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...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday December 20th

Monday December 20:


Today I had the opportunity to sit in on a call to Suzie Boss. It was really great to hear her thoughts about our work at OH and give us connections to other educators doing similar types of work. Who knew that Mike Muir in Maine was already doing virtual PBL work? It is exciting to see that we are not alone in what we are trying to accomplish.

It was especially neat for me to be in on this call because I just finished reading her book Reinventing Project Based Learning in the Digital Age. The book reinforced many of the things that Randy and I have already put in to place as well as gave me good directions to head with our PBL work.

On a side note it was just really really nice that someone like Suzie Boss would take the time to speak to us. What a great way to start winter break!

We also are going to bring on Kelly Meyers, Tim's sister, to help with the college admissions process for our HS students. This will be a huge weight off my back and a great asset to the school. She has great connections to some college admission counselors and has lived through the process with two of her children recently. I am excited about working with her.

Finally here is my winter break "to do" list:

  • Make parent calls & have two parent meetings week of 12/27
  • Complete transcripts/course progression for all HS students
  • Block out rest of HS LA/History course
  • Figure out space dilemmas for new student arrival 1/3
  • Make a plan for transitioning new students in
  • Work on a start of Telluride student connections plan
  • Plan HS course mini lessons based on standards unit for January
  • Randy MS inquiry lessons based on standards
  • Add global connections to PBL work
  • Randy plan elementary math inquiry for the rest of the year
  • PSAT score reports/SAT scores-learn more about interpretation to share with parents
  • Writing feedback for HS papers (read them and plan mini unit)
  • Dissertation sections one with researcher names attached:
    • PBL/Inquiry
    • 21st century learning/21st century students
    • Multi age
  • Finish rough draft section one of dissertation
  • Plan dissertation section two: PBL research

Thursday December 16th

Thursday December 16th:


We did what I thought was a very nice combo of morning math and writing today. I'm happy with the elementary work today.

MS: Davis finished his sextant and we will learn more of how to use it after the winter break. Our group project is almost together but was surprisingly difficult to piece together. I'm going to have to really focus on a system of what to do when people are gone and how to get work from them. Each day really does become incredibly valuable when it comes to work.

I did a short skype with a 2nd grade faculty today with our friends in Hattiesburg and it will be neat to see how that relationship develops. I hope we can pull off a project together. It would be a great example to use for FETC or ISTE when we do our presentations.


Today I completed my last five week check in which is a great feeling. The process was a lot more efficient this time around and I was able to complete all the meetings within a three week window. I really enjoy these meetings because they give me an opportunity to talk to the parents on a more personal level. I get to hear about the things that are important to the families and their expectations for their children.

I also had the opportunity to attend a webinar with the Net Tech High school network head. It is amazing how in the last day and a half so many possibilities have opened up in terms of our work. The elementary students are skypeing with schools in two different states, we had a proposal accepted for ISTE, we have the possibility of being involved with a major deal with another school district through HMH and we are connecting globally with other schools.

There are just so many exciting things happening and I feel like I finally realize why we were meant to be in this place at this time of our lives.

Wednesday December 15

Wednesday December 15


Wow! OH is growing and moving fast. We have two new elementary students coming in and possibly two new high school boys. We also have schools skypeing in and wanting to partner with us. We have two major presentations coming up one at FETC and one at at ISTE (whu hu ISTE is the big one).

I have been meeting with parents all week long to go over where students are and where they need to be. We have also been looking at ITBS and PSAT scores. Not my favorite thing to look over but a necessity in today's educational system.


Today was a very interesting day. We started off with elementary presentations. The goal here was to get them speaking in front of others and to begin to get assimilated into the PBL process, slowly one step at a time. After that, the elementary students skyped with a school in Hattiesburg Mississippi. They told each other what their favorite movies were and took some time sharing. They are going to try and do a project together after the Christmas break.

Middle school continued on their project work. Alyssa's video looks great and I'm looking forward to getting all of their parts together.

We are planning a fun trip to Wonderworks on Friday and it seems we have many more new students on the way. Busy, but fun day.

Monday December 13th

Monday December 13:


I like Amy's idea of having high flying through some standards first so that students are comfortable with a general overview of the content and create a "content Zone" online. I will spend some time over the break putting this together for middle school so they can have a similar experience. I think it will do the trick of calming parents and others about making sure we cover the content. Middle school projects are moving, but to be honest, students being gone so much hurts a good deal when time is literally so precious. A system that deals with students gone over long distances or absent is something that has always been a part of our mission, so I hope we can figure out a system.


Ditto to Randy's post on trying to figure out the system of students being in and out so much.

December 7th

Tuesday December 7:

Today started with community time and then I had a five week parent check in meeting. It was a nice meeting with the lingering issue of whether or not we pan to stay as the main question. We are trying to figure out our path for next year.

I started to work on organizing a paper with ms but realized that they would need more planning before we could actually write a paper.

Not sure what happened to the rest of this post-oh well!

December 2nd

Thursday December 2:


Today was a super mellow super productive day. We have 8 students out on a family trip and one out sick. The remaining ten students rock and rolled in terms of getting things done.

I also had an epiphany in terms of figuring out the model. There is a need for two full time in class facilitators/20-25 students with one of the two taking the lead as a facilitator/administrator. The one that is the full time facilitator takes the lead on instruction and the one that is the facilitator/admin takes the follow up on most instruction (or with Randy and I we call it the polishing of the process/product role). The admin role entails all parent communication about school events, sitting on parent groups such as the fundraising for trips, facilitating parent nights and new student open house etc, facilitating tours and new student registration/orientation. This role also encompasses college planning and community outreach.

Why this was an epiphany is because I now realize that the documentation of the process piece is really quite impossible to add on to the admin facilitator role in addition to all the things that this role entails. Now that I realize it and I really like the admin/facilitator role that I am in I need to talk to Tim about the documentation piece.

I like days like today where what I am doing makes sense and causes me to really be able to clarify what I am able to contribute to our model.

Wednesday December 1st

Wednesday Dec. 1:


Today was a weird day in terms of work. The students were all in what I call heavy work phases which is great but also leaves the facilitator's role in a strange place. One the one hand you cannot get into any type of other work yourself because you need to be available to the students when they need you. On the other hand if they are working they rarely need you. This is the phase that I like to call the floating around and watching/listening to the work getting done.

Elementary was a lot of fun. We worked on their formal writings today and it was amazing to see the things that they came up with.

Randy :

Ok, my official FLVS rant here - Why. . .does education insist on killing things that are actually really interesting i.e. chemistry. Grrrrrr! I feel like we load them on useless facts that are unnecessarily complex, not connected to the actual world, all in the honorable name of test prep. I'm frustrated with having the job of trying to convince students that it can be interesting. It is absolutely no surprise that our math and science students fall short on technology STEM jobs. Ok, I'm done.

I really like the fact the middle school is doing "Ice Ice Baby". That made my day.

Tuesday November 30

Randy :

Today was a bang up day on all fronts. Elementary put in the best blogs yet and set a great standard on blogging. HS did a neat lesson with Ms. Sylvia on how to write a responsive paper to literature. MS got off to a great start on their individual projects and I can't wait to see what they create. It was good energy today and feelings for students and adults. Very fun.


The elementary kids blew me away today with their thinking. They were working on a cell game that Trae found and it was meant for High School. They had no fear jumping on the game and talking up a storm to figure it out. They were using terms like mitochondria etc as they were learning how to play the game. What was really fun to watch was how they organized themselves. Ellee worked on her own but asked questions of her classmates when she got stuck. Hanna sat next to Trae and while she worked on her own game she watched Trae play to get guidance on her game. Trae chose to project his game on the wall and Jack sat in a chair watching the projection of Trae's game. He would ask Trae questions and give him guidance as the game unfolded on the screen. It reminded me a bit of the hole in the wall experiment in India. Literally I did no facilitating nor did they even think to turn to me when they needed help. They totally "got" that their classmates would be able to help them out more than I would. Too cool!