Welcome to our blog

This is the story of two educators on one journey. Each day we will record our reflections on the process of being involved in an innovative educational environment. The decision on our part to leave the public education system was deliberate due to our growing frustrations over the factory "one size fits all" model of education. This model has dominated the educational landscape and is not designed to meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Step one in our journey was to find a place that would allow us the freedom to break out of the system. We needed a chance to just breath and facilitate learning in the ways that we both know are best for children. That step has led us to Rosemary Beach Florida to work with the students attending the OH Institute. The OH Institute is a unique educational environment that we find humane. The curriculum focus is on the individual learner with an infusion of technology project based learning. Currently, it has 20 students in grades 4-11 all of whom are seeking something different than what the factory system of education has to offer. This is where our adventure begins...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday October 27


Today I again saw what I call the unquantifiable component of what Randy does working with kids. He has this sense of motivational magic that cannot really be documented or captured. Because of this he is often misunderstood from the outside adult perspective but the kids totally get him and are with him.

What I am talking about is how he approaches his interactions with kids. We had some issues happening in middle school and my first reaction was basically okay we need to squelched this and get on them. Randy and I decided to call a middle school meeting and I let him take the lead. What he did in terms of getting the point across without making it a stressful or a feeling of them being in trouble was just amazing to watch. He started with a whip asking the kids to describe family. They started with all the nice things like" family supports each other etc." Eventually though they went down the road of families sometimes fight, get under each other's skin etc. After the whip he helped them connect the middle school to a family when they are together. He helped them see that currently the things that they are doing are making each other feel bad and that they need to care for each other.

He worked his magic again after lunch with the entire 4-11th grade community. We had a problem with the elevator in terms of our students pressing the emergency button for the third time this year. My immediate reaction was to be very straight forward and have a "serious" talk to the group. Again though I allowed Randy to take the lead and he magically made them understand it was not okay but that they were not in trouble. He tied it in to the responsibility of being a part of the community. I cannot even describe how he did it or what they conversation was but it worked. It just felt right and it was what I call the "magic."

By talking to kids, allowing them to feel valued (especially what they bring with them to school-cultural values etc), and respecting them in general Randy gets them to a point where they are willing to work hard. They are with him. They are on board. It is something that sounds simple but if it were there would be schools full of children working harder, learning more and most importantly feeling valued and invested in what they do.

Randy -
We are continuing our path into morphing into a traditional school. Is this bad or good? Does the questions matter? Is this a reality of trying to be innovative AND exist in a traditional system? How far can we get from the traditional model with the student and parent population?

One thing that comes to mind is the fear from parents and those who started the school about a less than desirable experience last year. Failure has clearly, in the eyes of the adults from last year, pushed the school quickly back to the industrial model. By this I mean that the two driving factors of student learning that we were presented with to work here, student choice and pace flexibility, are now completely reversed. Pace is governed by the teachers, parents and administrators and student choice has been squeezed tightly to get rid of student interest. I don't think projects can be taken to the next level without student interest which is very different than the notion of student choice. When you think about it, student choice could mean "They choose to listen to the adults and do what their told." This is very different than students having interest and using that interest to drive their learning.

However, I have come around and now have a more clearer understanding of our roles here and that makes it much easier for me to work. The best thing is, Amy is great and is the only person on this planet that I think really understands me (well. . .we ARE married) . .. as an educator and as a person. She is the best.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday October 25

Monday October 25


Today Amy and I met to really talk about how to make middle school more cohesive so that the students have a sense of direction with
PBL. I'm excited about the possibility of having common themes and I think this is best for these students and families. I have great appreciation for Amy in making all of this come together for these kids. I could not do this alone, at least not very effectively.

Elementary went off on a fun tangent today when they questioned about the mysterious worms in the Axolotl tank. They are really the only group of students who have the capacity to drop everything and use their curiosity to drive them into learning. I think there are two reasons. One reason is that they do not have the same strict guidelines of learning with
FLVS and standards expectations as the secondary students. The other is that they have not turned off their curiosity when it comes to school learning. I think this happens only after repeated standard courses that teach students "this is the correct pace" and "this is your grade" and "don't do anything until an adult (or computer) says it is time to do this."

I see from personal observation that the older students get, the less they expect or demand learning to be fun. A first grader will likely not accept checking the boxes to prove they are learning. They will expect fun, curiosity and wonder. A high
schooler (personal observation not research) likely will not be able to even explain what curiosity or personal self learning is. In all honesty, there is not time for this as there are enough check boxes for each day until summer and they prefer to do this than think about what . . .well. . they prefer to do.

This change of mind seems like an almost unbreakable dilemma and I wonder if it is even possible to overcome. Today in this reflection, I think not. I will do my best to keep them happy, build community and contribute to their sense of achievement.


Today was a day that I had to be brought back around to remembering the environment that we are working in and what parent and administrative expectations are. There were two main themes for me today. One was back to acceptance that we are not doing anything new and innovative. The fresh part of OH is the multi-age environment and the working environment itself is really nice.

The other theme was that a chunk of my work is now planning and implementing a high school course in language arts and American History. This was the course that we were suppose to be doing with
Telluride Mountain School and when the deal did not work out the course became ours to design. I would prefer to do it as a student run course but unfortunately with everything on the students' plates it would probably push them over the edge rather than having them buy in to creating it. However, on the other hand what I am seeing from the middle school and high school students is much the same thing that I saw at PKY. They do not have a curiosity for learning anymore and they simply demand to know what to do rather than have an appreciation for the learning itself. Because of this I do not feel badly about designing a rigorous and somewhat fun course for them.

Along these same lines my work has morphed in to making a structured way to do
PBL that makes sense to all of the stakeholders. Structure, structure, structure...this is not what I expected here at all. However, it does make things a lot simpler because designing all of these things is what I have done for years. Although it can be a bit time consuming and tedious it is work that I feel comfortable doing. Again it is just not the work I expected to be doing here.

Other than re-framing my thinking I got a lot of good things done. I checked in with a few students, collected google calendars for the week, went back through the high school piece, created a middle school
PBL frame, continued the task of grading the ITBS and met with Randy after school to plan.

It was a good day to have Randy to talk to as well. He helped a lot in terms of making me feel okay about the way that things are here. The way he described it is once you realize that you are still working at PK (i.e. in a structured environment driven by state standards and parent expectations) you can move forward and work. This is not a bad thing at all it is just not what I thought we would be doing.

It was a nice day but I still have a bit of a sad tug about the disconnect between what we thought we would be doing this year and the reality of the expectations being so traditional. Overall I am happy about the work we are doing I just needed to wrap my head around that we are still in the box.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday October 22

Friday October 22


Today was a new day of learning about OH and my continually evolving role. It started with a parent fundraising meeting at Amavidas which rolled into my talking to Tim about a trip he took to Alabama. He thinks that he has identified a district to partner with us to form a 5-8 pod and a 9-12 pod for next year. What hit me after speaking to Tim about his trip was why I was not asked to go along on the trip. If the purpose was to build a partnership and my role is the person putting things together including trainings etc. it would have been helpful to be in the meetings to hear what was discussed. I think this is another area for Tim and I to really work on in terms of roles. My perception is that he has the vision but is not mired in the day to day as much as Randy and I. When the rubber hits the road in terms of training etc the daily things are going to be the dilemmas.

Knowing how schools, teachers and districts approach their work is something that I am extremely familiar with and comfortable with. I feel like I know a lot about how to help a teacher make the jump from thinking about things in one way to seeing the same educational landscape in another way. Anyhow, I am comfortable enough with talking to Tim that I will talk to him about it next time we have some time to sit a talk.

Basically the questions in my mind are: Was the purpose/focus of your trip to meet and start to build a potential partnership? If the answer is yes then did you ever think to include me? If you did not think to include me I would like to talk through why. From where I am sitting I feel that it is essential for both of us to be at meetings like these and talk about what our roles would look like. If I was there I would see my role as more of a listener, a note taker and then the person for Tim to process with after the meeting. Things that are critical to process after meetings like these are things like capturing what he heard them say, what the district's/school's needs are and what our next steps need to be.

Anyhow, I am glad that I feel like the communication with Tim is open at this point because these will be good areas for us to address as we continue working together this year.

Yay! It is Friday and I am heading home!

Randy -

Today was a normal Friday, if there is such a thing. One neat thing was that one of the virtual school teachers was actually in Rosemary Beach and got to meet some of her students. The kids were of course very excited about seeing her. Also, a parent provided pizza for all of the kids today for lunch and they had a great time. There is a certain level of bonding that happens over food and it is fun to see them sit, eat and talk together.

MS definitely prefers FLVS over projects as the planning is more straightforward, they have a definite pace and get the "feel" that they are learning about something, even if it is the sort of stuff they will just forget. I think a more traditional plan like the high school may be the right fit for them and the expectations of their parents. This is something we will have to work out for next week.

I spent a good deal of time helping some students with chemistry which was tough as I'm not used to that material as it has been a long time. Also, the science has changed since my HS days of chemistry so I have to study before meeting them. The whole idea of having a teacher with virtual school doesn't work so well for them as they don't want to call them if they can get help from a "right now" person. I admit I feel the same sense as a "right now" person would have been very helpful. There are right now paid sites that are available, and it might be a good idea for HS students to join these.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday October 21

Thursday October 21:


Today was an amazing day of flow for the students. I spent most of my time and energy coordinating our selling efforts of our fundraiser for Halloween ScarecrOH lane. I started the day with a meeting with the sales team to get us ready to hit the stores today.

After the meeting I had some time to work on composing my thoughts and revisiting the structures for the HS language arts and social studies course.

At 10:00am we were off to sell. The students were so excited about their selling that they ended up staying selling until tennis started. We lost about an hour of academic work but I could not stop them in their enthusiasm because it would have been just too wrong. And they did end up selling $870 worth of scarecrOHs.

Elementary was very excited about their new program called Comic Life. They spent most of the morning and some of the afternoon working on making comics. I have never seen a group of students that were creating, writing and having so much fun while working so hard.

Randy and I had time to talk over lunch and we are both very much on the same page in terms of feeling like this is a good experience and it is pretty much the same teaching expectation as PK. There is no innovation, we are creating a course based on the sunshine state standards, having students work at the same pace to get the work done. They have choice in their learning in terms of picking an angle of exploring a larger concept which is exactly what the students in 3rd-12th grade are doing at PK Yonge. Again, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this type of teaching and learning it is just exactly like PK.

Randy -

Today had many great moment of "flow." One moment was when most of the hs and ms went around to businesses to solicit money for our fundraiser that Amy was organizing on the scarecrow project. It was great to see their excitement and feeling of making a difference. Another example was Ellie and Jack working in elementary using my newly purchased comic book maker for school. They shared their projects with great vigor and our other students were a great audience. I don't know what is more entertaining, the comic strip or Ellee and Jack presenting and laughing at their own work. . .definitely the kids. I got to spend some more time today with Olivia as well as she prepares for her project. The ms boys also commented on the possibility of making a comic book that informs people of the Red Panda.

Sylvia came today and helped the hs students with their writing again. What a treasure she is to our students and the students agree every time. They always comment on how helpful it is to have her here to help with their writing. A valuable resource indeed.

Wednesday October 20th

Wednesday October 20:

Although I like the structure that we are designing for the students I am wondering about where we are being innovative. My two main questions about the HS social studies/literature piece are:

  • How is what we are doing any different than really good teaching/best practice in a traditional school? And what is the emphasis of the product (i.e. I thought it was a published network PBL piece but now am getting feedback that it needs to be more traditional in terms of looking like a normal project -i.e. sculptures, dioramas, reenactments...)?
These are all things that we have seen done over and over again in a traditional school. My disconnect is coming from thinking that the emphasis of OH was a student centric (i.e. learning driven by their own passion not state standards) technology focused school with an incredible environment.

There is definitely nothing wrong with the direction things have taken in fact it is quite easy to facilitate the model in this direction because it is what we were doing at PK. However, it makes me still wonder about the possibility of a true student centric model of education where student interest drives the learning not a model where adults dictate what they must learn.

Now that I have identified the disconnect in terms of what I was thinking the model was and what it is expected to be I do feel like I can finally work and make progress. I will make sure that the learning is done in a way that makes sense for the students even when it is not their choice about what they are studying.

This of course leads me back to my own thinking on what education should be/could be and what the reality of education is even in a place that professes to be innovative. I think that education should be driven by student choice whenever and wherever possible. I think depth of learning comes from letting a student's passion drive what they are learning. I think that education should be harnessing the tools that are our student's reality (social networking, gaming and other technology tools.) I think that education should happen in a humane environment.

What I have found on my journey here is that we have one of those three things in place. We have a humane environment for students to do traditional PBL and FLVS work. Their PBL is driven by the state standards as well as outside pressures for products that show depth of understanding of the standards. I know that to most people that sounds great and it is not a terrible thing. We are preparing them in the way that they are expected to be prepared. But for me it signals a need to continue to reflect on the idea of what education should be for the 21st century and how we keep preparing students in ways that mean nothing in terms of their future endeavors.

Tuesday October 19th

Tuesday October 19th:

I liked the response from the high school students today about the new structure. Amy really did a great job with this in terms of creating something that is good for kids. That is always the #1 concern. I got to work a good bit with Connor in chemistry today and I actually really enjoyed the subject and experience. I could really get into that stuff if I had more time. I also spent some time with Mason in algebra today and I hope I was able to clarify some of his questions regarding making equations simple. After today I think I could enjoy teaching chemistry and math I suppose. One neat thing was having a visit from Olivia's dog who just sticks to her like glue. They obviously have a really strong bond. Elementary worked on writing today and sometimes I get frustrated at how slow they can get to the products. I hope I can think of ways to get them to turn out a bit more work, but not too much, more efficiently.


We rolled out the new structure for the HS American History/ Language Art course today. Actually the structure is not new we just added a timeline and a list of tasks to make it more transparent for the students to see what tasks they are working on and when they are working on them. I am going to go home tonight and work on a graphic organizer to help them picture it a little easier. They all seemed really relieved to see the structure to the tasks and the feedback was that it was not as overwhelming as before. I will be curious to see how it rolls out for them and if they are able to produce high quality work while maintaining the timeline. I may tweak the project portion a bit because three weeks is a bit short.

Monday October 18th

Monday October 18-


Today was a whirlwind day. It started with a group of visitors coming in to look at our elementary curriculum in math. One thing that came out as they were visiting was that the online curriculum that they have developed is one that is intended as a supplement to the regular curriculum. They called it a tier two piece which means that it is layered on top of the core curriculum. Essentially it is suppose to be another hit if content delivered in a different way.

After our visitors I spent the rest of the morning on check ins. Students are starting to consistently fall behind on their FLVS work. I still feel like this is due to a lack of commitment on their part to do homework. To do FLVS and PBL work they have got to do 2-3 hours of work a night at home. I am fairly certain that the majority of our students are not doing this.

I spent the afternoon block working on documenting systems and structures as well as refining the HS PBL course.

After school we dealt with our first dilemma with a social issue in the elementary room. Randy and I liken it to the kids being more like siblings because the environment is so small. I think we have a good solution and plan for solving the dilemma.

Finally the day ended with a dinner with our morning visitors. I enjoyed listening to Mike Lue talk about China and the education system.

Morning - Today we had visitors from edu2000. They explained how learning math is like learning Chinese letters. You have to have the foundation to be able to move forward. Also, Ms. Sylvia was here to help the hs students with their writing. What a valuable resources. Elementary began work on their civilizations and Jack and Trae are working together.

Thursday October 14th

Thursday October 14


Morning - I helped with the fundraising meeting this morning and facilitated their efforts to improve on our mission statement for Costa Rica. I also spent some time helping Nathan prep for his formal presentation. His presentation was just fine for a first go at it and we took some time debriefing his experience. He still feels insecure and a bit nervous about public presentations which is a typical feeling for a 9th grader.

Block One - A great inquiry day in elementary. They took some cotton samples that were brought in by Hanna and made a company called the "Choo Choo Cotton Factory". They practiced making thread, deseeding the cotton and cleaning the product. Tomorrow we will look at how cotton gins changed American and World history and how textile factories work.

Block Two - Worked PBL with middle school mostly with a focus on helping Olivia get moving on her second project. Her topic is broad about Jamestown, but we were able to get a directions and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The Red Panda group has a script now for their PBL and Alyssa and Hannah were able to get moving on their Costa Rica projects. We may have to contact symbaloo tomorrow to get some extra help.

After Tennis, I spent some quality time with HS on PBL and we were able to identify a couple of road blocks and who needs to do what with their project. Connor, Kylie and Hunter have shared me on a google document that will be done over the weekend on their civil war project. Mackenzie is still about perplexed on an essential question around the roaring 20s. Alex is looking at how to match her standards to her trip to Seatle. Nathan is taking an ambitions attempt at looking at the history of bombs.

You can see that there is much going on here as it should be.

Wednesday October 13

Wednesday October 13


Morning - Most HS students were at the PSAT so middle school and some elementary did a formal writing using the game pocket tanks as the basis. They worked on informative scientific writing "lab style". Elementary also did some of this to a less formal degree.

Nathan also practiced some techniques for a good presentation. We took notes and worked on body language, volume, and conveying of ideas.

Music was positive today and all bands showed progression. The HS band still has to work on how to balance teaching individual parts and playing together as a whole band. I do a music reflection now to Mark each session with updates, successes, and ideas so he can keep a running record of the experience of starting the RRA school in a school idea.

The main concern for the students of course if the new kickball teams in the works. Amy and I will review the teams and help put them together. This sort of activity is really fun because it is the true essence of importance for the kids. Good day.

Tuesday October 12

Tuesday October 12

Randy -

Morning -

We discussed our changes in schedule and that Shanna was leaving back home to Gainesville and Thursday will be her last day.

Block one - Elementary took about 30 minutes to work on projects that they had started before. Trae and Hanna continued work on their Native American topic. Jack made a Pokemon slide show to describe how the story goes. Ellie continued work on her very neat Prezi on her family tree. She will do a formal presentation on this. MS and HS worked on FLVS.

Block 2- MS requested a FLVS day so they could get ahead of their lessons and I agreed that this was fine as long as they work on their PBL tomorrow. HS did FLVS as well and we had a conversation about rigor and the importance of working hard at home as well. They have to be aware that high school students will have 2-3 hours of homework each night and that is normal.

Today we had tennis and after that HS went to work on PBL and writing. I collected the papers and they will be peer reviewed by Olivia's grandma who was a college english professor. These will then be sent to be certified.

Monday October 11th


Today was a day where I got to sit and look at the global picture of what is going on on all levels. My work consisted of checking on students to see about pacing and needs and doing elementary math. I was able to sit and observe what students were doing and how Randy was able to work on things. One of the main things that I see is a lot of differentiation which is amazing. However, what comes with this differentiation for 20 students all working on different things at different paces becomes fuzzy in terms of organization. One thing that I really noticed today is that the students have way too many systems that they are suppose to be keeping track of. They have their own spreadsheet pace charts, a google calendar with their daily goals etc. So my big question is how do we make it simple for them?

The other thing that I really noticed today is that this is wearing Randy down. Ironically it is not the motivation and instruction that wears him down but it is the external expectation that all the students are doing things a certain way and the pressure of the accountability. He is so good at making kids feel good about themselves and motivating them to do amazing work. The biggest irony is that here he has way less freedom and flexibility to make professional judgments as to what the kids need. He is expected to keep them all on their FLVS pace, getting A's and B's while also facilitating a high level of PBL work in different areas while being a high school language arts teacher. He is expected to have all the standards covered for MS science and social studies, high school language arts, hs American history and teach elementary through inquiry. He is expected to contact the language arts teacher to make sure the students are covering the expected content. I realize now that this job for him is not an increase in freedom and trust but an increase in the accountability that so many teachers dread. The reason that teachers dread the accountability is not that they feel that they should not be held accountable but the focus of this accountability is skewed and does not treat them as the professionals that they are.

The students love Randy and will do anything that he wants them to do but he is stuck having to make sure they all are doing things that meet administrative expectations and that can be documented. This pushes things away from student choice driven learning and back towards traditional standards based making sure they all know the same things learning.

It is interesting to sit on the outside and watch a brilliant teacher be squelched by a system that is supposedly innovative but really holds many more unrealistic points of accountability than the current public school system.


In the morning we reintroduced the google calendars and explained that we won't have design this week. During block one I worked with elementary on their spore unit and we did some work with native American tribes. Hanna may do this formally as a project. Ellie worked on here family tree and this will be a formal project for her. MS and HS worked on FLVS.

During block 2 MS and EL worked on letters to chef Nelson and many of the letters look great. HS discussed our writings due tomorrow and their plans for next weeks presentation. Nathan will present this Thursday his project on the Great Depression.

Kickball was fun after lunch but it may be time to redo teams as it is getting a bit too competitive.

In music, HS felt unproductive, but some days are like that. On the other hand, Elementary is getting very very close to being able to play their song. Second music block was split between acoustic girls and middle school boys on electric instruments. Both groups are doing well and should have a song or two ready for the show in November.

Friday October 8

Friday October 8 -


Morning - the middle school did a great job on their presentation and their crowd scores were high. The audience was pleased and I was very proud of their efforts. Elementary continued their spore unit doing a combination of story telling and social studies about native American tribes.

PBL second block consisted of meeting with middle school and checking on their new set of projects. They look great and Mitchell even took on an individual project on high pitched sounds and tested it on all of us here at OH. HS was the main focus during this block as we did a writers workshop model to look at our writings, did some reading, and practiced our first reading response. A very busy morning for sure.

In music, we practiced our songs and I think they are beginning to feel that success that comes with practice and diligence with music.

October 7th

Thursday October 7 -
Randy -
Morning - Spent some time with Elementary using spore for guided inquiry within the science content of behavioral vs physical adaptations of living things. We were pleasantly side tracked with a website by jibjab - they made short movies using their own faces and some of their classmates. It was neat to see them feverishly figure out how to use the site even though they have not seen it before. Ms and HS were on FLVS. I was able to check in with Olivia during this time also and help her with a technology issue involving turning in assignments.

Block 2 -
MS - We sat and had further discussion about their presentation tomorrow. We did a run through with me stopping them and also another run through on their own. They are excited and nervous and I think that is a good thing. Also, we got further on our ideas of PBL with Mitchell going to do a scientific paper on high pitched sounds that will be really neat. I sent him the steps to a formal scientific paper and a student example. Mason and Davis spent some time on wix.com to see if it is an easy and viable solution to web site construction. It seemed great but had some issues on saving the site.

HS - We did a check up on our formal writing that is due tomorrow. Also, we did a WHIP activity with our books and talked about them. The HS students decided that they would like some scheduled reading time and work on how to do a literary response. I think this is something we will all do together so I will bring my book.

-We had lunch, tennis, and design today but it ended short enough to allow us to catch up on some work and also put in a good blog response. Most HS students were able to get pictures of their books on their blog. Mira had a great blog where she put up videos and pictures of her trip to get her car. This would be neat to share.

Tomorrow we have presentations first thing in the morning so I need to be there extra early. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 5th and 6th

Wednesday October 6-

Morning meeting was fun and we used two questions for the WHIP activity. One was "who is your hero" and it was great to hear their responses.

Block one - Elementary continued their spore unit today with the focus on why are living things shaped differently if they came from the same source? We used the game to continue learning about evolution and this will lead into social studies in later stages.

Block 2 - MS - We watched a video about how to do a strong presentation. They then took some time practicing their presentation in the library first and then in the community room. It is neat to see them take their presentation so seriously and I'm excited to see how they do. HS - We looked at Hunter's writing and discussed our steps in our argumentative writing process. Mira and Nathan are starting their paper today and will check their peers work to see how they started their paper. We set aside 20 minutes to write today and I think that helped everyone get some work done. Our rough drafts are due this Friday.

Music Block - The elementary went with the first block with high school and they are getting very close to being able to play "Bad to the Bone". The high schoolers worked on a new son " I love Rock and Roll". Second block MS, the girls tried out some acoustic music today learning Amazing Grace on guitar, banjo and mandolin. It is difficult at first, but they are getting it. The MS boys have a Green Day song started that is going to work well and they might have a high schooler help on guitar as needed.

This was one of those days when the things on my to do list quickly went out the window as a new challenge presented itself. I met with Tim to talk about a concern about the schedule and he gave me a heads up that some students were falling behind in their virtual school work pretty quickly. I decided to spend the day working on the scope of the concern meaning how many students did we have starting to fall behind. After going through all students FLVS coursework looking at grades and pacing and their google pace spreadsheets I identified four high priority students needing support and two that were ones to watch. Out of our 16 FLVS students that leaves us with ten doing well and six needing support.

After school I met with Randy and we talked about what he was seeing when he was meeting with students. He identified five of my six students and so we knew that we needed a plan of support.

After our planning work I decided to work on some documentation pieces and now I am a bit too tired to go into much detail. I documented: Our "OH" workshop model of instruction, our priorities and our roles within them and continued working on the daily work of the facilitator and administrator.

It was an interesting day all around.

Tuesday October 5:


It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time passes and how little progress gets done when I am doing in depth writing. Today I started working on my ISTE proposal. Not a lot got done because right as I hit my grove it was time to plan with Randy (or maybe I should call it torture Randy).

Anyone that knows Randy knows that he is all about the kids and spending time with them. However, he does not like the minutia of the work in terms of really peeling back the layers of what he is doing. One of my tasks this year is to capture his role as accurately as possible. This is one piece that will allow for the model to be transferable.

We started at 12:45 going over the facilitator's role looking at it division by division in terms of organization, curriculum, community building, technology tools and ended around 4:30 give or take 30 minutes to get the kids organized a the end of the day. There is some really good things coming out of the work. Tomorrow we will continue our work looking at the curriculum plans and time lines. Randy is being a good sport and ultimately when he sees what he is doing in writing I think that he will understand the need for me to continue pucking away at what he is doing every day.

Tomorrow I will get the rough draft ISTE proposal done!

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 4th

Yikes Monday!
Monday October 4,


Today was a good day of clarity as I met with Tim and planned for priorities in the work we are doing. He asked me about my dissertation research which was a nice way to start the conversation. I know that he is thinking of pursuing a doctorate degree as well. I think that the more questions he asks of people the better decision he will make in terms of this being a good path to take.

As for "OH" things he provided me with a good outside voice looking in. With his experiences from last year in his mind he was able to suggest ways to be proactive about communicating with parents about what we are doing with curriculum and why we are rolling things out this way.

We also thought through the Costa Rica trip, writing an ISTE proposal, parent meetings and other things that we are trying to document. It was a long but productive meeting. It gave me clarity and a renewed sense of direction.

After the meeting I went up to school and had lunch. After lunch I really enjoyed my block working with the elementary students. They spent some time on math and some time working on their spore project. This project is highly engaging to them.

After school Randy and I planned and debriefed my meeting with Tim. We set out some goals for our planning time tomorrow which should help clarify all the tasks and roles the facilitator is asked to do daily. There is an amazing amount of things to managed while motivating and keeping track of student work. It can be done with deliberate systems for the facilitator (notice I did not say students) to manage their time. These systems also need to be flexible to allow for all the things that come up during the day. One concern that I have is that people will start gravitating back to the role of the traditional lecture driven teacher. I am hoping that by documenting Randy and I's work that we can make it transparent how not to succumb to these tendencies.

Finally, we met with Mason and his mom. Mason is doing really well this year and is amazingly fun to have around. I set out two things for him to think about: 1. What field experience would he like to do? and 2. Next time one comes up that he is not necessarily interested in I challenged him to go!

It was a good start to the week and I know it was partly due to my trip back to Gainesville over the weekend. I had the time to meet with other professional educators that I admire which fed both my professional soul and my friendship soul. The hardest part of my journey is not having a lot of people to collaborate with in terms of hearing their thoughts on things. This is also the part of the journey that I think is good for me because I am forcing myself to think deeper about things. I also have to have solid evidence for my thinking which requires lots of reading and reflecting about the work I am doing.


The major changes and introductions today included the writing component in high school and the presentation rubric in middle school. Elementary also decided to to a unit on Evolution using the spore game.

High School - We went over the particulars of persuasive writing today and looked up some sites that can help guide us. They picked a due date of this Friday for their rough draft and a final paper due on Tuesday next week. I will do a check in on Wednesday to look at possible introductions to this paper.

Middle School - They received their rubric for public presentations. We discussed the importance of proper dress, voice inflection and other ideas that will make their presentations stronger. Our plan is to present formally this coming Friday including an audience of parents, students, and possibly students from another school in the state using skype.

Elementary School - Began a unit on Evolution using gaming, specifically the game Spore developed by Will Wright (developer of the SIMS). Their formal writings are involved with this as they did with their morning inquiries and will include both science and social studies. I have plans to introduce this game to middle school as well to cover science and social studies.