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Month November 2013

{ Calling All Knowmads …* } Free MOOC On Teaching Character & Creating Positive Classrooms

{ Calling All Knowmads ...* } Free MOOC On Teaching Character & Creating Positive Classrooms

Dave Levin, co-founder of the Character Lab –along with Angela Duckworth and our very own Dominic Randolph–will be teaching a free MOOC on CourseraTeaching Character and Creating Positive ClassroomsThe course, which begins February 9th, 2014 and runs for four weeks, will explore questions such as:

  1. How can positive psychology help us maximize student engagement and accomplishment?
  2. What does it look like to implement a growth mindset in your classroom?
  3. Can you teach grit in the classroom? If so, how?
  4. Should an educator measure character? If so, how? 

This course explores the interconnection between character research, education, and academic rigor. During our sessions, we’ll cover the field of positive psychology as it relates to character strengths, as well as the concepts of Growth Mindset, Constructive Responding, and Character Behavior Language. We will engage with the existing research, hear from eminent scholars in the field and top K-12 educators, and view footage of classroom teachers integrating these ideas into their classroom instruction.

Head over to Coursera to learn more about the course and register! 

“Why do we assume that kids’ socializing & play is not a side of learning?” Mimi Ito On the Need For Formal & Informal Learning To Work Together In A Much More Coordinated Way

“So my question is this: why do we assume that kids socializing and play is not a side of learning? And on the flip side, why do we assume that schools can’t have a spirit of entertainment and play as part of what they’re doing?”  – Mimi Ito

After conducting a three year study on kids’ new media practices, Mimi Ito, research director of Digital Media and Learning Hub at UCHRI, challenges us to rethink …* our assumptions about the opportunities for learning that social media spaces create, often providing opportunities to foster kids’ intellectual development, their civic engagement and their personal development in really important ways. Ito urges us, as educators and parents, to embrace and find ways to proactively engage kids in these “messing around, geeking out spaces”.

Mimi Ito On Learning In Social Media Spaces (Big Thinkers Series) | via Edutopia, published October 12, 2013.

Speaking of the potential of play for learning, be sure to tune in to Fast Company’s live Q&A with Katie Salen tomorrow (Friday, November 22, 2013) at 12 pm Eastern Time.

The Moxie Institute’s “Cloud Filmmaking” & The Science of Character ~ Let It Ripple Series

I recently came across the trailer for the The Moxie Institute’s upcoming film, due out this winter, The Science of Character, for which Dominic acted as an advisor. For those unfamiliar with The Moxie Institute, it is the brainchild of filmmaker & founder of the Webby Awards, Tiffany Shlain, and UC Berkeley robotics professor and artist Ken Goldberg. The Moxie Institute team is pioneering a new form of collaborative filmmaking, “Cloud Filmmaking”, through its series Let It Ripple: Mobile Films For Global Change.

 Cloud Filmmaking By The Moxie Institute  | Published

The Cloud Filmmaking Manifesto by Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute

The 5 Principles of Cloud Filmmaking

  1. To use the cloud to collaboratively create films with people from all over the world.
  2. To create films about ideas that speak to the most universal qualities of human life, focusing on what connects us, rather than what divides us.
  3. To give back as much as is received, by offering free customized films to organizations around the world to further their message.
  4. To use the cloud to translate films into as many languages as possible.
  5. To push the boundaries of both filmmaking and distribution by combining the newest collaborative tools available online with the potential of all the people in the world.

There have been three Let it Ripple films to date, with the fourth, The Science of Character, due out this winter. The Science of Character explores why character matters. Can you shape who you are? Who you will become? New research suggests that you can — that we can teach and shape character strengths (things like optimism, self-control, and curiosity). So if you can build your character, who do you want to be? 

The Science of Character – Film Trailer | published October 9, 2013.

 

To tie you over until The Science of Character is released, here is Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks, the second film in the Let It Ripple series, which  is a 10-minute film and accompanying TED Book. Based on new research on how to best nurture children’s brains from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child and University of Washington’s I-LABS, the film explores the parallels between a child’s brain development and the development of the global brain of Internet, offering insights into the best ways to shape both. Made through a new crowd-sourcing creativity process the Moxie team calls “Cloud Filmmaking,” Brain Power was created by putting into action the very ideas that the film is exploring: the connections between neurons, networks, and people around the world. 

BRAIN POWER: From Neurons to Networks | published November 5, 2013.

I highly encourage you to head over to LetItRipple.org and explore further the principles of Cloud Filmmaking, the Moxie Institute’s other films in the series and the inspiration and stories behind the movement, and, of course, ways to get involved. Enjoy this fascinating and brilliant rethinking …* of the potential of storytelling and filmmaking in the interdependent age.

{ Traveling Lightly …* } How Might We Thrive & Flourish Within Tensions & Contradictions?

{ Traveling Lightly ...* } How Might We Thrive & Flourish Within Tensions & Contradictions? | rethinked.org

“My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.” – Maira Kalman

Mine too (dream–down to the pleated skirt; definitely green). I have always felt quite strongly l’invitation au voyage, the compulsion to wander and explore, to pack up and walk into the unknown, yielding to restlessness. During my teenage years, I imagined Bruce Chatwin’s essay, The Nomadic Alternative, my personal manifesto. Having grown up in three different countries and across two continents, I have always fancied myself a true nomad. Flying back and forth between the United States and France, three times a year, every year until I turned eighteen, I remember looking at the little GPS monitor on the plane, feeling there must have been an error on my passport: I was not French, I belonged nowhere and everywhere–I was the child from the middle of the Atlantic.

Of course, I fully realize that there is a fair degree of romanticizing in my conception of nomadism in my life. I am well aware that, practically speaking, it would be more difficult than I like to think it, to pack everything up one crisp fall morning and walk into the unknown. There are leases and bills and my unimpressive muscles which would soon tire of a backpack, however neatly arranged, all of which would very much restrain my ability to live on the go. But the idea of nomad, not as daydream, but as value–the idea of treading lightly through life, of being nimble, curious and prone to exploration and unhousing at a moment’s notice–is and has been for as long as I can remember a core value in my worldview and sense of self.

So what happened? How is it that two weeks ago, I found myself drowning in my stuff, trying to cram an endless amount of things into far too few boxes. I was moving out of my apartment and decided that the move would be a good time to shed what I imagined to be my very few bulky possessions — a couch, a large bed, maybe store a few books with my parents. Yet once I started attempting to pack, taking things out of their designated spaces to place them in boxes, I was surrounded by things, my treasures, which taken collectively were suffocating me. Paper cranes, sculptures of matchsticks and clay, poster boards, countless stashes of notebooks and loose torn out pieces of paper covered in paint and words, my grandmother’s broken jewelry, boxes of letters, photographs, markers, books–everywhere–crawling like ants in every corner of every room. So many things, which, individually, delight and reassure me but when taken out of the nooks and closets in which they hide, thrown together, made me sick, literally, dizzy and nauseous. How could there be such a disconnect between how I imagine and desire my life and how I actually live it? And how I might I begin to align the vision and the reality more closely?

I have no answer to this question that I ask, which is a little bit about how to live lightly, but very much about how to exist productively within tensions and contradictions? For me, one of those tensions is how to reconcile the need for comfort and delight that things can provide with my need to feel free and light. We all exist within webs of such interlocking tensions, whatever they may be. I would love to hear your insights on how to flourish in this very human space…*

Issues of Confidence & Permission in Wanting to Make A Difference…*

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to observe the EdgeMakers workshop, led by John Kao, with the entire ninth grade class of the Riverdale Country School. EdgeMakers is a new organization, founded by Kao in November 2012, with the mission of empowering young people everywhere to become innovators and make a difference. EdgeMakers hopes to be a resource for young innovators, giving them “a new set of “edge capacities” that include the ability to create and manage the creativity of others; communicate with empathy; be a proactive catalyst; collaborate with a diverse, global, ever-changing array of partners; innovate; and to cultivate the emotional intelligence needed to manage, lead, and inspire.”

About EdgeMakers via EdgeMakersmedia on YouTube, published October 15, 2013.

The students were broken up into eight groups for the day-long workshop and spent the morning rethinking and designing the perfect book bag by following the Lean Startup method. In the afternoon, the students gathered again in their groups, this time to identify opportunities for rethinking throughout the school, and worked collaboratively to design solutions to their chosen challenges.

The workshop was a resounding success, with the students learning and practicing some key tools and techniques necessary to affect positive change in their lives and environments–rapid prototyping, giving and receiving feedback, identifying pain points, and collaborating in diverse teams.

It’s great that these students are being equipped with the tools and processes that they need to transform their dreams and ideas into impact but, in my mind, the most valuable contribution an initiative like EdgeMakers can make, is to give these students the right mindset and confidence to be change agents; the sense that they do not need to wait for permission to take control of their environments and rethink their lives and those of others for the better.

A couple days prior to the EdgeMakers workshop, I attended a book party with Tom and David Kelley for the launch of their new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, and although I have not yet had a chance to read it, the Kelley brothers’ assertion that we are all creative and that it’s just a question of removing the blocks that we acquire in the process of growing up so that we may realize our creative potential resonated deeply with my own experience. In my life and creative endeavors, I have come to realize that the issue of permission has often gotten in my way and kept me from fully exploring my potential or pursuing in a tangible way many of my ideas. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to attend eleven schools, both public and independent, in three different countries before even reaching high school. Yet despite the wide range of learning models that I was exposed to, the sum total of my education left me with a sense of ingrained obedience and hesitancy. I have had to unlearn the idea that someone else knows (or can know) better than me what I can or cannot accomplish, or that I should wait for someone more knowledgeable to give me the go ahead to pursue my hunches and inclinations. This is why EdgeMaker’s mission and curriculum to empower children and adolescents to make their mark on the world and to translate their ideas into impact is so critically on point and urgent. Education should be about giving learners the tools and mindsets they’ll need to shape and navigate their ever changing world, not to fill them with blocks they have to unlearn in adulthood.

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