Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ownership And Integrity by DCulberhouse

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Engaging in conversation around Education and Leadership

Sometimes you find a post that just resonates truth. Here are some great thoughts by DCulberhouse.

I LOVE the introduction:

“We create the culture of our organizations by what we feed them.  Organizational cultures don’t grow haphazardly, rather they are a reflection…of us and our priorities.  And like giant tree mulching machines, they devour what we throw into them and spit it back out at us…spraying it across the organizational landscape.” 

This post is worth reflecting on, no matter where we find ourselves in an organization.

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”  -Samuel Johnson

Read the rest of the post here. 

A Better You, 11 TED Talks

“Ready for a change? These well-researched (and heartfelt) talks offer ideas and inspiration for all aspects of your life, from creativity to vulnerability, from competitive sports to collaborative games.” And my favorite, mindfulness.

See all 11 HERE

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Now playing: 10. Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes

When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions.) About Andy Puddicombe

Curated by TED



The 2013 School Leadership Summit announced by TICAL and Steve Hargadon


Tomorrow, March 28th, 2013! Don’t miss out!

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Tioki Conversation with Milton Chen of George Lucas Education Foundation

I followed a recent conversation with Milton Chen, Senior Fellow of George Lucas Education Foundation on Tioki.

A participant asked him what his favorite Star Wars character was, and what he thinks of the Common Core State Standards. Here’s his reply:

Milton Chen, “Of course, I love Yoda, the master teacher! 

I’m in favor of Common Core, it’s amazing it’s taken us so long to have the states agree on high standards. But the main issue is how they will be accomplished, what is the curriculum to get our students to high levels in English and math? I favor more of a creative, collaborative project-based approach, so I’m hoping there will be more discussion and implementation of this and teacher acting more as coaches than direct instructors.”

The more I work with the Common Core, the more I agree with this. I am watching organizations all over trying to incorporate the standards as neatly and gracefully as possible, but it seems the most effective way may be the messiest. In education, we have valued orderliness, sequence, separation, isolated skill assessment….then on the other hand we talk about the value of collaboration  creativity, and problem solving.  Without bridging the  these core values and classroom practice, how can we expect to achieve what we all say we need?

The ideas swirling around in our industry are great. The core focus of the Common Core is sound.   There is just so much distance between those things and how we are often trying to achieve them. I am thrilled at the collaboration within our industry that we are all participating in, and if we really believe in and value the things we say…collaboration, creativity and problem solving, we will get there…and it’s probably going to be messy.

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Leading, Learning and Holding Down Success

Steve Hargadon of The Future of Education hosted another good session tonight with author Jay Cross who wrote Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance. The discussion was interesting, and his book sounds like a great read, but there was one particular thing that he said that stuck with me more than anything else. As he was talking about how most learning comes to us informally on the job or wherever…he said something about Google…and recognizing that some employees are worth 200 times more than the average employee. He wasn’t talking about money value, but in what they were able to accomplish. He talked about how they are the ones that should be invested in.

The type of person he was referring to shows up in the desks of our schools and classrooms. How do we as educators deal with kids like that? It seems to depend on each adult’s comfort level. And then if they survive to adulthood with those tendencies still intact, how does the workplace deal with that? Again, it depends on comfort level. How does a culture like the one he talks about, one that values high levels of creativity and enthusiasm….one that values great thinkers and vision makers…how does that exist and sustain itself? What does that take? And inversely, why are there some work/school environments that actually do everything they can to squelch those exact same qualities? What does that take? There’s a saying: Whatever you feed most gets the strongest. It seems to me that it is definitely a choice..a choice by each and every one participating.

By exploring our own comfort level and allowing our boundaries to soften and widen to include those things in people that make us feel a little out of control, a little uncomfortable…allowing room for people that may take up more space than the average student or employee…that not only encourages that kind of ability in a student, employee or co-worker, but it also increases that in ourselves.

Where Dan Pink, Ken Robinson and Austin Kleon Intersect, True Learning Happens

Passion is Genius

There is an educational concept that I’ve been working with for the past couple years, and it has included several conversations with a creative friend, Adam Wayne. It lies at the intersection of Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Pink, Austin Kleon, and technology. I’m doing my best to create a classroom structure that supports internal motivation, passion, deep skill acquisition and rigor…all in an effort to teach curriculum. If I have learned nothing else in my years teaching, it’s that an engaged student internalizes, applies meaning, and invests in outcomes. If people are really engaged, they read for meaning, they write to be understood, they organize material in constructive ways, and they present to convey. All of the things that are frequently taught in isolation can be internalized in an engaged classroom as by-products of natural passion/engagement.

Creating engaging units is relatively easy, but to try to incorporate the power of passion driven study…that isn’t as simple. One of the problems is that kids don’t usually know what they are passionate about. Heck, most adults don’t know what they’re passionate about! Why? Because our schools and our lives are not usually set up to support finding passion. We over-schedule in school and at home. We cram in as many things as we can…we check off skills taught and tasks accomplished on a never-ending list….all the while being graded and then critiquing and judging ourselves and our surroundings.

Developing passion and interest doesn’t happen like that. That comes from safe open space…in the mind and in time. It requires free-floating ideas and connections and emotion. One thought leads to the next…one question leads to the next…one quest leads to the next…in a loose and free-floating way. Passions are often only seen in reverse. You can look back once they are there and see the meandering path that led to them, but that path can not be predetermined, scheduled, or etched…it has to be loosely felt and allowed time to develop. When a real interest or passion arises, the time and repetition needed to practice it to become skilled often comes naturally. Pink, Robinson and Kleon are right… it is like turning our whole system upside down.

This interest has turned into my own passion. It has led me to Project-based Learning, total subject integration, a loose student-driven schedule, a deep ongoing dive into technology…and I continue to meander. Now I am going to try my own form of Genius Hour to incorporate truly self-chosen topics. Learning how to allow this to play out in my classroom is mirrored in my very own quest, and I know one thing for sure…the learning has been lonely but unparalleled in its power.

Surround Yourself with those Who See Greatness Within You


” Surround yourself with the Dreamers and the Doers, the Believers… and most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself. They strive for us to see the potential of greatness that lies within us. Never forget that they let us break down our walls and wipe off our masks and teach us to be and believe you are perfect as you.”

A quote used by a man who died at 85 years old…and lived as an artist, illustrator, and wise, generous soul. Tom Dunnington was influential in my son’s life…and many others. May we all live to inspire greatness in others the way he has. There is no greater legacy than that.

Help Educators take the First Step into Professional Learning Networks

Writing about PLNs on an online blog is a problem. Anyone reading it is already part of a PLN.  All of us have stories like the one I encountered today. The real question is how to bring this understanding into our buildings and neighbor classrooms. Here is a snapshot of a single event I was part of just today.

There is a teacher in Honduras who asked for help from her PLN yesterday.  Her school’s new strategic plan includes moving towards discontinuing their stand-alone computer labs and incorporating tech directly into the classroom.  She is a Tech Integration Specialist, and she needed help. Within 24 hours, after several group emails, resources started pouring in. Areas were identified and a google doc was established. Turns out that her school is not the only one doing this, and she was not the only one with questions. No doubt that everyone involved will come out better for the involvement.

There is no way to overstate the power behind this kind of collaboration.

Here is a link to a wiki that helps educators take that first step. It was originally used for a series of workshops, so feel free to join and use it the same way. Add your own resources if you like. Becoming a Connected Educator for Teachers and Administrators using Twitter, RSS feed and Global Collaboration. If you have other resources, feel free to link them here.

Shabby Teddy Bears


It’s iEARN‘s (International Education and Resource Network) 25th anniversary, and I reblogged a post by David Potter that highlighted their Teddy Bear exchange project. In short, schools across the world send each other a teddy bear in the mail, and each class documents the bear’s experience.  When the bear’s vacation is over, they send it back home so the class can learn about life in the other country.  I had some great comments on that post, but this one really stuck with me. It’s from a teacher in Japan:

“Hi Donna,
One time, a Teddy came back to the school , but white body was turned grey and shabby. Children got shocked. Then the teacher said “Children, you can find how much our Teddy was hugged and kissed by your partner friends”. I love this story.
When I first attended iEARN Conference in Hungary in 1996, it was Teddy Bear presentation by Bob (Australia) which took my heart.
Yoko, Japan”

Such a great project, and a great organization.

Original photo found here


We are having so much fun with the Alcoa-An eagle Eye to the World project! Check it out!

Alcoa - An Eagle Eye To The World

In case you have not had time to check out the wiki, Theresa Trevino and her class in Houston, Texas are doing amazing things in their school. They just uploaded a ton of podcasts that the students have created. Check them out and give them a listen.

Donna Roman and her students in Geneva, Illinois are doing amazing things as well. You have to check out the pictures of the students and their displays. I love the window idea. I just wish I had windows to decorate like that!

 Very cool! This is what global collaboration is all about. It is fun to talk and connect with other schools while working on the project, but what I love even more is how teachers take an idea and make it their own. So many cool things happening in all the classrooms. I just love it!
Check out the work and pictures…

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