The Blogger Challenge

The Blogger Challenge concludes today.


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
a) voluntary
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.

Fearless Writing

Fearless Writing

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What is a multi-genre project?

“A multi-genre paper arises from research, experience, and imagination. It is not an uninterrupted, expository monolog nor a seamless narrative. A multi-genre paper is composed of many genres and sub-genres, each piece self-contained, making a point of its own, yet connected to other pieces by theme and content and sometimes by repeated languages, images, and genres. A multi-genre paper may also contain many voices, not just the author’s. The craft then–the challenge for the writer–is to make such a paper hang together as one unified whole.”

Why should you and your students write a multi-genre project?

“Expository writing monopolizes thinking in education. As students move through school they writer fewer and fewer poems, metaphors, images, stories, and narratives. Exposition becomes their sole writing diet: reports of various kinds, summaries, essay exams, traditional research papers.”

“I oppose such exclusivity. Writing is a big mural world, not a snapshot. Writing is book reviews, email messages, notebook entries, news stories, love notes, commentaries, technical instructions, poems of many kinds, so many sub-genres that assembling a comprehensive list of them will almost certainly be incomplete. I don’t want students–kindergarten through postgraduate school–to become Johnny-One-Genres, which is what I was until I got to college.”

Tom Romano’s multi-genre website 

Have you tried a multi-genre project? Tell us about your experience and any tips you have gleamed.

Love Beyond Walls

Love Beyond Walls

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.

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We were challenged to create a low-res video using the this framework…

story arc

Here is our prototype using the story arc…

Fuse 2016: Coaching Design Thinking

Fuse 2016: Coaching Design Thinking


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.

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What do you like most about Fuse?

Basecamp 3 for Project/Event Management

Basecamp 3 for Project/Event Management

Several members of our team at MVPS use Basecamp 3 as a project management tool. During today’s #MVMiddle Admin Retreat (Day 2), our team took a deep dive into Basecamp 3, learning its features and testing them out as a group with Orientation Day as our guinea pig project. I recommend the app – you can use it to upload pics from your phone. We had fun with the campfire and assigning each other “to do” items.

Our newest team member Max Hanson said, “The big success today was the launching of Basecamp for the MV Middle Core Admin Team.”

How do you use Basecamp? What are your favorite features and tips?

A Full Day

A Full Day

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.monday retreat


Start With Five Essential Questions

Start With Five Essential Questions

1) Wait, what? This question is at the heart of all understanding. Clarification is crucial for understanding, before drawing conclusions or making decisions.

2) I wonder (why/if)? This question is at the heart of all curiosity.

3) Couldn’t we at least? This question is the beginning of all progress. It enables you to get unstuck, find common ground, or get started.

4) How can I help? This question is at the base of all relationships. Asking for direction with humility, to serve another.

5) What truly matters (to me)? This question gets you to the heart of life.

Bonus: And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so? From a poem called ‘Late Fragment’ by Raymond Carver This is the most important question ever asked. “Even so” means that in spite of the pain in life, there is still hope of joy and contentment.

Star Wars Characters Who Embody the MV Mindsets

Star Wars Characters Who Embody the MV Mindsets

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Solution Seeker – R2 D2 saves the day countless times with his resourcefulness and high intelligence. The small, lovable droid definitely fits this mindset as he evaluates, discerns, and tests solutions that are more often than not successful. The video below makes the case better than description.

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line dividerEthical Decision Maker- Luke Skywalker has such great empathy that he can sense when his friends are suffering on Cloud City (before it happens). His compassion for his friends leads him to put aside his own training as a Jedi and race to their rescue. He demonstrates his sense of personal responsibility when he returns to finish his training with Yoda. When Luke is tempted to give in to the dark side, he resists the pull of the evil Darth Sidious, exhibiting his integrity, and even convinces his very evil father, Darth Vader, to return to the light side of the force.

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Luke Skywalker

line dividerCommunicator – C3P0 is fluent in over 6,000,000 forms of communication. He’s kinda got this one in the bag. And yet his body language, tone, and bluntness are often received as annoying or awkward, revealing how difficult and complex the art of effective communication truly is to master.

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line dividerCreative Thinker – Han Solo adapts, improvises, imagines, and challenges assumptions. He’s the greatest character in the Star Wars universe. Han challenges assumptions by scoffing at Obi Wan and questioning the existence of the Force, the very thing that holds and binds the whole universe together. He suspends judgement, sometimes recklessly, like when he flies the Falcon head first into the asteroid field or chases the stormtroopers around the Death Star. He never asks if something is possible until after he’s done it. In the cantina, when Greedo cornered him to collect Jabba’s bounty, Han improvised and adapted by shooting first.

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Innovator – Princess Leia may seem like an unlikely choice. And the case could be made that her mother, Queen Amidala (Padme’) has an even greater influence on the galaxy. So hear me out. Princess Leia leads a rebellion in a climate of change and uncertainty. Almost hopeless (hence ‘A New Hope). She builds resilience through risk-taking and setbacks to deliver the stolen plans to the Death Star, as her ship is captured by the Empire, she is held prisoner and tortured in the cell block by Darth Vader, and her planet Alderaan is blown up before her very eyes, possibly making Star Wars a contender for ‘movie with the highest death count.’ And what idea could have more value or meaning that leading a rebellion for freedom? Sounds like an innovator to me.

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Collaborator – Chewbacca is the ultimate co-pilot, friend, and team player. He shares the credit – in fact he didn’t even get a medal at the ceremony at the end of Episode IV. He leads by example – maybe because only Han can understand him. His team is certainly diverse (smuggler, droid, moisture farmer, retired jedi master, princess) and who can question his loyalty and strong partnership with Captain Solo? If you were walking down a dark alley at midnight, who else would you want to ‘collaborate’ with?

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