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Creating and capturing your own great ideas

Image from Haiku Deck gallery.

Image from Haiku Deck gallery.

The book Creative Confidence from Tom and David Kelley is an excellent read and I thank David Culberhouse and Tyler Gayheart for the recommendation.

As the title implies, the main focus of the book is to convince yourself and others in your organization that you are a creative person. As I think about the term “creative,” it’s not about having fantastic ideas that never fail to impress. It means that you have the ability to create. Whether you are creating products or just ideas, be productive and go for quantity not quality. Some of these products will be remarkable, but most won’t. Don’t let that discourage your efforts. ABC = Always Be Creating.

In this line of thinking, the authors riff on Louis Pasteur’s words, “Chance favors the trained mind,” and remix it to “Chance favors people who do lots of experiments and then pay very close attention when something unexpected happens.”

We all have a lot of ideas, so what method do you have to capture them all? Some environments are more “epiphany-friendly” (term from the book) than others, so make sure you have the right method for that environment. Lots of ideas are formed in the shower because our bodies and minds are in a relaxed state and that is a time when a lot of good thinking happens. Have a notebook nearby to jot down those shower thoughts. Keep that same notebook near your bed to enable you to record what you dream about in the night or ponder on in between the time you awake and then get out of bed. I do a lot of my best thinking while driving to and from work. Of course this isn’t the place to actually write a note, but use your smart phone to record a voice memo. Aside from the native voice memo tool in your smart phone, the Voxer app has a notes feature that lets you record an audio file and then share it through text, email, Twitter, or Facebook.

Record all the ideas you have and don’t critique them as they are being formed. Kelley and Kelley say, “defer judgment long enough to let an idea evolve.” An idea that makes sense on Wednesday, may be ridiculous by Friday, but could be the answer to a related problem you have on Monday. It’s kind of like that jar of nuts and bolts you keep in your garage or junk drawer. You keep throwing odds and ends in the jar, never knowing what you’ll need or when, but are appreciative when you find exactly what you need when completing a project or making a repair.

Category:  Education     

Khan Academy’s lab school

I saw this job posting today for elementary teachers for a lab school from the Khan Academy crew. Some educators might lead you to think that the Khan approach is a terrible thread in educational reform. While I don’t think that YouTube videos will revolutionize the American education system, videos and other online resources might be the best (or only) sources of information for students (old and young) in rural parts of our country and in other parts of the world. What stands out to me about Khan and other similar online approaches is that there is an attempt to personalize education, and that is very hard to do in our typical schools and classrooms.

I’m curious to learn more about the Khan Lab School and the approach they will take for their students and staff. I see that they aren’t requiring a teaching license (I’m a little skeptical), but do want experience in project based learning (a very good thing). I love this expectation, “Experience with or a desire to teach in a setting that values giving up control and allowing students to make mistakes and gain maturity and self motivation through independence.”

Elementary Grades Teacher | Edtech Jobs | EdSurge.

Screenshot from the Khan job posting at EdSurge.

Screenshot from the Khan job posting at EdSurge.

Category:  Education ,Technology      Tagged:

Selecting participants in a qualitative research study

This was an activity for my Qualitative Research Methods course with the almighty Dr. Jayson Richardson in the University of Kentucky’s school technology leadership doctoral program.

So you have a fantastic research question that has the potential to make a big dent in the circle of knowledge in your field… Where are you going to get your data?

Choosing your research participants is an essential component to your study. Miles and Huberman point out that not only are you choosing people for your study, you are also selecting the settings, events, and processes. They share that is important to line up these factors with the research questions that are the basis of your study. Ideally, you will be selecting participants who are the best source of data-rich information that can answer those questions.

While a common practice in quantitative research is to randomly select participants from a population, this is often not the preferred method of selection in qualitative research. Quantitative research is often used to make generalizations to a larger population, while qualitative research is used to richly describe what is happening within a specific setting and time.

Joseph Maxwell describes the selection of participants in a qualitative study, as purposeful selection. This is a strategy that deliberately selects the settings, people, and activities in order to provide data that can’t be found elsewhere. This method is able to provide you, the researcher, with information that will best answer your research questions. A rich source of data is much more important that being able to say participants were randomly selected.

Category:  Education ,Technology     

His hat, it hangs

Shawn White is a teacher, father, husband, and lover of life in New Hampshire. He’s talented in many ways. His poem below is just one of his talents.

Category:  Education ,Life in General     

Not old school: Architecture in support of learning

Can you imagine how creative and excited you would feel if you were a student or teacher in these schools?

Category:  Education     

Resources for learning space design

Architects Brian Guthrie and Jerry Schomberg from Vantage Architects in La Crosse, WI.

Architects Brian Guthrie and Jerry Schomberg from Vantage Architects in La Crosse, WI.

I’m fortunate that the community of Onalaska, WI approved a funding referendum in February that will allow my elementary school to be expanded and totally remodeled over the next year or so. We’ll go from about 55,000 square feet to nearly 93,000. Plus, we’ll be able to change the open concept design of the school (built in 1972) to one that is more suited for contemporary learning and teaching. I can’t wait to see the final product, but am really enjoying the current design process. Our architects have been fantastic and I’m so proud of the staff in my school for the time they put into what we want in our new school.

The point of this post is to share some fantastic resources for anyone else who may be building or remodeling a school or even a single classroom.

The Third Teacher (from the Cannon Design Group) is a great book that shows how learning spaces can positively impact learning. Even if you are just rearranging your classroom, this book will be an excellent resource.

The Language of School Design is an excellent book. If you are building or remodeling a school, buy multiple copies of this book to put in the hands of every person who will have input on the design of your new learning spaces.

Carolyn Foote is a teacher librarian in Texas. I saw her present on learning spaces at the IntegratED conference in February 2014, and left her session with so many ideas that helped guide my current building design process.

Dave Meister is a superintendent in Paris, IL and was the first person I called to start my own education about school design. His new high school should be up and running in the fall of 2014 and it looks like an amazing facility.

Steven Weber is an incredibly helpful person when it comes to creative classroom spaces. Connect with him for an explanation of the Learning Commons he designed for his school.

Naomi Harm is talented in numerous ways, learning space design is certainly one of those areas. I’ve seen her present on the topic and she will fill your brain.

Baker Nowicki Design out of San Diego has been a constant source of information and inspiring ideas. Their designs are beautiful and learning-centered. The crew who manages their Twitter account is quick to share info and answer questions. The video below is just one of the many resources the BND bunch sent my way.

Category:  Education     

Techlandia 58 with Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a doc student at George Mason, tech integrationist, and teacher in a French immersion school in Prince Georges County in Maryland. She’s passionate about being a DJ, flipping her class, and leading professional development for fellow teachers.

Category:  Education ,Technology     

Techlandia 57 with David Theriault

This might be one of my favorite Techlandia conversations ever. David Theriault is a high school English teacher in California and shares some fantastic ideas about the world of education. He’s a seriously smart and kind human being.

Category:  Education ,Technology     

Techlandia podcast, episode 55

Episode 55 of the Techlandia podcast features Carolyn Foote. She shares some great information about the design of learning spaces. I attended her learning space session at a conference in February, and she is fantastic.

Category:  Education ,Technology     

Ninjas and the 4 C’s

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills highlights the 4 C’s, which are learning skills that “separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century, and those who are not.” Those skills are in the areas of creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

My kids (ages 11 and 8) made the video below, and I think it is a great unintentional demonstration of the 4 C’s. Their creativity certainly comes through in their version of the “how to be a ninja” video. Their critical thinking is evident in how they decide the edits and other tech tricks needed to show the special effects and then upload/publish their work. Communication skills are on display as they talked with one another and to their audience. I’m proudest of the collaboration they used to pull this all together. Hard to believe these are the same two kids who often complain that the other one is “looking at me” and “breathing too loudly.”

This work was their own doing, and neither my wife or I made a single keystroke to assist them. I will take credit for providing them a stimulating home environment to help stoke these 4 C skills. I’m also appreciative of the schools they attend in the School District of La Crosse.

Category:  Education ,Technology