Sunday, January 25, 2015

What should school LOOK like? Let me show you...

It's finished...well, almost! Our last building on our beautiful campus is almost finished. To say that it is amazing is the understatement of the century. I remember watching the McCoy Center being built dreaming of the opportunities that would exist for our students. This project was much more real to me because I toured it throughout the building process. It's been so exciting watching it come together. If I think back to all I've been studying on flexible learning spaces I can't get one quote out of my head. I've used it a lot. "Space is the body language of an organization". It is from the book Make Space. If you haven't read that book, you need to check it out. It has me wondering what does our space say about what we believe learning looks like? Take a look at the pictures below, they are from all over our campus. On the outside our school district is beautiful, but it's what's on the inside that will shape and define us. What do you see? I see never ending potential...everywhere.

I read this statement often:

Our Vision: To become the leader in reinventing education.

Our Mission: To ensure the development of high-achieving, ethical, self-directed, and intellectually curious citizens of the world.

Our Promise: To provide a culture that encourages students to pursue and realize their dreams and aspirations through passionate, inspired teaching and learning and personalized programs and services accomplished in collaboration with our entire community.

I keep these words in everything I do because it's what I want for all children. I want them to walk on our campus and instantly be invigorated, curious, excited, and happy to be there. I am...everyday! Let our space tell the story of what we believe.

I challenge all educators to look at your space through a new lens. What does it say about you? Is your learning environment for you...or your students?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

There it is...that SPARK!

There it is...right you see it? The spark is obvious if you look close enough. You see, I'm lucky because I get the chance to see kids faces tell me they get it. They tell me their excited with just a smile (or sometimes a smirk). How lucky am I? These are some photos Janice Hayes took of her fifth graders visit to the Fab Lab. These students came to visit me for an hour and left with comments like, "This was the best day ever!" So I ask lucky am I?

Our Fab Lab is amazing, but more amazing is giving our students the opportunity to think anything is possible! Letting them know that at age 10 and 11, they can create things and bring them to live. How great is that! School is changing, it's up to us to change with it. What will you do to teach our children that anything is possible? I'm going to stay the course. I'm going to keep designing and redesigning and designing all over again, how I will connect with students and teachers to redesign the way we think about school. lucky am I?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Then You Go To Boston

When I was a little girl all I ever wanted to do was win an olympic medal in figured skating and teach first grade. That's it. There was nothing in my world beyond those two goals. Well, I didn't win a gold medal and I don't teach first grade. When you dream about something you sometimes tell yourself, "this would be so awesome, but it's not possible". I only told myself that about one of the afore mentioned dreams. Life has a funny way of showing you new dreams though doesn't it? This year our school was lucky enough to be a part of the Straight A Grant: Pathways to Prosperity. This grant ended up bringing an MIT Fab Lab to our learning campus. Now, having a Fab Lab on our campus was never something I would have dreamed. I didn't even know what a Fab Lab was, let alone what it could provide for students. Since I work as a technology learning coach in our district it made sense that I would learn some of the programs and tools to help support this getting rolling on our campus. 4 months later, I have a new dream. I want everyone to have a Fab Lab, or at least access to it. In the beginning of December I was invited to go on a tour of Fab Labs in Boston with others from my school including teachers, administrators, parents, and students. We were there for two jam packed days. We visited Fab Labs that had a range of clientele and purpose. The trip was to spark our creativity and to start to think about how we might use our Fab Lab. This tour did more than spark creativity, it let me see how dreams don't go away, they morph into bigger, better dreams.

When we returned from Boston the following week, my colleagues and I finished up a five week after school class with 2nd-5th graders in our Fab Lab. To promote the grant and the MIT Fab Lab, a video crew was there to capture what goes on in the Fab Lab. I haven't seen this video yet but the videographers and crew were blown away by what the kids had done. And so were we! So my action step from my trip is to dream up how I might get our community to see the awesomeness that happens on our learning campus. I'm planning a few family friendly events that will bring people into the Fab Lab and I can't wait to see what happens. My dream of innovation in the classroom will happen, I'm learning non-stop, and more importantly I'm finding others who inspire me to keep me moving forward.