Here is a great example of a book review that taps into a social network. We can view and comment on what the creator is presenting which can lead to new ideas, different paths taken and the sharing of a common interest.

I have been looking for my next read and with a recommendation from my students at AVS this VoiceThread caught my eye. Sarah's presentation is right on and I am looking forward to Percy's adventures in St Louis and beyond. I will probably miss the movie as most I have talked to have not thought that it came close to the book's experience.

I have seen Sarah present to a room full of Maine educators during the ACTEM conference and she has an outstanding talent for working the adult crowd and using technology.

Well done Sarah.
Here is where the neighbours are looking. How are we with adaptability? Why are we focusing on consolidation and national standards?

Worth pondering!
Five days ago, six staff from Heartwood Theater group met us for the first time and just two hours ago they were saying good bye to the cheers and hoots from the middle school students here at AVS. What a ride it has been!

It truly has been an outstanding experience for our community. Our students were put to the test with themes such as, teamwork, creativity, expression, responsibility, respect, support, critique, stretching one's comfort zone, pride, projection, etc... They were frustrated, struggling, wondering, tired, energetic, etc...  And all of this was delivered to them in the form of a play. What a plan.

These five days have been about the process of this sort of creative work. It was new to them, challenging to them, eye opening, powerful, inspiring, and rewarding. They had they questions, they needed to develop the tools to be able to answer these questions, they needed to use creativity to answer these questions and they needed the support and guidance to answer these questions. This is what Heartwood gave them. May of them do not see all that they have been through in this short time frame but as a watcher from within it has been a great experience for me to see these students rise to the occasion and feel good about their work.

As a sat in the audience for their final performance I heard from parents whose children had struggled with the experience and I heard from parents whose children loved the opportunity to have input, control and the time and support for them to use their creativity. 

"They didn't tell us what to do", "They said that there wasn't a right way or a wrong way do to it." As a student that can be intimidating if you are not use to having the freedom in your learning to explore for yourself. They craved structure. Give them lines and a place to stand to deliver those lines and they will be happy. 

But if you ask them to create a feeling using motion and visual and audio cues where does that leave them? They truly have to use all their knowledge to deliver the answer to that question. And the real kicker is that there isn't even a "right" answer to the question. There are as many possibilities as there are ideas and many students were excited to be able to share their ideas and interests in creating the play

How would you make a polar bear die on stage? Not an easy task. I would struggle on just getting a polar bear on stage in the first place.  It was this sort of learning, problem solving and creative work that our students were doing for five days.  It resulted it a grand production of The Arctic Journey. One that they can be proud of as they look back on that "ice play thing" that they did in middle school this year. 

Hats off to all involved and thanks for the experience I loved it.
Well here we go. Tomorrow is the final hurrah. Heartwood has been with us for four days and what an experience it has been. As we came back on Monday we broke into expert groups, Tuesday we added music and puppets and Wednesday it all started to come together. The beat experts, music, and props all came together in a run through for the first time. After review and reflection on the piece we were able to see the next steps and the work needed to move forward. 

Some of us were struggling with the process. It is a process that these students are being ask to work through. The answers are not there for them. They have to answer many of their own questions as they are being handed more and more of the production. There is plenty of support from the Heartwood staff as groups push forward with their work. It seems that some students are looking to be told what to do, where to be , what to say, how to act but in this experience the students are ask to creatively think about their questions for themselves and give it a try. Some students are understanding this format and have really jumped at the opportunity that they are being given. It makes it thrilling to see what students will do, what ideas they have and where they will take it, rather than what their teachers have in mind. 

As I watch this week long experience unfold I see this a an experience that involves students in the process and therefor they are working and learning every moment they are with the program. It is not just about the final show but about how we get there. How we work as a team, how we take a risk in this environment, how we support each other, what is our passion or interest in this team. With so much flexibility and the many facets of the programs allows most all to find a niche in the production. 

The frustration and struggles that the students are experiencing are a great lesson for them as they are ask to find solutions and answers that will work for them and for the team. Some of us have had to put aside our egos and be a true team player. All of these are excellent life lessons. 

I look forward to the finale tomorrow. I am sure it will come together with a flourish and a cheer and I can't wait to see where these students take this experience. 

For you Sir Ken fans here is another clip. Sorry about all the Fox TV junk floating at the bottom. Talk about distracting! Message is the same.
What a day!  
We have had an outstanding time today with our first day of the residency with Heartwood Regional Theater Company and our middle school students.
I have been looking forward to this experience for our students and school as a whole and today it got started with a bang.  

As the day began I had a few 8th graders who were questioning the prospect of having to be a part of a play production and in one hour Heartwood had us all on board and headed into work on some choreography for a dance scene. I was thrilled with Heartwood's opening act as an intro to the fun and comfort of the up coming week. They showed us what fun could be had if you are willing to participate and give some of you to the act. With this in mind I was pleased with our student's ability to push their comfort level right from the start. They stepped up in a major way. 

By the afternoon they had a dance routine well on its way, a comfort with the props and costumes, and were reciting poetry that will become the backbone of the tale.

As the day ended with a moment on the floor breathing and reflecting on how far we had come, we celebrated with the giggles and laughter of a middle school on a Friday afternoon after an amazing day. 

Thanks Heartwood and thanks students for this marveloup day in education. Looking forward to the week. 


How can we embrace and fulfill what is close to our 
hearts and also accept and support 
others' passions and "ways of going"? 

This question that was posed at our meeting is one that has been often mentioned but never addressed. It is sometimes on agenda's but usually is left until there is no more time and then shows itself again at another meeting. Sometimes it is referred to as "climate" and once again we never got to this question at the meeting so here is what I wanted to say but got caught up in another topic that I seemed to have an opinion on. (Sorry about that. Jeff finally ask me to stop.)

I feel that the above question needs our attention so that we can bring this to a productive conclusion and move on. I feel that we as a group are at a point where we are trying to move in some very positive directions around education at AVS. It is not an easy path nor is it a short path but it is a path that I look forward to going down with all of you together and for this do be a productive journey we will need each others' support. I will need yours and you will need mine. 

I hear from many of you, and you from me, about the successes and concerns that you see and feel about our staff at AVS. It is this question of supporting others' passions and methods, of respecting each other as educators, that we need to look at so that we may move forward on this adventure. 

I have suggested to some who were, and maybe still are, frustrated with school climate, with where we are going, with how comfortable we feel within our group, that it is us as individuals who's responsibility it is to make the change that we are looking for. You, not someone else, will need to turn the tide so that we can all move forward together on this journey. There is no one person here who needs to be the reason that we cannot move forward. We all have a roll to play in this. There is no room for some not feeling equal on this journey. There is no space for feeling threatened on this journey. We need to do this together and all need to be in agreement as we begin this next chapter. 

So my answer to the above question is that each of us needs to step up and embrace what is close to our hearts, to feed our passion and to challenge ourselves on an individual basis (in your class) and at the same time make sure that we are supporting others' passions and methods that they are working with. (in their class) The diversity within this small school is a strength and recognizing that our variety is a greater asset than our uniformity is a valuable realization. I see us as a team where we all need to be there to play our roll, share in the victories and work through the tough times.  It becomes part of our job on this team to support and respect what others are doing and how they are doing it. We need support, we need respect and we need each other. 

It has been my good fortune to work at Appleton Village School where I have often said that I truly enjoy coming to work, to interact with you, to connect with you and for the support that you provide. This is a great little school and we need to be proud of what we do both individually and collectively, and at this time we need to be able to look each other in the eye and know that we are there for each other, that we support each other and respect each other so we may move on with this issue and together go a questing over the hills and dales of education. 

Thanks for reading and thinking.

p.s. I do not know that we need to discuss this.  I just needed to say this. It is now off my plate and can be recycled!


It was great to begin the conversation with the whole staff and school committee members present. Thank you all for the sharing and listening. 

As this conversation progresses we can see that there are many paths that it can take as it evolves and grows within our community. With this in mind I am aware that we need to both hear the various concerns and points that folks will bring to the table but that we also need to attempt to follow a path of some sort that will lead us to our desired goal. 

And what is that goal one may ask. I have been struggling to try and define it for my own thinking and it has not been easy. Hearing the conversation today helps me define this goal from my point of view. I had previously thought that we were looking for a list of priorities but this did not seem to fit for others so I am looking for a more useful way to describe this goal. Today’s conversation about promotion, relevance, time and excellence brought other ideas and perspectives to my thinking. 

With this comes more questions that need some thought:

What are you passionate about in education?  

What do we do here, or could we do here, that is outstanding, that needs to be shared, or promoted? 

In talking with folks after the meeting there were ideas of “mission statement” creation, how to do it and would it more us forward. After thinking it through and after more conversations I feel that I might not need a mission statement per se but rather have a conversation about a list of items that this staff feels are critical in our learning community. Things that we do that could be shared. Things that we are passionate about in learning. Things that we could do at AVS to continue growing a great school for our children. (Ex. Olweus Bullying program, outdoor education, creativity, experiential education, best practices, problem solvers, high test scores, thinkers, caring individuals, connection to community, environmental issues, etc.) 

So this is my newly defined goal. Let us come up with a list of  items that we feel are critical to our learning community as the education at AVS evolves with all the cultural and political changes around us. 

So what is your passion and what do you think should be on our list?

Thanks for your time and thoughts and thanks for the Wordle inspiration.

 Does this clip speak to you as we look to think about the priorities of what AVS offers our students? Would love to hear folk's reaction to this video. This video has been with me for a few years and I keep coming back to this to shake off the testing world that we work in. Can we address this issue? 
So here it is all in 5 minutes. Chris Lehmann is part of something exciting in education and this video shows why. He has the vision, energy and understanding to make a great learning setting.

What are you thoughts about this video as we think about AVS and where we could go with our leaning environment?