If you have never had the privilege of hearing Angela Maiers speak, you are missing out!
If Angela’s name isn’t immediately recognizable, her #choose2matter and #youmatter global movements have probably crossed your path.
Angela believes that in today’s world, there are no limits for learners with passion, foresight, and desire to grow. At Anastasis, this message resonates with us.
On February 19, Angela will be the keynote speaker for the 5Sigma Education Conference in Colorado. Angela is the perfect person to kick off a weekend of inspiration, learning, iterating, collaborating, and launching.
5Sigma is unlike any education conference you’ve been to. It begins with a tour of the school I started, Anastasis Academy. This tour is led by Anastasis students of all ages. You’ll get a first hand look at what re-imagined learning looks like. What follows the tour is a weekend of inspiration, passion ignited, collaboration, and fun. We want to introduce you to those (like Angela) who have inspired and shaped us along the way. We have incredible keynotes, sessions, speakers, and panels. On Sunday, we have adult learning excursions that will give you a glimpse of what student field-trips and staff professional development look like at Anastasis.
If you are interested in student voice, starting a school, inquiry, customized assessment solutions, building community, learner profiles, individualized education, 1:1 BYOD environments, learning excursions, professional development that transforms, re-imagined classroom space, design thinking, maker spaces, mentorship, or project-based learning, you will not want to miss this conference! Besides all that, Angela Maiers is our keynote…and that is pretty outstanding!
In 2010, I thought that technology might be the savior of education. I created the Learning Genome Project as an attempt to make it possible to personalize education for every child. This project took a detour when I realized that, in the United States, we exist within a system that has not been designed to educate the individual. This led to creating a model that honors unique individuals, a model that would make utilizing the Learning Genome Project possible. But this isn’t a post about that story. This is a post about the connections that this project has made possible.
About a month ago, I received an email through the Learning Genome Project’s website. This isn’t unusual, what was unusual was the incredibly serendipitous connection that it enabled.
Bodo Hoenen contacted me because our projects are eerily similar. Our thought process and approach is incredibly similar. But Bodo comes at the problem of education from a very different direction. Bodo recognized the vast number of refugee children (and girls in particular) who have no access to the school system of the country from which they have fled. Additionally, the host countries where these children land often don’t have the necessary resources to educate these children. The result is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million children world-wide who aren’t being educated. At the current pace, UNESCO estimates that it will take until 2086 before we are globally equipped to provide these children with quality education.
Does anyone else see the problem with this? 2086 is a long way off. There is a sense of urgency here. Children around the world cannot wait for us to get this right. They can’t wait until 2086 for this problem to be rectified. Children need us to solve this right now. Current approaches aren’t able to scale quickly enough to make a difference for children who are waiting for an education. Bodo Hoenen through Dev4x is working to change this. They have a fantastically audacious open project that goes beyond current approaches.
This is where Bodo’s vision and the Learning Genome Project overlap. Dev4X is working on a technology solution that will empower these under served children and their communities to take control of their own learning and create better lives for themselves.
Dev4X was founded on the belief that this global challenge can be solved while these children are still young by globally sourcing solutions and open collaboration.
At Anastasis, our students are currently working on an inquiry block, “Power of One.” The kids are exploring change makers, and looking into what it means to be a change maker. They are also investigating ways that they can enact change. They are recognizing their own Power of One.
I cannot say enough about the incredible students at Anastasis. These are kids who live their learning every day. We’ve challenged the kids during this inquiry block. Memorize one, give one, pray for one, serve one. The idea is to make one small change that can actually become a BIG thing. In the first week of this inquiry block, a group of three students came to me and asked if they could stay in for recess. “Mrs. Tenkely, we were talking during the morning walk and realized that we each have $100. We were talking about what we were going to use our money for and realized that we don’t really have anything we really need. So then we thought that maybe we could pool our money and buy a Sphero robot to do random acts of kindness for others. But then we remembered that we have 3 Spheros at school and realized that you would let us use them. So we were wondering if we could use our money to buy little things to hide around the school for other kids as a random act of kindness. Can we stay in for recess and hide things for kids with notes?” I am telling you, AMAZING students!
Each of our classes has a charitable organization that they pour into for the year. One of our intermediate classes is connected with a food bank run by adults with special needs called Stepping Stones. Our students are helping to put together boxes of food for Thanksgiving. They’ve agreed to help come up with ideas to raise money for these boxes. The kids split into groups as part of their inquiry block to think about ways that they could raise money. Last week, two girls came into the office to propose their idea: “We were wondering if we could offer horse rides at school to raise money for Stepping Stones?” These girls created a waiver to sign, proposed the idea to the owner of the building we lease space from, created fliers, and organized for horses to be at school today. In 2 hours, these girls raised $400 giving horse rides at school. They organized everything themselves. Change makers!
What does this have to do with Dev4X? Anastasis students are now working on the part they can play in education for kids around the world. They are considering how they can be a part of Bodo’s wildly audacious goal of making education a reality for children all over the world. Students will be considering how they can add to the conversation, and how they can help raise some money to put into the project.
We would like to challenge other schools to do the same. What can you do to raise some money to make education a reality for children everywhere? There are 98,817 public schools in the United States, what would happen if each of them raised $100? Could we enact change for education world-wide that would have incredible implications for our own educational model? Could it be that children are the key to education reform world-wide? Are they the power of one?
Dev4X has a live Indiegogo Campaign. This is an opportunity to transform education, an opportunity to “be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi) What can your students do to make a change in the world? How can you empower your students?
Bodo Hoenen is our closing keynote at the 5Sigma Edu Conference in February. You will not want to miss seeing Bodo live, and experiencing the model of education that makes the Power of One stories above possible. Early bird registration ends this week! Sign up now!
What it is: At Anastasis Academy, we individualize curriculum for every student. We don’t purchase any boxed, one-size-fits-all curriculum. Instead, we create a learner profile for each student. I pulled together a variety of learning style inventories, multiple intelligence strength finders, and brain dominance predictors and mashed them up into a child-friendly teacher/student survey. Our teachers spend two days before the first day of school going through these inventories with students. I compile the information (along with their interests and passions) and put it all in an at-a-glance document. I’m just revamping the document a little bit to look more like a big baseball card with learning stats. We use these learner profiles all year long as a starting point for pulling curriculum, lessons and resources that will best meet the individual child’s needs. (Learning Genome 1.0)
Educators often ask if we can share this process, unfortunately right now it isn’t pretty or sharable in any meaningful way. When the Learning Genome is completed and launched, we will be able to share this process with the world.
Today, I ran across a tool that can help bridge the gap for teachers who are seeking a way to better customize the classroom experience for their students. CompassLearning has created a Learning Profiler that is free to use and the results are easy to share. While it doesn’t include all of the components of an Anastasis learner profile, it is a great starting point! Students (who are independent readers) can go through the online survey and learn more about their learning style, interest areas and expression style. This information would be SO helpful as a starting place for getting to know the students in your classroom better. It would go a long way in helping you pull resources and tools that will best meet the needs of the individual. When a student is finished going through the profiler, they can share their result “badges” with others through a link to the badges, through Facebook, Twitter, email or a printed report.
How to integrate CompassLearning Learning Profiler into the classroom: At the beginning of a new school year (or semester), students who are independent readers could complete the Learning Profiler on classroom computers in a center rotation, or in a computer lab setting. Results could be printed out or shared with the teacher via email. I’ve found it helpful to compile these results so that I can see overlapping interests and learning needs in the classroom. It would also be interesting to create a bulletin board with the different “badges” represented and with a picture of each student. Students can connect their pictures to the badges using string and push-pins or staples. It would be neat to have a web of information about your students visual for all students to see. This would be a good getting-to-know-you activity where students could visually see their similarities displayed.
For non-independent readers, the process would be a little more arduous. During a silent reading or independent work time, pull students one at a time to sit and interview them. I actually prefer the arduous method because you get all of the in-between commentary from the students which gives you a more complete picture of who they are, what they love, fear, get excited about, etc. Even with our independent readers at Anastasis, we create our learner profiles through teacher interview. There is something more personal and human about it. Using this method may take a few weeks to get through all of your students, the information you glean will be invaluable! If you teach younger students but have an older grade of “buddies,” it may be helpful to have the buddy help conduct the surveys and record the answers of the younger child. Again, this would be a great way for the students to really get to know each other.
After you have received the results, use the information to help you plan learning activities. If you have a student struggling in an area of learning, use the strengths and interests you know they have to come at the learning from a different angle. Education blogs, your PLN, and Pinterest are great places to find the perfect learning opportunity to help the students in your class. I promise you that when you connect with students this way, you will be showing them that they matter, that you care about them as an individual and that you want what is best for them. They won’t feel like a number! If you are looking for a specific technology resource, iLearn Technology is a great place to start the search. Over there —> in my right side bar you will find a multi category search. Narrow down the search by Bloom’s Taxonomy, resource type, subject area, etc. Click search and away you go! You can also search by keyword in the search box toward the top of the screen. I try to tag the bejeebers out of all of my posts so that no matter how specific the search, you will find what you are looking for. Full disclosure, I use that search box ALL the time when I am pulling resources for students at Anastasis.
Big, sweeping changes don’t seem to happen overnight, as quickly as we might like. Thirty, forty, or a hundred years go into those sweeping changes: race relations, animal testing, women’s rights, recognition of addiction as a disease. And yet, in each case, there was a turning point. Those handful of pivotal moments when someone(s) decide it must be different and that in this moment in time, change will begin.
For me, this pivotal change happened in October of 2010. Two years ago. That moment of “it must be different” led to a school. Anastasis Academy. In many ways, Anastasis feels like it happened over night (we started a school in 4 short months!) and in other ways, it feels like it will take years before the vision of Anastasis is realized.
Sweeping changes happen over time. Often, they are hardly noticeable as they are happening. This explains the 5 year old, struggling through their ABC’s who is ‘suddenly’ reading. When did that happen?!
People often ask why I don’t write more about Anastasis. The whole process has been incredibly organic and hard to describe to someone who isn’t seeing it unfold with me. I can tell you about students who are becoming fully alive and discovering that they love learning. Until you see this happen before you, until you hear the students talk about it, it is really a weak representation of what is happening. Here we are in year two. In a lot of ways, it has felt like a harder beginning. This is strange in light of what happened last year…starting a school in 4 months from a place of zero. I think it feels harder because the vision of what could be is being more fully defined and dreamed up each day. There is this sense of frustration that it isn’t here yet.
The change is hardly noticeable as it’s happening. It is organic and creeping. Sometimes I overhear students talking animatedly about figuring out ratios, and exclaiming over learning what portion of the population lives on less that $1.25/day, the change is happening. The vision is being realized one moment at a time. These kids are becoming fully alive. Those teaching them are doing the same. We hear parents describe what we do to others.
This is community.
This is family.
This is church.
This is Anastasis.
This is the beginning of sweeping change, where students can be fully alive and learn how to properly manage their freedom.
So, we will go on wishing that we could already see the full realization of this vision, but we will also rest in the hardly-noticeable moments of change in this journey. We will appreciate the moments in time that keep everything from happening at once. We will rejoice as we watch it all unfold in it’s perfection. We will wait anxiously for the day when this type of learning is available to children everywhere in the world.
***While we wait, consider joining in this mission to help students be “fully alive” in their learning. Donate and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project. This is the vehicle we will use to share this vision with ALL children.
What it is: ScootPad is a really neat site that recognize that no two students are alike and that they will master skills in different ways. ScootPad helps students gain mastery through gradual and thorough practice that is personalized to teach the student. This personalized practice helps build confidence in learning and keeps students moving forward at a pace that is appropriate to them. Students can expect a fun learning environment. Teachers can expect automated practice, real-time progress tracking and assessments that will help you to formulate next steps for students.
All curriculum is based on Common Core Standards, including math and English/language arts for k-5 classrooms. For students in kindergarten or first grade, there is a voice/read-aloud feature.
The ConceptBank is a free app for Common Core standards and concept review.
Teachers can easily manage a classroom of students from the teacher dashboard. Curriculum can be customized for a class, group of students or for each student individually.
Parents have access to all of their child’s progress and alerts. They can encourage their child using customizable rewards.
How to integrate ScootPad into your curriculum:ScootPad is a really fantastic website for k-5 students and teachers. Here, students can get personalized practice for learning new concepts. Teachers and parents receive immediate data about a student’s progress.
ScootPad is a great first step to personalizing the learning experience for students. I like that it is cross-platform so that it could be easily incorporated into a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classroom. Regardless of what device students are using, ScootPad works for them.
Scoot Pad is really a practice site that helps you to inform instruction based on student needs. The practice is all drill based (not a lot of room for critical thinking or different ways of showing what a student knows) but this could be a great benchmark tool to help you understand where students have strengths and weaknesses in their learning.
Tips: ScootPad is available as an app for the iPad, Android, Chrome, Mac, Windows, Edmodo, and Schoolology. Like I said, it is perfect for a BYOD environment!
***Want to do your part as a CHANGE MAKER in personalized education? Check out, support and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project!
Please leave a comment and share how you are using ScootPad in your classroom!
Sometimes it is important to just take a minute for yourself. I know as teachers we aren’t very good at doing that, so today I am giving you an excuse…after all, it is #teachertuesday! Last week Sir Ken Robinson spoke at Learning Without Frontiers, the resulting video is a must watch. Go grab yourself a snack, put your feet up and prepare to be inspired and challenged!
I am currently working on a platform (Learning Genome) that will make it possible to personalize learning for every student, so as soon as Robinson went there I was all ears. Here is a break down of that portion:
Education must be personal because children are individuals. All children have different aptitudes, interests, and passions. It is our duty to connect children with their own sense of possibility.
Human resources are like natural resources, they are often buried deep and have to be exposed.
We don’t know what we are capable until we have the opportunity to find out.
A narrow (boxed) curriculum cuts off opportunities because talents have been segregated off from the curriculum.
Students conclude that they aren’t good at anything because they don’t find success in the narrow scope of what is required of them.
Personalized education puts children in touch with their real capabilities, gives children a sense of creativity, and gives students a sense of confidence.
Education must be personal, economic, and cultural.
What challenges do you find in personalizing learning for your students? Do you believe personalizing learning is important enough to take on that challenge?