Friday, March 11, 2016

Embracing The Inner Hermenaut - #PENNSV16

Throughout this past year, I have been blessed to travel across the globe, searching for creative ideas, deep conversations, unique methodologies, and so much more, in hopes of continuing to improve my staff, students, and my family. Ultimately, it's about trying to disrupt the hedonic adaptation that consumes our lives, our schools, and those around us. I am honored that I have the opportunity to join an incredible group of educational minds on the #PennSV16 study tour, lead by Dr. Joe Mazza, as we head to San Francisco and Silicon Valley.  

Here are some focus areas for the trip, as we visit multiple schools and companies: 

Flexible space, brain-based design
Brain-based learning
Instructional design
Low-income devices
Student privacy
Virtual Reality
Networking internally and externally for PD
Research on audio, asynchronous, wearable tech, artificial intelligence

Be sure to follow along with our journey on Twitter at #PennSV16, starting March 20th. 

"Why We Explore", by Shots of Awe   

Sunday, March 6, 2016


“Nothing.” Yes, that simple, yet, truthful, one word answer that every parent, and/or family member receives when they ask a student, “What did you do today at school?” Yes, “nothing” is the very powerful word that students bring home, when they aren’t engaged or empowered.  In a day in age where advanced technology is available for all ages, and could fit in the palms of any hand, there are so many educators that continue to ignore, banish it, or restrict it. We have the opportunity to be connected to infinite resources, worldwide communication, and tools beyond our wildest childhood imaginations, yet we embrace fear when it comes to allowing students to use it in schools. Ultimately, as educators, we must overcome our fears, become more transparent, and establish trust, respect and student voice. When students feel valued, empowered, and can engage in honest conversations, that’s where “sparks” begin to fly. 

Take a moment and think of a time in your life, that something or someone caused your mind to reach a state of rapture, which prompted you to share with everyone? As Jason Silva states “these moments are what make final cut” and create memories of a lifetime.  These moments occur in school, when students are empowered by educators to take risk outside their comfort zones, utilize design thinking and/or personalized learning, without the sense of failure, as learning is the main focus, not grades. Student empowerment reawakens curiosity, wonder, and moments of awe, that is sadly missing in secondary school systems. 

“Most creative, successful business leaders have tended to be expert questioners. They’re known to question the conventional wisdom of their industry, the fundamental practices of their company, even the validity of their own assumptions.” (Berger, 2014). We need to continue to question the traditional silos that have been in place for years, because “it’s always been done that way,” and realize that authentic learning can only happen if students and staff are given a chance/voice to create their own beautiful questions.