Thursday, May 19, 2011

Passion-based learning

Here is an interview about passion-based learning. Quite similar to finding student interests and helping spark a fire for learning in each student.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Graduation and Bob Dylan

As graduation gets closer here at Guernsey-Sunrise and is happening across the country this month and next, I am drawn to items that tie into that theme. Of course, so many of the lessons we would like graduates to learn and take with them are lessons we all can be reminded of from time to time.

This one comes from an article on Bob Dylan. I find it interesting as I am a big fan of his and used to write Christmas letters with musical themes in the past, one of which had one of his songs embedded. I've gotten away from some of those things, but this article and some of the thoughts in it bring me back to thinking about how it relates to success.

In the article, the author writes about Dylan "owning the room." In it, he emphasizes that "owning the room isn't about being larger than life - it's about making the room larger by injecting it with life." Dylan certainly did that and the one point that was made, he seemed to do better than most. That was point 6 - daring to "live by a different script." We all have our own way of seeing the world and must strive to not let the world take away our authentic self. If graduates, and all of us for that matter, can work to make their own unique voice heard and their talents surface, the world would be better off for the effort.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Continuous learning

One of the nice things about having "Learner" as a strength is the ability to come away with something from just about every conversation, meeting, or experience. Attending last night's GS athletic banquet, I was struck by something coach Glenn Freeburg said about his track athletes - their goal was to improve their times every meet. As I thought about that this morning, I had a thought that continuous improvement should be the goal in everything we do. This is true for track athletes, in our relationships, in our job, and in everything we put an effort into doing. As our graduates prepare to leave high school, beginning with commencement on Sunday, that is one message I hope they hear. Continue working hard to get better and continuously look for ways to improve whatever it is they decide to do. While there will certainly be setbacks along the way, thinking that way will certainly make for success in many areas.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Listen to the Music

I watched the movie August Rush this weekend and thought a quote I heard from the movie lent itself to school and education particularly well. August/Evan says "The music is all around us, all you have to do is listen." The reason this struck me is that as educators, we are trying to help students gain the skills to listen and hear the music that is inside them. Each of us is unique and has our own "music" that often whispers to us to become great. Choosing a path is not always easy, but if we can teach students to listen to that oft-silenced voice, we can help them find their talents and follow a path that takes full advantage of those talents.

Wayne Dyer is credited with saying "Don't die with your music still inside you." Helping students (and others) to carefully listen for their music can certainly make sure they don't succumb to such an ending.

Speaking of music - Guernsey-Sunrise music students will perform Tuesday, May 17 (JH/HS) and Tuesday, May 24 (Elementary). For many of these talented students, music is their "music."

Friday, May 06, 2011

Finish strong

Here's an article on finishing the school year strong. It provides tips for teachers and students to continue working hard at the end of the year. As I read it, a comparison came to mind. Why is it that in sports or the business world, as the end of a game, project or sales year nears, teams or groups play or work harder to reach their goal, but that isn't the perception of education? Interesting.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Awaking at 3:30 a.m. today, I had a follow-up thought to yesterday's post. It must have been something I was thinking about because I could not get back to sleep and decided to get up and get some work done. As I lay awake at that early hour, I was thinking about how not only has information become readily accessible, it has become readily accessible whenever we want or need it; basically 24/7 availability. Not only is it available, it is updated seemingly continuously.

I recall in my younger days babysitting my younger siblings and staying up late to watch television. Those of us my age or older recall the flag waving on TV and the national anthem playing as the station signed off for the night. Updated information was certainly not available to all at every hour. However, today, one can find not only television shows on throughout the night, but the internet is abuzz and updating constantly. While most of the United States is asleep, people around the world are busy working and adding content to the web.

Twenty-first century skills certainly play a role in helping our students navigate this vast sea of information. One of the key skills in a 21st-century education is information literacy. With this skill, students are able to evaluate and make sense of information they may uncover. With so much content available, it is very important students have this skill in order to make proper decisions and create optimum, quality learning. Thus the need to continue our work to create a 21st-century education for out students.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Personalized Learning

I just happened to be browsing the web recently and came upon two great articles on personalized or individualized learning. Both speak to the necessity for schools to change the way they do business in order to prepare students for the twenty-first century. As the school year nears an end, and quickly, I would like to reflect a bit on some of the things Guernsey-Sunrise has done this past year to begin to move in that direction.

One of the biggest changes we made was to implement a 1-1 computer initiative this winter. While the district had several mobile laptop labs for teachers and students to use in the classroom, going 1-1 meant students would have access to computers whenever they needed them during the day, and for most students, away from school as well. This provides the opportunity for "on-demand" learning, or the ability to find information very quickly when needed as well as providing avenues for students to pursue individual topics of interest that may relate to the subject or topic at hand.

One aspect of 21st-century education is the need for students to be able to collaborate. The district has been laying the foundation for project-based learning for the past year or more. Projects provide a basis for integrated learning, where multiple subjects may be taught within a single project. This also requires collaboration, not only for students, but teachers as well as they work together to develop lessons that provide not only interest to the student, but tie into each others' content and the project as well. While only in the beginning stages, and small steps are important to create success for future work, this promises to be an exciting development in the future.