All posts by Walter

Flipping the classroom script…

The other day I was walking a second grader back to his classroom after he’d read a couple of chapters to me. We were bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have time to finish the story. I suggested he might be able to finish it during his MIL and then tell me about it later. He was suprised that I know about MIL.

For those who don’t, the acronym stands for “Managed Independent Learning.” A third grader piqued my inerest a few years ago and explained the basic concept. There are some periods throughout the day when students are, literally, allowed to manage their own learning independently. Well, there’s some obvious supervision required, but it’s pretty awesome to watch.

A slightly older colleague provides an interesting perspective on the process and why it works. I stumbled on to this TED clip a few months ago and it’s been “bothering” me ever since. While the speaker is talking very specifically about using video, spend the twenty minutes it takes to get the concept. Then tell me it doesn’t make sense.

 

Happy What?

“To hear someone say ‘Happy Turkey Day’ makes me sad because they have nothing to be thankful for and no one to whom to be thankful.”

Robert Flatt

It’s that time of year again when the language police come out! I’ve already seen a few people crusading in favor of saying “Merry Christmas” and NOT saying “Happy Holidays.” (I’ve always conjured up this image of some one saying, “Peace on earth, goodwill to men… but don’t you dare say ‘Happy Holidays’ to me. I’m a CHRISTMAS and there’s nothing that irritates me more…”

Language is a funny thing.

Considering the above quote, Thanksgiving wishes may be next to come under attack. Personally, I don’t care too much what you wish me as long as it’s positive.

Happy People Day!

I’d like to think people come up with things like “Happy Turkey Day!” in an effort to be different–not because they have nothing to be thankful for. After all, how many times this week have you heard a traditional wish? A cheery wish for a happy turkey day seems reasonable. (Unless, of course, you’re the turkey.)

How about “Happy Pilgrim Day?” That’s different! I could whip out my language police badge and suggest that we really should say “days,” not “day.”  Afterall,  a lot of people have Thursday and Friday off. At least one version of the original celebration suggests that it was a three day harvest festival involving some fifty colonists and ninety indians.

My fear is that people are starting to think that Thanksgiving is scheduled to make it possible to start the Christmas Season. How great is it that we get a day or two off about a month before Christmas? That way we have some time to drag out the decorations, put up the tree, and do some serious shopping.

My wish for you? Have a happy harvest festival–a few days when the routines change just a little, but there’s an overriding celebration and sense of “harvest.” I hope you become acutely aware of the bounty–the things you have had, the things you have, the possibilities before you–not just for a few silent moments before dinner tomorrow, but for at least a few days.

My Brain Is Too Small

A second grader recently warned me that he didn’t think he was a very good reader. When I probed the reason for his conclusion he told me in very adult terms, “I do fine at home but when I get to school… my brain is too small! There are just too many words and things to learn!”

I wanted to reply, “I know how you feel.”

Later I stumbled onto this article:

How much of learning time is spent NOT learning, do you suppose?

In order to learn, people need time to think, to process, to question and explore. Great companies like Google know this to be true and give their workers permission simply to think or explore 20% of the time. Thanks to this 20% time, Gmail and Google News were created.

What if we allowed 20% time in our learning environments? For every hour of learning time, we allot 12 minutes for our learners to work with the topic on their own? They might go to a quiet meditative room to review their notes. They might go out on the floor and see concepts in action. They might do further research on the topic such as what industries are already using it (whatever it might be). Whatever they choose, it would not be prescribed. It would  simply be reflective, processing time… When it comes to learning, less is more is an adage that holds true.

(c) 2011 The Training Doctor, LLC  http://www.trainingdr.com

An interesting suggestion… but it’s not just about training. Thanks to technology we can multitask. How many times have you carried on a conversation with someone who’s punching the screen of their smart phone?  If it’s safe to do so, count how many drivers you encounter who are NOT talking on a cell phone. 

Next time I read with my second grade buddy I may suggest that the problem is not that his brain is too small. Perhaps it’s just that his brain is too busy. (During our reading time I suggested we’d take it slow–one word at a time if necessary– and discovered that he’s actually a pretty good reader.)

Whether we are learning or living,  a little “down time” isn’t such a bad idea. Take time to process  and explore. One of my favorite brain/thinking researchers was Ned Hermann. He used to describe sitting in his recliner and approaching a “theta”  rhythm characterized by a drowsy, meditative, or sleeping state. If his wife called out to him to take out the trash or perform some other task he’d reply, “Not now, dear. I’m working.”

Reflection, exploration… these are activities with at least as much value as writing or talking or punching the screen of your smart phone. Allow yourself time to do them and you may discover that your brain is bigger than you thought.

 

What Day Is It?

While it doesn’t happen too often (thankfully), today was a day when I woke up and realized I had no idea what day of the week it was. At some level it was amusing. At another it was frustrating. It could have been frightening. I began sleepily thinking about “what did I do yesterday?” 

Yesterday was an interesting day… it started with a meeting to discuss some new training oppo0rtunities  for solopreneurs*; continued with a fun and meaningful hour attending the S.A.D. 4 Annual Veteran’s Assembly and ended with facilitating a public speaking workshop. I suppose I could have posted each of those on Facebook along with an indepth report of my food intake and emotional state. Of course I did some other stuff too. If you are feeling deprived because I didn’t share everything, let me know and I’ll try to fill you in. I doubt the demand will be over-whelming.

Several hours and cups of coffee later, I’m pleased to report that I am now cognizant and coherent.  I know that it’s 11-11-11 and it’s Veterans’ Day. I even remember that later today I will have the distinct honor of  emceeing the Dedication Ceremony for the new Abbot Honor Roll. Maybe because it’s the first day in a while that I haven’t had to “hit the ground running,” it did take a while to get the wheels turning. (That might be another one of my mixed metaphors–it took a while to get my feet moving. No, wait, wheels here means the gears in my brain.) 

With the backdrop of Veterans’ Day activities yesterday and today, I had time to think about how fortunate I am. I get to do fun things.  I do work that I enjoy–at least mostly. I like that I live in a proud town. I really like that I share some traditional values–including a deep appreciation for our Veterans with my neighbors. I get to believe I’m part of something and I get to believe I matter.

During yesterday’s school assembly one point struck home hard. The sentiment was that those who gave their lives in battle are at peace. They did so that we might live in peace. One could almost think they are fortunate; they have found the peace we seek.

Perhaps we aren’t always looking in the right places. Being at peace with others can be challenging, being at peace with ourselves is always possible.

I believe when John McCrae penned he second stanza of that famous poem, he was challenging us to fully understand that peace and passion are so closely related they may be inseparable.

…To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The torch we’ve been thrown is about passion. Without passion there can be no peace. Let’s truly understand the debt we have to our Veterans–to have the same passion for those things that matter and to live in the peace their passion made possible.


*A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who works alone, “solo,” running their business single-handedly. You’ll be hearing more about this in the very near future!

Problem-solving With Kids

Many regular readers know that I spend quite a bit of time with the kids at school… mostly as a “bookworm” meaning second and third graders get turns reading their favorite books to me. We have a lot of fun and I like to think it encourages a love of reading.  I know I enjoy their friendship and they teach me a lot.

During a recent visit a gaggle of third grade girls cornered me to announce “We have a bullying problem.” Now unless you live under a rock you know that bullying is something taken very seriously at school–volunteers are obligated to report incidents to teachers. I somewhat surprised myself when I responded by asking them, “What have you done about it?”

I was not that surprised when they gave me a fair amount of detail regarding the perpetrator, who’d they’d reported it to, and what the plan was for dealing with it. I am convinced that we often fail as adults by underestimating kids. The situation was well in hand; they just wanted me to know.

My conversation with them reminded me of an event some years ago. I was at my then chiropractor’s office and discovered that Amanda had come to work with her mom due to an accident at school the previous day. She and Tyler, another first grader, collided while playing kick ball.

She was busy managing multiple priorities: being a kid, greeting and visiting patients, entertaining herself, saying “out of the way,” creating art, practicing writing her name, and negotiating more time off rom school with her mom. I considered myself fortunate that she found time in her busy schedule to play with me. Actually, that’s not quite right. She let me play with her.

I found it difficult to “write my name” using those perfectly shaped first grade  letters. But every time I “goofed up” Amanda assured me I was doing fine. She also thought I could draw a pretty good cat.

We of course discussed her accident. When I asked her how she was going to avoid getting hurt again she didn’t hesitate with her answer. She would make sure her and Tyler were on the same team so they were always running in the same direction.

I left clutching the drawing Amanda did for me. (She drew pretty good flowers.) It still hangs in my office as a reminder of the fun we had and the fact that sometimes kids are great problem solvers. Adults are the ones who make things difficult.

 


By my estimation, Amanda is now in her early twenties. I’m sorry I’ve lost touch with her and her Mom… but I hope she’s still drawing flowers!