Quotes I’m pondering …

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” – Abigail Van Buren

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus

“Time and patience are the strongest warriors.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound.” – Simon Sinek

“A day’s work is your chance to do art, to create a gift, to do something that matters.” – Seth Godin

What are your questions?

I’m going to attempt to connect some dots here.

I love it when I see a classroom environment that promotes wonder, questioning, and discovery among students.  Check out Launch by AJ Juliani and John Spencer for more on this topic.  But, here’s a quote that really stuck with me: “Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask a question.”

I’m going to attempt to make a connection to a few assertions by Brene Brown, (Dare to Lead and Braving the Wilderness, among others) – that “Courage starts with showing up, and letting ourselves be seen.”

In the classroom, that courage can simply start with a question.  But, how many times do students literally fear asking a question, and being vulnerable in front of their peers? How often do we feel this way?

Borrowing another quote from Brene Brown: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” 

So, if we truly encourage an environment of “wonder and discovery” in schools and classrooms, we need the courage to be vulnerable and ask questions that lead to the innovation or transformation we seek. 

And, as one of my colleagues so poignantly put it, we need to say, “What are your questions?”

Go.

Flow state.

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The other day I was fortunate to surf some beautiful, fun waves right up the road from my home here in NJ.  Picture four foot, clean, steep, and fast breaking waves.  An offshore wind, holding the wave face open for a surfer to sneak a little tube (or cover up by the wave face).  I felt like I couldn’t stop surfing. My friends left after awhile. It just continued to stay fun.  Time slipped by.  I ended up surfing for four hours.  My brain wanted to keep going, but I had to go in for food, water, and to warm up. 

I had another experience recently where time literally slipped by.  Email and notifications were off.  I planned to work on a presentation for an hour.  Time slipped by.  I was in the flow.  Creating, writing, making.

Over an hour later, the phone rang. I had snapped out of it.  It was my scheduled call with a vendor for one of our programs. I quickly refocused my attention to the conversation and later continued on with my workday – never getting back to a flow state that day.

I thought of all of this the other day after a discussion with some educators.

How do we create the space for kids to get into a flow state?

To simply get into that state of productive work where time seems to slip away.  A space where they continue learning, reading, practicing, and making for an extended period of time, with little to no interruption. Owning their learning.

I don’t have an answer, this just a riff.

TheLearningLab.live

For years, students have had access to the Internet, social networks, and one-to-one device initiatives in school districts across the country and world. With this access comes a responsibility to engage students in their interests, career aspirations, local and global collaboration, and connect them with current practitioners and thought leaders. This is actually a component of the Future Ready Schools initiative in which schools and districts across the US are pledging to prepare their students to be future ready.

The LearningLab.live’s goal is to create a community of local (and even global) businesses and leaders, non-profits, and educators that will engage students in relevant, authentic, and timely project-based learning opportunities that need completion now. [Hence, the dot live].

The mission: To connect students, teachers, and schools with relevant and authentic project-based learning opportunities, amplified by coaching and collaboration. Now.

To learn more about TheLearningLab.live click here.

To sign up for a “beta” project for the 2018-19 school-year, go here.

By doing this project, I am embracing the fear, ambiguity, and challenges of starting something like this. I am enjoying the excitement and energy of starting something that has the potential to make a positive impact. 

Tech-Free Zone

Tech-Free Zone

No phones allowed here. 

For the most part, technology is good and making our lives more efficient, easier, more connected, and creating more opportunity.

I think kids today have the opportunity to learn faster than any generation before them simply due to access to information and adaptive/personalized learning technologies.

However, we have to teach “technology etiquette and balance” along with the empathy and communication skills needed for in-person interactions. There are different and new skills to learn now, like how to balance online and “real life,” in-person relationships or how to turn off the phone and be present with those you are with.

We need to teach a balanced use of technology and a responsible use of technology. We should consider “technology-free zones and times” in our schools and homes. Kids today might have more opportunity, but there’s more responsibility that comes with access to a platform to interact with the world at the click of a button. Click here for more ideas.

Do you create technology-free zones or times in your life?

20% Time “Sunk Costs”

Students have finished up their 20% Time projects and their presentations this past week.

Their work has been interesting, inspiring, challenging, creative, and most importantly self-directed!

Recently, I’ve been learning about a concept called sunk costs.  I’ll be sharing more about this in future posts, but for now, just consider it a cost, whether it be time or money, that we’ll never get back.  

Did every student produce a finished/completed project, solution, prototype, work of art that can be brought to market, change the world, or make a giant impact on their community?  No.

But, the metacognition, project management, communication, critical thinking, analytical, and reflective skills gained are so important.  20% Time Projects aren’t so much about finishing. Rather, these projects are about starting – starting something without a map and making something of their own fruition.

The students dug-deep on their final blog posts too, the metacognition was evident. Students wrote about how they see themselves as learners, and their personal strengths and weaknesses (at this time demonstrating growth mindset).  Plus, they wrote about how they will apply this knowledge in other academic areas.

A few Fridays of work focused on projects that students enjoyed and that some will eventually complete more thoroughly on their own time over the next few months have a value that only time and persistence with self-directed learning will deliver on.

Sunk costs?  Nominal, if you ask me.

 

Making and creating

Photography and writing are two hobbies where I see myself as “making” something.  It’s not quite building the “built-in” shelving that I’m planning to tackle one day.  Still, it’s creating something new to me and to share with others.  Like cooking, it’s all from scratch.

I think that there’s a place for all art, mediums, and re-mixes of tools that we have available today. This might even seem odd for me to say since I have a background in environmental science and as an Earth science teacher.  But, in my work as an environmental specialist, I made GIS maps for various spatial analysis projects.  It was science, math, geography, art, and design combined.  Later, as a teacher, creating, delivering lessons, and facilitating activities were also creative endeavors.

Back to education.  What about making with art supplies (digital or traditional), or tools, or crafts?  Are we giving our kids enough experiences with every medium available to them and become creators?  Let’s prioritize creativity in the classroom.

With my own children, we’re regularly making and creating new projects, games, and art.  We enjoy all sorts of making from cardboard box castles or rocket ships to painting to gardening to using scraps of wood to make tracks for Hotwheels.  To engage with those moments of play and making are some of the best moments of parenting.

Recently, I’ve seen some really creative, student-centered and designed projects made by our students.  From 3D printed bobbleheads to cardboard mini-golf holes to MakeyMakey projects to Pop-Art sculptures to group paintings . . . I’ve seen so much creativity around my school district, and I know we’re just getting started.

Share some creative projects you’re working on or that you’re seeing in your schools.