Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why I teach - Amanda & Dave

Amanda H, Elementary School Teacher, Charleston South Carolina and Dave A., High School Teacher, Miami Florida (StudentsFirst)

Amanda from Charleston, SC from StudentsFirst on Vimeo

Dave from Miami, FL from StudentsFirst on Vimeo.

Putting students first

StudentsFirst formed in 2010 in response to an increasing demand for a better education system in America. This grassroots movement is designed to mobilize parents, teachers, students, administrators, and citizens throughout country, and to channel their energy to produce meaningful results on both the local and national level.

What year are you preparing your students for?

As Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute and President of Curriculum Designers, Inc., Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of curriculum and instruction. She has served as an education consultant to schools nationally and internationally on issues and practices pertaining to: curriculum mapping, dynamic instruction, and 21st century strategic planning.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Keeping Time: Music Is a Core Subject

"Music education nourishes the mind as well as the soul"

Extracts from an article by Wynton Marsalis on Edutopia supporting music as core subject.
"It strikes me as strange that music is considered nonessential. More than simply being a source of cultural pride and listening pleasure, music represents a core ingredient in the education of our children."
"Music teaches us the language of expression. You and I and Martin Luther King Jr. could read the exact same speech and it wouldn't sound the same. The words are the same, of course, but why is it that Dr. King's voice and tone carried something beyond the words? It's the expressiveness of the performance."
"Music also teaches us how to get along with others. Consider the music I love: jazz. Each member of the group can improvise, but none of it works -- for a soloist or an ensemble -- if the musicians do not play in balance... This group dynamic teaches the importance of choice, and many choices require some form of sacrifice. You must listen. You must have a conversation. The group must work together to achieve its goals."
"Music must remain a core part of the teaching curriculum...Education works on many levels. It must inform and excite the mind, as well as nourish the spirit. Music is a key part of that education."
-- Watch this nice performance - Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton

Power of the Imaginative Mind - Sir Ken Robinson

"Somebody once said, you know, "The great problem with human societies is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed." And for education for the future,  for all of us collectively, I think we all have to accept that for now and forever, we have to aim very high in education, and we have to succeed"
The internationally renowned innovation consultant calls for transformation, not just reformation, of public education. Sir Ken Robinson's remarks were recorded on April 10, 2008, at the Apple Education Leadership Summit, a gathering in San Francisco of more than one hundred school superintendents from around the world. We might have posted already extracts from this talk, but it is always a pleasure to listen to Sir Ken.
- Edutopia's series "Big Thinkers on Education"
- read "Schools Must Validate Artistic Expression"

Click on image below or here to watch video

Motivating Learners - John Seely Brown

"Big Thinkers on Education" is a very interesting series from Edutopia. Some of the most compelling visionaries in the world -- from Sir Ken Robinson to Jane Goodall to Martin Scorsese -- are focusing their attention on how to improve education. From innovative classroom concepts to suggestions on how to foster creativity and collaboration, they share their valuable insights for teaching and learning and illuminate new solutions to old problems. Get inspired by their big ideas.

"Probably the most important thing for kids growing up today is the love of embracing change" 
In the following video innovative thinker John Seely Brown, known for his ideas for merging digital culture and education, shares lessons educators can learn from surfers, gamers, and artists on how passion and competitive hunger can drive intrinsic motivation - Interesting points...worth watching.

Let's have a look at Canada

Contrary to Finland, which is a relatively homogenous society (only 3.8% are foreign-born), Canada has to deal with diversity. In Ontario, schools have raised their test scores and graduation rates by providing resources such as full-time student success teachers, who help English-language learners (ELLs) and other students in need.
"A lot of the students that do come new to the country have a variety of needs and that may be academic, it may be social, it may be language-based. it may be family-based, it could be just survival skills... And a student's success person is a critical piece in a school to help support that child".

Let's go back to Finland

Early intervention and sustained individual support for every student are keys to educating the whole child in Finnish schools.
Some interesting facts (from Edutopia):
- Teachers in Finland are well-trained and highly respected, and recruited from the top 10% of graduates
- Because of the flexible national core curriculum that functions as a framework, Finnish teachers are able to design their own curriculum and choose their own textbooks
- Finnish schools provide a broad array of services, including a hot meal for every student daily, health and dental care, and psychological guidance.
- About 40% of students in Finnish secondary schools receive some kind of special intervention (special teachers are assigned to students who need extra help and then provide it)
- Upper secondary schools in Finland employ a modular structure that enables students to design their own learning programs based on their individual needs and interests

More on Project-based Learning

Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges. With this type of active and engaged learning, students are inspired to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they're studying.
We will post 3 video clips about successful examples of this model of learning.

At Manor New Technology High School an unwavering commitment to an effective schoolwide PBL model keeps both students and teachers motivated and achieving their best.

High Tech High, a network of K-12 public charter schools, uses rigorous projects and portfolio assessments to revolutionize learning.

A public school district in Danville, Ky., has turned its emphasis away from traditional testing in order to encourage creativity and let students learn by doing. NewsHour special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on "deep learning," and how it requires commitment from educators, students and parents.

More on Blended Learning

Today we will continue to focus on two different learning approaches embraced by the current education reform: Blended learning and Project base learning.
As mentioned in previous posts with blended learning face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities. According to those who support this learning method, this will allow more personalized instruction for every student and will enable each to realize his or her fullest potential.
First we would like to post a video clip about a successful initiative called Phaedrus. Seton Partners teamed up with Mission Dolores Academy in San Francisco to create blended learning classrooms.
Second we would like to RE post a great TED talk by Jessie Woolley-Wilson, currently Chair, President and CEO of DreamBox Learning on blending technology and classroom learning.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The theory of Disruptive Innovation and Education

The theory of "disruptive innovation" describes a process by which a product or service transforms an existing market by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability. This theory was first coined by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen in his research on the disk-drive industry and later popularized by his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, published in 1997.
Principles of disruptive innovation are applicable to the social sector as well, including education. The Education Program at the Christensen Institute examines K–12 and higher education issues through the lens of disruptive innovation and its research aims to transform factory-model systems into student-centered designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential.
In this video Christensen and Eyring discuss the "The Innovative University", which builds upon the theory of "disruptive innovation" and applies it to the world of higher education. The Innovative University illustrates how higher education can respond to the forces of disruptive innovation , and offers a nuanced and hopeful analysis of where the traditional university and its traditions have come from and how it needs to change for the future. Through an examination of Harvard and BYU-Idaho as well as other stories of innovation in higher education, the authors decipher how universities can find innovative, less costly ways of performing their uniquely valuable functions.

Disrupting Class

Michael Horn is a co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute and serves as the executive director of its education program. He leads a team that educates policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres through its research. His team aims to transform monolithic, factory-model education systems into student-centric designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential. "With the growth of online learning—a disruptive innovation—we stand at an unprecedented moment in human history where education is being transformed".

Blended Learning

"Blended learning generally refers to incorporating online learning into traditional brick-and-mortar schools to create hybrid learning experiences for students. Sal Khan of the much-acclaimed Khan Academy personifies the blended learning movement. His team's herculean efforts to record thousands of videos, create practice problems, and build sophisticated back-end analytics are opening educators' minds to what is possible with online learning. As with any innovation, there is a growing army of critics who accuse Khan of being just more of the same drill-and-kill pedagogy. They ask, "Where is the deep and engaging curriculum that Ted Sizer championed?" It may surprise readers to know that Sal Khan himself is an advocate of projects and hands-on learning, believing that using videos like his can free teachers' time and energy up for richer instruction focused on higher-order skills. So if Mr. Blended Learning embraces PBL, can the PBL community embrace blended learning, too?" (Connecting Project-Based and Blended Learning - Bob Lenz on Edutopia)
-- read Blend my Learning blog
-- read "Elucidating Blended Learning On Khan Academy" - by Michael Horn on Forbes

Friday, April 25, 2014

More on Rap and Science

"If i use the word Nova I will be speaking about a star, unlike the average rapper who will be probably talking about a car"
StarTalk, from Curved Light Productions, is the first and only popular commercial radio program devoted to all things space and is hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. As Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, Tyson makes regular appearances as the "nation's expert on space" on major news programs and popular shows (Daily Show, Colbert Report). Neil sits down with the one and only, The Genius, Gza to discuss his career and how science has influenced his life and creativity - This is funny!

Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green?

Wu-Tang Clan's GZA recently gave a TEDx Teen talk about his love of science and the work he's done as co-founder of Science Genius, a nonprofit that engages high school students with science using hip hop. The pilot program met with great success in terms of recognition and results: participating schools saw an increase in regents exams scores and 15-25% in attendance. When asked who was his favorite Wu Tang member, Mayor Elect of New York City, Bill DiBlasio, said "GZA. Not only is he a great lyricist, but I also admire his work to engage African American and Latino students in the sciences."
The talk is called "The Genius of Science", and in the course of it, GZA addresses the etymology of the The Wu-Tang Clan ("'Wu' is the 'word'; 'Tang' is the tongue, or the sword. So it's about being lyrically sharp...") and the relationship between science and music ("each soul is tuned to a different pitch, and [music] is about harmonizing the soul"). It ends with students from the Science Genius program rapping about gravity, sexual reproduction, and natural selection.
-- read on Pitchfork
-- read on TIME
-- GZA's Rap-Lecture on Big Bang Theory at the University of Toronto
-- read about "A Hip-Hop Experiment"

Teach teachers how to create magic

Chris Emdin believes the best teachers can be found in the unlikeliest of places -- and that traditional education theory is failing our students. That's why he founded Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bring Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science), which takes the techniques for self-expression and engagement used in hip-hop into the class room (Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA is a fan and supporter as well.) Emdin is a contributor to The Huffington Post and is an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.
"If we could transform teacher education to focus on teaching teachers how to create that magic then poof! we could make dead classes come alive, we could reignite imaginations, and we can change education"

The essential role of music in education

"Music education does not just make children more musical; it unleashes their creative powers"
Music educator Richard Gill is the Music Director of the Victorian Opera and the Artistic Director of the Education Program for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
-- Read "Every child needs music" on Limelight

Please don't cut the music!

On April 15, at a Vancouver School Board meeting discussing proposed budget cuts, Roger Cole, principal oboist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, read a statement on behalf of Maestro Bramwell Tovey, music director for the VSO.
Today we are posting extracts from this statement and a from a 2010 speech by Tovey that we think says all the right things.
- If you want to read the 2014 statement in full please go HERE.
- If you want to read the 2010 speech please go HERE.
"We believe an education without a significant musical component is no education at all"
"Music is a form of language which reaches every human being. It needs little or no translation. In a school district like Vancouver, where dozens of languages are spoken by our widely diverse community, music is the only language common to everyone"
"Music is the expression of the inner narrative of every child, the common thread of communication to those who participate in a band or orchestra"
"The social benefits of music are extraordinary - If a student holds a musical instrument then he or she can’t hold a knife, or a joint, or a needle or a crack pipe – or a gun".
"If a student is in a choir or a band or an orchestra, they are communicating through the universal art of music at the heart of our community"
"What kind of message does this give to our children about the values of our society? Here’s an instrument. Now give it back" 
This is a comment penned by a young student who had spent his brief life in foster care due to a litany of misfortune that made Beethoven’s disability seem negligible by comparison. "It was the most beautiful building I have ever seen it was the most wonderful music I’ve ever heard it was the greatest day of my life" "That is the power of music – to heal, to inspire, to communicate, to transform and so much else besides" 
"Beethoven had no choice but to live in a world of silence. PLEASE, DO NOT LET YOUR CHOICE BRING SILENCE TO THE WORLD OF A SINGLE CHILD"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Educating for the unknown

We liked Prof. David Perkins a lot, so we are posting another interview where he further develops his ideas on 21st century education. I would recommend everybody to listen to him. Another great mind.

21st century learning methods - David Perkins

This is the second interview we post by Patrick Newell from 21 Foundation. Here he interviews David Perkins, Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Perkins considers what's worth learning and how to educate for the unknown. Very interesting, worth watching.
"Discourse around education tends to be around methods: how are we are going to get youngsters to learn what we have decided they ought to learn. I think that we need to think in terms of educating for the unknown...for large understandings that can help us code the unexpected as well as the expected"

David Perkins Interview from 21 Foundation on Vimeo.

21st century learning methods - David Kelly

We will post a series of interviews with leading educators on 21st century learning methods by learning activist Patrick Newell, founder of 21 Foundation, a non-profit organization aimed at raising awareness of the need to fundamentally shift education in order to equip 21st century learners with the skills that will enable them to flourish in life.

In this first one Patrick Newell interviews David Kelly, Professor of Design at Stanford University. The IDEO co-founder discusses the importance of fun, chaos and project-based learning.
"Kids are not allowed to learn in the way they want to learn"

David Kelley Interview from 21 Foundation on Vimeo.

Peace One Day

As you know Peace One Day and founder Jeremy Gilley are friends and supporters of our Lennon Bermuda project. We would like to give you an update on what they are planning for 2014.
Jeremy just returned from an illuminating trip to the Great Lakes region of Africa, visiting both Rwanda and the DRC, raising awareness of Peace Day in the region. The goal of the Peace One Day project in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and throughout the Great Lakes Region (GLR) is to encourage all parties to stand together in the name of peace on 21 September. Starting this year we aim to raise the level of awareness of, and respect for Peace Day, so as to generate a significant reduction of violence across the country on the day by 2016.

Other interesting projects:

One Day One Goal uses the power of football to bring people together in peace and to spread awareness of Peace Day, 21st September.
-- read more

One Day One Dance uses the creativity of dance to promote peace and unity on Peace Day, 21st September.
-- read more

Whether you are a producer, DJ, MC or just someone who loves music, play a Set for Peace on Peace Day, 21st September.
-- read more

Jeremy Gilley visited Bermuda last year. We have been hopeful to get the FREE Peace One Day materials into all the public schools in Bermuda.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We're preparing our students for an economy that doesn't exist!

Geoffrey Canada, The Founder of The Harlem Children's Zone, discusses education in America with Wendy Kopp, Founder of Teach for America, and others.

Reinventing what education looks like

Geoffrey Canada has been a passionate and innovative advocate for education reform for more than 25 years, most notably through his contributions to the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ). Through his visionary leadership, HCZ has made ground-breaking strides in the fight to close the achievement gap and has set a nationwide precedent.

Making learning surprising

Professor Stephen Heppell (UK) is one of the leading experts on the use of ICT in education. His brilliant and humorous presentation at Ci2011 focused on the topic “Making learning surprising: The interface of education, technology and the economics of business”. We live in a world where we come across many surprises which are a bolt from the blue – the ever-rising advancement of technology takes us so much closer to the boundaries than we could go before. There are always risks associated with every progression in the world. Certainly as technology advances, our risks will increase and our lives in this decade will be, as they already are, full of huge surprises. For us all to endure as the surprises grow in scale and frequency we need people who are ready for anything, who take pleasure in challenges and know how to work together. These people can survive awful consequences and harness the finest opportunities. It is not adequate to just train our learners with the set of courses that characterized the last century’s factory schools. Our learners need to be surprised, astounded, enchanted and their learning lives need to be crammed with challenges and ambitions. An unvarying syllabus is an immense danger but is avoidable at the same time. Providentially new technology in the classroom is already injecting the surprise, bewilderment, aspiration and enjoyment that is required.

Social Media in teaching and learning

A conversation with Professor Stephen Heppell about use of social media in teaching and learning.
Professor Stephen Heppell is an English educator who specialises in the use of ICT in education.

Child Led Learning

"We need to trust our children to be good learners, we need to trust ourselves to be professionals, and we need to trust our systems to get out of the way."
Drawing upon real world examples and programmes Stephen Heppell discusses the impact of exponential technological change on learning calling for a greater involvement and participation in the design of learning and learning environments by the learners themselves.
Another inspiring man.
"We are not going to build better learning for our children; we are going to build it with our children"
-- Presented at the Learning Without Frontiers Conference, London, January 26th, 2012

Learning to Change, Changing to Learn

"It’s a very exciting time for learning. It’s the death of education, but the dawn of learning"
- Stephen Heppell
Distinguished individuals in education discuss the need for change in the classroom.
-- uploaded by the Pearson Foundation

Teacher Education and 21st Century Skills

"We used to develop in students a passion to learn all the right answers, we want 21st century students to have a passion for asking new questions" -- Dr Sharon P. Robinson, President and CEO, American Ass. of Colleges of teacher education
In the 21st century, the most perceptive educational thinkers recognize that something new is happening to learning. Models of providing an education that developed to meet the needs of students of the last two centuries, while not irrelevant, are increasingly being transformed and infiltrated by the introduction and integration of new tools and technologies, and novel approaches to work, many of which are now commonplace in business and consumer spheres. The emphasis on collaboration and critical thinking to solve problems, and the flattening of the world of commerce are challenging the fundamental assumptions of what an education must provide to its young people in order for them to succeed or even cope in a complex world.
-- uploaded by Pearson Foundation

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why is Creativity Important in Education?

According to a recent Adobe creativity study, 88% of U.S. professionals believe that creativity should be built into standard curricula. Companies are looking for more than graduates who can do specific tasks, they want employees who can also think differently and innovate. To be successful, students need an education that emphasizes creative thinking, communication and teamwork. And as Sir Ken Robinson concludes in this next video "Creativity is not an option, it's an absolute necessity."

How is Technology Transforming Education

Technology is changing the world rapidly, impacting the way students learn and opening new possibilities for educators. Take a look what Sir Ken Robinson had to say when asked about the role of technology in education.

Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
-- On This Earth Day, It's Actually Easier To Be Green - Forbes
-- Celebrate Earth Day With Today’s Animated Google Doodle
-- National Geographic: The Story of Earth HD

Monday, April 21, 2014

Who owns the learning?

"...None of this means that teachers are less important..what it really means is that teachers are more important than ever because this is a change in the culture, a change in the ecology of learning. This is not about adding technology. It's a fundamental shift in relationships, in roles and the feeling of empowerment that students have when they create a legacy"
Alan November is recognized internationally as a leader in education technology. He began his career as an oceanography teacher and dorm counselor at an island reform school for boys in Boston Harbor. He has been a director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant, and university lecturer. As practitioner, designer, and author, Alan has guided schools, government organizations and industry leaders as they plan to improve quality with technology.
Students need a purpose. Great talk, great speaker.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Standardized testing and the Eugenics movement

Interesting post by Karen GJ Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union and National Board Certified Teacher. Many people who are convinced that standardized tests are reliable and valid indicators of student learning are not only sadly mistaken, but they are often people who also support policies that harm children, teachers and schools....
What many people do not know is that the use of standardized tests has its origins in the Eugenics movement, where basic tenets assert that certain races are inferior to others biologically and intellectually. From our 21st century perspective, we can look back in horror, but we have to be clear about the original purpose of standardized tests...
-- read full post here

21:21 - Aligning 21st Century Learning with 21st Century Learners

"It is our responsibility as parents and educators to shift the fundamental principles upon which we educate our children for their future and beyond. There is an urgency in the air in every country around the world and it's time we ACT" -- Patrick Newell
21:21 is a documentary film produced by 21 Foundation to highlight the urgent need for the adoption of 21st century learning methods. In the film, which was shot in schools in 9 countries, Learning Activist and 21 Foundation founder Patrick Newell highlights the problems with traditional teaching techniques, before introducing a number of fundamental elements of 21st century leaning - and demonstrating the positive effect that they have upon learners from all backgrounds.
Very interesting, worth watching.

A Deep Dive into the Future of Education

Alan November, Senior Partner and Founder of November Learning in Marblehead, Massachusetts, is an international leader in education technology. In his keynote presentation Alan asks the question, "What would you do in the first five days of school?" In the first five days of school a teacher must establish trust with his/her students. Many students know how to be taught, but they do not know how to learn. The mark of an excellent teacher in the digital age is to demonstrate to their students how they themselves learn. Google is the number one source of students doing homework, and they must be taught how to use Google within the context of their subject. Students need to learn how to share their knowledge with others. In the first five days of school, children must be given a purpose, not a grade that has no purpose.

21st Century skills and education

Critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving

What is 21st Century Education?

College Admissions: Beyond Conventional Testing

We have talked extensively about the new skills students must have in order to succeed in the competitive economy of the 21st century. We posted great talks by Tony Wagner, published author and currently serving as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab (7 Skills students need for their future and Reinventing Education for the 21st Century). We talked about the importance of the four C's to make real learning happening in the 21st Century Education (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication). Today we want to talk about another shift that is progressively happening. We all know that there is often a disconnect between the kind of student colleges say they want (students who are engaged citizens and independent thinkers with a desire to be a part of the school’s community) and what students have to do to be admitted. That’s why high school graduates are increasingly becoming, “robo students” in the words of Stanford Lecturer Denise Pope, young people “doing school,” but not necessarily learning. Given this phenomenon, some universities and colleges are beginning to rethink their admission policies and recognize more directly how their requirements influence the kind of teaching and learning that happens at the K-12 level - Do Rigid College Admissions Leave Room for Creative Thinkers? Katrina Schwartz - Mind Shift - How we will learn
We also already posted a great TED talk by Robert Sternberg: None of the Above - Why Standardized Testing Fails
Robert Sternberg is an American psychologist and psychometrician. He is currently Professor of Human Development at Cornell University. He developed his first intelligence test in seventh grade and since then has become one of the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century. In his book -- College Admissions for the 21st Century -- Sternberg discusses his experiment at Tufts University (non-cognitive evaluation of applicants) and why it shows, in his belief, the inadequacy of traditional college admissions tools.
Please watch his presentation at the Conference "Undergraduate Admissions for the 21st Century", held on 18th May 2012 in Trinity College Dublin.
Further Reading:
- College Admissions: Beyond Conventional Testing
- College Admissions for the 21st Century
- Sternberg and Measuring Creativity
- Assessing What Matters
- Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized: A New Model for Liberal Education
- To get the real star students, college admissions should look beyond SATs

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Playing for Change - Connecting the World through Music

“PFC3 Songs Around The World” features 185 musicians from 31 countries, including performances from Keith Richards, Sara Bareilles, Taj Mahal, Toots Hibbert from Toots; The Maytals, Los Lobos, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Keb’ Mo’, and Andres Calamaro, in addition to a song produced by Jackson Browne. The album release on June 17th will be a global celebration of music, joy, and unity! -- Playing for Change

“Clandestino” is a song of the people and this video represents the hearts and spirits of all those in search of a better world. This Playing For Change version began with an Oud master in Morocco and gypsies in Budapest and then we layered bass, percussion, strings and vocals from Manu Chao and friends until it formed into a Global Roots Reggae-Latin Jam around the world. United people will find their way and music is our guide -- Playing for Change

How art, technology and design inform creative leaders

John Maeda, the former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, is dedicated to linking design and technology. Through the software tools, web pages and books he creates, he spreads his philosophy of elegant simplicity. In his fascinating career as a programmer and an artist, he's always been committed to blurring the lines between the two disciplines. Maeda is leading the "STEAM" movement--adding an "A" for Art to the education acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)--and experiencing firsthand the transformation brought by social media. After leaving his post as RISD's president, Maeda is now working as a Design Partner for Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers.
He delivers this funny and charming TED talk that spans a lifetime of work in art, design and technology, concluding with a picture of creative leadership in the future.
"What can we learn from artists and designers for how to lead? Because in many senses, a regular leader loves to avoid mistakes. Someone who's creative actually loves to learn from mistakes. A traditional leader is always wanting to be right, whereas a creative leader hopes to be right. And this frame is important today, in this complex, ambiguous space, and artists and designers have a lot to teach us, I believe".

The New Tao of Leadership

The Importance Of Arts Education In Schools

"Every innovative thought comes from a creative mind state"

Actor and Executive Producer Omar Epps sits down with Janet from HuffPost Live to talk about the importance of arts in schools. Omar is also on the board of an organization called the Creative Coalition which is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Founded in 1989 by prominent figures in the creative community, including actors Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Blair Brown and Stephen Collins, TCC educates and mobilizes leaders in the arts community on issues of public importance, specifically in the areas of First Amendment rights, arts advocacy and public education.

Art as expression of our unique humanity

"It is through music and art and theatre and dance, all the things that are marginalized that we express our own unique individual humanity, not just doing them but learning about them, learning about other cultures through them....the arts should be at the centre of this, not instead of, but foursquare alongside the humanities, and the sciences and physical education"

Sir Kenneth Robinson is an English author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies. He has suggested that to engage and succeed, education has to develop on three fronts. First, that it should foster diversity by offering a broad curriculum and encourage individualization of the learning process; Secondly, it should foster curiosity through creative teaching, which depends on high quality teacher training and development; And finally, it should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that puts less emphasis on standardized testing thereby giving the responsibility for defining the course of education to individual schools and teachers. He believes that much of the present education system in the United States fosters conformity, compliance, and standardization rather than creative approaches to learning. Robinson emphasizes that we can only succeed if we recognize that education is an organic system, not a mechanical one. Successful school administration is a matter of fostering a helpful climate rather than "command and control"
(from wikipedia)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, the Nobel laureate whose novels and short stories exposed tens of millions of readers to Latin America’s passion, superstition, violence and inequality, has died yesterday in Mexico City at age 87. Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, García Márquez’s literary celebrity spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. His flamboyant and melancholy works, including Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Love in the Time of Cholera and Autumn of the Patriarch, outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in 1967, sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages.
-- read on The Telegraph
-- read on The Guardian
-- read on BBC

Importance of parents involvement

David Kollar has been an integral part of Jeffco Public Schools’ Office of Dropout Prevention and Recovery as its director since its inception five years ago. In that time, Jeffco’s dropout rate has fallen by 50%. Dave is also the father of two elementary age daughters and he plays a very important role as a member of the Watch Dog program at their school. He gives a powerful TED talk about how making authentic connections with children at school, especially from Fathers, has a direct impact on dropout rates and closing the achievement gap. Learn about one more tool in helping to reduce dropout rates and how providing a positive male role model at school for your kids can have even greater impact in your community. Interesting point.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day of Learning: Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of twelve books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations. Kohn's criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores." Certainly quite a character!
-- uploaded by Knowledgeworks

"Kids learn to make good decisions by making decisions not by following directions"

"My #1 criterion is: what is the effect on kids' enthusiasm about learning, their intrinsic motivation, their disposition to learn, their desire to read, play with numbers and ideas. If we took that seriously, where it is not just about achievement, let alone test scores, but it is really about the attitude that kids take with them life long, about learning itself that drives the achievement..."

Day of Learning: Alfie Kohn from Knowledgeworks on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I see you

Steve Dobo believes that attempting to reduce the dropout rate is not enough and challenges us all to work towards a zero dropout rate. He believes a simple step towards achieving that goal is looking our kids in the eye and saying, "I see you". Great.

Diane Ravitch on the Arts and Testing

Diane Silvers Ravitch is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education. Diane often speaks on inequality in American education and the negative impact of federal legislation on students, teachers, and schools - a common theme for many arts education advocates. In her speech, she addresses these issues as well as the fundamental importance of the arts to children and to society. She talks about the arts in the current testing environment, and the difference between conformists and rebels.
-- interview by ARTSEDGE, a program of the Ed. Dep. of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
-- watch on Youtube (if you cannot watch on player below):
Diane on the arts
Diane on testing

Funny but true!

On a lighter note...brilliant synthesis

Interesting Study on High Stakes Testing

The School-to-Prison Pipeline Exposed, a new study that's thus far received very little attention, has revealed that in states that use high-stakes exit exams, students who fail these tests were more than 12 percent more likely to face incarceration and had lower graduation rates than states without exit exams. Meanwhile, the study found no consistent effects of exit exams on employment or the distribution of wages.
"I don't want to come across as somebody who is absolutely opposed to testing. I have a more moderate opinion on that. But what we are not finding--this is consistent with what everyone else has found--we're not finding large positive effects. We are finding some noticeably negative effects...If we're going to reform education, we're going to have to think much more broadly and not think that just by doing a bunch of testing, things are going to change, 'cause they're not going to change significantly for the better, and possibly for the worse" - Prof. Kevin Lang, Boston University
-- Interview by Jaisal Noor, The Real News Network, Baltimore

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Schools should be happy places too!!!

"Happiness is not about the trophy, or the finish line. It's the journey. If you enjoy your journey, you can enjoy your life" -- Pharrell Williams

The importance of social and emotional learning

At Brooklyn's PS 24, fourth and fifth graders resolve playground conflicts and train younger students to be peacemakers in their classrooms. Studies show that sustained and well-integrated social and emotional learning (SEL) programs can help schools engage their students and improve achievement.
It sounds better than testing!!!
-- explore on Edutopia

Monday, April 14, 2014

How art and music can save lives

Clifford Joseph Price (born 19 September 1965), better known as Goldie, is a British electronic music artist, disc jockey, visual artist and actor. He is well known for his innovations in the jungle and drum and bass music genres. He previously gained exposure for his work as a graffiti artist. He spent his early years shuttling between children's homes and foster care. His brother ended up in jail, but at the age of 15 Goldie encountered an art teacher who helped spark a passion which he still has today.
"God knows where I'd be without art. I can't even bring myself to think about it."

Powerful TED talk on the transformative power of the arts. Worth watching.

Parents take stand against standardized tests

Special Report by Rachel Kingston - WIVB TV

Some Reading:
- When Parents Yank Their Kids Out of Standardized Tests
- OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: The National Movement (need to login into Facebook)
- UNITED OPT OUT: The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform
- Teachers refuse to administer standardized tests
- Parents protest against standardized testing by opting kids out
- The Case Against Standardized Testing - Alfie Kohn
- NYC Parents, Teachers Hold Protests Against Common Core Exams

Standardized Testing

Let's focus again on standardized testing...

Dumbed Down Education

George Denis Patrick Carlin was an American comedian, writer, social critic, and actor who won five Grammy Awards for his comedy albums. He was noted for his black comedy as well as his thoughts on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Don't Just Assess Students - Teach Them How To Improve

Pedro Noguera, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and a leading voice on public education, looks to the future of schooling, arguing that increasing the amount of high-stakes testing kids must take and raising assessment standards is not the way to change the system. He shows audiences what the face of education looks like today—and how governments and policy makers can change the system to create a brighter future. "We have been using assessment largely for the purpose of ranking students and ranking schools...[but] ranking someone is not helping them." He agrees that assessment is important to determine if a student has learned the required material to be successful in higher education or in the workforce. Where he sees a problem, however, is when students and schools aren't provided with the guidance to improve upon their weaker skills.
-- Read article on New York Times: "Serving the Vulnerable, Not Just Testing". Here Noguera argues that more testing doesn't provide educational equity. According to him No Child Left Behind looked like a way to ensure that our nation served all children. Instead it led to high-stakes testing. While funding for testing has skyrocketed, vital programs in science, history, music and art, have been cut, especially in the schools serving the poorest children. Meanwhile, dropout rates remain high and achievement indicators in literacy and math are stagnant.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Are we failing our students?

As part of a global talent search TED Talent Search has staged special TED salons in 14 cities around the world -- to discover a broad new array of thinkers and doers.
Please listen again to Pedro Noguera, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at NYU, and one of America's most important voices on urban public education systems.
We found another inspiring man, an education leader.

The Dos and Don'ts of Educational Leadership

What qualities distinguish successful leaders within the school system, and what qualities hold poor leaders back?
Pedro Noguera is a professor in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is also the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the co-Director of the Institute for the study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS). An urban sociologist, Noguera’s scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Whatever Happened to Joy in Education?

That is so true, let's not forget about JOY! Joy needs to be valued. "Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up".
Dean Shareski has been in education for the past 25 years. He's taught grades K--8 as well as pre-service teachers. His role the past several years has centered around helping teachers understand and use technology in new ways to transform learning.

" Along with creativity, along with critical thinking, collaboration and all the buzz words of the day, let's include joy as part of the conversation as an essential ingredient for learning and for living"

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The 5 principles of highly effective teachers

After a high profile career as CEO, Pierre Pirard decided to redirect his focus and became a teacher. Working in Brussels' most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, he discovered that these children -- usually portrayed as troublemakers -- are able to rise above this negative image. He believes that these kids are the future of our society and that we should care for their education, no matter what their socio-cultural and economical background is. Worth watching.
"You have to believe in them. You have to believe to make sure that every single one of them can achieve great results, regardless where she or he is coming from...and you need to make sure that also they know that you believe in them so that they start also to believe that they can achieve great results.."
"Nelson Mandela said once that education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. So let's make sure that...we will use these weapons so that every child will obtain access to excellent education regardless of their social economic background"

Getting at the heart of teaching

"I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit"-- John Steinbeck

Lisa Lee, a teacher with 25 years’ experience, gives an emotional talk about making a difference in children's lives as teachers and teaches us that if we reach the inner core first, the common core is more easily taught.
"..When we remember that, when we remember that inner core of everyone around us, that is when real CHANGE, ACCEPTANCE and LEARNING can occur"

A more concrete look at education

Today we will focus on teaching...teachers just matter.
A Parent's Wishes for His Child's Teachers: Chris Kennedy is the father of four young children. When not busy as a husband and father he is the Superintendent of Schools with the West Vancouver School District. Chris is a passionate teacher and strong advocate for public education.
This is a nice heartfelt TED talk, worth watching.
-- go to Chris BLOG

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Raising the Status of Teachers

This is an interesting point, and we believe an essential part of the equation required to rethink education. Finland has made this along with equality the main pillars of its successful educational system.
If we want to get serious about improving the quality of education globally, we need to improve the quality of teachers in the classroom. In order to do this we need to answer the following question: Why do people become teachers and how do we attract the best teachers to the profession?
Vikas Pota and The Varkey GEMS Foundation have stepped in, compiling the world's first comprehensive attempt to compare the status of teachers across the world.
-- You can read the Global Teacher Status index HERE

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Music & Technology

The first video is an interesting TED talk about Collaborative Student Driven Learning.
Zoltan Virag is a diverse musician, composer, and educator who is as comfortable playing classical flute as he is creating electronic music. He currently teaches general music, band, and choir at Irwin Park Elementary School in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Inspired by the iPad as a transformative musical tool, Zoltan has been a presenter for numerous professional conferences, sharing his passion for teaching music with technology.

The second video takes you into an Edinbrook Elementary School classroom to see how a teacher is using interactive whiteboards and classroom amplification to engage students in their learning. According to the teacher, "It's really important to have technology in music because it gives kids a whole different way to experience music"

Let's go back to the Arts

Michael Dana Gioia is an American poet and writer who also served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The American educational system is in dire straits, and arts have systematically removed from our schools. So what's the matter with our education system?

"The purpose of arts education is not to create more artists. It's not to create more audiences. The purpose of arts education is to create a complete human being who can lead a productive life in a free society".

"When you take this out of a kid's education, you impoverish their possibilities, both individually and socially. It's as important to educate a child's or an adolescent's emotions as it is their mind. And when you take this out of the education of 60,000,000 American kids, and you focus on developing low-level work skills, I think you have, in the offing, a cultural, educational, economic and political disaster".

Can 4th Graders Teach World Peace?

"A lot of people do wonder, can fourth-graders, can elementary school children handle complex problem solving? And we might think not because they just simply haven't been here long enough. But my approach is the opposite, actually. I believe, having experienced their wisdom, their insight and their kindness, that they seem to be able to do so much more than we give them credit for or even imagine they can".

We talked in a previous post about John Hunter and the World Peace game, a hands-on political simulation where the students' goal is to solve geo-political problems with the least amount of military intervention. Please listen to this amazing man or watch his TED talk.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Let's give peace a chance

"Be the Change you want to see in the World" -- Gandhi

Thursday, April 03, 2014

More on the Future of Learning

Technology has enabled us to interact, innovate and share in whole new ways. This dynamic shift in mindset is creating profound change throughout our society. The Future of Learning looks at one part of that change, the potential to redefine how we learn and educate. World renowned experts and educators talk about the potential to shift away from traditional methods of learning based on memorization and repetition to more holistic approaches that focus on individual students' needs and self expression -- video upload by Ericsson - Networked Society

Technology in Education

Nice presentation on the challenges edtech faces. Creator of the Science AR App, the  educational app Formative Feedback for Learning and the iBook series My Prep Year, Paul Hamilton works on changing the way digital content is being delivered in schools. Paul is a leader in the implementation of Augmented Reality in schools to improve learning outcomes, Professional Development of staff with integration of ICTs, and has expertise in the implementation of mobile devices into pedagogical frameworks.

Future Learning: Sugata Mitra

We already talked about Sugata Mitra - the winner of the 2013 TED Prize. His wish: Build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another. His experiments “Hole in the Wall” have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."

“It took nature 100 million years to make the ape stand up and become Homo sapiens. It took us only 10,000 to make knowing obsolete.”

Future Learning - Short Documentary

Students are the future, but what's the future for students? To arm them with the relevant, timeless skills for our rapidly changing world, we need to revolutionize what it means to learn. Education innovators like Dr. Sugata Mitra, visiting professor at MIT; Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy; and Dr. Catherine Lucey, Vice Dean of Education at UCSF, are redefining how we engage young minds for a creatively and technologically-advanced future. Which of these educators holds the key for unlocking the learning potential inside every student?
-- uploaded by GOOD

Free technology for teachers

Richard Byrne is a former high school social studies teacher best known for developing the blog "Free technology for teachers". He taught for eight and a half years at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, ME and during that time he piloted 1:1 laptop use before the program went school-wide. Richard also coordinated a "laptop squad" to support teachers' use of laptops in their classrooms and also served on a number of curriculum and assessment committees. He has been invited to speak at events all over North America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. His work is focused on sharing free web-based resources that educators can use to enhance their students’ learning experiences.

Latest post: Three Good Places to Find Art Lessons
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art: check out the lessons plan page
- MoMA (Museum of Modern Art): online resources for teaching art lessons + lesson plans collection
- ArtBabble: video website designed and maintained by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, with the purpose to provide a place for people to learn about the creation of art, artists, and collections through quality video productions.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

How to build your creative confidence

Today we will talk about something more personal but equally important.

"It would be really great if you did not let people divide the world into the creative and non creative...and to have people realize that they are naturally creative, and those natural people should let their ideas fly. Let them achieve what Bandura calls self-efficacy...when people regain that confidence, magic happens."

David Kelley’s company IDEO helped create many icons of the digital generation — but what matters even more to him is unlocking the creative potential of people and organizations to innovate routinely. His most enduring contributions to the field of design are a methodology and culture of innovation. More recently, he led the creation of the groundbreaking d.school at Stanford, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, where students from the business, engineering, medicine, law, and other diverse disciplines develop the capacity to solve complex problems collaboratively and creatively.
Is your school or workplace divided into "creatives" versus practical people? In this TED talk, David suggests that creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create...
-- Read article on Edutopia: "How to Build Students' Creative Confidence"
-- go to OpenIDEO (online forum for creative collaboration and problem solving)

David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, have also written a powerful and compelling book - Creative Confidence - on unleashing the creativity that lies within each and every one of us.