TGIF! Feb 2 2018

TGIF!

Stay healthy, everyone.  My oldest child is home with the stomach virus, and my youngest two get a long weekend since their school will be closed for illness Monday.  Tails you win, heads I lose?

Facility update

We are still waiting on the final answer to our fire inspection application on our primary potential location.  We did turn up an inkling of possibility on a second site which we are investigating.  We fully understand that it’s now February and as a board we will be making decisions about our Fall opening timeline very soon.  We will keep you posted.

Learning Links

Who wouldn’t want responsible students? They listen in class, take notes, and complete their homework on time without nagging. They are easy to teach… But responsibility comes with a price.  A price paid in engagement, personal goals and expectations. Responsible students have taken ownership of their teachers’ and parents’ agenda – to get good grades and be a “good student… Responsible students are easy to teach, but they are like a two-dimensional cut-out of their true potential. Agenic students [students with agency] are not only easy to work with, but a joy, and have ownership of reaching the potential inside them. Perhaps it is time to stop seeing responsible students as a blessing and start recognizing them as a problem of a different kind.

Read more here: The Problem With Responsible Students

Listening to Nicole’s impassioned and detailed presentation on the Puerto Rican debt crisis and its impact on the island’s healthcare system, it was easy to forget a high school senior was addressing a group of 100 students and teachers.

Nicole’s story was a personal one. She has family members on the island who deliver and receive health services, and she described her cousin’s personal struggle as a doctor who could have gone to the mainland United States to practice medicine but strongly desired to stay in his native homeland despite the economic difficulties. Nicole’s engagement and mastery of the subject matter was evident to everyone in the room as she skillfully wove together her personal story with facts, policy issues and a vivid picture of the political and economic environment of the island.

How does a school engage a senior and the entire learning community, especially in late April when seniors are close to exams and all students are grappling with spring fever and the not-too-distant target of summer?

Read more here: How Senior Capstone Projects Let Students Research—and Present—Their Passions

In closing….

You’ve probably heard by now that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.  But TIME reports that ol’ Puxsy Phil has just a 39% accuracy rating.  Here Are 8 Other Groundhogs That Predicted Spring.  Here’s hoping!!!

Kim

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TGIF! Jan 26 2018

TGIF!

Playing with a little bit different format this week – one good short story and a conversation starter.  We may not do every issue this way but I hope you enjoy today!

Extending School Far Beyond the Classroom Walls

James Lawrence planned to open his own welding business after his 2017 graduation from the Robert W. Traip Academy in Kittery, Maine. Last year he spent part of his school days at the local technical center, learning welding, preparing to make his vision for his future a reality. He didn’t have time for an art class in his schedule, but the credit was required for graduation.

So James, a duck hunter interested in learning to carve wooden duck decoys, took advantage of his school’s expanded learning opportunities program and got the art credit outside of the classroom. With the help of a family friend who was an experienced duck decoy carver, James worked on the project after school and on weekends, ultimately convincing his school’s art teacher to count it toward his graduation requirements.

Read more here: The Hechinger Report Future of Learning series.

2018-01-26
James Lawrence, a 2017 graduate of the Traip Academy in Kittery, Maine, holds wooden duck decoys he made for an art credit his senior year.

Conversation starters

  • Should it matter where or how a student learns, as long as they can demonstrate their learning?
  • If school is supposed to open up opportunities for students, why are “schedule conflict” stories like James’ so common?
  • Should these opportunities be limited to only students with scheduling conflicts?  What if a student wanted to pursue an unique interest during the school day?

In closing….

I’ll post this to our Facebook page as well, feel free to share your replies to these conversation starters there!

Kim

TGIF! Nov 10 2017

TGIF!

If you park outside at night (like I do), I’m sure you ran your windshield wipers a time or two this morning to clear off that first little accumulation of snow we’ve had this fall.  You can thank a Birmingham, Alabama woman named Mary Anderson – not for the snow, but for patenting the first “window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window”, on this day in 1903.  (Unfortunately, her patent expired before the idea caught on, and she never made any money from her invention.)

Different viewpoints, same conclusions.

As you’ve probably realized, I pull in articles and insights from everywhere.  Of course, every author writes from their own experience, but it’s uncanny sometimes how people with vastly different perspectives on education come to similar conclusions.  This article was a case in point – while it was written from a homeschooling parent’s perspective, I was quite literally able to post it to our Facebook page with just a single edit to better explain a key belief that we hold here at Imagine!, namely, that high school should be an opportunity to begin living life, and not merely preparing for it.

“There is simply life”

The story was about a 10 year old girl, and the question adults love to ask all kids (I think they just don’t know how else to make conversation) – “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Her daughter’s answer was brilliant: “A baker, but I already am one.”  Is this just the naiveté of a child who has helped in the kitchen a few times, or is it an accurate answer? Kerry writes:

Baking brings my daughter daily joy and fulfillment while also helping to nourish her family and friends. She writes a baking blog, sharing her recipe adaptations and advice. She reads cookbooks, watches cooking shows (The Great British Baking Show is a favorite), talks to other bakers–both adults and kids–to get ideas and tips. She learned this all on her own, following her own interests, and quickly outgrowing the library children’s room cookbook section to the adult aisles.

She has unlimited access to the kitchen. She has abundant opportunities to visit the library and explore the Internet for real and digital information to help her in her craft. Her work is also incredibly valuable. I have never made a pie from scratch but she makes them all the time, bringing them as frequent desserts to gatherings and special events. The market price for her delicious, seasonal pies would be steep.

A [traditionally] schooled child, who might bake just as much after school or on weekends, likely wouldn’t answer in the same way.  Most children have accepted that “‘real life’ starts after. It starts after all the tedium, all of the memorizing and regurgitating, all of the command and control.”  While we can certainly have future goals and ambitions that we work towards – such as scaling up a talent for baking to become the means of earning one’s living – the young baker’s reply rejects the artificial separation between “preparing for life” and “living” that we have baked (!) into our educational mindset.

What if instead of focusing on after, we focus on now?  What if living, and learning, were synonymous?  What if instead of segregating kids from the real world during school, we actively encouraged opportunities that meaningfully include them in it?  What if “our job is not to prepare our children for who they will become, but to help them be who they already are”?

My daughter is a baker because she bakes. She is also many other things. To ask what a child wants to be when she grows up is to dismiss what she already is, what she already knows, what she already does. Will she always be a baker? It’s hard to say. Will I always be a writer? I think so, but who knows? Will any of us always be who we are now?

 

In closing….

Thanks for reading.  Do you know someone who might be interested in Imagine!, especially for 9th grade next year?  Please ask them to fill out our Enrollment Interest Form!

Kim

TGIF! Mar 17 2017

TGIF!

It’s a mishmash today – there were some really inspiring stories and examples I’ve run across this week I want to share with you.  First, a shout out to our new subscribers!  (By the way, as soon as we finalize our logo I will be moving our newsletter over to MailChimp. As our subscriber list grows, I need something more robust than Outlook to manage it.)

So, two heartwarming stories below and then in the closing, a list of volunteer opportunities – please think about how you can help us make this school a reality!

OneStone – is it a school, or is it a charitable nonprofit?

Here’s an amazing school design I came across this week, OneStone, a tuition-free private independent school in Boise, ID.  At OneStone, “all learners work on One Stone ventures that provide real-world experience while helping to fund the school and its programs.”  Which is really an amazing idea – why couldn’t a school be organized as a “student-led and directed nonprofit”?  Why couldn’t it be funded by philanthropy not merely interested in creating a school but rather by those charitable organizations who are investing in the work of the organization?  And why can’t that good work – in addition to benefiting the community – be a basis for learning?  It gives me hope that one of Imagine’s signature program elements – to create a four-year class community service project where students use design principles to address a significant community need somewhere in the world – will be economically viable.  And, it just goes to show how many amazing, innovative ideas are starting to percolate around the country (more on that below)

Why now could be the MOST amazing time to be a learner…

Great video from Will Richardson (Will was at SxSW Edu last week) on the surprising truth about learning in [traditional] schools, a look at some alternatives, and why now, if we have the commitment and the courage, can be the most amazing time to be a learner in history.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/sxyKNMrhEvY?rel=0

More Learning Links

From Pioneering magazine, a story by Hannah Bertram on her transition from a traditional high school to Iowa BIG, and how it transformed her previous connotations of education.  https://education-reimagined.org/redefining-comfort-zone/

 

In closing….

Have you been wondering how you can help Imagine! West Michigan bring this new high school to fruition next Fall (2018)?  Here are our current volunteer opportunities:

  • Participate in a parent interview
    • if you are the parent of a preteen or teen and we haven’t talked, I would love your input! Just reply to this email and we’ll set up a time.
  • Professional quality photographers
    • we are working on marketing materials – print and web – and professional quality photographs will be needed. Email me if you can help!
  • We also need photography subjects!
    • Looking for a diverse group of teens 14-19, email me if you know someone who would like to participate.
  • Copyeditors
    • If you have a talent for writing, are you willing to help review a section or two of our charter application?  Email me!
  • Promotion
    • This is for everyone… just keep spreading the word!  Forward, like, and share Imagine! West Michigan but more importantly – tell a friend!

Thanks, Imagine! West Michigan community – for your interest, inspiration, and generosity.

🍀 Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🍀

Kim