I had the absolute pleasure of participating in our Upper School students’ pitches for their (i)Project yesterday. An important component of Mount Vernon’s Upper School program, (i)Project centers on the design principle Curiosity and Passion Drive Learning. Goals for (i)Project include:
- Developing Mount Vernon Mindsets (Creative Thinker, Communicator, Collaborator, Solution Seeker, Innovator, and Ethical Decision Maker) through authentic learning experiences;
- Cultivating curiosity, following passions and interests, and failing up in learning;
- Strengthening connections (or lessening the disconnect!) between “school” and “real life;” and
- Empowering students to pursue inquiry, innovation, and impact while having fun.
Students are encouraged to seek feedback from internal and external mentors throughout their (i)Project, and a strong opportunity to do so occurred yesterday. Teachers, leaders, and external experts (many parents who participate in our Experts-in-Residence program) sat together and listened to several students pitch their ideas. This pitch was an iteration of a previous one and called on students to incorporate feedback they had received from teachers.
The breadth, depth, and variety of (i)Project pitches were noteworthy. I listened, questioned, and offered feedback to students focusing on:
- enhancing marketing efforts of an online Etsy art shop;
- learning more about filming and editing so that a student-led course could be developed;
- honing investment skills in the Chinese stock market in order to give back to families living in poverty;
- learning (or re-learning) Portugese in order to speak fluently and connect more deeply with a former nanny, among others;
- using filming and editing to enhance golf coaching for high schoolers; and
- collaborating on a mixed media art piece and documenting the journey.
Each and every one of these projects, and the many others that students are pursuing, connects not only to content-area skills and learning outcomes, but also to skills that some label as 21st century and others label as lifeworthy. In a nutshell, passion was abundant, presentation/communication skills were growing, and feedback was fully flowing. I look forward to seeing where these amazing students will go in their next steps.
What an amazing fuse16 experience! From the DT101 Flashlab to take a lap in design thinking to the core experience partnering with four non-profits in the Atlanta area to the DEEPr sessions at the end to connect more with schools, attendees and coaches alike were inspired and invigorated!
Here is a Storify summary of the conference– so many tweets and retweets occurred, and I tried to capture as much of it as possible. If you have not attended a fuse conference before, make a note to look for information about fuse17 at http://www.mvifi.org.
On this last day of the blogger challenge, I am both happy and sad, both rejuvenated and tired. Perhaps I should include that I am also coming off of a major high from serving as a coach for fuse16 (blog post to come). What an amazing ten days for blogging and three days for fusing!
The biggest thing I have gained from this challenge, you might ask? I hope that I have strengthened my involuntary muscle memory by forming a habit of blogging (reminds me of a fabulous book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg- a must read!). I will continue to reflect on this and how I might look beyond the constraint of busy-ness to blog more regularly.
Another thing I learned and practiced was writing shorter blog posts. This should help me blog more frequently, but I will not give up the “long blog” that allows me to share/formulate thoughts and document research or readings.
Would I do a challenge like this again? You bet! I encourage you and your team to do the same. I wonder what our next team challenge will be…
I am a sleep fanatic when it comes to my two boys. They have early bedtimes compared to most of their friends: 7:30 for my 8 year-old and 8:30 for my 13 year-old this past year. For this coming year, my young rising 3rd grader (Yikes) will progress up to 7:45, and my now 14 year-old, rising 8th grader (Double Yikes) will move up to 8:45. Every now and then I hear a slight whine, yet most of the time I hear gratitude and confirmation that they like the amount of sleep they get.
I was thrilled to read about the latest report on how much sleep children and teens need. Vindication! But why is it so difficult for agencies and organizations to act on these recommendations? The cynic in me observes that the almighty dollar gets in the way of sporting clubs ending practices and games early. After all, they can not begin these activities until after school is out, and there are only so many hours in the day. The clash of restricted available spaces for activities also leads some to forget whom they are serving.
I dream for the day when those agencies and groups who serve children think of their user and his/her needs first and foremost instead of starting with the constraints of time and space. After all, creativity loves constraint!
A major event held each year at Mount Vernon, fuse16 launched today! We began with a pre-conference workshop centered on Design Thinking 101. Attendees were able to take a lap in design thinking through a flashlab centered on the question How Might We design a better driver’s experience for the morning commute? Later this evening and through Friday afternoon, we will host our Core experience where attendees will work with one of four local non-profits in a real-life design challenge. Lastly, Friday afternoon offers the DEEPr experience where attendees can choose three of several sessions to learn more about applying design thinking in their classroom. More information on fuse can be found on the MVIFI website here. I am honored to serve as a coach once again. Let’s get designing!
Once a math teacher, always a math teacher. I just adore teaching math, especially as I have learned more effective ways to do so. The way I started teaching math is extremely different than how I would (and did) now. And that is a good thing!
On the one hand, I am thrilled at the attention that math instruction is receiving. On the other hand, I am very concerned. Is the scrutiny that math instruction is receiving bothering anyone else? Why not the same scrutiny for other content areas?
Assuming the best, the scrutiny requires us to question our craft, to ensure that our purposes are sound, and to seek many ways to communicate and justify the why of what we do– kind of like showing our work. Another benefit that I hope occurs is that teachers and administrators yearn to learn more and to grow as math professionals.
Yet, the unintended consequence of such scrutiny is the perception that we don’t know what we are doing. There are too many people out there asserting that this “new math”– oh yes, history is repeating itself– is doomed to fail because it is not the way they were taught. And unfortunately, when schools shift to newer methods without robust professional learning and time for teachers to work through the changes, they are falling into the self-fulfilling prophecy dilemma.
What are your thoughts and ideas?
Today I participated in a wonderful exercise to build a team culture. Any time new members are added to a team, a reset button needs to be pushed to set the conditions for the team to build itself differently than what was there before. In five-minute “dates,” I was able to connect with a number of fellow team members around the following questions:
- What is your primary role?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What do you need from me to be successful this school year?
I thoroughly enjoyed each and every conversation. I learned and connected more deeply, not only with teammates with whom I have worked before but also new ones. I came away with ideas of how I can contribute to their individual growth and the team’s collective growth.
When was the last time your team hit the reset button? Has it been too long? Even if you are working with the same people, is there a need for a reset?