How did it go today?

This post was last updated on May 8th, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Today I presented a brand new workshop called “Surprisingly Awesome”. I described it this way:

 Shakespeare, The War of 1812, the Pythagorean theory are just a sample of things we teach in schools that
for many aren’t very interesting. Yet there is something incredibly satisfying and ful lling when you can help students see the awesome and interesting things they originally dismiss. This session will explore some tools and strategies that can turn those kinds of topics into learning that is surprisingly awesome. If you have a great strategy or approach that’s been effective in making something mundane become surprisingly awesome, bring that idea to share.

I blogged about that title and its origins a while back. For those of you who are classroom teachers, you get to try out new things every day. I don’t have that luxury so I’m super excited to be able to test out new ideas and concepts from time to time.

Today was one such day.

I also warned them that they would be working together and that their feedback about the session would be critical. I also let them know they … Read the rest

Building Social Capital with Community

I'm going to be working with school administrators and leaders in the next few months and some of that time I want to focus specifically on the role of building social capital with the community.  I want you to put your parent hat on for a moment and consider the ways your child's school or district builds that social capital…trust. I'd love to share, not only some examples but also some stories that shows the impact. I realize that could be tough but I'm asking anyway. 

So please leave a comment and hopefully a link to some example of school/district leadership that builds trust and social capital with technology. It may be an active and conversational twitter account. I say conversational because having a twitter account, website or any other space that is simply used to broadcast announcements or events might be useful but I don't consider it a very proactive way of engaging parents and community. In particular those leaders who have shifted away from sophisticated, over edited media releases/communications to conversational authentic sharing. I'm seeking examples of where that online presence led to positive encounters etc. 

Ideally, I'd like to reach out to some of these people and Read the rest

Pursuing Intentional Serendipity

I think the phrase I'm looking for is intentional serendipity. I think it's Peter Skillen's term but there may be others using a similar concept.  In a world where play and wonder should really be considered essential dispositions, our education rarely values learning that isn't somehow tied to a chosen standard or outcome.

Unlike a classroom where a teacher controls the lecture, the organic communities that emerge through collectives produce meaningful learning because the inquiry that arises comes from the collective itself.


Integral to this idea is giving yourself opportunities to experience and facilitate serendipitous learning. Currently there really isn't a better way to make this happen than twitter.

Here's the story.

Yesterday I'm attending a full day workshop (workshop is a loose term, it was really a 5 hour lecture) with Dr. Larry Bendtro, researcher and founder of the Circle of Courage Institute which focuses on reclaiming at risk students. Dr. Bendtro is a good speaker and while a 5 hour lecture isn't an ideal way to learn, there were lots of nuggets of learning I took away.

Sitting in the auditorium made up of educators and community people, I did see several ipads out Read the rest

The Presentation Karaoke

I've had a few people ask me about this so I thought I'd share something I've been doing recently.

Having done my share of workshops, I recognize it's challenging to spend a half day or full day with strangers and provide a meaningful learning experience. Most workshops I've attended usually consist of someone giving some type of initial presentation followed by a series of table talks from handouts; read this and respond, think, pair share, and so on. Often embedded in these events are things I call "cutesy activities". Something like, find someone you don't know and interview them about blah, blah, blah. I might not be articulating this well but all I know is that half the people in the room hate it. I'm usually the one that hates it. I'm not invested in the conversation and it always seems contrived. 

Not that I've figured it all out but I've been extremely cognizant of not doing those things at my workshops. If I think I'm close to broaching the "cutesy" zone, I'll make participants fully aware of my concerns and invite them to pass if it seems like that to them. 

I have a pretty simple formula I try … Read the rest

A Fresh set of Eyes

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:04 am

Ewan McintoshWhat a privilege to spend time with a good and smart friend.  Since we began planning for this day back in January, I’ve been looking forward to it.  It was remarkable to see how many traveled a fair distance to attend this one day event.

The day was well crafted by Ewan that included a series of short presentation type deliveries followed by opportunity to discuss and play.

As a group, we decided these were the most important ideas from the morning:

  1. R & D is for everyone
  2. Building Shared Awareness
  3. Remix the curricula
  4. Balance between structure and flexibility, saturation and overload
  5. Importance of rules in play

The afternoon was spent exploring gaming and the concept of gaming as a learning tool.

One participant summarized his learning this way, “One mistake I’ve made is I’ve never played with a computer”. This was a telling statement about how we view ourselves as learners.

Lots of ideas were explored and my goal was that folks left willing to continue to innovate, explore, learn and share. Not entirely new but a fresh set of eyes always helps.Gamers

Working out a New … Read the rest