Monday, October 27, 2014

Podcast: Harmonized Learning 24

In this episode, we podcast from the MOREnet conference in Columbia, MO where we are presenting our 20% Time program. We talk about the conference, keynote speaker Dave Burgess (Teach Like a Pirate), MOREnet and what comes next in our classrooms. Listeners can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Search iTunes for Harmonized Learning in the podcast section and click "subscribe". You can also follow us on Twitter @melissahellwig4 and @dayankee

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bad Idea Factory: Kickoff to Brainstorming

We started off our brainstorming with the "Bad Idea Factory" again.  We believe that this is such a great way to break the current mold of how students think about brainstorming and coming up with ideas. Kids have been so trained to think and do things the "teacher way".

The idea is that the students put up ANY idea they come up with: the good, the bad and the ugly!  We want them to realize that brainstorming is a messy process and sometimes it is just about putting ideas out there and seeing what sticks.  We want them to feel comfortable sharing any and all ideas, realizing that even good or great ideas come from bad ideas.  This is just the brainstorming process and nothing, we say, NOTHING, should be perfect about this process. It should be messy, creative, organic, even inspiring.  We want kids to put up every idea that comes to mind without fear of judgement.  You never know what idea will take off or even inspire another student to come up an idea of their own.

We use this lesson to help our students break down the current paradigm of the traditional school model where teachers tell students what to do, they do it (all in the exact same way) and turn it in.  We want to see our students' creativity, thoughts and aspirations.  Our favorite phrase:  It is amazing what kids can accomplish if we just get out their way.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Podcast: The Big Kick-Off!

In this episode, we talk about the preparation that went in to the big kickoff and how things went with the kids. We speak to kids and creativity, the change in learning and the "hacking" of school.  Listeners can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Search iTunes for Harmonized Learning in the podcast section and click "subscribe". You can also follow us on Twitter @melissahellwig4 and @dayankee

It's Here! 20% Time 2014-15 Kick-Off!

Today we gathered our entire team of kids into one of our classrooms in order to kick off 20% Time for the year. We make it a point to present not only the "how" we'll be doing the project, but also the "why". We feel it is essential for kids to know that traditional schooling will not be enough to educate them for their futures and that the autonomy we give them on team this year will nurture their ingenuity, creativity, problem-solving and passion. Kids finding their talents and passions is what this project is all about.

During our presentation, we scanned the room. Only a few kids were not paying attention. For the most part, we could see the excitement on the kids' faces. They know that they will be able to create something based on their own interests, whether it is related to school or not. We talked about how traditional schools train all kids in the same way, learning the same material and at roughly the same pace. We told them that all of that was now out the window!

Some of the kids will not be equipped to handle this much freedom right off the bat. There is a different skill set that we must teach them but it is one that they pick up on very quickly. The danger is that once the kids experience this way of learning, it will make it so much harder to go back to the old way.

Here is the presentation, 20% Time Kick-Off Presentation, that we used in order to kick off the project. We used each slide as a talking point.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lifelong Learning

Last year, many of our students created great projects. They built, they made, they researched, they served others and they all learned. The learning didn't end when the school year ended. Some of our kids took their learning to a whole new level, even after the TED Talks, our culminating event to demonstrate learning, occurred. Steve, whose project was SNB Bass Baits, continued his learning by perfecting his lures and baits. Then he designed a web store and got it up and running. Now this eighth grader has an online business for his authentic, unique bass baits. All of this happened because Steve learned what Steve wanted to learn. Now this (Steve's blog):

Has become this (Steve's business):

We feel very strongly that we must personalize learning for our students and, when we do, their learning will take off and change lives. We know it did with several of our kiddos. We want out kids to know that if they can think it, they can achieve it!