Tuesday, August 29, 2017

changing the world today

"When we shift from preparing students for what's next, to helping them prepare for anything, a world of possibilities open up in their learning." - Empower

Before school started I read two amazing books -  Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, and Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd.

In Empower, I loved the idea of moving students from engagement to empowerment, of shifting from making the subject interesting to tapping into student interests. 

And I especially loved the graphic style of the book:

"Choice gives students the opportunity to cast their own line and choose what bait they want to put on the hook. Learning follows, not because it is forced upon them, but because it is naturally connected to curiosity and inquiry."    -Empower

In Social LEADia, I loved the idea that tomorrow's leaders are changing the world today, and shifting the conversation from digital citizenship to digital leadership.
"To us, is more than just connecting online. We connect at school, in teams, and with our teachers. When we connect, we feel that we are using our voice to make an impact in a positive way, and when we connect, we are also learning new ideas and perspectives. When you add these up, we are making a difference in our own world and maybe someone else's."

 And, there were great graphics, student vignettes, summaries, and discussion questions.

If you are looking for inspiration this fall, be sure to pick up these two books. On Twitter, follow #SocialLeadia and #EmpowerBook, and begin building your personal learning network.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Love is Louder

After the violence Charlottesville, I didn't know what to do. 

So, I left flowers at the Anne Frank Memorial with the tag: Love is Louder.

Hundreds of people turned out for a vigil on Sunday evening  at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in downtown Boise to show solidarity with Charlottesville, Virginia. 

I was so happy to see that the flowers were still there.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trans Rights Are Human Rights

Yesterday Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Luckily, civil rights and transgender advocacy groups denounced the policy, with the ACLU vowing to challenge it in court.

The announcement on twitter felt like another decision made in haste without thought to the American service members such a policy would hurt. I am slowly becoming immune to the constant assault on human rights and civil rights ... this numbing is an awful feeling. Luckily my children are still incensed, and talk over dinner was all about Trans Rights Are Human Rights

So, I decided to create my own army...

 ...and put some boots on the ground today:

In the meantime, I hope all American service personnel know that we appreciate and value their service to our country.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

jomny sun's aliebn

I read @jonnysun 's book everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too.

It is adorable and thoughtful, empathetic and clever. The book is based on the popular twitter account @jonnysun and does not disappoint. 

From GoodReads:
Through this story of a lost, lonely and confused Alien finding friendship, acceptance, and love among the animals and plants of Earth, we will all learn how to be a little more human. And for all the earth-bound creatures here on this planet, we will all learn how sometimes, it takes an outsider to help us see ourselves for who we truly are.

Favorite book quote:
“we will always be with u. we internalize traits we observe in others as a way to honor and remeber them. we are all living memorials” ― Jomny SunEveryone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book 

You should get this book for your friends and family... and definitely follow @jonnysun on twitter. After you read everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too, watch this video:

you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Disruptions start with a thought

"Disruptions start with a thought
 that something needs to be better."

This week I read, Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Robert Probst and Kylene Beers. It is a must-read book for all readers... and those who teach language arts, and those who assign reading homework. This book is an amazing professional resource; it is able to reframe reading as transformational rather than simply a practice of decoding, recalling, and responding to homework questions.

Disruption begins with two questions:

  1. What needs to change?
  2. What assumptions make that change hard?

From the authors:
“We think it’s time we finally do become a nation of readers, and we know it’s time students learn to tell fake news from real news. It’s time we help students understand why how they read is so important,” explain Beers and Probst. “Disrupting Thinking is, at its heart, an exploration of how we help students become the reader who does so much more than decode, recall, or choose the correct answer from a multiple-choice list. This book shows us how to help students become the critical thinkers our nation needs them to be.”

Of course, skills are important; but if we aren't reading and writing so that we can grow, so that we can discover, so that we can change - change our thinking, change ourselves, perhaps help change the world - then those skills are for not.

"Our democracy is best served when we encourage students to begin at an early age to pay close attention both to what the text says and to what they feel and think as they read. Not one or the other, but both."

Responsive, Responsible, and Compassionate reading:

"In order to read to change, the reader must be responsive to the thoughts and feelings awakened by the text, responsible to both himself and the text, and compassionate and open to the characters and people he finds in the pages, their experiences and ideas, and the reactions of other readers." 

BHH Reading (Book, Head, Heart):

When you read, think about what is...

  • In The Book
What's this about? Who's telling the story? What does the author want me to know?
  • In Your Head

What surprised me? What did the author think I already knew? What changed or confirmed what I already knew? What did I notice?

  • In Your Heart
What did I learn about me? How will this help me to be better?

The absolute best parts of this book are advocating for student choice in reading, to invite reading to disrupt thinking, and to generate our own questions rather than filling in multiple choice answers from reading.

Get this book for the readers, teachers, social activists, and lovers of disruption you know. They will be forever grateful.


Monday, May 15, 2017

empower an entire community

The Salvation Army of the Treasure Valley has renewed its springtime tradition of the Daffodil Tea in support of the Booth Marian Pritchett School. The event took place this year on May 11th and the Keynote was given by Angela Taylor.

Angela Taylor grew up in Mountain Home, graduated from Stanford University and was an executive in the sports industry for over 20 years. In her keynote speech, Ms. Taylor said that the tie that binds the past to the present and the present to the future is the importance of empowering women.

Over it's 96 year history, the Booth Marian Pritchett School has helped over 10,000 girls.  This year, the school will graduate 25 students - its largest graduating class ever.

Ms. Taylor told stories about the accomplished women of the WNBA, and how these women were amazing role models. She said, "Empowered women... empower women." But not only that, empowered women empower women and men. She challenged each of us gathered at the event: "How do we empower individuals? How do we empower a community?" The answer comes from her Stanford basketball coach, Tara Vanderveer:

  • E  - Educate
  • M - Motivate
  • P  - Present Opportunities
  • O - Ownership
  • W- Worth/Wisdom
  • E - Encourage
  • R - Respect

It takes a village to create strong leaders. Empower the future of women and girls, and you empower an entire community.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We've Got It From Here; Thanks For Your Service


Christopher Emdin Keynote:

After hearing Chris Emdin speak, I felt like I needed to dive deeper into his message. So I listened again ... this time annotating what I heard. Enjoy the notes below as you watch Chris Emdin's keynote...


1. Friends
    Education is the Civil Rights issue of our time.

2. Enemies
    Pitch products to schools.

3. Frenemies
    Speak the language but don't represent certain populations.


Dr. Christopher Emdin describes the Sudanese Dinka Tribe.

Claiming ownership back over your culture.

Martin Luther King 'Maladjusted' quote.

Be maladjusted. Break the norms of public education. Ask, "Why am I doing what I'm doing when I know it's not working?"  Be bold enough to be maladjusted.

A Tribe Called Quest

Inheriting the trauma of the institution of education. We become adjusted to the fact that young people have trauma. MLK would say, "I never intend to become adjusted to that fact."


Hiding under the umbrella of tech rather than focusing on the pedagogy.
Uncommon Cores
Engage in critical conversations with young people, cogenerative dialogues.

Preparing young people to move amongst the stars. Stem economy. Teaching to the lowest level of the new economy: a worker in the stem workforce - instead, provide students with equity.

Allow young people to teach us what we need to do. Creating spaces to allow young people to take the helm of the instruction. Coteaching


Chance The Rapper  @chancetherapper 

express intelligence and brilliance

Rachet - the worst of urban, the worst of grammar, rude

cultural expression - context/content/competition

The goal of school- construct and celebrate rachedemic identities.


Hiding behind fake numbers.

Broke people break people. Hurt people hurt people.

Educators seen as less than, and treat students as less than.




Achievement gaps

Project based learning - social emotional learning - extraction of context

They tried to bury us ... we are diamonds.


Why are there so few black male teachers?

Gloria Ladson-Billings

Be loud about good work.
Tell the truth and let the devil be ashamed.

Google - as modern workplace 

The hard part is being yourself.
It's completely possible to listen to hip-hop and have a PHD.

Have courage.

Never become adjusted to inequity and violence.

All youth benefit from being exposed to a more diverse and robust approach to teaching and learning.

Appreciate the complexity.


follow @chrisEmdin

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We The People

Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, as seen by Lincoln.
(via shorty.com)

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. Every year the remembrance of MLK Jr as a day of service grows for me. This year felt exceptionally poignant.

My favorite King quotes for a post 2016 America:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." 

"The time is always right to do what is right."

This MLK day has got me thinking... Have you seen Shepard Fairey's inauguration protest posters?

Check out the Kickstarter to get involved and support We The People. We decided to get started a little early:

We The People
Are Greater Than Fear

Happy Martin Luther King day! 
I hope your day was inspiring.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

rise up

For a book club, I read The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I began reading it after the results of the November 8th Presidential election.  This work of historical fiction was just what I needed. The themes of women's rights, immigration, equality, politics and race were just the tonic I needed.

The Gilded Hour takes place in 1883 New York City. The primary protagonist is Dr. Anna Savard, a female surgeon. Dr. Savard is dedicated to women's health and women's rights at a time when contraception and abortion are illegal. Anna's cousin, Sophie Savard, is also a female OB/GYN - but as a "free woman of color" is confined not only by her gender but also by her race.

This is a long book - over 700 pages - but I learned so much history. An interesting part of the book is the Author's Notes at the end. In the Notes, the author tells us:
To really understand Manhattan in 1883 you have to forget the Manhattan you think you know. In 1883 there was no Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Flatiron Building, Times Square, or New York Public Library, to name just a few landmarks. 
The Comstock Act is not fiction. All of the incidents mentioned in the story - including Anthony Comstock's antics in and out of the courtroom - are based on the historical record, in particular on newspaper accounts. 

But what struck me the most was: 
Young people today (finally, I'm old enough to use that cliché) seem to have no real concept of how bad things were for women and, more importantly, could be again.

As I was reading this book, I would stop to ask questions and read portions aloud to my teenage children. 

"Did you know that in 1883 you could be imprisoned for buying birth control?" 

Or, listen to this:
"I'm on the side of women," she said, her voice hoarse. "Those individuals who actually bear and raise children. The human beings whom Malthusians and priests see as no more than mindless breeding stock."

In him Anna saw a man who was controlled by the most basic and childish of impulses, a man who had convinced himself that dealing out pain and humiliation was a sacred mission granted to him by a loving and discriminating God. Because he had earned that right. Most of all, Comstock was a man who would not forget or forgive. He would vent his anger on Clara if he could, and if not, on someone like her.

If you can, read this book with your teenagers. Remind young people how bad things were and how bad they could become again if we don't stand up for our rights and the rights of others.

Think of Steinbeck's quote from 1941:

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.” 

This book has me looking into becoming a Planned Parenthood escort. I keep thinking about what steps I can take to ensure that women in my community have access to affordable birth control and the ability to plan and control their lives.

To quote Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards: 
"If women lose our rights to our bodies and to make our own decisions about pregnancy, that's just the beginning. We will lose our rights to everything else in America."