“You have to have a big vision and take very small steps to get there. You have to be humble as you execute but visionary and gigantic in terms of your aspiration. In the Internet industry, it’s not about grand innovation, it’s about a lot of little innovations: every day, every week, every month, making something a little bit better.”
– Jason Calacanis
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”
– William Pollard
Collaborative Team Teaching
Amy Choi and Pam Ambler presented a compelling and highly useful workshop for team teaching pairs on the first day of pre-planning. As the Upper School scales collaborative team teaching up from Humanities 9 to Humanities 10 and several new inter/multi-disciplinary courses this year, the models and tools they provided will be key to our success.
This workshop was the result of a grant that included elements of design thinking.
If we expect ePortfolios to be effective tools for measuring learning…
If we expect ePortfolios to enhance (or replace) a single numerical grade on a report card as a means of monitoring progress…
…then we must continue to research, iterate, and implement them with students. Here are 3 tips to take ePortfolios to the next level of effectiveness.
1. Show Before and After
Advisors should help students design demos that show before and after. Compare two or more pieces of work over time. Don’t just upload a picture or write unbroken paragraphs of endless text. Tell a story that visibly shows growth and learning. And do so effectively,…
2. Use Media & Technology
Want an excuse to experiment with unexpected and creative forms of technology? Here you go. Text and slides are B-O-R-I-N-G! Get a drone and create a video. Use a 3-D printer or laser cutter. Learn how to create your own virtual reality content. Make your ePortfolio compelling so people will flock to discover what you’re learning. ePortfolios are meant to be shared. Don’t bore us.
3. Cross Disciplinary Lines
ePortfolio demos may be tied directly and explicitly to learning outcomes. Yet, that does not mean they must only be outcomes from one academic discipline or subject. Authentic, real-world learning occurs across disciplinary lines. Create demos that blur the lines and reflect reality.
Remember, “the real value of an ePortfolio is in the reflection and learning that is documented therein, not just the collection of work.” Utilizing these 3 tips will lead to extended reflection at each stage of the process through the student-led conference and beyond.
Today was the grand unveiling of the new suite of badges designed for faculty by Amy Wilkes and Katie Cain. Like a kid at Christmas, I still get excited when new badges are designed and introduced. These badges are only available through the end of April, so don’t let them pass by you.
Remember, a badge has six elements to its design. Although the artwork is often the most visible and appealing aspect of a badge, it is only 1/6 of the design. Like a quarterback who gets all the credit when a team wins, the artwork can overshadow the other 5/6 of the badge.
There are a number of things I really like and wish to highlight about these particular badges. First, I love how we have developed specific ‘families’ of badges. For example, there are now 3 badges related to PBL (project based learning). They look very similar, yet they are distinctive. True learners and die hard badgers will collect them all.
Next, notice how the badges offered are not only highly relevant to the larger mission and work of the whole school, but also how they combine multiple school initiatives. For example, the Spotlight on the 4 C’s incorporates the wildly important Mount Vernon Mindsets (4 of the 6 21st century core competencies) AND the spotlight feature of Folio Collaborativealong with the important practice of learning walks(see more onlearning walks).
Finally, the Random Act of Kindness badge breaks new ground by being the first badge you cannot apply for yourself. A colleague must apply on your behalf. I’m interested to see how this one plays out in the weeks ahead.
And on a final, final note…I think my favorite ‘family’ of badges currently are the Challenge Badges. I love the colors and ‘look’ of these badges. And, I love each of the challenges associated with them. To me, they are the most ‘fun’ of all the criteria. The Blogger Challenge was an early success last summer. The Visible Thinking Routine Challenge was equally fun as teachers posted their classes in action to twitter and Ann Plumer featured the work on bulletin boards in middle school spaces on each campus. I hope our teachers will go for it with the Virtual Reality challenge.
Faculty Reflection VTR Wins
– 94% of families participated
– SLCs are scaling to Lower and Upper School
– I participated in 21 conferences, seeing all but 2 advisors.
– I observed teachers giving feedback on goals, badges, and student behavior.
– I learned a lot more about specific students.
– Teachers contributed to the experience in new and helpful ways.
– I saw evidence of group work, but grading on individual mastery of outcomes.
Areas for Growth
– Despite exhaustive communication, I still observed several students who had not shared “permission to view” in their google doc demonstrations.
– Similar with goals about As and Bs or Honor Roll (achievement goals) instead of Learning Goals (acquire a new skill or explore a new topic of interest)
– I saw evidence of group work and group grades.
– I saw a parent shut down a kid.
– I saw badges earned without the evidence in place.
Questions that Remain
– How will we expand the audience for eportfolios this year?
– Can Digication allow selected sharing instead of “all of nothing”?
– How will we follow up on student goal setting before the end of the semester, especially since the next SLC is not until February?
Today, Middle School teachers had the pleasure of working with Meg Cureton on a design thinking flash lab centered around making connections with one another. Connections: Design Thinking Flash Lab Part of the flash lab included these two excellent videos (we may have skipped the second one, actually, be we’ve used it before and it’s really good).
Get Things Done We had a few hours to get some things done on our own and grab some lunch. Then, we followed up on our morning flash lab with some creative time in the Studio(i) maker space. We took our low-res prototypes and turned them into something more high-res and impactful for one another. We also learned how to use several of the technologies in the studio.
Today was a robust, action-packed day #2 of pre-planning. Front-loading and launching the key initiatives for the upcoming semester, communicating the basic “housekeeping” items, duties + red binders (Thank you Mel), preparing for R & D teams (Thank you Angél), and getting CPR (re)-certified (Thank you Anne-Brown and Patsy). Here are the slide presentations for Advisory (Thank you Max and Tasha), Visible Thinking (Thank you Ann and Charles), and Eportfolios (Thank you Katie).
A challenge was issued and 18 daring educators answered the call. Some had never blogged before. A few had blogs, but had not written and reflected in a while. Others never stopped. Some of the cool things about this blogger challenge was that it was
b) during the summer
c) badge related
d) cross divisional
Feedback from the Bloggers…
“What fun the blogging challenge was, it was my first time participating in an all school activity. Thank you for the opportunity it’s been fantastic!”
“What a fun ride! I am challenging myself to keep blogging regularly- if I can do it every day for this time, I certainly can do it more than I have been.”
“It’s been a fun two weeks Mount Vernon family!”
“This has been inspirational and exciting. I have enjoyed blogging and reading others. This has started quite the trend…what a great time.”
“Thanks for inspiring, challenging, and including us! I’ve been able to read bits and pieces of other blogs and enjoyed getting to “know” colleagues better.”
“Thanks for the challenge. I was skeptical but have enjoyed and really enjoyed reading what I could of others posts. The process opened my eyes to see things everywhere that could make for a potential post!”
“Thanks for this fun adventure! And making it cross divisional. I really enjoyed virtually getting to know more about my coworkers across the street!”
Thanks for participating! I’m sure we will do it again in the future.
I spent today working with the coolest group of educators (yea – team red!) for the coolest non-profit in Atlanta, Love Beyond Walls. Our Fuse Commander Meghan Cureton was flawless and demonstrated exceptional leadership throughout the entire process. On day two of #Fuse16, we collaborated in teams of 5-6 to understand and solve for the needs of Love Beyond Walls founder Terrence using the DEEP design thinking process. We used many of the design thinking playbook tools including MoVe Man…
We met…Terrence. A passionate visionary committed to building relationships and provide both relief and development to those in poverty in Atlanta.
We were blown away…by his personal story, the depth of his commitment, his life’s mission to increase awareness about poverty while restoring dignity, and how much support he has been given mainly via social media connections.
What if…we could support his efforts by getting others to ‘walk with Terrence’ in his upcoming campaign from Atlanta to DC.
We were challenged to create a low-res video using the this framework…
The annual MVIFI Fuse Conference at Mount Vernon kicked off to a strong start this morning with the DT 101 Flash Lab. I am excited to be serving as a design thinking coach and member of the Flight Crew (yes! this means I get a new badge) for the third consecutive year.
Things I Like Most About Fuse
– Getting inspired by the passion, commitment, and hard work of my colleagues (see Bo, Meghan, Jim, James, TJ, and Trey) (not to mention all of the fabulous coaches, faculty, and students)
– Getting more laps with design thinking. I learn something new and deepen my experience every time
– Meeting and networking with fantastic, passionate educators from all of the country (even the globe)
– The MoVE (Moment of Visible Empathy) Talks are always a highlight. I love the stories, the passion, the ideas, and the stage.
– Welcoming new (new to Mount Vernon or simply new to Fuse) Mount Vernon team members to the conference as one of their first experiences as part of the faculty.
Started the day with a fantastic Middle School Admin Team Retreat, followed by an incredible Maker session where I learned about the Studio(i) experience, designed and printed using the laser cutter, and earned a badge! It was a fantastic turn out and professional learning event considering it is summer time. Next, I went to training session for this week’s Fuse conference with the fantastic Red Team followed by a fun team dinner at Village Burger. Finally, I ended the day by reading to each of my children and going for a night walk and swim. Blessed.