Oct 31, 2018

Ikigai - Finding Your Purpose

I had the privilege of teaching overseas in Okinawa for the first two years of my career. While I was there, a lot of scientists around the world were trying to figure out why Okinawa had one of the highest percentages of people who were living up to or past 100, Centenerians. One of the early theories was the "Okinawan Diet" that it was made up primarily of local vegetables and fresh fish. In recent years, there has been more research around the concept of Ikigai (生き甲斐 in Japanese). 

Ikigai is roughly translated into "a reason for being" or knowing your purpose. When what you love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for, and what you are good at intersects, that is your Ikigai. Looking at the diagram below, when you are missing the characteristics of one of these categories, it can lead to unfulfillment. For example, if you are missing "what the world needs", it can lead to satisfaction, but a feeling of uselessness. So the ultimate goal to discovering your purpose in life, is to fulfill all four categories.

When I think about the purpose of school with a STEAM focus, it truly is to help our students discover their Ikigai. How can we help our students find their Ikigai? One way to start might be by encouraging our students to ask questions and to provide them with opportunities to discover with:
  • What do you love? -> What do you want to learn more about and how will you teach others?
  • What are you good at? -> How can you use your talents to contribute to our community?
  • What can you be paid for? -> How does what we are learning in school prepare you for this?
  • What does the world need? -> How can you show empathy and help with this need?
I also love this Nescafe ad that beautifully illustrates the concept of Ikigai and ends with "In Okinawa, they live longer and happier lives because they know their reason for waking up."

Dec 10, 2017

Campbell Family Code Night 2017

We held our first ever Campbell Family Code Night last week at Rosemary! We had over 100 CUSD families sign up to explore and learn how to code together! It was so exciting to join this nationwide movement to engage all families in learning computer science.

We were so fortunate to be about to collaborate with School Linked Services and Measure A to provide funding for this event. Thank you to Casey Agena from the Santa Clara County Office of Education STEAM Team for being our coding facilitator!

If you would like to host your own Family Code Night, download your own event kit here: www.familycodenight.org/

All families also got to create a Lectrify circuit bracelet to remind them of the spark for learning together that was started on Family Code Night!

Oct 9, 2017

Appreciating Variability

Universal Design for Learning, discusses ways to recognize variability as an asset, and not a liability. The strategic networks of the brain are mentioned and their connection to The Marshmallow Test. In this test of instant gratification, young students are given a marshmallow. They are told that they can eat the marshmallow now, or if they wait, they can have two when the teacher comes back. It is interesting to see the different strategies the students use to try to help themselves in this experiment.

Another strategy that we can teach our kids is a "positive time-out". Usually, time-outs are used as a form of punishment. But it is more powerful, if we teach our kids to use them as a time to self-reflect and self-regulate. Instead of waiting for problems to arise, we must help our kids self-monitor and to recognize when they need a break. One of the first steps in doing so is helping them to see patterns in when they are getting upset and to understand what triggers them. It is then helpful to teach our kids calming strategies, like deep breathing, visualization, or other methods that they find helpful.

Dr. Carol Dweck also discusses how to teach a growth mindset and the "power of yet". She asks, "Are we raising kids for now or are we raising kids for the future?" She finds that just by using the word "yet", it encourages students to try harder and persevere. She also talks about the importance of celebrating effort and difficulty in her video below. As I support teachers, I specifically want to encourage them to use the word "yet" with students and colleagues and the "positive time-out".

Sep 27, 2017

Developing Expert Learners

The purpose of learning is not to get good grades. The purpose is to be an expert learner. What does it mean to be an expert learner?

Katie Novak defines expert learners as, "knowledgeable and resourceful, purposeful and motivated, self-directed and strategic." In schools today, we don't always give students enough opportunities to practice becoming an expert learner. We often tell students what the final product should be or give them the resources they need.

What needs to change in my practice if I want to support teachers as they transform education so all students become expert learners? First, we need to create environments where it is okay to take risks and to fail. Second, we need to be flexible and allow our students and teachers to make choices. If there is no flexibility, how will people be self-directed? Finally, we need to celebrate the risk-taking and resiliency of our students and teachers to keep trying to constantly transform education.

For our group project, our TOSA Team created a few resources on Why, What, and How to be an Expert Learner. Here is a link to our resources: Developing Expert Learners Presentation

Learn more about Expert Learners in Katie's Video below:

Sep 18, 2017

Universal Design For Learning and STEAM

I just started taking a course on UDL (Universal Design for Learning) with a few of my colleagues. The more I learn about UDL, the more I see the connections between UDL and STEAM. 

One of the main goals of UDL is to foster self-directed, creative learners. One of the ways that we are able to encourage our students to be more self-directed is to encourage a love of learning from an early age. How are we already doing this? In many of our classes, students are given more choices in how they want to learn, collaborate with classmates, and how they want to share their knowledge. Some of our teachers are facilitating Genius Hour, to allow our students to discover their passions, learn about them, and teach others about it.

In order to graduate, all of our eighth graders must complete an Exhibition project. This project has evolved over the years. In its current version, students have the option of working with a partner to find a problem that is relevant in their lives. They then use the engineering design process to research this problem, imagine and plan ideas, and prototype and present their innovative solutions. In the past, students did most of the work in their English classes, but now many of our science, social studies, technology, and math classes are also getting involved. This allows students to see first-hand that all of the subjects they are learning in class integrate and have a real-world application.

I would like to focus my UDL efforts on having more of these grade level experiences that lead up to the eighth grade exhibition. I am working with my colleagues on a TK - 8 STEAM Pathway that will provide grade level experiences that provide a real-world application to the essential standards that students are learning in class. Having meaningful experiences in engineering design, software engineering, and environmental literacy, are crucial for all of our students to truly thrive in the future.

Want to learn more about UDL? The following video is a great way to get started!

Aug 28, 2017

Campbell Union School District's STEAM Innovation Leaders


Introducing Campbell Union School District's first STEAM Innovation Teacher Leader cohort! 

Blackford Elementary School - May Liu
Elementary School - Gloria McGriff and Teresa Iden
Castlemont Elementary School - Jisung Chong
Forest Hill Elementary School - Julie Hart
Lynhaven Elementary School - Megan Delaye
Rosemary Elementary School - Jessica Branstetter
Sherman Oaks Elementary School - Lino Gutierrez
Marshall Lane Elementary School - Michelle Beddo
Village Elementary School - Elizabeth Shepherd
Campbell Middle School - Kimiyo Cordero
Monroe Middle School - Anthoney Roe
Rolling Hills Middle School - Carrie Tibbs

These 13 innovative teacher leaders have been selected to lead and continue to develop our district's STEAM program. Their first group challenge, to come up with a few Back To School Ideas that teachers in their grade level could use to start their year in a STEAMy way! Read about the ideas that we designed that day on RAFT Education's Blog.

I'm so excited to learn and grow with this amazing group of educators and can't wait to see what we create and share together! 

Aug 15, 2017

Spring 2017

As the school year has come to a close, I wanted to reflect on a few of the successes of last school year. Our 9 elementary schools have created their own school STEAM Space or STEAM Centers. And our 3 middle schools have STEAM resources in their libraries. I can't wait to work with our school leadership teams to help them develop a plan to provide meaningful STEAM experiences for every student!
I didn't really get to blog last year, so my new goal for this school year is to blog once a week!