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What do you notice about this picture? It doesn’t really bother me that the people are moving in different directions. In fact, I think moving in the same direction without questioning our purpose could be dangerous. In some ways this is analogous to education.

Education is filled with some of the most dedicated and selfless individuals on the planet. These people are trying to make a difference for kids in the best way they know how. Some strive to integrate technology while others question its utility. Neither approach is inherently wrong, but there has to be a purpose and pedagogy behind our teaching that is just as important as the teaching itself.

Before we dip our oars in the water we should be able to identify two things:

  • Purpose: Why is the direction, idea, or path we’re pursuing important to our students?
  • Pedagogy: How might the approach we take be more relevant to the lives of our students?

All students deserve the opportunity to experience a relevant and connected pedagogy that leverages the promises of the digital age. This does not mean that every learning experience needs to involve a device or Wi-Fi.  It does mean that the context in which we are teaching has changed dramatically and the pedagogy we implore must be responsive to these changes. Creativity and collaboration are not soft skills that can be sacrificed in the pursuit of student achievement. The pedagogy we implore must prioritize digital age skills and tools while helping all students learn at a high level.

Perhaps a new direction is warranted. What’s your perspective?


TOP PD CHEF — flipped PD video

We believe that our students are at the heart of all we do, and inherent in this reality is the opportunity to further amplify student voice.  This school year we’ve had students teach us about Sphero programmable robot droids at a PD breakout session, and we even had kids present to our School Board as part of our site curriculum presentation.  Now our students are helping us flip a faculty PD session!

The flipped PD video that’s linked above features students from the principal’s podcast crew that elected to give up one recess period to spend a working lunch with their principal creating a video for us.  Teachers are asked to watch the four minute video and reflect on their learning and PD this school year. That’s all that needs to happen prior to our PD session on May 18th.  The video provides an overview that will allow us to maximize our time together.

I’m really looking forward to our next PD session.  We’re serving up an innovative PD experience using a format made popular by the hit TV show: CHOPPED! Come hungry to collaborate and bring your appetite too!  We’ll be using a semi-structured format to facilitate cross grade-level collaboration with a relaxed culinary backdrop.

100 Flavors: Tapping into Personalized Learning

Freestyle Pop Machine

I sometimes joke with my wife that one of my “love languages” is eating out at restaurants. (If you have not read Gary Chapman’s book this initial reference may make no sense to you….but please keep reading; I promise the rest gets better.)

I take great joy in selecting restaurants, polling my children to see where they want to eat, and researching the various discounts available (free kids meal night, etc.). However, I’ve finally met my restaurant nemesis; meet the Coca-Cola Company’s new 100 Flavor Interactive Freestyle Soda Fountain. (I did not make that name up!!)

This is the machine that has captured the affection of my kids, and only a few restaurants have it. In fact, there is only ONE restaurant that my daughter associates the 100 Flavor Interactive Freestyle Soda Fountain with….so that’s ALWAYS where she wants to eat. Why???!!

She appreciates the chance to select from 52+ flavors of Hi-C and is enamored with the 43+ styles of Coke along with several dozen varieties of PowerAde flavors not seen on grocery store shelves. (I may be exaggerating…but only slightly). The point is she loves choices and values a personalized beverage experience. Truth-be-told, I totally get how this beverage machine won her over; the cherry Hi-C is soooo good!

The entire concept is really quite simple…she walks into her restaurant of choice and has many different flavor options to quench her thirst—more than ever before. The pathways to the end result (thirst quenching goodness) are nearly limitless.

If you are like me, you might be asking what this has to do with education or a principal’s blog. The answer is found in a few key words; choices, personalized and pathways. My daughter can choose from multiple pathways to quench her thirst, and the personalized experience has engaged her in seemingly limitless possibilities.

The talented professionals in our school’s classrooms have been engaging students in their learning for years. Through differentiated instructional strategies, forging meaningful relationships, and finely honing their craft teachers have excelled at helping students excel.

The most exciting thing is that through new and evolving technologies we will be able to personalize learning in ways that were previously unimaginable.

What if there is a way to offer each of our students an individual pathway to proficiency, or unique enrichment options that have them coming back for more?! Just like my daughter and the “100 Flavor Interactive Freestyle Soda Fountain,” I suspect that a more personalized experience could lead to a powerful and personalized connection to our school along with a life-long habit of inspired learning.

Originally posted November 28, 2012
Photo credit: Alice Gao

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