teachers

Summer Dreams: A glimpse into inquiry-based learning

Every summer has the same rhythm for me. Most days consist of reading (also known as feeding my soul) and planning for the upcoming school year. Though I truly enjoy every season in Colorado, the rhythm of summer is my favorite. It gives me time to dream and to prepare for the upcoming year. Summer for me is an indicator of space. Space to take deep breaths, to learn from others, and to iterate and dream.

Anastasis is a school without curriculum; by that, I mean that we don’t purchase a curriculum from a big publishing company. I haven’t found a curriculum that knows our students (with names) the way that my teachers know our students (with names). They don’t know our students the way I know our students. Summer is the time that I build a framework for Anastasis teachers. An inquiry guide. Inquiry is the philosophy that drives learning at Anastasis. I love inquiry because it is a natural differentiator. Within an inquiry philosophy, students meet the learning where they are. Inquiry is a transformational, life-changing framework. It’s one that empowers kids.

12 years ago (with a lot of help from my PLN, blogger alliance friends) I learned about, and fell in love with, the International Baccalaureates PYP Framework. Through blogs, Twitter conversations, and the Reform Symposium Conference, I got a behind the scenes look at inquiry within the PYP happening in countries and classrooms around the world. There are six themes within the framework: Who We Are, Where We Are in Place and Time, How We Express Ourselves, How the World Works, How We Organize Ourselves, and Sharing the Planet. I have yet to find any learning under the sun that doesn’t fit into one of these six categories. We use this framework at Anastasis as our launching point. In the summer, I choose a lens for our Primary, Intermediate, and Jr. High students to explore each inquiry Framework.

This is the time when I get to dream. My dreaming takes shape as a lens, a question, several lines of inquiry, and some provocations that teachers and students might dig into. These dreams and frameworks turn into absolute masterpieces when my teachers and students get ahold of them. Each of us comes with our own history, our own worldview, our own experiences, our own connections, each of us knows our students (with names). And this makes the “curriculum” richer. The true beauty of inquiry is the way that it grows and meets everyone who interacts with it.

As I dreamed up the Where We Are in Place and Time block, I came with my own background and ideas. When my teachers and students got ahold of it? MAGIC!

Here are the lenses I offered:

Primary: Children in the past live differently than we do today. (Within this I shared some lines of inquiry including: how has school changed over time, what kinds of games did your parents play as kids, how has transportation changed over time (how did this impact exploration and migration), how has food and access to food and food technology changed over time, what has been the impact of invention over time, how has technology changed over time, what is a timeline, how did migration and exploration change how children in the past lived, and how has literature and books children read change over time?)

Intermediate: People migrate with different reasons and with wide-ranging effects. (Within this, some of the lines of inquiry included: what are the reasons people migrate, what is the emotional impact of migration, what are the effects of emigration and immigration, what is manifest destiny, what is the Oregon Trail, what human circumstances and challenges lead to migration, what is the history of migration, how has transportation throughout time impacted migration, what is the cultural impact of migration, what is the governments role in migration?)

Jr. High: Migration happens for a variety of reasons. (The lines of inquiry included: what is the history of migration, what are the reasons for migration, what is the impact of migration-to the areas being left and the areas where relocation takes place, what are the hardships and successes of migration, how did transportation impact migration, how does perspective impact migration, what is the cultural impact of migration, what is the government’s role in migration, what is the emotional impact of migration, what are the effects of emigration and immigration?)

Watching this inquiry block unfold in real time as teachers and students engage it, I’m again reminded of the beauty of inquiry.

Anastasis Academy inquiry immigration

Our Primary students just got to experience an immigration day. After reading, “Ellis Island-a History in Many Voices” by Louise Peacock and exploring immigration through books, videos, and discussions, students experienced their own Immigration Day. Our incredible primary teachers had students dress as immigrants coming to America for the first time. Each received a country of origin and mini backstory. Each created and packed a suitcase filled with the items they would choose to bring with them on a long journey. Each item lovingly considered and included in the small case they were allowed to bring aboard the “ship.” Students were divided into classes on the ship. First class got the best seats, on top of the table, second and third class on the deck below, under the table. Each student received a passport and papers they would need to keep with them. Students had five different stops when they arrived to “Ellis Island:” Medical, Information, Baggage, Passport, and Interview. They were examined by a nurse and doctor, eyes, ears, throat, and skin checked. At the information room, students had to fill out a form which included information from their passports and questions regarding their life in America. Students were interviewed by officials, asked questions about their plans and intent in America. How would they earn money? Where did they plan to live? At each room, if our student immigrants were approved, they would receive a stamp in their passport and sent to the next room. Each of the five items that the students packed in their suitcase was closely inspected with questions about why they chose those items. Students watched, Coming to America by Neil Diamond. Pictures were taken for passports and a new identity, and nationality were granted. Each student created a reflective journal about their journey to America with illustrations.

Inquiry is immersive. Students get to experience their learning.

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Our Intermediate and Jr. High students have had the opportunity to experience their learning during this block in different ways. Our intermediate students visited 4 Mile Historic Park where they stepped into the past and saw the world through their ancestor’s eyes. One of our Anastasis teachers immigrated to America from South Africa. She shared her long immigration journey with students including the absolute joy at being declared a US citizen. Next, our students heard from a parent who is considered an illegal immigrant, though he has lived in the United States since he was two years old. He was able to share his experiences with the immigration process in America. Colorado refugee students joined our students for an afternoon of learning, soccer, dancing, and lunch. Anastasis students had the opportunity to hear their stories of fleeing a country and finding refuge in the US, as well as connect with them through play. This week our Jr. High students tutored refugee students in English and Math at their home school. In the coming weeks, these students will visit the Mango House (a non-profit that provides services to refugees) and attend a citizenship ceremony.

Inquiry is so much bigger than a curriculum guide. It’s about connecting students with stories and growing their awareness. It’s about seeing people. Inquiry is immersive learning. This is bigger than a worksheet or a research paper. This learning is absolutely transformational.

Take a look at some of our student reflections after the immigration stories:

We often don’t understand the circumstances in our world until we experience them. As we listened to the two people talk today, I realized how much sympathy we need for people that are immigrating to our country. As Miguel said, “The sun rises for everyone.” It really struck me how much joy we can find if we try to. We are often so doted on and spoiled that we expect the joy to come to us. Though sometimes we need to go out and change our perspective. My biggest shock today was how happy these two people were despite their trials. I hope I can apply their outlook on life in my own journey. -Anastasis Student
Everyone wants to see the sun but the sun rises for everyone, you just have to look for it. When people see an immigrant, they think “criminal, illegal, job stealer”, they don’t think, “person, mother, father, sister, brother.” People don’t like people who are different from them, but if everyone were the same, we would end up with a society like The Giver. You cannot judge a book by a cover; you cannot judge an immigrant without knowing their story. – Anastasis Student
I have traveled the lands and witnessed the world unfold. I’ve seen God, in seminaries and in the ground we stand on. I’ve been on an odyssey, a grand tour of our world, yet I see the light covered by darkness. I watch as two sides fight, spewing lies and frustration, placing more cement over the towering wall, looking down at us. Both sides making one massive monster, in the shape of a barrier. Now the wall has become a lens, now we face the beast. -Anastasis Student
How can you say it? How can you think it? How can you be against it without knowing it? “You have to go through hell to get here.” Immigrants are people who go through hell. The hell they face isn’t just because of the long journey. It is because of the rejection, the unfairness, and so much more that I would not be able to imagine. But, “the sun rises for everyone” (Miguel). Life will get better. With a positive attitude, a goal, and faith, the sun will rise. -Anastasis Student
It was amazing to hear the stories of Mrs. Fun and Miguel. They both have amazing stories and some things that would be very frustrating. It is not so easy to migrate like how some people say. “You have to go to hell to get to America.” Sometimes you just have to walk in their shoes and see what people have to go through to get here. It was good to see the long hard journey to become a legal citizen and the other side of seeing the troubles of trying to help your family while also worrying about becoming a legal citizen. People just have to see what people have to go through to come to this amazing country. It is easy to just say that people should come here the legal way, but we don’t realize the long, hard, expensive journey that it actually is. -Anastasis Academy
God always has the right path for you. You have to be passionate even if you think you were left behind because God has a wonderful plan for you that will come in due time. “The sun rises for everyone.” (Miguel).  It took Mrs. Van De Vyver 15 years to become a U.S citizen, and Miguel is still trying to become a citizen after 25 years. Today I was inspired to always keep a good attitude and keep a smile on my face. -Anastasis Student
There’s a long road ahead for the destination we sit comfortably in. Year after years and the road continues. 20-year journey and still the road goes on. “The sun rises for everyone” ( Miguel). Soon you will be able to travel with joy and comfort. Though one person can succeed, there are many more still walking on something they wish to be an odyssey. The dreams sit sweetly in their minds with a hint of opportunity. Let your mind soak in this perspective and live with a new lens. -Anastasis Student
Without the mountain, there is no summit. I sit on a hill watching the sunset over the horizon. If only the sun could last forever, I thought. But of course the light doesn’t last, but neither does the dark. Instead a perfect balance is created. This is the balance that holds the knowledge of the world. Without this balance, the world is broken, and the cycle of the earth will cease causing life its self to fall out of our grasp like sand. But here and now is the present and so here I will dwell shouting praise to God atop the mountain because God is the father of life. And life is in the present. This is why darkness was created.  -Anastasis Student
You guys!!! These are 11-13-year-olds reflecting on a shared experience of exploration, story, and seeing people. Show me what textbook can produce this kind of empathy, this level of understanding.
I thought about waiting to post this until after the final experiences with the Mango House and the citizenship ceremony, but honestly, I was too eager to share this hope.
This process of inquiry isn’t always neat and tidy. As principal dreaming in the summer, I often don’t know exactly what it will look like. It’s the result of passionate teachers, our amazing field trip coordinator, and students who keep pushing into learning they are immersed in.
Inquiry is immersive. It’s about story. It’s about connection. It’s about awareness. Inquiry is where the real learning is.

Building Student Agency with Card Games and Detox Week

Ten years ago, I was a computer teacher and a technology integration specialist. I taught 475 students every week, worked closely with teachers to ingegrate technology meaningully into their classrooms, and worked closely with the curriculum so that I knew how to integrate it meaningfully.

It was in this moment of time that I discovered a catastrophic problem that would change the course of my life: The curriculum didn’t know the students it was designed for. It couldn’t possibly know who they were and what their stories were. As teachers, we knew these stories, and yet we were being held back from fully embracing the identity and genius of the students in our classrooms because we were teaching from a curriculum that didn’t know them. Worse still, testing was dictating what the learning interaction would look like.

I felt a deep sense of urgency to change this…NOW! Because these 475 kids I was teaching every week? They didn’t have the luxury of time for education policymakers to get it right, they (unhelpfully) kept growing up.

I’ve dedicated the last nine years to learning how to honor identity by giving students agency over their learning through personalization. What started as an idea for a piece of technology has turned into a school, which has become a movement of good.

Our goal at Anastasis is to create a high-purpose environment where every student knows who they are, where every student is valued as a member of a team, where feedback is real-time and valuable, where we have the shared goal of becoming the very best version of ourselves.

At Anastasis we begin by connecting. We get to know a student on a deep level, and before the school year even begins, students receive a sense of belonging. Our first weeks of school are all about signaling: you are valuable, you are worth knowing, you are worthy of one-on-one time, you belong here. How do we do this? Through Learner Profile Days and Detox Week.

Learner Profile days are predicated on the belief that every one of our students is standing in a spot in this world that they alone inhabit. Wholely unique in the course of history. They are a collection of their history, experiences, gifts, hopes, their fears and insecurities. We believe that every one of our students holds a place in this world that’s valuable and important. The world needs us to honor these individuals. To see them as individuals and help them grown in their gifts. Our goal can never be to make them close approximations of “perfect student” in a one-size-fits-all system. The complex problems of our world won’t respond to one-size-fits-all solutions. We NEED people with different points of view who can communicate, collaborate, and who can appreciate other points-of-view and gifts as equally valuable, not as competition.

Our first two days of school are designed so that our teachers can have one-on-one time (an hour) with every one of their students. During this hour, they use the Learning Genome Card Sets to help students tell their stories. More than a boiled down version of what categories students trend in as learners, the cards are meant to activate narrative. The cards act as a launching point for students to add details and tell stories about who they are. They help teachers get answers to questions we may not have known to ask. Inevitably we also gain great information about how they like to learn. The real magic is in the stories. In that hour-long one-on-one, students have a safe place to share, they have a captive audience, and teachers get to know them on a deeper level. The kind that usually takes a full year to develop. From this card game, we develop the Learner Profile. This is a document where we record what a student’s learning preferences are. The document is helpful, but it isn’t really the point. The point is connection. The start of relationship and community.

The Learner Profile becomes a place where we help students discover and flourish as individuals who know who they are and why they are here, who know what they are passionate about, who explore the world and make connections with who they are, and to see that each one of them has the capacity to change our world using their gifts. The Learner Profile gives them a starting point to understand what their hearts beat for. What they were uniquely put on this earth to do (and that it’s a never-ending journey!)

Detox Week is a week where we help kids “detox” from the false messages they’ve learned about themselves, community, and learning. We break down the message that they lack in some way, that they may not be “enough.” We work to help kids see that community is more excellent than competition in a learning environment. We want them to understand that real learning is a journey that will include risk, and trials, and setbacks, and failure, and iteration, and success.

During Detox week, kids fail spectacularly. Our goal is ultimately to help them see that Anastasis is a safe place to fail, that it’s okay to be vulnerable, to ask for help, and to iterate on ideas. During Detox Week kids also start to learn that honest, kind, critical feedback will be our norm. We give real feedback because we have high expectations and know that each of them can reach those expectations. Over and over again in this first week of school, we’ve designed the experiences to send the message: You are inherently valuable and worthy. You belong to Anastasis today and in the future. We believe in each of you. It’s okay to keep iterating, in fact, that is learning!
We let kids know that their learning this year won’t be about a grade, it will be about learning. Anastasis will be a safe place to give effort and iterate (by the way, I do the same thing with professional development for teachers: Exhibit A, Exhibit B). During Detox Week we send the message that learning is bigger than school, learning is life. We send the message that there is a gift in the struggle, an art that plays out in the journey toward mastery.

Detox Week is meant to inspire laughter and provoke small moments of crisis where they will be frustrated. As it turns out, this is one of life’s greatest bonding experiences. Detox Week becomes a moment in time where our students share experiences that we can refer to, and learn from, all year long.

Detox Week helps us establish a school culture for the year. It helps students see who they are and that they belong here, in this community. When they get to know themselves as individuals, they can start to appreciate the gifts that others bring. They can begin to see how they are connected and that their contribution matters. They begin to see that they are safe to be themselves, safe to make mistakes. So often I see educators elevate failure as a good thing…champion it even, but without laying the foundation for that kind of vulnerability, the lip service does students no good. Let’s be real; learning is an act of vulnerability because it comes with failure. To not provide genuinely safe conditions is to hinder students in their learning.

So, what does Detox Week look like practically? We start by helping our students see and appreciate their own identity. Through the books we read together, with a look at their learner profile, through metaphor, and quotes. We talk about how rainforests have a symbiotic diversity nature, and that the diversity of a rainforest is actually what makes the whole thing healthier. If you plant just one kind of plant, the rainforest would be weaker. This is the same in our classroom, and indeed life. Where there is diversity, there is life. Having a diversity of gifts and vantage points makes our classroom, school, and world healthier. We can work together. We talk about the idea of collective intelligence. We are smarter, stronger, wiser together.

Next, we put our students in teams and situations where they will be challenged. They will fail spectacularly. Then we let them take a step back, talk with their team, and iterate. They tackle it again, and again, and again. There have been tears. There have been shouts of frustration. There is always some laughter. In the end, bonds form. Kids learn that it is okay to be vulnerable. That they can succeed when they work together and listen to each other when they appreciate each other’s gifts. (You can check out other activities/ideas/inspiration we’ve had around Detox Week on Pinterest.)

The oldest two classes (6-8th grade) go on a three-night camping trip together where all of these lessons get reinforced.

We end Detox Week with Identity Day. We edu-lifted this idea from George Couros years ago! Identity Day is a day where every student prepares an exhibit that shares something about who they are. We invite everyone in: parents, teachers, students, grandparents, friends. We celebrate that each of us is unique and the part we play in our community.

When you ask Anastasis students what three things they love about our school we get the same three answers over and again:
1. You know me.
2. I have the freedom to learn here.
3. This community feels like family.

That life-changing moment has led to a school where kids are known. We start here.

When hunches collide

Lately I have had the overwhelming feeling that education is on the brink of something big.  Something that will so dramatically change the way that we think about school and learning that we may hardly recognize it as being such.  I feel like I am on the brink of something big within my own thinking, but it is like I can’t quite grasp it.  It is elusive like the word that is just on the tip of your tongue.  More accurately it is that my mind is racing with so much that I want to explore, but I don’t have time to slow down and think deeply about it because I feel like the run away trail of thoughts is leading to something important.  As I read through my Twitter stream and Google Reader I realize that I must not be the only one to feel this way.  I can’t be the only one with sticky notes all over the house, and scribbles on the back of receipts, and notes on my iPhone, tweets to myself, voice recordings in various apps.  Yesterday, I ran across this video that is an illustration of a TED talk by Steven Johnson called Where Good Ideas Come From.  In it, Johnson talks about how good ideas come in the collision between smaller hunches so that they form something bigger than themselves.  You have to create a way for those hunches to come together to form a breakthrough that is bigger than the sum of their parts.  I’ll let you watch the video (about 4 min. long) and then give you my thoughts.

As it applies to me:  This was really encouraging, I’m not the only one who thinks this way, who has a lot of hunches but can’t quite string them together into something coherent…at least not yet.  But, I am connected.  I am constantly letting my hunches collide with other hunches through collaboration on Twitter, blogs, and face to face conversations.  I’ll follow this line of thinking a little later in this post.

As it applies to students: Are we allowing students time to have good ideas?  Are they even provided time in the school day when they can even begin to have the smaller hunches?  If they are given that time, do we ever allow them to collaborate and let those hunches collide?  Is it possible that children could solve the world’s problems if we gave them time to develop their hunches and collaborate to the point of breakthrough?  As I think about great inventors and thinkers, it strikes me that the invention often happened in spite of their schooling (and often outside of it) instead of as part of their schooling.  This video reinforces the idea many companies are beginning to use of the 80-20 rule where employees are given 20% of their work time to sit and work on what they want.  Often what ends up happening is that the hunches begin to collide and breakthroughs in thinking occurs.  Google does this and has been wildly successful.  What if students were provided the same opportunities?  What might that look like?

Here are some things that have been percolating in my mind for the past week.  I have been meaning to write about each one separately but hesitated because I couldn’t pull the full vision together yet.  But I don’t have to be the one with all of the answers, I can offer my hunches, see what hunches you have in return and wait for the collisions and breakthroughs.

1.  The problem with curriculum and textbooks is that they complete thoughts.  Curriculum and textbooks give the impression that learning has an end.  That when you have made it from cover to cover the job is done.  I know in my own schooling this was true, I thought that school was teaching me what was important and that anything outside of the curriculum wasn’t important or relevant to my life…wouldn’t they have included it otherwise?  How did curriculum get this way?  Well, people realized that there was no possible way to cover every facet of learning, so they stripped it down to what they thought was important.  The problem? What is important to you may not be what is important to me.  What’s more, something that is very important to me may have been cut all together so I don’t even get the chance to know that it is important to me.  Humans tend to like things that are definable, we like things that we can put into a neat, orderly box and carry out in a predictable way.  It feels safe and manageable.  This is what led me to the following hunch:

What if curriculum was more flexible?  What if curriculum/schools/learning looked more like Pandora.  If you aren’t familiar with Pandora, it is an online radio station that plays the music that it thinks you will like.  You type in an artist or song and it creates a customized radio station just for you.  It is remarkably accurate.  Pandora almost never gets it wrong for me.  It is like they have a direct line to my brain and can predict what song I would like to hear next.  When it is wrong, I can give the song a thumbs down and it apologizes profusely for the error and promises never to play that song again on my station.  The other thing I love about Pandora: I can have multiple radio stations.  Because sometimes I really couldn’t think of anything in the world better than Frank, Dean, and Sammy; but other times  I also want a little Timberlake, Whitestripes, or Bangles.  What if curriculum looked like that?  What if learning happened as a result of typing in one subject or topic that a student was enamored with and a completely personalize learning journey began playing out for them?  What if students were led through a journey that was completely customized?  What if they had several stations mapped out for them?

It has always bothered me that I only had access to the teachers I had access to.  Let me explain that a little: I had some really incredible teachers growing up; my first, third, and fifth grade teachers were beyond exceptional.  I think about them often and model my own teaching on what they did.  I had an incredible creative writing teacher in high school.  I had an Algebra teacher who made me believe that I was a gifted math student.  I also had years with so-so teachers, teachers who didn’t really inspire the best in me.  That is not to say that another student didn’t connect with them and remember them years later.  It always bothered me that I didn’t get to pick ANY teacher in the world to be my teacher.  I knew that there were amazing teachers out there, why didn’t I get to learn from them?  Would my education have been different if I was matched up with the very best teachers in the world?  Would I be a different person if EVERY teacher I had inspired me the way that the 5 had?  Maybe what I needed was a mix of educational e-Harmony and Pandora.  A way to be matched up with the very best teachers for me alongside a curriculum path mapped out based on my passions.  That isn’t to say that I would ONLY be learning what I felt like learning, but if Pandora can get my song preferences right, and introduce me to some I didn’t know I liked, why couldn’t a curriculum do the same?  I’m not quite sure how that all plays out which is why it is hunch #1.

2.  What if every single school was built like an athletic team?  A dream team of passionate educators.  What if schools were marketed according to the dream teams and students could attend with the team that made the most sense for them?  Athletic teams are hand selected to meet certain needs, every football team needs someone who can throw well, someone who can run well, someone who can block, a strategist.  Schools are no different, they need teachers with different strengths and abilities to make up the dream team.  What if schools traded teachers every few years within the district, state, country, or world so that other students had access to those dream team teachers?  Forget about bad teachers, if schools were built this way only the best would be hired.  Maybe if we had dream team schools, teachers would begin to be viewed by the public as the professionals they are.  Schools would be known by the incredible professionals that make them up.  When the community starts viewing teachers as professionals, the pay scale should begin to shift to reflect that.  Dream teams would show the community and students that education is valued and important.  What message are kids getting now?  At this very moment a documentary and numerous media events are painting the problem with education as being directly in connection with “bad teachers”.  As a student, do you think education is valuable if you are being told that your teachers are bad?  Of course not!  We need parents to stand up and shout for their team (school) to tell the world that their teachers on their dream team are the best in the world.  How do we make that happen?  Again, I’m not quite sure…which is why it is hunch #2.

3. Most local businesses and larger corporations like to have their employees involved in some type of community service.  My husband’s company is involved in several community service ventures but they are more involved with the Boy Scouts of America.  They donate money, celebrate accomplishments, and show up at big events.  Since companies are already doing this (most half heartedly because they aren’t particularly passionate about it), why not use it to improve our schools?  What if the hours that companies committed were to schools?  Businesses could pledge time each year to be involved in the school.  Large companies could be involved throughout the year, smaller companies more sporadically.  Those within a company that naturally gravitate toward working with kids may be more involved.  Let’s get professionals in the schools showing kids where their learning is leading them.  Let’s give our students time to work along side a welder, carpenter, graphic artist, CEO, fireman, chef, restaurant owner, grocery store manager, etc., etc., etc.  Kids need to see what is possible and that learning is important.  Some don’t learn that until they are out of school.  How do we make the shift in the way companies think about serving in the community? Again, I don’t quite have it nailed down: hunch #3.

4.  The documentary Waiting for Superman has just come out in select theaters around the United States.  As a result people are talking about education as they never have before.  They are being critical of education and the school system (and they should be…it has been a long time coming).  There is a lot of talk about what is wrong and what isn’t working.  For the record, I think they are completely missing what is really wrong with education and focusing on the low hanging fruit (money, bad teachers).  Now that the focus is on education, why aren’t we standing up and doing something big?  Why are we letting Oprah and anchormen talk about education as if they know something about it?  What if each incredible educator in the nation put together a 60 second Superman/woman video?  60 second videos that show what is good in education, what is working, and offering ideas for change…solutions.   What if those videos went viral?  What if every teacher in every state wrote their local news stations and gave them access to the videos?  Would parents and community members start to get a more realistic picture of what is happening in education?  I’m ready to make this one more than a hunch!

5. Yesterday I was catching up on some Twitter conversation, I had just missed #cpchat where administrators get together for a live Elluminate session and talk education, leadership, and learning.  I saw a comment from @Cybraryman1 to @gcouros saying: “Wish we could start The Twitter Academy with all the great teachers and supervisors here. It would be a phenomenal school.”  I plunked myself right into the middle of this conversation and responded: “why can’t we start Twitter Academy? Let’s stop wishing and do it!”  What resulted was immediate excitement from several educators chiming in and calling dibs on their part in Twitter Academy.  I made up a hash tag #twitacad and before I knew it, a logo had been created by @mrsenorhill.  

Now, I’m not sure about everyone else, but I was serious when I asked why not?  I was serious when I said let’s stop talking and do it already.  The only people getting in our way is us.  Why a Twitter Academy?  Well see #1 paragraph 3 and you will have my answer, then take a look at #2.  A dream team.  Why not?  This is still hunch #5 because I’m not really sure how to make this a reality.  Could the dream team be virtual?  Could the dream team help to make #1 a reality?  Ideally Twitter Academy would be an actual location…but since I haven’t yet convinced you all to move to beautiful Colorado, I’m not sure that it is realistic.  But, what nuggets could we take of this idea (and those hunches above) to collide and create a breakthrough here?  I don’t think it is impossible, we just haven’t come up with the exact framework yet.  Those of you who attended the Reform Symposium, may have caught Monika Hardy and her students presenting on TSD innovation Lab.  They are on to something here and I think that this is the beginning steps of what Twitter Academy could look like.

Alright, now it is your turn, what hunches do you have?  What ideas can we bring together and make breakthroughs with?  How can we take steps to radically rethink education and then take action-today?  Who wants to be involved in Twitter Academy and what ideas do you have that will make it a reality?  Maybe it is arrogance or ego on my part, but I feel like I have been dropped into this point in history with connections with all of you for a reason.  I refuse to believe it is just so that we can talk education.

I believe it will be us.

We will be the individuals whose ideas collide together and transform education.