary goal of education at all levels should be to expose students to a wide array of pursuits and help them find what they love spending time on." - Most Likely to Succeed; Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era - Tony Wagner & Ted Dintersmith, 2015


"This has been the best school experience EVER!"- overheard from a team of robot builders

Knowing how much time and energy our robotics students had put into their BattleBot, I gladly accepted their invitation to attend a competition at Rolling Meadows High School, my alma mater. I brought my son, Trevor, thinking we would both enjoy this experience.

We were unprepared for the size, excitement, and mechanical expertise of this spectacle. Aside from the throng of students and their coaches, we met school board members, teachers and their families, district administrators, young kids, and college recruiters. Yes, representatives from engineering schools were there to meet young innovators in a fun, competitive…