Monthly Archives: June 2015

Why Mindset Matters

Maker Blog

It’s a funny thing.  All a child really requires to change the world is permission…and maybe a sheet of paper.  When we give kids permission to create we unleash a whole new world of possibilities.  When we provide kids tools (paper, technology, sticks, whatever) and the conditions to create their inclination is to do just that.  All it really takes is removing some of the compliance-based restraints we’ve systematized in our homes and schools.

Our family was recently enjoying lunch together on a local restaurant patio.  It was undeniably HOT outside, but the precious sunshine that makes a cameo each summer in Minnesota was too much to pass up.  There were also some regular gusts of wind that provided the perfect balance to the scorching sun.

After fielding a few initial complaints about the heat from our children we settled in and ordered some lemonade.  It wasn’t more than five minutes later that one of our children began tearing apart her kids’ menu.  My visceral reaction would normally include a reminder about restaurant etiquette, but I bit my tongue and proceeded to soak in the rays while enjoying my wife’s company.

It wasn’t long until my daughter produced the creative hat pictured above.  I’m not sure if the hat actually provided any semblance of shade, but it did include a chin strap to guard against the sudden bursts of wind that occasionally greeted us over the course of our lunch outside.  Needless to say, I was impressed.

Fast-forward to today, where I’m sitting inside listening to a summer rainstorm…

As I occasionally check the stream of tweets coming from the #ISTE15 and #NAESP15 hashtags, a part of me is really excited for what our kids can look forward to this coming school year.

When school resumes in the fall educators will bring back a mindset that has been impacted by a community of educators that will not rest until student creativity is celebrated.  They will return to their schools armed with the understanding that the transformative power of technology is something that can actually bring people together.

I know that the educators who are connecting and spending time together at ISTE and NAESP will ultimately bring something more valuable than any device, tablet, or initiative back to their respective schools.  “Best-practice” doesn’t start with a tool or tablet, and it’s certainly not a program.  Our kids are counting on us to embrace a learner’s mindset.  In doing so we may need to unlearn approaches we once held dear.  We need to give our students permission to create, make, engineer, paint, invent, tinker, connect, collaborate, and grow.

Our kids are counting on us. This is precisely why mindset matters.

Their Names

North Branch Area High School Class of 2015

North Branch Area High School Class of 2015

I recently traveled back to North Branch Area High School to watch my former 2nd grade students graduate.  Just seeing their names in the commencement program was enough to bring me to tears.

Reading their names immediately transported me back 10 years to our time together in the classroom.  It seems like yesterday that we were engaged in animated read alouds, recess games, and exploring different passions.  As time has passed I’m certain that my former students have become less interested in LEGOs, Hot Wheels cars, and knock-knock jokes.  Yet these will be the memories I cling to because my heart explodes with a sense of wonderment just reflecting on our time together…and how far they’ve come.

After the graduation ceremony I received an e-mail from one of my student’s parents.  She shared an uplifting update about her son, and also mentioned how he was touched that I was able to make it to his graduation.  What she didn’t realize was that I will always count seeing her son’s name in the commencement program, shaking his hand after the ceremony, and reflecting on all of the time we spent learning together as a “lifetime highlight.”

It’s funny how we can take for granted the infinite number of times that we may write our students’ names down in the course of a regular school year.  It always seemed that there was an unlimited number of names that needed to be written and attached to locker assignments, name tags, books, and countless other items we personalized for students.  However, as time passes we are called upon less often to write their names.

Perhaps this is why nothing prepares a teacher (or principal) for reading a student’s name in a graduation program after so many years apart. It is magical.

NAESP Tweet-Up

Click Flyer for Promo Video

Click Flyer for Promo Video

Join us for an epic NAESP bean bag tournament sponsored by TouchCast!

Date: Monday, June 29, 2015

Time: 5:00 – 7:00pm

Location: Alamitos Beach near the Long Beach Convention Center

Cost: $8

Prizes: Top teams will win prizes, and the overall tournament winner earns the title, “Best Bean Bag Team EVER.”

Register online:

Food: Alfredos Beach Club will be offering food and seating right next to the bean bag tournament.

Questions: Contact Ben Gilpin or Brad Gustafson with questions.  This Tweet-up is in partnership with the PennGSU Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership.

This Tweet-up is family friendly and spectators are welcome!

Student-Created Drone Challenge

Drone Cone

Our 5th graders recently completed a project using educational drones.  The learning experience integrated technology, creative writing, critical thinking, and mathematics (among other important skills).  Students worked with one of our technology teachers, Mr. Adam Hinnenkamp, to create original drone challenge courses.  You can read about the #EduDroneChallenge project and how your students can participate HERE.

The video below features one group’s project.  Kids created an original theme (Medusa’s Lair) and integrated learning targets into their challenge.  I’m so proud of our students and continue to be inspired by the collaborative learning experiences our teachers are providing. Sometimes students are so immersed in their work that they express genuine disappointment when they have to go home or outside for recess. They don’t want to stop what they’re working on in school.  You gotta love it!

*Note: If you’re receiving this blog post via e-mail you need to go to to view the 1 minute YouTube video posted above.  The video documents the drone challenge our students created. 

In Kids' Shoes

Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators

Reading By Example

Thoughts on Literacy & Leadership in Education

Adjusting Course

Responding to the Needs of the 21st Century Student

On The Leaders Edge

A Reflection of Life, Learning and Leadership

Digital Eyes

Looking at Education Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills

Shelley Burgess

Reflections of an educational learner and leader

The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.


True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

Engaged and Relevant

Just another site

Pernille Ripp

Teacher. Author. Creator. Speaker. Mom.

The Thesis Whisperer

Just like the horse whisperer - but with more pages