Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Interesting and innovative.  If nothing else, those two words can describe what3words.

If you are reading this, you probably live in an industrialized country with an established addressing system.  Maybe you have street names and a patterned number system along those streets.  Or, if not, you have a system that is culturally recognizable, which is just as good.

What if you don't live in such a society?  Would it be necessary to have a quick and easy address system so you know where you live and where other things are located?

What if someone came up with a completely new way to label locations all over the globe?  Would it be something we could use and adapt to?  Maybe...maybe not.  My jury is still out.  However, I'm intrigued enough to bring it to your attention and create an assignment for my upper elementary students.  (And, I'm still trying to figure out how to turn it into a puzzle cache on

Let's try it out.  Go to what3words>Explore Map and enter this phrase..."verbs.debuts.pounding." You just landed on top of my office. Hope you like the place. It's your turn.  Find your classroom/office/hideout and post the three word phrase in the comments section.

I love the innovation and want to promote the out of the box thinking, so I created an assignment for my 5th and 6th graders to explore the site a bit.  Catch it here.  

I'd love to know what you think of what3words and how it can be used in education and around the world. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Servathon 15

400 servants.
25 non-profits.
1 amazing school showing love to 1 great city.

Every year, my school takes a break from academics for one day to show the love of Christ to Cincinnati.  Every student from every grade (PreK-12) takes part in some sort of service project either in our neighborhood or around the city.  

This year's theme was "Do Something" which is very fitting for a Christian school.  We spend so much time filling their heads with knowledge but sometimes we need to give them an avenue to do something with it.  The Christian life isn't always about gaining new Bible knowledge but also applying it to life around us. 

For the third year running, my job was to drive around and take pictures and video for our social media outlets.  Unlike previous years, I traveled by myself for the day, which gave me the chance to move at  a quicker pace.  I was able to stop at 11 locations, from a lush green park 3 minutes from our school in the suburbs to the streets of Over the Rhine, and I was deeply moved by all that I saw.

  • Our second graders gathered at a local park to clean things up -- weeding, picking up sticks, and cleaning the playground -- showing love to our local community.
  • We had high school students making lunch for the Ronald McDonald House. After taking my pictures, I couldn't help but stand in the atrium and take it all in.  A lot of good work happens there.
  • Our students stood on the sidewalk in one of the most notorious neighborhoods in Cincinnati and made burgers and dogs to hand out for anyone walking by.
  • I couldn't find parking at another location, but was able to pull up alongside two (legally) parked cars and take one picture.  Two high school students were shoveling dirt into a wheel barrow for a peace garden next to a church in Over the Rhine. 
  • A group of students were cleaning and painting an art studio dedicated to giving special needs adults the chance to be true artists.  It wasn't just cleaning and painting. The interaction between our students and the artists was amazing to watch!
  • Fifth graders sorted and folded clothes at a ministry designed to bring relief to disaster victims around the world -- and were having a fun time doing it.
  • High school students cleaned and sorted products at a ministry aimed to give furniture to people who are getting their first apartment after being on the streets.
It was a day to be proud of my school and proud of these students who willingly helped their neighbors, their city, and the least of these around the world.  

There are too many pictures to share here, but you can certainly look at our photo album on Facebook or the hashtag #serv15 on Twitter and Instagram if you want to see more.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: Mindset

Title: Mindset
Author: Carol Dweck

Imagine a world where telling a child he is smart is a bad thing.  On the surface, that may one of the dumbest things you've ever heard.  Seriously, everyone likes a little pat on the back.  It makes us work harder, right?  Consider this study done by Carol Dweck...

As it turns out, when I praise a child on his or her ability it creates what Dweck calls a fixed mindset. For instance, if I call you smart, it tells you that "smart" is something that you have or don't have. If a child has me thinking she's smart she wouldn't want to ruin that by doing something hard and messing up.  It's better to stick with easy stuff and continue to prove her intelligence. If she's stupid...she's stupid.  No need to do anything really hard and making it obvious.  So, maybe praising the talent isn't the way to go. 

If I praise your efforts I pass along the notion that talent is something to be achieved.  You gain success through hard work, creativity, and tenacity.  This emphasizes the process which will hopefully create a growth mindset -- finding joy in the journey as opposed to the final product. 

We are all imperfect humans, so we all have work to do before we "arrive."  Mindset helps us as parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors to help the students under our care gain that growth mindset.  Well, let's be honest. It also helps us as humans to adopt a growth mindset for ourselves.  

After all, my mindset will dictate how I treat myself AND how I treat the members of my family, the students in my classes, and every person I come into contact with.  If I approach my relationships from a fixed mindset, I could very well instill a fixed mindset into those people. 

You probably already know this is a book that comes highly recommended by a number of people.  I finally decided to dig into it because of my Innovation Classes for next year. I have a feeling that I'll need to convince some students that there is joy in the journey and growth comes through hard work.  I'm glad I finally tackled it.

Oh, and I almost subtitled this blog post like this, "Please don't tell my daughter she's smart."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Review: Artificial Maturity

Title: Artificial Maturity
Author: Tim Elmore (web site)

You probably don't need a book to tell you that students today are different than they were ten or twenty years ago.  In many ways, they seem to be advanced beyond their years, but in other ways they seem to be years behind where we were as teenagers.  This is what Tim Elmore calls artificial maturity, the illusion of being mature.  Blame it on the increasing use of technology, Sherman tank parents, or any other factor, but the reality is that adulthood is being delayed while adolescence lasts deep into the 20s. 

Elmore is not completely discounting Generation iY and the younger set called Homelanders but wants to raise a generation of leaders.  He sees many great qualities in them to be honed.

Artificial Maturity is written to parents, teachers, youth leaders, and coaches who want to see the young people in their lives flourish and grow.  Elmore takes a lot of time talking about how to mentor students to not just give them the autonomy they desire but to train them for the responsibility they aren't thrilled to have.

This is a great read for any leader of teenagers or children to help them become the adults they were meant to be. Because after all, do we really want parents to come to job interviews with their college graduates?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Innovation Web Site

As you probably know by now, I'm crazy excited to teach my new Innovation Classes next year.  I created a website to help guide students through it.  Think of it as an extended syllabus.  Think of it as an additional way to share what we're doing with other innovation teachers.  Check it out, and please give me your feedback.

NOTE: It's admittedly heavy on text and pictures and videos are non-existent.  That will change as class goes on and I can make changes.

MVCA Innovations

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Stop Animation 2015

I'm proud of my upper elementary students!  I kinda just threw the idea of stop animation at them right before Spring Break and gave them a chance to see what they could make.  Students were given the option of sending me their video, so what you see here is just a sampling of what they created.  Keep in mind that most of these kids are stop motion rookies. Thanks for watching!