Sunday, November 22, 2015

Idea Street Welcomes Teenage Mutant Ninja NCMS Turtles


Would you be willing to allow students to paint on your school walls? Better yet, would you be willing to let Middle School students paint on your walls?  

What happens when you give two amazing 6th grade students an opportunity? You tell them we trust you and believe in you.  The answer is simple - MAGIC!

As we awaited the arrival of our turtles for Idea Street, we needed to make some more changes.  We needed to create a habitat for them to feel at home, when hundreds of students and staff walk by them on a daily basis.  

Allow the pictures to tell their story!

Dismantling the display case

A blank canvas

Isabella V. and Gracen C
Overhead put to us

Ready to rock!

Mr. Law, Science Teacher who won a grant for the turtles watches 
Not a bad start


Welcome Home Turtles!

Special thanks to Mrs. Schwanzer, Mr. Law, Mr. Mease, Mrs. Woodall, and everyone else who gave our students the opportunity to make it OUR school! 



Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sitting on Top of the World - Flying over the North Pole

Far East Tour- Home of the Dragon (Part 2)

Sitting on Top of the World - Flying over the North Pole

As our airliner crossed one of the most unique areas in the world, I couldn’t help to think of vast unexplored regions in our world. Yes, much of the North Pole is exotic, unknown, and the home of Santa Claus, but the unexplored regions that spark my interest is our educational system. Have we even "explored" all that there is in education? I'll let you decide...

As we head to China, I am so anxious to see what we can learn, acquire, and bring back to our school along with “hopefully” a Mandarin program. Multiple school and university visits are just the tip of the iceberg to pushing us forward.  Yet, I cannot wait to spend multiple days with a powerful group of educational minds from New Jersey as well. Just the plane ride alone, conversing with Spike Cook and Jay Eitner, was worth the 14 hours. 

As schools continue to remain in status quo, the Northfield Community Middle School is making huge strides to produce an educational system that provides staff and students with the opportunities to similar to those of Stanford University’s d. School. Yes, we are a middle school, not Stanford, but the idea of design thinking focused on empathy, personalized student learning, genius hour projects, Andragogy/Heutagogy advancing forward with higher level pedagogy, and flexible learning spaces in our studios.  

What unique learning spaces, methodologies, and ideas are waiting for us on this trip?

Checking in from Santa’s house, and to all a good night. 

The Emperor Who Had No Clothes - The American Tourist Version

After a 14 hour plane ride from Newark to Beijing, we were still not at our final destination. We passed through customs, retrieved our luggage, went to the ticket counter to check our bags, passed through security, and sat down to eat. We had time before our flight and we were anxious to eat our first meal in China. 

    Good times waiting for our first meal

Beef and Noodles were AWESOME!

We were now 13 hours ahead of when we left! Yes, we time traveled to the future, and everything was looking pretty good. 

We then boarded our next flight to Changchun, and began the last leg of our travel over the last 20 hours.  The flight was fast, only an 1hr and 1/2, but when we got off, that's when the next adventure came to light. Two members of our team were not on the flight and are hopefully catching the next flight in. We then proceeded to head to the baggage claim area. All was fine until the conveyor belt stopped. Everyone had retrieved their luggage, except for ME! Yes, after twenty hours of traveling, my bag did not make the last flight. 

After 20 minutes of the airline checking their computer system and phone calls, Dietrich, was able to help translate for me and help me to understand that my bag had been located in Beijing. 

HOPEFULLY, it will be on the next flight in and delivered to the hotel in the am as promised. Yet, as I boarded the bus, we couldn't help to laugh as Jay Eitner stated, "Glenn Robbins will officially be the emperor with no clothes tomorrow." 

Thanks to Spike Cook, he will loan me some clothes for tomorrow morning's school visit. 

The adventures of Big Trouble in Little China have just begun. However, in this wintery northern region of the country, I'd love to be emperor, but with clothes!

What's next?
-Will my bag arrive?
-Will I look as classy as Spike Cook in his clothes with my sneakers on?
-Will we the other two members of our team catch the next flight and join up with us?
-Our first school visit- What will it be like and how will it go?

Sincerely-The Emperor with no clothes. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Far East Tour- Home of the Dragon (Part 1)

“The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” -Alain de Botton

An incredible short clip from Shots of Awe: 
Why We Travel

For the past several months, I have been waiting for this day. The day, that I kiss my amazing wife, Abigail, and incredible son Henry goodbye as I take a journey to improve my own educational growth and hopes to establish networks and an additional foreign language curriculum. The day, where I'm to embark on a 14 hour plane ride to the Far East, China. 

I have been fortunate in my life to have traveled to many countries before such as: Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, France, and Egypt. Yet this will be the first trip without Abigail, who has always been my travel companion. This will also be the first time that I am visiting school and university settings to study, and better understand their educational system. 

Thanks to the gracious support of my interim superintendent, board of education, staff, students, and my school community, I am beyond thankful!

With a team of ten administrators from New Jersey, thanks in part to Rutgers University and the Confucius Institute, we are heading on a study tour of five middle/high schools and two prestigious universities. Yet, before we arrive to Beijing and Changchun, we need to fly over the NORTH POLE! That in itself is simply mind boggling. 

I'm honored to have been invited on this trip and that I was given the opportunity to help select others to join. Jay Eitner, helped Dr. Dietrich Tschanz to come in contact with me and I'm blessed to have an unselfish friend like Jay, who like many in my PLN, is about helping others grow for the betterment of themselves, their students, their staff, and their schools. In playing it forward, I was able to have Spike Cook, Pam Moore, and Steve Santilli added to the team of ten. 

What's ahead?

-14 hours on a flight to Beijing, then a three hour layover before taking an 1hour and 50 minute flight to Changchun. 
-Visiting multiple middle/high schools.
-Visiting two prestigious universities.
-Site seeing so many historical areas and tourism sites.  
-Internet access- What will the Great Firewall of China block?
-Living 13 hours into the future. Yes, 13 hours ahead of home time. 
-FaceTime with my family, staff, and students?
-New networks/relationships between their schools and mine?
-What innovative ideas will I bring back to share with my school?
-Will we be able to start a Chinese Language program at my school in the near future?
-What memories will be created during this adventure?
-Will I be able to blog and post photos of each day?
-So much curiosity and wonder lies ahead!

Stay tuned, as the adventure of a life time is just beginning!