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Lessons learned from Stanford, Google, IDEO and Pixar

This weekend I spent some time with incredible innovators at Stanford University to talk about innovation in education.  All walks of life gathered at d.school to discuss problems in education and to propose solutions. My biggest takeaway: Education needs more design thinking and collaborative concepting at all levels. Throughout the day we shared stories, created concept maps, brainstormed collaboratively, identified problems in education and prototyped possible solutions.  I love that we didn’t just give answers. We prototyped possible solutions in the prototype lab where we had access to all kinds of great building materials.  We came up with some pretty impressive solutions.  What if schools operated more like this?  If teachers and students worked together as designers.  This is the drive behind Anastasis Academy’s morning inquiry block.  We look at big questions and work on interdisciplinary projects that incorporate a range of subjects and disciplines of learning. “What if the process of education were as intentionally crafted as the products of education (i.e., we always think about the book report or the final project, but not the path to get there).” (Fast Company) Schools have a lot to learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar.  These are companies that have created a culture of creativity, play and collaboration.  IDEO mirrors this culture in their physical space.  The space lends itself to creativity and new ideas because the space isn’t overly prescriptive.  Stanford’s d.school was very similar.  Tracks run all over the building where walls of whiteboards can be clipped in and moved around easily.  A writing space wherever and whenever you need one.  Brilliant.  All of the furniture is on wheels, it is easily moved and rearranged based on current needs.  Large wooden Lego-type blocks can be easily moved, arranged and built with for any situation. I love the philosophies of Pixar, the layout is designed to foster “forced collisions of people”.  Students with different backgrounds, passions and understandings collided in new understandings.  Would forced collisions of people encourage a whole new population of da Vinci thinking? At Google play is not only encouraged, it is deeply engrained in the culture.  Spaces are flexible and constantly changing and being built.  This is was the case in Stanford’s d.school and I have to say, the instant ability to edit our workspace impacted our thinking.  “Imagine what might happen if students had this same power to edit and make their own spaces within the school environment.” (Fast Company) I highly recommend the following article from Fast Company “What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar.” The article mentions High Tech High, a collection of charter schools in Southern California led by Larry Rosenstock.  Please take the 14 minutes to watch this great video about High Tech High!  Innovation is education is emerging in pockets all over the world. Anastasis Academy is a part of this innovation!  

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Answer Garden

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, collaboration, Evaluate, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 26-07-2010

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What it is: I learned about Answer Garden from an interactive post on Suzanne Whitlow’s excellent blog, Suzanne’s BlogAnswer Garden is a “new minimalistic feedback tool.”  It can be used as an online answer collection tool or embedded on a website or blog.  An Answer Garden is created as easily as entering a question and clicking create, no registration needed.  Embed the Answer Garden on any blog, website, or social network page using the embed code provided.  You can also give students a direct link to the Answer Garden. Students can post answers to your questions by entering their own answers or by clicking on and submitting existing answers.  All of the answers are represented in the form of a word cloud.   25 answers are visible per garden but as students submit the same answer, that word will grow bigger.  Creating an Answer Garden is SO simple.  Just type in your question or brainstorm statement and click create.

How to integrate Answer Garden into the classroom: Answer Garden is a fun way for students to brainstorm, plan, and work together.  Pose open-ended thinking questions on your classroom blog or website for students to answers.  Use Answer Garden to host a classroom poll.  Create a geography Answer Garden that gives students a place that they can describe a state or country they are learning about.  Use Answer Garden during reading as a place for students to reflect on different characters, plots, settings, and themes.  In history, give students a date range, event, or historical figure and let them add words to the Answer Garden that describe.  In the primary classroom, type in a phoneme combination and have students submit words that fit the phoneme rule.   Create an answer garden to recognize VIP students in your classroom where each child can answer with a character quality that they appreciate about that student.  The possibilities are endless!  This tool is SO easy to use, try it out in the Answer Garden below.

Where will use Answer Garden?… at AnswerGarden.ch.

Tips: The default settings on Answer Garden only allows students to submit one answer.  You can check the optional “Unlimited Answering” to give students multiple opportunities to submit answers.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Answer Garden  in your classroom.

Comments (9)

WOW there are a lot of uses for this embed-able tool… WAY beyond just the class room… However this would be an awesome way to encourage feedback in real time. I hope college professors grab on to this concept… it could add a lot of value.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, ktenkely, Gina Hartman, Kristen Swanson, Tracy Mercier and others. Tracy Mercier said: RT @ShellTerrell: Answer Garden is a cool poll/answer collection tool turns answers into word clouds http://bit.ly/bmiYXs #edtech via @k … […]

[…] 1. Answer Garden. I stumbled across this one in a new blog that I just started subscribing to called iLearn Technology. […]

Immediate feedback is vital for learning, so this is a terrific tool.

Yes, lots of applications beyond the classroom but I love the collaboration it provides for the classroom!

Anyone have success embedding their AnswerGarden into a WordPress blog?

Hi Deb, this is a WordPress blog and I had no trouble embedding the Answer Garden above. Anyone else struggling with a WordPress embed?

Only issue with classroom use is if someone writes something inappropriate- it’s there for everyone to see until you’ve realised and deleted it.

Yes Jacqui, this is an issue when introducing any web 2.0 tool. Another reason it is SO important to teach proper use!

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