The Inspired Learning Project was pleased to welcome Elliot Washor, author of Leaving to Learn and co-founder of Big Picture Learning to our podcast series. Our conversation touched upon a wide range of topics including Elliot's own path as a learner, the formation of his original school, The Met and Big Picture Learning and what Leaving to Learn looks and feels like in practices. We also discuss the new MURSD Learning Adventure's project which just launched in November. We highly recommend Leaving to Learn as it explores the logistics of off-campus learning framed in 10 expectations that students have for their schools.
If you like what you hear, and we think you will, and want to read more of Elliot's writing check out the links below.
These pieces get to the heart of inspired learning and provide thought-provoking insights to reimagine school
Learning is a Lifelong Game Where the Score Doesn't Matter
The Time Has Come for Assessment that Matters
What Are We Losing By Keeping Learners On-Track?
Getting Centered by Going to the Edge
Our interview with Elliot is one of almost twenty author interviews, including conversations with Yong Zhao, Tony Wagner, Anya Kamenetz, just to name a few. Our full lineup can be found on YouTube by clicking here. We are also in the process of converting all of our video interviews into podcasts. Our interview on deeper learning with Harvard's Jal Mehta has been added and we'll update you as more are added to our feed.
The Inspired Learning Project and Nipmuc Regional High School are excited to continue its Inspired Learning Professional Development series aimed at connecting educators for PD focused on reimagining, redesigning & reinventing education. These workshops offer hands-on, low-cost professional learning opportunities that encourage collaboration and sharing of best practices.
Friday, January 3, 2020 (12-3pm) Leveraging the Educator Evaluation Process to Close the Gap between our Beliefs and our Practices Join leaders and educational coaches from across the commonwealth to learn about the ways Nipmuc Regional has leveraged the Educator Evaluation process to promote professional growth, reflection, and risk-taking through the creation of model SMART goals that are actionable, optional, and collaborative. Additionally, you will explore structures to promote educator reflection, streamline classroom walkthrough feedback, as well as write evaluations that are consistent, concise, and focused on celebrating success and encouraging continued growth. ($30 per attendee. Lunch provided)
Friday, February 7, 2020 (12-3pm) Sharing your School’s Story: Creating Transparency in the Journey to Reimagine School How do you share the stories of success within and beyond your school community? Capturing and sharing the journey as you reimagine school may be as important as the work itself. Telling new stories of learning is important as you continue to explore your beliefs and adjust the learning to align more closely with these beliefs. Join educators and leaders at this professional development to learn about the process, tools, and resources that help to make sharing your story visual and transparent. ($30 per attendee. Lunch provided)
Tuesday, March 3, 2020: 3rd Annual Inspired Learning Convention: “Telling Stories of Inspired Learning”
Join educators from the Mendon-Upton Regional School District and from across Massachusetts for a day of learning, conversation, and inspiration. This year’s convention begins with a keynote from educator, author, and nationally syndicated storyteller Matthew Dicks. The convention will also host Richard Byrne, educator and founder of Practical Ed Tech. In addition to the keynotes, the day will provide more than 40 workshop sessions, sharing relevant, authentic learning experiences that learners will remember throughout their lifetime and bring back to their classrooms and school communities. (Visit the 2020 Inspired Learning Convention page to submit a proposal or to register for the Inspired Learning Convention 2020)
Friday, March 13, 2020 (9am-1pm) Innovating Authentic Learning: 21st Century Learning Conferences (Inspired Learning Days) Looking to connect your classrooms with the community? Interested in partnering with professionals and community leaders to engage your students? Hoping to increase student agency to make students leaders of their own learning? Join us on March 13 to learn about how Nipmuc uses 21st Century Learning Conferences (Inspired Learning Days) to answer these questions and more. Participants will learn about this scalable model and focus on actionable ways to adapt the model for implementation in their own classrooms. Participants will also be invited back to Nipmuc on April 15, if interested, to see our 21st Century Learning Conference (Inspired Learning Day) in action. ($50 per attendee. Breakfast and lunch provided. Teams encouraged!)
Friday, March 27, 2020 (9am-1pm) Better Together: Project-Based Learning & Maker Education: Inspired Learning is rooted in providing students with the opportunity to engage deeply with course content and apply their creative interests to design products that are personally meaningful. Designing these projects can sometimes feel like a daunting task for educators who can often wonder where to begin. Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Maker Education are two complementary approaches that provide a flexible structure to implement inspired learning experiences in your classroom or school. This session will provide educators with structures and strategies to begin planning their maker-oriented PBL units. Participants will walk away with the beginning of a new project and next steps to bring it to fruition. ($50 per attendee. Lunch provided).
Nipmuc Regional High School is located in Upton, Massachusetts - minutes from the Mass Pike and Route 495. Get directions here.
Questions? Email John Clements (email@example.com) or Mary Anne Moran (firstname.lastname@example.org), Co-principals, Nipmuc Regional High School.
Imagine that you had the opportunity to build a new version of school that was different by design. Where would you begin in your exploration, planning, and research? What decisions would you make about curriculum, instruction, and assessment? How would you build a vision and cultivate a team of educators to join you on your journey? How would you reimagine learning spaces to align with your beliefs about learning?
In recent weeks, we had the privilege of connecting with Jennifer Young, a Principal on Special Assignment from the Mansfield Independent School District in Texas who has the exciting (and daunting!) responsibility of answering all of the questions above. Recognizing the imperative and possibilities of building a school of modern learning, Principal Young’s district asked her to lead this process for their community. Over the course of the year, she has been researching, reading, collaborating with her team, and visiting schools across the country to tap into innovative ideas about school redesign.
We were excited to meet with her at Nipmuc during her recent trip to Massachusetts. We’re even more fortunate to stay connected with her and to have the chance to follow her work to build a school that is different by design.
The questions, possibilities, and excitement for this challenge are endless. Enjoy the interview and check back with us for future interviews as we follow Principal Young’s progress.
Leading from the heart requires a mindset that respects the power of culture, builds a backbone of trust, and fuels a passion for the work. We kicked off our 2019-2020 ILP Digital Conversations with Liz Garden, proud principal of Mayo Elementary School in Holden, Massachusetts. We connected with Liz to get insight into the mindset that guides her work and walked away with so many actionable strategies that can be easily replicated to create and sustain a culture that supports literacy, encourages inclusivity, and spreads positivity.
To say we enjoyed speaking with Principal Garden would be an understatement. Listen in on the conversation and walk away with new ideas, strategies, and activities to inspire learning at all levels in your schools and communities.
Save the Date!
Liz Garden, principal of Mayo Elementary School in the Wachusett Regional School District will be our first guest for the Inspired Learning Conversation. Liz is known for her passion for reading and sharing that enthusiasm with students and staff alike. She'll share practical and creative strategies she's implemented to foster a community of joyful readers. In addition, we'll explore her strategies for building and enhancing school culture when administrators transition to a new school or district. We'll also dive into Mayo's new UDL initiative which has quickly yielding Inspired Learning opportunities for students and staff alike. We'll touch upon these topics and your questions as we kick off year three of the Inspired Learning Project.
You can join us live at 3:30 PM ET by clicking here. We'll also post the video and a recap on the blog following the conversation next week.
This week I sat down with Mendon-Upton Superintendent Joe Maruszczak to discuss a range of ideas that shape and support Inspired Learning. We started with the concept "playing the whole game" in school that was developed by Harvard Professor David Perkins. In hindsight, the idea should have been unpacked more in the microcast and this excerpt from Education at Bat provides a succinct overview:
Why think about little league? Perkins says that in baseball, as in playing an instrument, one learns what it is to play the whole game first, and then to fine tune aspects of it over time.
Authenticity is a hallmark of Inspired Learning and the idea of "playing the whole game" provides a useful heuristic for instructional design.
We also explored possible tools for capturing the outcomes of Inspired Learning experiences. Our conversation focused on portfolio tools that provide more comprehensive evidence of student learning. Among the resources we discussed were Badgr (open digital badges), bulb, Richer Picture and tried and true blogging approaches like Wordpress. With these tools, we can support students as they craft multimedia stories that better capture the depth and meaning of their learning experiences.
The assessment component of our conversation was sparked by Shane Parrish's new book "The Great Mental Models." It's first model is "The Map is Not The Territory." This model is particularly relevant in public education where we often overly rely standardized assessments (the map) to assess the quality of our schools. It's not that this map doesn't provide useful information, but it can't possibly encompass all of of school quality or even most of it (the territory). Our current "maps" often do not capture the diversity of skills that are developed and expressed in Inspired Learning experiences. Thus, it's incumbent upon us to become cartographers and design maps that capture what we value.
Give our conversation a listen and leave us a comment with your thoughts.
,We recently spoke to Mike Caulfield, author of the free eBook Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. We touched upon a wide range of topics in digital media literacy and learning as well as hs new open modular course, Check, Please! Any educator who is working with students to cultivate research skills, information literacy or civic engagement would benefit from both the interview and exploring the course.
The Inspired Learning Conversation returns on Monday (10/28) at 4:00 PM with Dr. Julie Coiro to discuss her book From Curiosity to Deeper Learning. We'll focus on designing interest-driven inquiry experiences for students in grades K - 5. We hope you will join us.
As educators, the dilemma we face is whether we believe students need to check the sense of adventure found in these stories at the doors of our school. Do we believe in creating learning experiences that students look forward to as much as summer vacation? Are we committed to bringing an aspirational vision of school to life?
In all of our schools, educators are working to find ways to respond to these challenges. At Nipmuc Regional, one way we are answering these questions is through the creation of Learning Adventures.
Learning Adventures are non-traditional learning experiences that are fun, active, and build the skills needed for success in the real world. Throughout the year, students and teachers will work together to co-construct Learning Adventures in courses across all departments - finding active, innovative, and meaningful ways to ignite students’ curiosity and develop the competence and confidence needed for success in the world beyond our campus.
While we will develop Learning Adventures in Nipmuc’s courses, we’re also excited to develop district-wide Learning Adventures. Through the support of the Mendon-Upton Education Foundation, this year a team of 8 elementary students, 8 middle school students, 8 high school students, and educators from each school in the district will design, plan, and explore their own Learning Adventure. Through these non-traditional learning experiences, they will show us how we can reimagine our curriculum in order to bring the MURSD Portrait of a Learner to life.
Beginning this week, we’ve begun the process of seeking student and faculty volunteers to join our adventure. Will they learn to sail? Climb a mountain? Explore an urban adventure? Our team will choose their own adventure!
Learning Adventures are one way we’re looking to reimagine what learning looks like in our school. What are some of the ways that your schools have taken on this challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
As the African proverb goes, “It takes a village…” At the Inspired Learning Project, we are believers that the work to reimagine our schools isn’t a one-person or one school job. Throughout our work, we have emphasized the need to include our entire community, school and beyond, in our vision and our journey. Just as each of you is inspired by a sense of purpose in this work, it is our job to help create this same sense of urgency with our students, parents, and community members to support our work as we reimagine school.
“[Urgency] comes from a lot of places... It certainly doesn’t happen naturally in organizations. Organizations have a general tendency to want to stabilize and just kind of stay there. And urgency goes like this, even with good people. That has nothing to do with it. So you have to understand its importance, you have to be dedicated to wanting to create it, because you see what it can do for you, for the organization, for society. And then you provide the leadership no matter where you are in the organization, to make it happen.” - John Kotter
While we can often find a sense of urgency in some members of our communities, the challenge becomes creating a wide spread sense of urgency across our communities to support this work. With that in mind, the Inspired Learning Team is excited to launch its Inspired Learning Library, designed to help explore these ideas, spark conversations, generate excitement and maybe most importantly build a sense of urgency that will fuel our work as we reimagine what school can be.
You may have seen the new tab added to the website! The Inspired Learning Library is a compilation of books from forward-thinking authors that hold the potential to evoke a sense of urgency about the need to reimagine school. As a living library, the books enter our school and community and are passed from person to person. Check out the Inspired Learning Library tab to learn more about this grant-funded project and how to kick-off your own Inspired Learning Library in your community.
Have suggestions for books that have helped to develop your sense of urgency and fuel your work to reimagine school? Add your ideas in the Padlet below to share your favorites with the Inspired Learning community.
By Maureen Cohen, Assistant Superintendent, Mendon-Upton Regional School District
As many of our districts are immersed in preparations for Open House, it is a prime opportunity to engage our larger community in the shared beliefs and vision we hold for our students. Beginning with the invitations to parents and guardians to come to Open House, continuing through who is greeting them at the door, what messages are we sending?
As a parent and as an educator, I have personally witnessed numerous plots with twists and turns as schools and educators welcome parents to their open houses. On the one hand, I’ve been greeted at the door by name by the principal who shook my hand, asked me how I was doing, and told me how my child seemed to be off to a great start. On the other hand, I have also been at school where no one is there to greet parents as they arrive at the door, no signs were posted, and first-time parents wandered about confused on where they had to go. Which of those two stories would you want to continue reading?
As parents move to classroom presentations and meet their child's teacher for the first time, what will be the dominant narrative they hear? Will it read more like story #1, story #2 or story #3 below?
School Story #1: Our school is focused on....
Wow! There are a lot of you here tonight. I have to be honest, I didn't prepare anything."
School Story #2: Our school is focused on...
I just love working here. I have worked in a lot of different schools and this is one of the most caring and collaborative environment I have been in. The teachers really care about students here."
School Story #3: Our school is focused on...
We are looking for opportunities to engage our parents and community members to bring their experiences in to support our students. Please sign-up if you are interested in volunteering or can speak to our students about your own work experience."
The quotes above are not pulled from fictional tales of classrooms, but are real-life examples of statements teachers have shared at open houses that I have personally experienced over the years. Which school would you want to send your child to if you had the choice?
From classroom teachers to school leaders, we have to be cognizant of all of the messages we are sending out to the community, because these interactions and communications, whether big or small, create a larger narrative about what we believe is important.
This week the Inspired Learning Project team is adding a new feature to the blog: a microcast. Microcasts are a short, condensed version of a podcast structured to share a 1 - 2 quick, but important, ideas. Educators are a busy group and this media is designed for listening on your commute into work, during your shuttle service to soccer practice, or something to think about while having lunch.
Microcast #1 is inspired by Adam Grant, a business professor at UPenn and author of the best-selling books Give and Take & Originals. His work focuses on fostering strong cultures, improving interpersonal relationships, and supporting people as they discover their unique talents. Recently he tweeted:
The ILP team spent some time exploring the idea of "Big Talk" and how we can leverage it to continue to develop real work that matters for our students. Along the way we also discuss Nipmuc's upcoming work with Learning Adventures and the creation of a pre-K-12 Learning Adventure aligned with the MURSD Portrait of a Learner. Give it a listen and share your thoughts.
Click above to share a practice that promotes student agency, ignites students' passions, or creates a bridge between classrooms & the real world.
Click above to nominate an educator to be celebrated by the Inspired Learning Project.