Teacher Time

February 13, 2012 § 1 Comment

It is my dream to help a school come up with a way to give their teachers a 20% bonus—a la Google’s 20% time (read a New York Times article about the concept or a firsthand account of how one Google employee used his 20% time).

What if teachers only taught four days a week and one day were reserved for teacher time: self-guided professional development, blogging, professional and/or personal growth, exercise, pet projects, internships, etc…?

How much would that cost a school? And how much would the students benefit?

But why stop there?

What if students had class a period or block free every day to do the same? What would this school look like?

This is the solution I have found to the biggest problem(s) that schools face: Teacher Time. Want my help implementing it in your school? Contact me.


Free Hugs… Suggested donation: $1.

November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes we all need a good hug. We live in a world where we hug family, friends, and loved ones. But what if a hug could change a life?

We are bringing the LetsHug campaign to Boston at Harvard square on Saturday, Nov 5th to raise money for The Steppingstone Foundation [ tsf.org] and we will be giving out Free Hugs… suggestion donation: $1.

LetsHug began with a class project at the Cambridge School of Weston [ csw.org ]. A class called “What’s Your Problem?” gathered five problem seekers on campus, and together the class developed the idea to raise money for the SteppingStone Foundation by organizing a FreeHugs for $1 rally.

Join us on Saturday, November 5th in Harvard Square and give us a hug – and a dollar! Can’t make it? Want to donate more? That’s okay! Send TSF a virtual hug now by going to tsf.org – click on the Donate Now button and fill out the form. Please make the donation in honor of “LetsHug” so we can see what a difference a hug makes.

Help us spread the word:
What: LetsHug fundraiser
When: 11am
Where: Harvard Square Starbucks: (1380 Mass Ave across from the Curious George Store)
On Twitter: @letshugboston (and #letshug )
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=296412183704408&ref=ts
(Note: This post was written collaboratively by my students at CSW)
How: Hug. Smile. Give.

(Note: This post was written collaboratively by my students at CSW)

Our first problem: Homework.

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

My students’ assignment was simple: Write a short blog post reflecting on any of the following:

  • a problem you have
  • a problem faced by your school, community, or the world
  • the concept or process of “problem solving”
  • this class

After several days, not a single student returned to class having completed the assignment. Not a word had been written.

We had a very SMART problem. If you don’t know the acronym, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Jim Lerman pointed out to me the other day how applicable the SMART acronym is to problem seeking, and I think he is correct.

I had to think fast, because you can’t have a blog without blog posts, and while I didn’t want to turn blog writing into a punishment, I did want to kickstart my students into writing.

So I opened up a single Google Doc, shared it with all of them, and had each of them write their name on the blank page. I spaced their names out along the length of the document, and asked them to write. The same topic, but this time I asked them to just write. Stream of consciousness. Free writing.

Two minutes in, and 80% of the class wouldn’t have paused to acknowledge a fire in the room. Here are some things I would like to share in no particular order (note: I asked them to not check grammar or spelling, though I have edited their writing in some – not all – places)

1.choose a topic
2.list expectation
3.list facts
5.list problems
6.solve problems
7.check check check

We can share our [experiences] on the blog. . . .we could list the problems and figure out the solution. In this case, each step of our problem-seeking project could be clearly presented on-line, which will be efficient to show [others] what have we done all over the time.

to solve a problem, we need to have a problem!!!

How do we solve problems? How do I know that I have a problem?

Fire. This is what we need. We need passion and motivation and inspiration.
Perhaps we should figure out one thing we as a group are good at. But that feels risky. Like building a hammer without establishing the existence of nails.

So, what’s gotten me thinking in other classes?
status exercises
dropping in
free writing, oddly enough

What inspires people?
a good soundtrack
people they know
any underdog story
eloquence-“Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power”

But maybe it’s not when effects us personally but what evolves us emotionally.

problems are problems because they need to be fixed
it’s possible that problems only exist because they have a solution
perhaps if a problem has no solution then maybe it is not a problem
to use math as an example 3+2 is a problem because it has a solution: 5
5 is not a problem because it has no solution
It is likely that having a solution is not the only common thread between all problems
there are other things all problems have in common
they can all be phrased as a question
for example: what is 2+3.
the answer is 5 again, but unlike the prior example, this problem was phrased in the form of a question

(so much for the flipped classroom!)

Problem Seeking/Problem Solving Flow Chart

August 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Problem Seeking Flow Chart

Problem Seeking Flow Chart

In my quest to… how did I put it? “…end world hunger and. . . .[solve] other large problems” I have advanced a step or two. (For some background behind this quest, please read my previous blog post here.)

  1. I have made arrangements with several schools, educators, and other programs to incorporate problem seeking classes into their existing offerings.
  2. At EdCampCT [ http://EdCampCT.org ] this week, I lead a workshop on Problem Seeking & Problem Solving where together we:
  3. …used Brad Ovenell-Carter’s draft of a problem seeking flow chart (linked on this blog post) as a foundation to create a more complete algorithm for how to seek and solve problems (image shown right).
  4. I am starting up a non-profit organization for students and central to its mission will be a large Problem Seeking and Problem Solving component.

As I make progress, I will continue blog more about my thoughts and experiences. In the meantime, I am looking for feedback for the process outlined in the flow chart displayed on this post.

Thank you to everyone at EdCampCT who participated in this workshop – I hope you found it as helpful as I did! A thank you also to Brad Ovenell-Carter [ http://ovenell-carter.com/ ] for his blog post and for creating what became the first draft of this flow chart.

(If you want a laugh, check out this alternative problem solving flow chart. Warning: Contains explicit language.)

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