#KWEC13 Analysis, Takeaways, Takebacks, What’s Next – Part 2

Part 1 of my #KWEC13 reflection, I focused on the journey out, and the type of conference in which practitioners work fro 16 – 20 hour days. This post is an analysis of #KWEC13 from my point of view. As such, it is flawed and filled with inaccuracies. Please leave comments, corrections, and nag in the comment box below the post. To my new friends, if I misrepresented you in the slightest, please let me know immediately and I will strike out the slight. 

8/1/2013 – Into Thursday

I took a nap. I slept from Boston, Massachusetts to Nobleboro, Maine. I arrived at the Kennedy Learning Center at 4:24 am, found a nice warm room lakeside, with a comfy bed already turned down, and I crashed. Approximately two hours later, I rose. After a quick clean up, I went upstairs for breakfast. Right away, I was greeted by counselors from Kieve-Wavus[1]. They were attending the Kieve Wavus Educators Conference 2013, which made perfect sense. Little did I know how impactful these 20-something folks would be on my journey. Following breakfast, there was a brief intro from Thomas & Lisa Steelemaley (Kieve-Wavus staff who organized, facilitated, and led the conference). Lisa’s opening ice breaker was money. I want to take a moment and share the process so that other’s may “harvest[2] it. The process for the ice breaker is:

  1. Each person gets a small sheet of paper for each letter in their name. For example, my name is Michael; therefore, I get seven sheets of paper, and one letter goes on each sheet. See example [3]
  2. The facilitator (Lisa) then collects all of the slips of paper from each person participating in the activity. Once the letters are collected, they are mixed together.
  3. The facilitator then provides the following prompt to the entire group, “You will be given back the same number of letters in which you gave me; however, they will not be the same letters. Your goal is to trade letters with the people in the room, and form your name once again.”
  4. Additional prompt from facilitator: “There’s a catch though, in order to get a letter from someone, you must tell that person your name, and something interesting about yourself. No repeats, so if you tell someone an interesting, you can not use that same tidbit again.”
  5. The participants in the activity then get a stack of new letters and begin trading letters.
  6. Once someone has successfully spelled their name, the facilitator states, “Now, lets put our names on this table scrabble style. The leftover letters, if there are any, can be put over at this space, and can be used to spell additional words.” See example

The activity lasted for somewhere between 5-10 minutes. It was an excellent way for people from all over the country to begin to know each other. I could see this same activity working with four year olds, adolescents, and adults. It was a great way to build community. Following the ice breaker, Lisa- as facilitator, commented on what she saw the conference participants doing. Right away, Lisa pointed out how the counselors sat at one table, and the educators sat at another.  Lisa and her husband Thomas used this observation to launch into the next discussion. The pace of the conference was intense. We went from the ice breaker into a discussion based on the two following essential questions:


To see the questions in the context of the conference, go to the Hackpad entry marked Opening Remarks[6] which served as the wiki for #KWEC13

We divided into two different groups. Thomas and Lisa were conscious to mix the groups with teachers, administrators, and camp counselors. I was with the group that headed outside to the front of the Kennedy Learning Center There was about eight of us, and we entered a free flowing conversation focusing on the two essential questions. There was a response to the first question from someone that especially struck me. The man sitting on my left stated, “The expectation for outcome is set by the adults.” Whoa, Blake Keogh[8] got the conversation deep, and he took it deep quickly. Blake is fisherman. Blake is intense. Blake faculty member for The Bridge Year[9] at Kieve-Wavus. 

Blake is the Why.

Blake’s statement floored me, in part because I had never articulated the thought as eloquently as he did. Immediately, I wrote down his statement in my design journal (which was furnished by the good folks of #KWEC13). 

“The expectation for outcome is set by the adults.” Blake Keogh

How many times, at the near top of a lesson plan, just under the letters SWBAT have I set the expectation for outcome? How many times over the past six years? Far too many, even when heading into an opening circle or advisor activity[10]. Far too many. Why is that? Why does his statement nag at me so deeply? With my four year old, and even my one year old, we strive for free play every day. Being a detective, being an athlete making up games, being whatever-whenever. But as soon as I get into the formal learning setting, all of my training and instinct towards instruction and facilitation is directed towards knowing or anticipating a desired outcome. Thank you for the punch in the face Blake.

There were two other statements made by people during the discussion that made it into my design journal, and I would like to take a moment and dive into each of them. Lisa Steele-Maley stated, “What do I believe about children to be true?” I’m still sifting through this statement. With all of the training and attention put into the myriad of initiatives, how many of the initiatives start with Lisa’s statement? This ought to be a required interview question. How about prior to entering a room full of people examining your worthiness to join forces to engage in the greatest profession known to humankind, you are faced with a sheet of lined paper, provided a pen, and the heading on the paper reads: What do I believe about children to be true? Who would dig into that question? Who would flee? Who would Google the question on their device of choice looking for the best-practice answer? I have known Thomas Steele-Maley for over two years, but #KWEC13[11] was my first experience meeting Lisa.  She is an incredibly brilliant woman. Her depth, her candor, and her ability to read the group dynamic was astonishing. I look forward to watching her work with The Bridge Year, and I hope to have more in depth conversations with her in the years to follow. The final statement I wrote down was by Professor Ed Brazee[12]. He stated, “Kids know what’s real.”  His comment came in a stream-of-consciousness TEDtalkworthyflow in response to the second essential question. The questions was, what questions do you have about education and the world. Kids do know what is real. I can talk to a student-athlete time and again about the impact of drugs and alcohol. I can look them in the eye and quote statistics about a single night of drinking destroying up to ten days of training. I have had moments in coaching where I feel connected in a way that’s inversely felt when asked, “Why do I have to know how to factor this trinomial?” When I respond with the importance of learning to jump through hoops, I feel like I’m cheating the young poet/author/artist out of a real explanation. At that point in the dialog, I’ve lost all of my ALEKS math cred and have to turn to Salman Khan for a better explanation.  In the Omnibox, I only have to type in “t” then “r” then “i” then “n”, then Chrome highlights the rest:


See example:


That’s what’s real. Computational websites and video lessons are much better at teaching factoring of trinomials than I am. Thank you Conrad Wolphram[14]. Thank you Salman Khan. Kids know what’s real. When do adults forget? The rest of the morning, afternoon, and evening was a blast! And a blur! I will try to recreate it to the best of my ability, but my journal is bit sketchy on the order of events from 8/1/2013 from the morning discussion on. I heart Project Foundry. I am a fanboy of their product. Project Foundry[15] allows me to carry out the following:

  • Passion-based curriculum
  • Student-directed project-based learning
  • Teacher-directed project-based learning
  • Course design
  • Group project design
  • Multiage learning –>multiple grades –>multiple abilities
  • Create, monitor, and tweak Personalized Learning Plans
  • Track 1:1 weekly meetings
  • Progress monitor like crazy –>1000’s if not 10,000’s if not 1,000,000,000’s of data points –>Real-time and longitudinal

The guy who has grown Project Foundry from the ground up is Shane Krukowski[16]. Shane is based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Beyond being a great guy and being incredibly brilliant, he’s the rarest of salesman, he lives his product. Anyone who has worked with Shane, knows he lives the project-based lifestyle. Here’s a quick example. I started nagging Shane about developing native apps other than the highly anticipated iOS app. Right away, he says, “Let’s get a date on the calendar.” On October 17, I’ll be taking a group of students to Milwaukee to go through the design process and begin a project in which students help to design native apps. Shane is open to learning. His Project Foundry Uncoconference known as #PFUNC was one of the first unconferences around (need citation); in fact, Shane helped to launch the EdCamp movement by donating to the inaugural event (citation/folksonomy lacking). I’m going on and on about Project Foundry and Shane Krukowski for a reason. In the morning of the first day of #KWEC13, conference participants were introduced to Project Foundry through a workflow crash course. All of us had logins created, and as we stumbled through the process, we could actually see what a project proposal looks like. Although we didn’t actually have time to create much of a project, we were able to see the tool. Either prior or following our Project Foundry experience, there was a lengthy discussion regarding James Beane’s Curriculum Integration [17] Thomas and Ed led the discussion. This is something I really enjoyed about #KWEC13, the blend between academia and experiential education was excellent! I walked away with readings for the next several years. If you’d like to see all of the resources, check out the page created by Thomas Steele-Maley on the Hackpad, linked here[18].

Lisa Steele-Maley, Ed Brazee, Shane Krukowski, Thomas Steele-Maley; you are the Why.

Lunch was awesome. Every meal was incredible! A shout out to the wonderful hospitality shown from the folks of Kieve-Wavus! I was well fed and well caffeinated the entire stay. Following lunch, the dialog shifted into student-directed project-based learning (PBL). Kieve-Wavus is beginning a new program in the fall of 2014, called The Bridge Year. For learners finishing 8th grade, they can actively participate in a one year program at Kieve-Wavus called The Bridge Year. From their website, [19]  the program focuses on:

  • Personalized Learning Plans
  • The Advisory Program
  • Projects
  • Seminars and Workshops
  • Field Studies That Challenge
  • Leading Edge Technology

#KWEC13 was an intense study of each of these different focuses. I like to jump into student-directed PBL through the passion project. During the afternoon, just prior to a quick break, I facilitated an abbreviated passion-to-project affinity process

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 8.54.11 PM[20]

(the finished version of that activity is the header of this blog). We then had a discussion about using the tools to facilitate student-directed project-based learning. At 4:30pm we took a break. Shane and I went kayaking in the lake and had talked shop. The rest of the group took a swim by the dock and talked shop. In fact, if it were not for Mollie Williams[21]I may have never kayaked Damariscotta Lake, or swam in the Atlantic Ocean. Mollie was open to suggesting necessary breaks in the conference routine, none that was more memorable than Essence, more on that in a bit.

Following the lakeside discussion, and prior to dinner, the team met back up around 5:30pm-ish and prepped for the field study. This was an entirely new pedagogy, and I thought Thomas Steele-Maley did an excellent job introducing the field study process (Field Studies Packet[22] &  The Field Portfolio[23]).

Of the suggested readings listed on the conference wiki under Field Studies, linked here[18] , I had only read John Dewey’s The School and Society (1900/1905). If anyone would like to begin a book study, I would commit to one of the books between now and the end of 2013. I’m open to having regular videochats and some other asynchronous methods to tracking the dialog. I hope I can jump in and out of the faculty seminars with The Bridge Year, but I’m not sure I can commit to the extensively rigorous academic process they will undergo. The literature Thomas brought into the dialog clearly articulates the importance of place in learning. However, @steelemaley went even further, he brought in necessary tools to have a rich field experience. Here’s a list and brief description of the tools:

  • Evernote (http://evernote.com/) – more than just a notetaker, in fact, this robust product works on most operating systems and web browsers. If you were an early adopter to Evernote, and have stepped away, it’s time to come back (I have, I mean full fanboy-sticker-on-backpack-and-phone-case back). Also, Evernote integrates with Penultimate (http://evernote.com/penultimate/) and this tool works nicely for jottings[24].
  • Fulcrum – (http://fulcrumapp.com/) iOS & Android app in which you can upload routes, trails, and other items from Openstreetmap.
  • Openstreetmap – (http://www.openstreetmap.org/) For folks trying to keep their data to themselves and out of the hands of Google, Microsoft, or others- good luck, but if you want a slick open source map software, check out Openstreetmap.org. I’m starting to explore Open Street Map more and more. I like Google Maps. I like Bing Maps. But for learning and teaching, I want to get students thinking about their mapped pressence, and Open Street Map may be a better alternative to the commercial mapping engines.
  • Project Foundry
  • Notebook, pen, ziplock baggy – yes, a design journal is key!
  • Smartphone – the ability to capture photo, video, and precise GPS locations is crucial to the field study

Admittedly, I’m still plowing through Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise, as well as Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial and reviewing Kelly Gallagher’s Deeper Reading. Reading is work for me. Work I enjoy, but work I have to dedicate time to. I am a terribly slow reader. So at the moment, I do not have the words of Rottenberg, Wang, Stilgoe, or Roberts in my psyche or marinating throughout my soul, but I did go through a field study, and I did walk away with many many questions- and a spark. On Thursday, in the early evening, Thomas ran an activity, which in my opinion, was designed to scaffold the field study experience for folks like me- noobs. I’m paraphrasing, but Mr. Steele-Maley stated something like…I want you to go somewhere and spend some time with the tools and the environment, and create a few jottings…Thomas encouraged us to notice the environment and spend time with place. I found Evernote on my WindowsPhone the perfect tool to go along with my design journal and pen (a few days later in Boston, MA, I explored using Evernote on my 4th generation iPad, and also loved it!). I sat on the deck of the Kennedy Learning Center[25] in an adirondack chair. Provided with just fifteen minutes, I was able to resolve all tensions about the unknown field study experience which awaited me the next day. I think that’s a vitally important takeaway for my interaction with learners in the future. I prep all the time for modeling, but rarely, do I preview. I need to preview the unknown. There was a level of whimsical comfort I had on Friday’s field experience I may not have had without the field study prep activity on Thursday. I don’t think I can overstate this, and I need to come back to this nuance of learning more- but for me the field study prep activity stripped away all of the appearances of learning and allowed me to fully engage with my environment. Meaning,  the next day, the following concerns never crossed my mind:

  • Am I doing this right?”
  • What if I fail?”
  • “What grade am I going to get?”
  • How will I look in front of my peers when I don’t know what any of this stuff is?”
  • Will I appear to be dumb?”

When seeing Old Man’s Beard for the first time, I was able to ask, “What’s that?!?” and was greeted by Shem Dixon with a response that Bill Nye or Bear Grylls  would envy.


In my own teaching practice, I have set aside full weeks in the school year to provide “experiences[28]” for students. But what I have clearly failed to do, is to scaffold the learning opportunities in a way that students can interact with their environment, and document their learning. I have used many of the tools, but never in an organized and systematic way to document the learning experience in a similar manner as an ethnography would document a culture. I am deeply appreciative to the participants of #KWEC13 for sharing their knowledge of their local environment. I walked away with a deeper passion to understand the process of designing, facilitating, and documenting a field study. After the field study prep activity, we ate supper. It was now getting dark. Twelve hours into the day, and my traveling companion starting looking like a corpse[29]We both needed rest[30]. Thomas was full of energy, he informed the group a keynote presentation was about to take place. The three keynote speakers were fantastic. I’d like to take a moment to break from chronological order of conference and talk about my interpretation and takeaways from each speaker. Each keynote was a video chat via Google+ (commonly known as a Hangout).

Keynote 1 – Thursday Evening Mike Gwaltney[31]
From his website[32], Mike Gwaltney mentions he has been teaching history since 1991, and he currently teaches at Oregon Episcopal School and Online School for Girls. He spoke eloquently about incorporating project-based learning within the classroom. After just a few moments of listening to Mike speak, what struck me was how flexible the pedagogy of project-based learning is. I had been making notes during the plane ride out about three different spectrums, all of which fit into a project-based model of schooling when multiple learners come together. The three spectrums were:

  1. Student motivation or disposition to learning –
  2. Openness of curriculum
  3. Instructor driven to student driven

I was fired up. It’s not every day something from the design journal makes an actual connection within a half dozen hours.

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 10.39.11 PM[33]

What I was wondering at the time, and what I have a difficult time articulating in a verbal dialog, is this: how do these three spectrums connect two dimensionally? This is something I would love to study further. The top spectrum, what if a student plotted weekly how they felt about learning? Would the student who walks into school empty, remain empty? Would a student who is on fire with learning remain on fire? For many purely student-driven PBL schools, one of the elephants in the room is the incredibly high turnover rate of students during the first few years of the school being opened. That’s not a knock on the model of school, it’s my observation from limited experience working as an advisor in three different student-driven PBL charters. Some students enter school and design apps for their first project. Other students, well, they want to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Then, there’s another set of students who don’t want to do a damn thing. They are empty. I’m painting three very different scenarios, but all three exist. So, how does a learner change over time? Further, is the curriculum closely aligned to standards and determined outcomes by the adults? Or, does the learner shape their curriculum over the course of their academic careers? How does this decision impact the students trajectory through the school? Finally, if over a long period of time, several thousand data points were available for a specific learner, would a straight vertical line exist across the three spectrums? Or, would the line zig and zag?


Keynote 2 –Friday Evening Matt Henderson [35]
This guy rocks and I want to take more time to follow his journey! I don’t know what else to say other than that, when I went back and looked over my notes from his keynote, here’s what stood out: Matt took time out of his vacation in Winnipeg to talk with us on a Friday night. Even better, he chatted-in from a pub, because that was the only place with wifi that met his standards. So right away, given just those two facts, I wanted to hear what this guy had to say. Then, he started talking about the projects his students were doing. How about students designing solar powered goodies or writing books on subjects from historical fiction to in depth studies of place[36]. I mean, his kids have done great work, very meaningful work!  In prepping for this post, I took some time and stumbled around Matt’s Google Site, found here: https://sites.google.com/a/learners.sjr.mb.ca/mrhenderson/[37].  What a slick site, I’ll give a gold star to the first person who can spot the Alfie Kohn quote and put it in the comment box. I say that his site is slick as the ultimate compliment. It is very difficult to create a school site that works for students, parents, and other educators. Matt’s site does an excellent job of that.  One of the incredible experiences of #KWEC13 was meeting people who I want to continue to follow, and hopefully develop long term friendships with. An even more incredible experience was to see the entire room come to life during the last keynote. But before I forget, Matt, you are the Why.

Keynote 3 – Peter Wieczorek  Peter is a colleague, thought partner, and someone I consider a friend[39]. The school where he is fortunate enough to call home is like no other in the United States. Peter is going into his second year as Director of Northwest Passage High School[40] in Coon Rapids, MN (NWPHS).Prior to being the director, Peter was an advisor. NWPHS is a project-based school built around providing expeditions to the students. Students in groups of 8-15 go such places as: the boundary waters, the Badlands, and this year China. Here’s how the former Director Jamie Steckart once put it to me, “Hey, you guys read House on Mango Street, right? Yeah, we do to, and then we go down to the border and work side-by-side the folks who call that community home.”  During Peter’s keynote, not only did he highlight the great work his students and staff are doing, but he took several minutes to breakdown the relationship his school has with a wildlife organization in the State of Minnesota. This partnership has been built over many years. Take a moment and explore what the Wolf Project has done for students at NWPHS, and what the learners have given back to that community. In fact, if you are this deep into the post, check out an amazing student-driven teacher collab here: http://fieldnotes.nwphs.org/[41]

I’d like to take a moment and rant. If I am off on my facts, please check them and let me know. Some pundits choose to classify. They label schools generally, and further their writing careers by throwing bricks at glass houses. They use their platform to draw distinctions which do not exist (note: all charter schools are public schools, how many unionized teachers are aware of that?), creating myths only to make hasty generalizations stating “But the myth just exploded.[42].” There are many small, progressive schools making a huge difference. Northwest Passage High School is one of those very schools. They have an amazing team of dedicated staff. For a decade or more Jamie Steckart and Peter Wieczorek worked tirelessly with the rest of their staff and built their school from the ground up. During the first few years of the school, the staff of NWPHS completed a dynamic school redesign, in which, they made the student experience the focus of the school. “It’s their school. Not my school, it’s their (the kids/students/learners) school.” Jamie stated this over and over and over. In Minnesota, charter schools are independent school districts, and while this frightens many in the state I call home, this level of autonomy mixed with professional educators who have listened to the calling and have the courage to teach, has led to fantastic small schools.

Thank you Jamie.

Thank you Peter.

Thank you for making the commute. Both of you drive (drove) hundreds of miles each day or each week to make the school happen. Thank you to your family and spouses for sacrificing. Thank you for putting the students first and for building something epic for learners.   

[Sidebar] An essential question I get all the time is: Why can’t what’s happening in these charter schools be done in traditional school Districts? —> I have a few ideas what some of the hurdles are, but one thing to think about right off the bat is this: not many of the innovation and learning hubs spend 85% – 88% of annual budget on paying the adults. So until everyone, yes everyone, including myself- is willing to take less, it’s going to be tough to give our students more. It’s not just less income. Folks at the highest point of the hegemony need to bust open and share their power and decision making authority over to the people who typically distribute curriculum. People who regulalry distribute curriculum need to hand over their power and decision making to the learner. And the learner, well they need to expect more of themselves and demand more of their institutions in which they walk in and out of every day.

[Sidebar] Direct instruction is dead. That’s my takeaway from Rubenstein’s post [43]. It’s time to start killing off bad pedagogies rather than types of schools. How about we work together to broaden the definition of teaching and learning within schools?

Friday, August 2, 2013

This day started with a delicious breakfast. Little did I know the conference was going to last until 1:44am on Saturday, if I did, I might have eaten a bit more for breakfast. There was a wonderful mist throughout most of the day, and when we board the large passenger vans, a palpable zest of excitement pushed through the seats. We drove towards the boat which would take us to Hog Island. Captain Bill, a Mainer, a citizen scientist, and a master storyteller, he took us out to Hog Island. Rather than document step-by-step the entire Field Study, I would like to share my jottings, and the pictures tell the adventure.

Hog Island




Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 12.54.48 AM[47]

Upon returning from Hog Island, I was a bit overwhelmed by the discovery of fairy houses. We feasted on a regional lobster casserole, we had conversation. We built community. That evening, we were treated to Matt Henderson’s keynote. As I stated above, I walked away from his keynote with gratitude that people like Matt are choosing the teaching profession, and a desire to get better at my own craft.

Following the keynote, Mollie Williams dropped a great game on the #KWEC13 crew, and if we hadn’t built community before the game, after Essence, we certainly had. The rules for the game are as follows (note, I did not jot down the game mechanics, so please correct my errors, this is from memory):

  1. One person is the “guesser,” and they close their eyes while step 2 occurs
  2. The rest of the group nominates a person that is “it.”
  3. The guesser opens their eyes once the group has alerted them they have selected the person that is it.
  4. The guesser asks five different people questions about the essence of the person who is it. Such questions asked, “If I were a section of the New York Times, what kind of section would I be?” Or, “If I were an item at a state fair, what would I be?”
  5. Once the guesser has asked five different people questions, they can go back to three of them and ask follow up questions. This concludes the round.
  6.  The guesser then has three chances to guess the person who is “it.”
  7. The person who was “it” becomes the next “guesser.”
    Please direct all questions to Mollie Williams, she did an incredible job facilitating the activity. She also drove home the point that question asking is a skill necessary to building community.

Essence was a powerful game. The game wound down sometime around 11:30pm, at which point and time Phill Klamm, Blake Keogh, Nathan Sokol and I had engaged in the #KWEC13 after party. We talked all things education, world, and #hyperloop. Phill dropped the #hyperloop (link to 57-page design ) concept on the rest of us. We got better.

The Kennedy Learning Center never really slept that night. Just as the four of us were going to our rooms, Thomas Steele-Maley was rising to take Shane Krukowski to the airport, or the bus station in order for Shane to get to the airport. Either way, one group was fading while another was rising[48]. As I was awaking from a brief night of rest, Thomas was pulling the van back into the Kieve Wavus campus. Our Saturday started off with the keynote from Peter, and went into closing circle.

Anyone who has been a part of a closing circle process knows the ceremonial experience is something felt, and probably better left at that.

A closing circle is transformative.

I’ve had a difficult time getting that experience across to students on a daily basis.

In the past, I’ve tried to end each week with a slow clap. A tradition stolen from the triple jump runways where freaks go over 50′ deep.

I have rarely if ever cried at an opening circle or ice breaker activity. But in a closing circle, in a place where community has been built, rather than just theorized, I have cried at a few of those. I have cried in the closing circle’s of Chippewa Falls (enter sllc link). 

I don’t go into a closing circle hoping to cry, but sometimes, the funk just takes over. In Nobleboro, Maine, on the third day of August in the year 2013, it got funky in the Kennedy Learning Center.

Other Random Thoughts & Analysis:

  • As Bridge Year heads into their planning year, a robust node of learning is certain to explode- and hopefully open for a long time to come. With folks such as Blake Keogh engaging in faculty studies facilitated by Thomas Steele-Maley, the community of practitioners leading Bridge Year for the 2014-15 school year will be more equipped than any other coming out of planning. In the charter-verse, most teams going through planning are also teaching at another school, the intense singular-focus to building Bridge Year will pay off for years to come.
  • Education is far too politicized. From time to time, but very infrequently, a political topic would surface in conversation. Vouchers, unions, or political leaders; some hot button topic, and Thomas or Lisa would direct the conversation back to learning, pedagogy, community, or some other relevant topic. The time has come for practitioners, researchers, and consultants to cross lines and unite- regardless of the type or affiliation of school. Public, private, charter, independent, we as schools must work together to better forge ideal learning environments for our kids. How else will we equip citizens in a democratic society?
  • Process, process, process. Must refine, redefine, and iterate the process.
  • Academia can be experiential, thank you #KWEC13 and Maine-ers for reminding me of that.
  • During Matt Henderson’s keynote on Saturday, just prior to playing Essence, I had a burning question, I wanted to know how Matt managed to navigate through professional jealousy. Anytime the media is covering great work teachers are doing, colleagues in the building could potentially get upset.  When educators innovate, forces pull the rubber band back (see Ian Jukes), that’s where my mind was going… It was at this point and time in the conversation of the conference I experienced tech interruptions. The tech got in the way of the dialog.
    I stated, “Matt, I have a few questions for you, the first revolves around professional jealousy.”
    Thomas was managing the tech, at the front of the conference room, he stated, “Michael McCabe has professional jealousy.”
    And my question was lost. Tweets were fired out. Folksonomy captured some of it. Matt handled the conversation well. To steal from Phill Klamm, I’ve heard him say many times this summer, “There’s time when you have to push, and times when you have to pull.” In the past, I have not been very good at knowing how, or even caring to read the situation to know when to push and pull. My course of action has been to push, push, push.  I want to get better at brining people into initiatives; especially, if what I believe is good for kids and learning. That’s the crux of what I was trying to get at with my question. Had Matt been in person at the serene Kennedy Learning Center, rather than at at noisy pub in Winnipeg, I think I could have gotten to the heart of the question easier.

#KWEC13 Going Forward – A Call To Action

  1. Let’s continue the dialog by having Google Hangouts the last Thursday or Friday of each month. Let’s have a topic, and let’s keep this dialog going!
  2. For those who want to continue the student-directed PBL process, let’s create a project with Project Foundry and work together to support each other. Who knows, we may even be able to have a gallery walk or celebration of learning at #KWEC14
  3. What if we each led a field study in our own community and reported back to the group our experience?


My #KWEC13 experience was only half over as of Saturday, August 3. My #wiAmigo Phill Klamm and I explored Boston, MA. I put my toes in the soil where Battle Green took place.  This plaque struck me:

They nobly dar’d to be free!! Lexington, MA

#KWEC13 was a transformative experience.

I walked away wanting to work together, wanting to unite, wanting to make a better series of schools.

I loved MIT. That space is made for people to interact and ask questions. I want to go back to Boston and spend more time exploring the city and robust learning environments.

Perhaps the best part of the journey was the unexpected ride back to Boston. Phil and I caught a ride back with Nathan Sokol. His classroom is Boston. He’s teaching at Meridian Academy[49].

Nathan gets it.

He’s teaching on the daily.

He’s pushing forward.

He’s the real deal.

He’s the reason Why

In order to provide my children with the best learning experiences possible

#KWEC13 is the How

Through developing a new type of school, capable of allowing learners to live out their passions and always get better


School design.

Nathan, Blake, Shem, Sara, Ed, Thomas, Courtney, Mollie, Phill, Lisa, Shane, Kayleigh, Michelle, Argy, Captain Bill, and Samantha. If these people continue to dance[50] if they grind, if they teach, if they fight for their beliefs about what they believe to be true for kids, then this race has been worth running.

To bottom line it: if the people of #KWEC13 continue doing their important work, my kids are going to have the learning opportunities they deserve. If you’ve gotten to the end of this post, and the previous few paragraphs seemed like funning rambling, please please take another 18 minutes of you life and watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, then take four minutes and buy his book. Then reread the last few lines.

[Sidebar: When I started this post on Tuesday, 8/14/2013, my wife said, “I don’t want to interrupt, but I’d like to read you these two quotes.” My wife doesn’t interrupt, she inspires, a thanks special thanks to my muse, my rock, my inspiration for allowing me to take a week away from home to find my spark again. Here are the quotes: “I don’t want to live, I want to love first and live incidentally.” – Zelda Fitzgerald  “I don’t need anything except hope, which I can’t find by looking backwards or forwards, so I suppose the thing is to shut my eyes.” -Zelda Fitzgerald]

Footnotes (Thanks for showing me how to do this)

1Kieve-Wavus Website, Homepage: http://www.kieve.org/

2Definition of term, “harvest,” a link to the public note: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s23/sh/712f12f8-9977-42cf-8a08-29f298c94976/bee204b34969992783851f89b18b35d3

3Picture from ice breaker activity: http://sdrv.ms/14cIyYK

4Picture from end of name formation from end of ice breaker activity, 8/1/2013: http://sdrv.ms/16OMSmX

5 Image from design journal, Michael McCabe; 8/1/2013; Kieve Wavus, Kennedy Learning Center, Nobleboro, Maine, USA; #KWEC13

6 Opening remarks to #KWEC13, Thomas Steele-Maley; created July 2013 https://kwe.hackpad.com/Opening-Remarks-v2O6qrCNZXy Retrieved 8/21/2013.

7 Image of statue at entrance to Kennedy Learning Center, Michael McCabe; Nobleboro, Maine, USA; #KWEC13 http://sdrv.ms/151Zo2M

8 Link to Twitter page for Blake Keogh, https://twitter.com/blakekeogh; Retrieved 8/22/2013

9 Link to The Bridge Year homepage http://www.kieve.org/thebridgeyear/”; Retrieved 8/22/2013

10 Advisory Guide & Advisory Lessons, Michael McCabe; Ongoing Retrieved 8/22/2013 –>Please take this, make it better, and let me know what is good for learning and building community @Teach4aLiving

11 Kieve Wavus Educators Conference 2013 hashtag, curated 8/22/2013 –>Note: come back and curate via Storify or other tool.

12 Professor Ed Brazee’s website http://www.edbrazee.com/; Retrieved 8/22/2013

13 Example of how learners attack Algebra problems in August 2013, https://vimeo.com/72877295, Michael McCabe; Curated 8/22/2013

14 Link to Conrad Wolfram’s Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conrad_Wolfram

15 Link to Project Foundry Homepage http://www.projectfoundry.org/;  Retrieved 8/22/2013

16 Link to Twitter page for Shane Krukowski  https://twitter.com/pblhq; Retrieved 8/22/2013

17 Link to Amazon page for Curriculum Integration, James Beane (1997) http://www.amazon.com/Curriculum-Integration-Designing-Democratic-Education/dp/080773683X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377158383&sr=8-1&keywords=curriculum+integration

18  Link to KWE Hackpad, entry: #KWEC13 Readings and Media, compiled by Thomas Steele-Maley  https://kwe.hackpad.com/KWECReadings-and-Media-QJvj7Hz7qm1, created July 2013; Retrieved 8/17/2013

19 Link to a description of the curriculum offered at The Bridge Year, ; Retrieved 8/21/2013

20 Image from Tweetdeck screencaputred via COMMAND + SHIFT + 4. Retweet by Thomas Steele-Maley on 8/21/2013. Retrieved by Michael McCabe on 8/22/2013. Full documentation of Passion to Project Activity can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sOwY6bUvrPsuNzsbOr2FJ2rQJJmbIU2GcKulqUyvaSY/edit; previous blog post of activity can be found here: https://teach4aliving.com/2012/09/10/sunday-night-prep-turning-a-passion-into-a-project-idea-september-9-2012/

21 Link to Twitter page of Mollie Williams https://twitter.com/MollieWilliams6; Retrieved 8/21/2013

22 Link to KWE Hackpad, entry: Field Studies Packet https://kwe.hackpad.com/Field-Studies-Packet-aLnI2WuHknG, created by Thomas Steele-Maley, #KWEC13; Retrieved by Michael McCabe 8/21/2013

23 Link to KWE Hackpad, entry: The Field Portfolio https://kwe.hackpad.com/The-Field-Portfolio-Cei2tsXgMuh, created by Thomas Steele-Maley, #KWEC13; Retrieved by Michael McCabe 8/21/2013

24 Link to KWE Hackpad, entry: Field Notes Process: Jottings, Fieldnotes and Evernote https://kwe.hackpad.com/Field-Notes-Process-Jottings-Fieldnotes-and-Evernote-kyXCMRScA8a, Created by Thomas Steele-Maley, July 2013; Retrieved 8/22/2013 –>This piece is incredible!!!!! So much to learn from this specific section of Thomas’s design.

25 Link to KWE Hackpad, entry: Place https://kwe.hackpad.com/Place-aBFVBLJWQ3d, Created by Thomas Steele-Maley, July 2013; Retrieved 8/22/2013

26 http://sdrv.ms/14nPaHE Link to my SkyDrive Account per WordPress.com not allowing embed of pictures, iframe, or other media from Skydrive.[27] Might be time to start looking for a new blogging platform.

27 Link to a forum I spent way too much time in trying to figure out how to embed images from Microsoft’s SkyDrive so I could adequately curate the field experience on Hog Island, Maine.

28 Link to https://teach4aliving.com/2012/10/29/sunday-night-prep-experience-weekdiscovery-session/, my blog post on October 29, 2012.

29 Link to http://principalklamm.blogspot.com/2013/08/thoughts-from-kwec13.html by Phill Klamm, published on 8/5/2013. Retrieved 8/21/2013

30 Link to https://teach4aliving.com/2013/08/08/expanding-learning-kwec13-reflection-part-1-journey/ Part 1 of 2 of my #KWEC13 posts.

31 Link to Twitter page of Mike Gwaltney https://twitter.com/MikeGwaltney; Retrieved 8/21/2013

32 Link to Mike Gwaltney’s website: http://mikegwaltney.net/; Retrieved 8/21/2013

33 Tweet asked to @MikeGwaltney during his #KWEC13 Keynote 8/1/2013 https://twitter.com/Teach4aLiving/status/363087923870040064/photo/1; Screenshot captured 8/23/2013.

34 Link from my #KWEC13 SkyDrive Folder. Jotting remixed on 8/23/2013 via Evernote’s Penultimate tool on an iPad 4th gen. http://sdrv.ms/12usMuP

35 Link to Twitter page of Matt Henderson https://twitter.com/Henderson204; Retrived on 8/21/2013

36 A collection of student projects: https://sites.google.com/a/learners.sjr.mb.ca/mrhenderson/photo-gallery & something every teacher and parent should do because writing and books are cool–> http://www.blurb.ca/b/4071106-because-of-a-hat?utm_source=badge&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=140×240

37 Matt Henderson’s stellar Google Site for his classroom: https://sites.google.com/a/learners.sjr.mb.ca/mrhenderson/home

38 Link to Twitter page of Peter Wieczorek https://twitter.com/peter_nwp; Retrived 8/21/2013

39 A favorite passage of mine from the book Red and Me by Bill Russell http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6276290-red-and-me is chronicled in Coach Bob Starky’s blog http://hoopthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/06/bill-russell-on-friendship.html it goes: “A big part of our foundation was that we didn’t want anything from each other except friendship. So it wasn’t necessary to share everything about ourselves. It was more as if we were saying, “You’re here now, and that’s sufficient.” We both knew what was important, in basketball and life, and what we irrelevant. That was how we overcame our differences.

Another quality I admired in Red — and this is a critical aspect of how to be a man and how to be a friend — was that he knew how to listen. If I told him something that was important to me, let’s say, as a player, he would not only listen carefully but also absorb it and then act on it to somehow help me or the team. In fact, he was the best listener I have ever encountered. It was the secret of his success: great ears. Listening was how he first discovered that we perceived most things the same way. Another key element was that everything Red did in relation to me was thoughtful. Normally, friends slip up on occasion and say or do something uncivil or rude. I can’t recall Red ever saying or doing anything uncivil or rude to me. He always behaved sensitively and carefully with me because he valued my respect.” –> What does it mean to be a friend?

40 Link to Northwest Passage High School http://www.nwphs.org/

41 Great blog. At this school, they take iPad’s all over the world and write about their adventures.  http://fieldnotes.nwphs.org/

42 Blog post by Diane Ravitch http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/09/gary-rubinstein-dramatic-collapse-of-charter-school-test-scores/ 8/9/2013.

43 Blog post by Gary Rubenstein, Driven by Data…Right Off a Cliff http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2013/08/09/driven-by-data/ 8/9/2013

44 Image of a Hog Island Maine from a topographical map https://wz9qfw.dm1.livefilestore.com/y2p0kHTE4XRzfMmlkJityw12Q4j46boEXW0K76dcJldchorPZQjkWTi4hCqjHwZfMiGzG-TBBziQQE26DBBtvjvMJMbA9JH87X4atnrhTyed7U/WP_20130802_016.jpg?psid=1 picture taken on 8/2/2013

45 Link to video of Captain Bill explaining the local surroundings near Hog Island, Maine https://vimeo.com/72953414 

46 My second time in a kayak, the first being the day before. I believe my kayak is making it’s way around the northern side of Hog Island, right around the ridge. At this moment, I felt serene. I had my phone in one hand taking an picture, and was writing in my design journal with right hand, that’s when I thought take this in. Put the phone back in the back. Put the journal away, and take this in. Looking back, I am grateful for the picture and the notes, but I’m also glad for the experience. Now I have something to hold on to. I have a story to retell to my kids and to myself.

47 Deep in Hog Island, we stumbled upon this…

48 Lucid connection made 7,000 words in. While in Boston, I watched The Departed (2006) for the third time. This exchange was great: Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 1.12.36 AM

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Departed —>Note, need to read Hawthorne.

49 Link to a a great post about Meridian Academy in Boston, MA http://learningpond.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/believe-in-dewey-school-of-the-future-today-at-meridian-academy-boston/ by Grant Lichtman, @GrantLichtman, https://twitter.com/GrantLichtman, someone I’ve added to my PLN thanks to @steelemaley

50 Over coffee, on two different occasions, my friend @MarcBusko has caught me when I’m talking about the grind and he’s redirected me, “That’s what Seth Godin calls the dance.” Thank you Marc. Thank you for living your passion and guiding me to this great post: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/05/dancing-on-the-edge-of-finished.html -“It’s a dance, not an endless grind.” Finally, if you haven’t done your Golden Circle, do it now. Watch Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk  http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

Apologies for any of the arrogance, had to put this out there- warts and all. Thanks Kevin Schmitz (@KSchmitzLMS) for the inspiration and latitude to produce content from the heart.

About Michael

Do Work!
This entry was posted in Radical School Design, Reflection, Teaching, Training. Bookmark the permalink.

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