Just Keep Reading

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So many books, so little time. ~Frank Zappa

The last couple weeks have been busy! I like reading on my Kindle and often get my books using Overdrive which I have mentioned before. When I borrow from Overdrive, I get 21 days to read and complete my book before it “expires” and is no longer available as part of my Kindle content. I can put books on hold using Overdrive and then when they become available, they are automatically loaned out to me. Yay! So I have found, as long as I do not go to my home screen on my Kindle, I can keep reading a book even after it expires. Herein lies my problem: if I am in the middle or nearly finished with a book and it has expired, I have to finish it before I can read my new content. So this past week I was hurriedly finishing Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need by Chris Lehmann (highly recommend- I did a lot of tweeting about this as I was reading) so that I could start The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros for the #IMMOOC (you can read my first post about that here) AND When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (this book came and went from my Kindle library via Overdrive during the summer when I was trying to finish The Signature of All Things (yep- it had expired, or at least I thought it had- and so I could not visit my home page for fear of losing the book and I had come so far) so I had to get that started before I lost it again.

Anyway, to make a long story short (which it seems like I did not do at all), I have not shared anything recently and that is because I was busy reading.

So here I am and there are a few things to share. Don’t be fooled by the brevity as there is a lot packed into the few.

First is another really thoughtful, practical article on changing  students’ math mindsets from KQED MindShift titled, “How Showing and Telling Kids ‘I Believe in You’ Can Empower Them at School”. The article is an excerpt from Jo Boaler’s book ,Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching. I wish everyone would read these articles (or get the book) because they include ways of thinking about and speaking to your students that can make an impactful difference in their attitude and achievement. Two quotes stood out for me:

“If students are placed into ability groups, even if they have innocuous names such as the red and blue groups, students will know, and their mindsets will become more fixed. ”

and

“’I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you.’”

Next and last, but certainly not least, is this gem of a find from Control Alt Achieve that will keep you busy learning and doing for quite a while. 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students About Learning with Eric Curts. This is a podcast by Vicki Davis where Curts of Control Alt Achieve shares different ways you can use the Google Suite of apps with your students including: “Choose your own adventure stories”, blackout poetry, tangram shape drawings, and more. You can listen to the podcast here.  Davis links to all resources but I have included  the Slides resources here, the Drawings resources here, the Docs resources here, and the Sheets resources here. Open when you have time to appreciate- there is A LOT to see!

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Think on These

This week I have been spending a lot of time reading and watching videos. What can I say, I am addicted to learning! While I often share tools, tips, and/or tricks, this week I am sharing ideas in the hopes that you too will spend time thinking and imagining, and reimagining.

The first set of articles I am sharing is part of a thoughtful series of exchanges between two different educational leaders who conversed via a series of letters back and forth about School, Education, and of course, Students. The set begins with the Dominic A. Randolph, Head of Riverdale Country School in NYC, asking and writing on, “What is School?”. It is followed by Max Ventilla, CEO and founder of Alt School in San Francisco’s response, “Why is School?”. “How We Learn Best”, “How School’s Should Change”, and “Reimagining School” complete this thought-provoking series. The two speak to technology, engagement, purpose, mindsets, modeling, leadership, cultivating curiosity, passion, perseverance, and curating contexts that foster and allow for independence. The two are quite reflective in their thinking, and begin important conversations that need to be continued.

One click leads to another and so I went to Riverdale’s website to see some of the links that Randolph mentioned, one of which is the Character Lab. Since my school places a high value on our  Character Education SEED program (Social Emotional and Ethical Development), not to mention our forthcoming partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Education program (you can read the Storify here), I was interested to see what the Character Education program at Riverdale is about.

What I found is a series of videos on character, resilience, growth mindset, and more, beginning with this one from Dr. Martin Seligman from the Grit and Imagination Summit that was held at the University of Pennsylvania this past summer. In his lecture, Seligman speaks to the beneficial effects of Positive Education- teaching well-being to children.

Of course I wanted to see what the summit was about so I Googled it. You can learn more about some of the programs offered here. And, if you want to expand your teaching and continue your learning, take a look at some free courses offered from Penn, you can view them here and here (2 different sets).

If you like that set of posts, then you might consider more from from Bright which features articles on innovation in education.

“Developing the Innovator’s Mindset” is a video from George Couros, an inspiring and innovative educational leader. He was asked to give a keynote for an online conference and spoke about his book, The Innovator’s Mindset. Couros speaks to several things one of which is “innovating inside the box”. We are often encouraged to think outside the box, but for those in schools where there are pressures, initiatives, standards, and other obstacles, Couros suggests being innovative within the box of constraints. We cannot ignore the box but we can think differently within it. Couros gives us numerous other points and ideas to consider in this keynote video that I highly recommend taking the time to watch.

Last is a recent post from Alan November in which he describes his children and the two different types of learning experiences they had while in college.

We are in the midst of a historic transition in education, in which we are providing more options and flexibility in creating learning cultures that significantly raise the expectations of what our students can accomplish.

We now can rethink the allocation of physical space and how courses are scheduled to support various students’ learning styles. What is really exciting is the sense of student empowerment that can emerge from a highly flexible learning design, enabled by a robust digital campus.

Student empowerment, access to content, social tools and online communities are just some of the ways his children’s learning differed though both went to (his son will graduate this spring) top universities. Which one do you think his children say will be “better prepared for the world of work”?

For more great learning, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.