Thursday, June 18, 2009

NECC-- Feeling Lucky?

In nine days I will fly to Washington, D.C. to be with some of the greatest minds and hearts in the country. To say I am looking forward to the trip would be an understatement. Where else can you be around so much energy, excitement, and hope?

Here will be some highlights for me:
I get to hang out with my FableVision friends! I have spent a great deal of time on the phone with my FableVision friends and I will get to be in the same room with them!! I get to meet Nicole, Paulette, Ryan, and hang out with Julia and Bill.... Lucky me!

On Sunday, I will be at the Constructivist Consortium. What a fun day and one that represents every teacher's dream...Great ideas and time to check them out! Perfect! Add a bunch of great friends, you have a dream day. Lucky me!

On Monday, I will make a guest appearance in the session of my dear friend, Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns. Glen Bull will also make an appearance

Get Real! Personal Connections Make Learning Motivating, Meaningful, and Memorable
Add to Planner
[Formal Session: Lecture]
Peggy Healy Stearns, Independent
Monday, 6/29/2009, 12:30pm–1:30pm WWCC 145 B

Explore cross-curricular projects that link learning to students’ past and present while promoting the skills of the future.

Probably one of the best stories from the last few years, which I have told many times, is that I got to know FableVision through a great piece of software called, "Stationery Studio," I never dreamed at that time I would know the person whose name appears on the front cover. In D.C. I will be making my second appearance as a guest in Dr. Peggy's session and the third year I have been able to spend time with her... I also have been on the early preview team of some of the new Stationery Studio add-ins. But, best of all, I am so fortunate to call Peggy a friend. With the exception of my wife, Peggy might very well be my biggest cheerleader. . . Lucky lucky me.

Through out the time I am in DC, I will be meeting with FableVision Ambassadors....SUPER amazing educators who inspire me daily!!! You can't imagine the joy I get hearing stories from around the country about people who are impacting kids and education and moving the world to a MUCH better place. Very soon, you will see exactly what I am talking about.... Details soon! Inspired and Lucky and I.

Another great experience for me will be spending more time with the amazing and inspirational, Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother Paul. Both men are a wonder to me. So giving and kind...So supportive... So on a two hundred year journey to help all kids reach their true potential....And, I also believe, helping a music teacher from Iowa reach his true potential. Double lucky.

Best of all after the long days of standing and talking and being moved and inspired...I get to hang out with my lovely wife...Who is also an amazing person.

Friday, June 5, 2009

School Could Be Like Golf

On Monday, I was enjoying my first golf outing of the summer and a thought occurred to me. You might have to work at following me here, but I think I have made an important connection between two of my favorite activities... Golf and getting kids to learn.

Any golfer will tell you that the game can be very frustrating. I was on the fourth green (which I had overshot two times) and I was wondering what it was about this game that kept me coming back for more? I stepped into the tee area of the fifth hole and hit the absolute most beautiful shot I had ever seen. It popped off the tee just right, it had a beautiful arch, and it landed very near the green. Then, wham---it hit me, that was the reason that people continue to golf. A person might make 200 terrible shots, but then the one amazingly beautiful hit blows wind back into your sails and you are hooked. HOPE and a little talent charts the course.

As I walked to the green to get a close up look at that beautifully hit ball, I thought 'what if school was like this for kids?' I know it is a strange thought, but it is how my mind works.  What if kids had a chance at some real success. What if the teacher found out what it was that made the kid tick and then found ways for the kid to show how smart they are in a way that works for the kid? An activity/project/event that inspires success. This can not be a fake experience or a cake-walk type project. It wouldn't inspire me to keep golfing if someone stood around and falsely cheered me on...nor would it work to go toss the ball on the green and say I had been amazing. The learning event must be real and honest.

My mind goes immediately to an activity in my school when we were trying out Animation-Ish.  The history teacher assigned students one of the assignments I created for the Animation-Ish Educator Guide -- the Political Cartoon.   The 'Talented and Gifted" kids made some great animations that demonstrated their vast knowledge of the topic in history. But, equally as amazing, some of the 'lower' kids also created amazing animations. The kids who are firmly in the 'at-risk' designation had shown their grasp of the the content by animating their assignment. So, my thought is....if we can provide these stunningly beautiful drives off the tee, maybe we can fill the sails of the "off the path" learners. HOPE!

For a few years I lead a committee in my school and I worked with kids who were struggling in school. I learned SO much about how kids interact with school. To a student who has multiple F's, grades are NOT motivating. Maybe part of the problem is that their experience is doing poorly...they are used to that. What if we rethink some assignments and give them some new experiences that are motivating and lead to hope...and success?

What do you think???  Did I spend too much time in the sun, or am I on to something? 
 Teach - Hope! 

Graphic above is from the new Stationery Studio Add-On Pack called Sports and Exercise.  Stationery Studio is from my friends at FableVision and the program was designed by the amazing Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns and with Peter H. Reynolds' artwork. As I have mentioned several times, I work for FableVision, but not in sales. If you want to get K-5 students excited about writing, check out this program!!