Students Want Access

dig medStudents Want Access

The past couple of mornings, I’ve received several unexpected student visitors to my office. My desk is covered in papers, my nose buried in a laptop while diligently working to accomplish a variety of projects, but thankfully I know when to put all of the ‘important stuff’ on hold. What’s more important than taking the time to listen and talk to a passionate and curious learner?

One student came in to show me the BB-8 robot he got for Christmas. He just walked right in, opened up the box, placed the robot on the floor, and showed me how he controlled it with his phone. Cool!

Another pair of students dropped by to ask if they could print a 3D printer using another 3D printer. They want to print a better printer so they can print drones that they can sell through the business they’ve created. What!? That’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. Their enthusiasm is so strong that they offered to pay for the part (our current printer is a hand-me-down from the Upper School and it gets jammed after 15 hours of printing – requiring constant replacement). When student engagement occurs naturally – don’t get in the way!

There is a student who is planning to strap a GoPro to his head and film a day in his life, then upload to his e-portfolio. I secured two different devices and he has been stopping the front office to prepare. We ordered a memory card yesterday. We discussed how teachers might use this same technology to capture their lessons for a) self reflection and professional learning or b) posting to their websites for students to review.

Brainstorming Tech Needs

Every year, we have the opportunity to propose a wish list of technology items to be used by students and teachers in our school. What a blessing! I am grateful that we can “say yes” to so many ideas. It seems only fitting to involve a wide range of stakeholders in the conversation as they are the primary users of any emerging technology we purchase. Today, I met with the Digital Media class, as well as a few other students. We brainstormed a great list of ideas.

dig med5dig med3 dig med4

dig med2

Students Invent Thumbprint Scanner Lockers
How a GoPro got my students excited to learn
The best 3D printers of 2016 – reviews
Oculus Rift

How might we give Middle School students greater access to emerging technology, opportunities to start their own businesses, and to make/create/design their wildest ideas?

Curiosity and Intelligence

Curiosity and Intelligence

Curiosity and Intelligence

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation hosted the 3rd annual Council on Innovation last Friday. Students in the Upper School iDiploma cohorts read and discussed the article ‘Curiosity is as Important as Intelligence‘ beforehand, then listened as the panel of external experts discussed the same article.

The conversation was interesting. Here are a few of the quotes and questions I captured…

Complexity is an indicator of change.

No one says, “I’m going to manage complexity today.” (As HOMS, I might disagree)

How much is innate and how much ‘around the margins’ can you change? CQ, IQ, EQ, SQ? What is the role of genetics?

I’m curious about self-awareness, self-regulation, and human nature.

Curiosity and Intelligence

We have as many internal genetic traits as we do external (tall, fast, etc.) There is no entitlement for genetic traits.

What role does hard work play? Einstein has a quote about everything. Somewhere in that hard work something is going to happen. I want to hire the hard workers and then give them the coaching.

Technology is an enabler of curiosity (and intelligence).

Curiosity does not equal intelligence. Sometimes curiosity leads us to bad stuff.

How can EQ and CQ be more heavily weighted in the college admissions process? Does this become the new diversity issue? Part of me worries about that.

What would the author have said if he had 6 more pages?

I believe curiosity is MORE important than intelligence.

I don’t hire anyone based on where they went to school, but what they’ve accomplished and how they present themselves.

The SAT is a pretty good predictor of what one’s grades will be like in their first year of college. That’s about it.

If it’s not a good predictor, but that’s what’s being used, what can we do to change the metric?

Scaling Up Badging

Scaling Up Badges

Scaling Up Badging

In a recent professional learning workshop (at #MVCollider), our team made new strides in the pursuit of badging and micro-credentialing. 3 significant insights have got our team thinking. The first insight revolves around how to create a badge using the 6 components of a badge. A second strand fuses badges with vertical learning progressions. The third one envisions taxonomy or a framework for organizing badges and ‘permission’ for ‘local level’ badge building by anyone in the learning community without diluting the quality of the overall badging program.

Build a Badge

At the start of the session, participants were instructed simply to ‘build a badge.’ No further details were provided. Each table cluster had supplies. Teachers began drawing or constructing a physical model of a badge. The facilitators expected, in advance, that most folks would focus on the ‘art design’ of the badge. We took the opportunity to share that there are at least 6 key parts to building a badge. And the place where most folks begin (the art design) is only one part. Clarifying the other elements and being intentional with their design is critical to ensuring an accurate and meaningful measure of student learning.

6 Parts of a Badge

1. Name – Something catchy, fun, or simple and straightforward
2. Description – 1-2 sentence explanation of what the badge is all about
3. Criteria – List of the demonstrations of skill, knowledge, or transfer required
4. Evidence – The process or product that must be submitted for verification
5. Art Design – Something stylish, fun, high def, and visually appealing
6. Form: The actual badge in multiple manifestations: digital, sticker, magnet, patch, etc.

Scaling Up Badging

Empowering Teachers: A Taxonomy for Badging

Consider it a huge WIN when teachers are proposing ways to introduce badging! Once teachers aware are of the components needed to build a badge and they are inspired to take action, how does a school encourage this pursuit while also maintaining the highest quality of the overall badging system? Make sure to create a protocol and flow to ensure high quality, otherwise there is a danger of diluting the excitement and meaning with students.

Members of the MVIFI team have been working on a compelling taxonomy. Trey shared with the Collider seminar how it might work. Badges are classified like elements in certain categories: skills, content, mindsets. Badges that are “unstable” occur in the “classroom specific” or “event specific” categories. These differentiations allow for badges of varying degrees of quality and purpose to be created at any level in an organization. Not all are adopted for external use (or even internal use beyond the local classroom).





Vertical Learning Progressions

A learning progression is a road or pathway that students travel as they progress toward mastery of the skills needed for career and college readiness. Each road follows a route composed of a collection of building blocks that are defined by the content standards for a subject. What if vertical teams or R & D learning outcome teams created ‘vertical badges’ based on the process standards for each discipline? Imagine a study skills badge (a class where there is not a numerical grade) for note-taking. What are the criteria for earning the note-taking badge in 3rd grade? Then again in 4th grade? How are they different in 5th or 6th and so on up through grade 12? Or what about a series of Art badges? One for painting? Clay? Drawing? Photography? All skills that can “level up” each year as new criteria are identified and accomplished. All criteria that can be aligned by a vertical team.

In her blogpost, Making Learning Progressions Visible, Jill Gough highlights the work her team has done related to Susan Brookhart’s book.

Please share your thoughts and reactions? What are your questions? What are your badging ideas? How can we scale up badging?

Class Trip to Space Camp – Day 2

Class Trip to Space Camp
Class Trip to Space Camp
Class Trip to Space Camp via Twitter Feed

Space Camp® launched in 1982 to inspire and motivate young people from around the country to join the ranks of space pioneers who persevere to push the boundaries of human exploration. Today, with attendees from all 50 states, territories and more than 60 foreign countries, the immersive program continues to challenge young people to dream of a future in space.

With the U.S. Space & Rocket Center® as home base, trainees have an unparalleled environment to spur imagination. Historic space, aviation and defense hardware, along with exhibits that highlight current and future programs help Space Camp trainees transcend from, “What if?” to “Can do!” thinking and actions. Indeed, Space Camp alumni include NASA and ESA astronauts, engineers, scientists and technologists.

Static displays and unique settings provide excellent areas for classroom instruction while hands-on training, high fidelity simulations and enthusiastic counselors ignite the singular sizzle of Space Camp. Teamwork, leadership, decision-making: from mission control to space transport to space station, trainees gain personal and professional insights that profoundly impact futures.

Space Camp is the brainchild of rocket scientist, Dr. Wernher von Braun. Von Braun led propulsion activities that launched the Apollo-era U.S. manned space program and envisioned an aggressive schedule for America’s space-bound pioneers. Von Braun, then director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, reasoned there should be an experience for young people who were excited about space. Under the guidance of Edward O. Buckbee, the first director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Space Camp was born.

Camps are available for fourth grade through high school-age students. Additional programs are offered for trainees who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing and those who have other special needs. Space Camp programs are also available for adults, educators, corporate groups and families. Family programs may include children as young as seven years old.

Space Camp has attracted more than 600,000 trainees since its inception.

Father/Son Based Learning: Chocolate Fondue

My friend and esteemed colleague Bo Adams has inspired many with his #FSBL aka Father/Son Based Learning concept (it also takes other forms such as Mother/Son or Mother/Daughter, etc.)

Here is a peak at my family’s most recent learning adventure in search of the perfect dipping items for chocolate fondue. Thanks for the inspiration Bo!Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.06.06 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.03.36 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.05.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.05.15 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.04.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.04.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 5.04.04 PM