So Adam
your experience has been mostly with high school (as most of mine except for the past 7 years, where I'm learning a lot about K-8)
Trying to wrap my head about how to structure a K-8  environment to prepare/scaffold/ ease into (searching for the right word)  this type of environment you describe

Here is picture from one of my earlier project  that speaks to the question I ask

It takes 15 years to grow a scientist  (or the type of learner you speak of) 
where do we start?  How do we start?  I'm in! ;-) 


On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 2:09 PM, Adam Provost <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Unlimited budget...

Ok, here goes.

Star Fleet Academy, of sorts, Chapter I.

Restructure our concept of 'time' in 'school.' School is becoming more hectic and less effective I think. And compartmentalized. It's a product of the demands of the new world and our resolve to cram it all into an old structure. Students and adults rush... and try to survive until the next vacation, or the end of the year. I don't think the traditional schedule serves students as well as it could.

Start time at 9am... so we don't ignore all the evidence about teens and sleep cycles any longer. Don't extend the school day to accomodate the shift. Think differently.

One 1/2 day per week. Class time ends and adults have in school PD and students do internship work, 3 hours per week. Treats PD and internship time seriously, and doesn't make it an add... something to fit in... like another after school meeting or community service mandate to squeeze in. The half day gives it a meaningful scope of time to truly accomplish something and collaborate. PD time... the majority of that time must be spent collaborating on teaching with peers and in conversations about students in the school and how to help them. Idea sharing. Support. Enrichment. Students internships... grades 9 -10 in school. 11-12 in the community. Many schools do this, and very successfully. Every one I've spoken to who run these programs begin to feel that 3 hours of built in PD and Internship time... might not be enough. Proof positive that our concept of 'time' and purpose can and continually needs to evolve.

Split the Master Schedule. 9th and 10th grade in a hybrid block schedule... to start. Run that program, absorb some data, discuss common sense and need... and modify. Here's a mentor...

Urban Academy in NYC rebuilds their 'Master' schedule... every semester.  Ann Cook at Urban told me they "schedule time around courses, not courses around time." Wildly successful. Mentor.

Academic support that builds research, collaborative, public speaking, project and time management skills by grade to move into...11th and 12th grades which run a college style schedule. Varied time frames, some classes by appointment, some meet on irregular intervals including online, and collaborative work sessions. Coaching for students to handle this flexibility... repurposing what 'advisory' means in schools. Break the mold of a traditional, school wide schedule that treats freshman and seniors the same. Promotes spiral curriculum themes (Steve Cavrak mentioned J. Bruner in this thread I think earlier) rather than segmented subjects.

Flex schedules promote students to schedule their classes and responsibilities and take ownership of them. Students in need who have to work could / would have the opportunity to take part in extra-curricular and after school programs if they could manage their time... and get supported to do so. Students could even make money during the school day and schedule their learning and activities thereafter in a flexible fashion. Interesting.

Traditional academic and 'school' schedules make students in need pay penalties. A 'if you don't fit into the system, you're out' sort of mentality. We squeeze support for these folks in. Rethinking and implementing a structure change seems like a great way to start a shift.

Transportation for kids in need. Academic advisors / mentors for kids to bridge poverty and literacy gaps. Traditionally, free and reduced lunch programs and alternative ed programs are not enough.

School travel endowment for students in need.

Mandatory travel programs. Read about a school once that sported a local 9th grade, regional 10th grade, Continental US 11th grade, International 12th grade travel program. Stellar idea. 

Classes / seminars on personal finance and entrepreneurship (twice)... and themes in the curriculum to support and build this thread. Important skills. Often neglected.


School wide themes of 'Collaborate' and 'Create.' Seems a solid background for most any class and skills that will translate into lives. It's also a theme people understand and can buy into.

Integrated discussions in the curriculum on critical listening and communication. It's a venue into the root of social networking and technology. It's a thread to address all the ills adults often speak of about how poorly so many kids communicate these days. Technology has increased our ability to collaborate... but we don't expand our discussions on 'communication skills' along with the growing curve. Seminars on such things instead of semester long classes. Something beyond sectioning it off into a traditional Speech and Composition class... and hoping for the best.

Start to refit classrooms away from 'academic' furniture. Speaks more to 'learning' and less of 'school.' Lights too. Most traditional classrooms are terrible places to learn... bright fluorescent lights, uncomfortable furniture. This will begin to redefine what 'classrooms' and learning spaces just might become.

Refit the school library to a Barnes and Noble cafe style. Offer low cost, healthy snacks... all day. Promote collaboration, and yes, have spaces where people can work quietly if they so choose.

Redo 'school lunch.' Create a civil, school culture defining lunch (and culinary) program. Small and limited 'regular caf' seating. Students would eat wherever they were comfortable, including classroom hangouts and social groups... with adults. Picking up 'your' junk becomes a mission of school culture... something that's expected and spoke to regularly. A 'sans herding' mentality. Healthy, cooked food. Some options available all day... fresh fruit, snacks. Abandon the idea that food cannot be in classrooms. It can be part of learning and culture. Kids can learn to pick up after themselves and participate in cleaning the room. 1 hr lunch period to reduce rushed lunches... ones that steer away from the promotion of food you can 'grab and eat as quickly as possible.' I think kids are cultured into eating quickly, and also poorly in schools. We can change that. Integrate with culinary classes that treat 'food' and 'nutrition' in a fashion equal to 'academics.' Important life 'stuff.'

Mandatory culinary / health and wellness classes... beyond your typical school 'wellness' class. Cooking, nutrition, offerings for tai-chi, yoga, relaxation / stress reduction... to replace typical processed food warming internships, and badminton / basketball 'classes.'

Development of cross-curricular programs... finally: Math and Science integrated courses. i.e. A Geometry course that takes place in a shop style class room... creating and building... with Physics. Math... becomes 'real' and not just something to do on paper. Math becomes integrated with technology. English and social studies... art and design...

Capstone Senior Project integrating skills, professional collaboration, emphasis on creating. Graduation requirement. CVU started this in Vermont about... 20 years ago. I'd imagine they have some stories to learn from.

No homework policy for students on school vacations and holidays. No exceptions. And a homework management policy to keep home life and school work balanced. Regular discussions in 1/2 day PD sessions to justify with colleagues work that is sent home.

Restructure the school Advisory program. Find the best practices in the world... copy it. Run it, evaluate it. Give people time to collaborate. Tweak. Repeat.

Abandon typical parent / teacher confs. Parents meet with the advisor... then schedule an appointment with the teacher, and the advisor if problems continue.

Integrate a 'Community Education Center' into the school. Classes for adults, where they learn with students after school. Where adults can collaborate on... the internet, social networking, affording college, how to get academic support for your children, as well as enrichment style programs. Thinking '826 Valencia' (David Eggers) style program here... but broader. Transportation for kids in need to utilize these services and programs.

Flip the PD model. Create a Help Desk program, which serves adults and students at the school on any and all technology issues and learning inspiration ideas. Students become advisors to adults. Old model started at SB 15 years ago... and still cool. Integrate it with a 'Technology Training and Teaching' course (T3) to build skills on this front for students to enter the more advanced Help Desk structure. PD, instructional design, process design, ISD. Dedicated students can work into paid positions. Building that T3 course this Spring for Fall 2012 implementation. Will make all the design docs public... and will be looking for collaborative partners. Think Tank... best practice, trials of the trade. Let me know if you're interested.

a. Animation computer lab tied to a fabrication shop, sound smithing, music, art, set design, theater, and cinematography program... project shop. Open all hours of the day. Community mentors. 

b. Yr 13 (post grad) one year program... college prep.

c. Dorms for international students. Housing op for new teachers... incentive to sweeten the deal to find great adults to dive into education.

Wrote up a plan on a-c about six years ago. Ideas and energy ready to be unleashed.

Ah... technology...

'Programming' becomes a 'language' offering at the school. Integrated with creating... not just learning a language. Not a class on a specific language... See the 'Coder Dojo.' Cool place to start I think. Starting a chapter next week. We'll see how it goes.

Online courses as electives... to start. I'd consider making it a grad requirement at this point. Students can learn a lot from working such a system. Students that don't have home access... flex time to take the online class during the day. Oh wait, unlimited budget, we could fix that.

Unlimited budget... I'd give each student a $250 'reading' budget per year to buy digital books of their choice purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I'm thinking about how this could be involved or how it could restructure the 'school library' role. Thinking on it. Homework management policies, restructuring lunch programs into groups... it just might make for collaborating more on 'learning' and literacy, and promoting 'our favorites' type discussions around the school. A 'Have a favorite teacher or coach? See what books they love,' type program. I think it'd be a  great school culture challenge. Having no homework on vacations and the incentive to buy books of interest and to collaborate on them with people of like interests... who knows where it might just lead.

1-1 laptop program... financial aide model (0-100%), even if the budget is truly 'unlimited.' Promotes ownership. And yes, it takes involvement and communication between the school and homefront. Ram updates for the laptop after yr two. Free.

Also include a mandatory smart phone with integrated camera, again in a financial aide model for the device... managed data plan cost covered by the school. Students learn to manage the device in the structure of the data plan, personally and academically. Powerful, equitable learning, combined with academic and extra-curricular programs. Common address book list... again, school wide goal on 'Collaborate.' School wide messaging system solved. Discussions integrated into instruction on how to conduct yourself professionally and ethically using thee tools, and how to leverage them, hot to compartmentalize your work and take control of the device, not have it control you. Support to help students plan how to continue utilizing these devices into their future.

Buyout program, $5 for each device after 4 years with all proceeds going to... SETI. Have to stay true to the  'Star Fleet Academy' theme... or a fund for businesses to help support the student internship or travel programs.

Some of the items I listed would take money. Some, less than we might think. Some, require no money at all. Most all of them would drive 'school' into some fascinating directions... and I'd bet learning too. More freedom to leverage technology into creativity and learning.

Agility... Something schools all too often lack. Less 'school,' more learning.

That's where I'd start. Chapter I. 'To boldly go...'

I ranted a bit... and I do (sort of) apologize ; )

Who's in?


On Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 8:15 PM, Lucie deLaBruere <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I see VISMT residue in that answer.
Glad someone took the bait.
I think we need to spend some time articulating what we mean when we use words like instructional shift or transformative.  Shift to what? Transformed from? To?

What would happen if every PD opportunity included the following conversation 

Today's tools make it possible to ......and this makes implementing the vision or learning theory of ............. And this is good because................

This conversation speaks to the power of diverse minds with diverse experience all interested in seeing learning at its best.

On Feb 29, 2012, at 6:10 PM, "Frank J. Watson" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Thought I would jump in after watching the dialogue ----

New Learning Theories???  The first thing that I would do is to have every teacher read Computers as Mindtoolsin Schools: Engaging Critical Thinking by David H. Jonassen. Then I would design professional development sequences that would involve teachers/administrators/parents in actvities that illustrate the theories of:


I would then design in-class professional development. Conferences are great but they don't help change schools.



On Feb 29, 2012, at 4:56 PM, Lucie deLaBruere wrote:

Which learning theories would you put on top of the list, bj?


On Feb 24, 2012, at 6:49 PM, Bjorn Behrendt <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

  1. I would make sure every teacher was familiar with new learning theories, before any tool is purchased.
  2. I would make sure they would have the time to rewrite their lessons to follow those theories.
  3. I would require teachers to show a connection between theory and the item they want to purchase.
My concern with unlimited funding is that true learning would get lost in all the new toys they had to play with.  Only once teachers were ready would I bring in the tools.

Another issue with unlimited funding is that the students don't have unlimited funding and if they are always exposed to the "top of the line" method, those skills become inaccessible when outside of school.  ~ basically money or not I am still a free and opensource person because of the accessibly it provides not funding.

With that said, I want the touch screen tables and screens that are on Hawaii 50, and similar hi-tech cop shows.

Bjorn Behrendt ~ Never Stop Learning
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On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 1:45 PM, Open Source <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
On Feb 24, 2012, at 10:28 AM, Jack Barnes wrote:

I think the elephant in the room is funding available.  I think we would all do things different if funding was not an issue.

When i read this line in Jack's email, I was really interested in learning the answer to his implied question:

     What would you do for your school (regarding technology) if funding were not an issue?

Not infinite, stupid funding (hire a helicopter to fly in private chefs) but, for the sake of this discussion, say a private donor who completely trusted your technology opinion and had the resources to fund any technology initiative your proposed.

What would you buy for hardware? for software?  for PD?  for …?

Perhaps this type of day dream is too painful in these shrinking budget times but I found it interesting.

Here is my list

- ubiquitous computing resources of some flavor (computing power available to all students, teachers and staff right when it was needed) with all necessary support staff
- a Maker Space with all the tools (3D printers, CNC laser cutters, fabric printers, DIY bio tools,...)
- travel stipends for all students (and chaperones) to Maker Faires, tech/robotics competitions, conferences, etc
- abundant connectivity at schools and homes
- 'venture' funding opportunities for students to launch companies or serious multi-year projects - students both request and allocate funds.

sigh….well as Morpheus said... back to 'the Dessert of the Real'


Frank J. Watson
1 Lochend Ln.
Cheraw,SC 29520

"Let's put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children."

Sitting Bull. Lakota Sioux, 1877

Adam A. Provost
Media and Performing Arts
Head Baseball Coach
Burr and Burton Academy
Manchester, VT 05254


"Responsibility, integrity and service."

Lucie deLaBruere

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