Be Different! Let Your Students Be Chili Peppers!

Dodge DifferentSometime back Dodge had commercials on TV with the theme of “Dodge Different”. Through a series of metaphors, Dodge wanted to show how being a ‘good’ different would add some spark and excitement to life. Buy their car, and your life would be AWESOME! For example, my favorite was one of a board room meeting where the camera panned along the floor as the speaker discussed and shared the highlights of the company’s fortunes and good principles of business that year. As the camera pans, and the speaker discusses how perfect their company is, you’ll see megabuck wing tipped oxfords, mega expensive suit pants, and the like. As the speaker prepares to introduce the company’s CEO (obvious a great guy—due to him, all is well), the camera slows to show him wearing Converse Red high tops and jeans.

Another commercial shows a potato cleaning factory with a series of monotonous colored spuds moving along a conveyor belt…well, you watch it and see what you think! See it here: Go.

The point? Are schools like the potato factory? Take the test, take the test, prepare for the test, move with the flow boys and girls, prepare for the test, can’t take time for technology integration for my life is on the line, don’t have time, prepare for the test. I venture to guess that students and school employees wish for a change of pace while still having accountability, yes, but also instill some thrill!

My suggestions?
• Attend a Tech Tuesday session. Check your recent email from R. Okoye and sign up!
• Check a website that you’ve never looked at before. Need some ideas? How about Tammy Worcester?
• Invite a specialist into your classroom and plan a theme across your grade level. Imagine tying in a theme with every class and correlating the curriculum! And, you’ll even save time!
• Train a leadership team in your class. Instead of you doing all the work, how about them?
• Listen to some videos about how learning is changing. Kevin Honeycutt has some great videos and ideas on how to get kids to think on their own. The website has LOTS of links.

It starts with that first step. Where will you go? Be different.chili_peppers

(red Chucks picture from

The 21st Century School Learning Community

With my heart palpitating and breathing shallow, I realized, after working on my presentation for the state conference, nowhere did I push for how to raise test scores. I slapped my palm to my forehead (and screamed since I forgot I had a headache) and couldn’t believe I had overlooked this Holy Grail of Education. “How,” I thought, “could I be so stupid?”

I looked over my thesis statement for the presentation, and let out a yelp of joy since nowhere did I write that this was the emphasis for my talk. This caused me to pause, though, for I was wondering, is this why students seem to each year dread school more and increase the teachers’ stress levels?

I then decided to see what the latest chatter is on Classroom 2.0 and found an interesting post from Liz Davis’ blog: The Power of Educational Technology about 21st Century learning: Some particular highlights that I copied and pasted below:

“Community is Essential – The school should bring learners and teachers together into a supportive community that nurtures both the individual and the group. The community should permeate all possible spaces, in the classroom, in the home and Online.

Critical Thinking – The school should actively encourage learners and teachers to think critically, continually asking the question, “Why do we teach what we teach?”

Risk Taking – The school should actively encourage learners and teachers to risk failure in the pursuit of understanding.

Learner Centered – The school should surround the learner with ideas and information, encouraging the learner to pursue a wide variety of paths to knowledge, and supporting the personal growth for all who inhabit the community.

Diversity – The school should actively encourage and pursue the input of those both inside and outside the community with a diversity of opinions. The school should consistently check that it is inclusive and supportive of learners and teachers from diverse backgrounds.

Nurture all learners – The school should provide opportunities and encouragement for all members of the community including teachers, students and parents to learn and grow.

Pursue Innovation – The school should actively explore, pursue and test new ideas and technologies, while always keeping the learner at the heart of the pursuit.

Good schools graduate good people – The school should actively and explicitly teach learners to think beyond themselves, encouraging students to value kindness and generosity.

Break down the walls – The school should provide access and opportunities for learners and teachers to reach outside the walls of the school to the neighboring, national and global community.”

Now, I wonder how I can bridge in my buildings the importance of this and the familiar phrase that we often hear, “How can this idea raise test scores?” I miss the days when creativity reigned supreme instead of today’s mantra: GET THOSE TEST SCORES UP!

What do you think?