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Archive for August 2010

3

Transforming an Elementary School

Lucky me! I am working with Garfield Elementary school in San Leandro Unified School District. I started my career, my love of technology, in San Leandro a long time ago, so this is like coming home again. Jan Nuno, the principal, designed a creative program with her SIG (School Improvement Grant) money that involves laptops, SmartBoards, Elmos, professional development, using My eCoach for grade level websites and projects, and support on-site and online. The goal is one step at a time, and the teachers are excited about taking these steps. Garfield teachers have grown so much in a very short time: last year the worked on developing PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) and CRT (Culturally Responsive Teaching). Now they want to infuse technology to not only motivate stuGarfield Elementary teachersdents to want to learn but to change the learning environment. The tech leads are Neema McCockran and Jason Huls with a teacher leader at each grade level who we spent a whole day reviewing the technology and developing grade level websites that includes grade appropriate resources and places to collaborate with the other teachers in their grade. We made one website and then asked each teacher leader to clone and adapt it for their team. Then we returned a week later with the whole staff (30 teachers) and asked the teacher leaders to invite the other teachers in their grade level to co-author. Then Jason and Neema set up three 15 minute break out sessionsĀ  where teachers rotated to learn how to use the Elmo, set up their laptops, and how to edit in My eCoach. (whew!) It was pretty cool! I was really proud of Neema and Jason and all the work they did. Coaching is fun when you see people take the next step on their own. I felt like a proud mama. Next steps are coaching and knocking occasionally on the teachers' virtual door to check in and see how they're doing.
0

Are we growing less creative?

Creative childrenCare2's article Are American children growing less creative? shared Tests since 1990 show a steady decline in the creativity levels of American children, despite the fact that IQ tests indicate they are getting smarter. The focus for the last 9 years has been on increasing student achievement based on standardized tests. Maybe our children are learning how to memorize facts and increasingly doing better on spelling tests and Jeopardy games. Even the TV show "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" encourages students to recall facts. There is no problem-solving, critical thinking or creativity involved in these activities. The 5th graders on this show are stoked when they get the answer right but there is only one right answer. Life doesn't always work that way. What we need are students who come up with the questions and are able to take some risks, find multiple ways to answer any of the questions or solve problems. They need to be able to think on their feet and jump in with new innovative ideas. Who knew even five years ago that people would be listening to mp3 files with an iPod or that cell phones could access the Internet. Email is old school. Now people text, use Facebook and Twitter to communicate. Traditional schools are closing because of so many reasons and, in my opinion, we need to rethink what a school is and redesign our learning environments if we want our students to be productive 21st century citizens.
0

Rethinking that Decision

You are a change agent and go to a school to discuss with the administrator how the teachers are going to change the way they teach. You think you and the administrator are talking the same language and design the professional development program. In reality, the change that the administrator has in mind might be completely different than what you had in mind. That administrator might have already made a decision on what they expected for their teachers -- no matter what you and the administrator agreed upon. Same with the teachers. Let's say you are a coach and set up a coaching agreement with a teacher. That teacher comes to the table with their own expectations on what they want to learn. However, they don't express those expectations and just agree on what you decided on together. I read Seth Godin's blog The Decision before the Decision where he states "The decision before the decision is the box. When you think outside the box, what you're actually doing is questioning the decision before the decision." Being a change agent means that you are questioning the decisions you believe have already been decided on and bring to the table strategies on why you and the administrator or teacher need to rethink those decisions.
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The Power of We Think

The old business model where we own what we create is out of date and does not work anymore. That's why social media like Facebook and Twitter are growing exponentially. Sharing ideas is powerful. You cannot own an idea. I was asked yesterday by a university if they could pay me for an article I wrote to include in a new book for principals. I thought "how cool" but then realized that the little money I would get for an article I wrote is not where I want to make any money. I want to get my ideas out there. Change is tough, takes time, and is very challenging. If we all hold on to the old paradigm of "no - you can't have it. It's mine" then we will never innovate and grow. As soon as I changed my mindset, things started happening for me. I encourage you to rethink your We Think possibilities. I came across this video by Charles Leadbetter that is very interesting and talks about the importance of sharing and creativity. We are in the middle of a revolution and many of us don't know it. Everything is changing. Creativity will win because that is the only way we will succeed in the 21st century.
2

The Opposite of Creative

Being creative doesn't seem to fit with school and business today. As I was thinking what I was going to write about being anti-creative, Bonnie Bracey- Sutton just shared this video on Facebook about the Anti-Creative Checklist. My Anti-Creativity Checklist from Youngme Moon on Vimeo. If you are the creative type, you will get this. If not, you may be scratching your head wondering what's all the fuss about. Probably will seem very normal for you. Kids today are wired different and their brains work creatively. They grew up with technology that encourages this type of thinking. Being ant-creative is how my generation was raised. (I'm a grandma so that gives you an idea that I'm older than you think). People of my generation were told to keep our hands on the desk, only raise our hand when we knew the one right answer, and be quiet. Actually, this sounds like lots of classrooms today. Ugh! A creative classroom is like controlled chaos -- there's alot of noise or buzz happening. Watching a classroom where students are finding problems, trying to figure out some solutions, and sharing, brainstorming, and getting excited about learning is mind blowing. After you teach in an environment where students are engaged and motivated to learn, it is too difficult to go back to traditional lecture mode. Same with people like myself who are entrepreneurs and designed their own product or service. It's hard to work for someone else who doesn't think like you. So here I am writing about creativity and anti-creativity. I vote for being curious, creative and innovate. How about you?