12 Days of Dreaming Week 3 Recap #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 1 Comments

Well, all good things come to an end. This has been an amazing three weeks for me. I have enjoyed everyone's post. It is such an inspiration to see so many great educators from all over North America share their dreams with us! Thank you Kelley, Tim, William, Carolyn, Josh, Shira, Allison, Jeff, Jennifer, John, Cheryl, Andrew, Brian, and Shelley! All of your post touched my heart and inspired me! You can find this week's post and all of the post from the series here.

This week's post were a great way to finish our 12 Days of Dreaming. John started off by laying out some ideas about how we can better design the physical structure of our buildings. I've often thought I wish I could start off each year with an empty classroom, a budget, and my students. The first thing we would do design our classroom. Talk about a great way to kick off the year and think about the math they would learn.

Then Cheryl and Andrew shared their story about how they collaborate in such a unique way and team teach on opposite sides of the country. What I love about their post is it really shows how far teachers are willing to go to help provide great education for their students. I know they will continue to evolve and do even greater things. I'm excited about what the future holds for these two!

The 12 Days of Dreaming wouldn't be complete without a post from Brian Bennett. Brian pursues his dreams with all of his strength. His post comes from the voice of man who has pushed himself to be the best he can be. There isn't a more reflective educator out there than Brian. You can feel it as you read his words. Brian has felt the pain, struggles, failures, joys, and victories of a dreamer. His post reminds us that there is a price that comes when we pursue our dreams but it is a price worth paying.

I thought Shelley's post was the perfect way to end our series. This paragraph from her post really hits home with me.
I say learner-centred, rather than student-centred, because there’s much more to life than being a student.  There’s more to life than being academic. I’ve come to realize that being good at school really only means you’re good at school. I dream that education systems will begin to realize this.  Too many of our kids complete their education without having any idea what they love or what they’re really good at. Instead, too many need to recover from their experience.
As a parent and an educator I want my kids/students to love learning the way I do. I want every day to be about helping them find themselves. I want them to dream the way we have dreamed these last few weeks. I love how Shelley talks about how she would go about seeing her dreams come to pass. It's a fitting way to end the series by showing us that dreaming alone won't change anything. We must act on our dreams!

Then after the last post we had a #12DOD chat on Twitter. It was a great conversation. You can read the archives here!

Thank you so much for being a part of this series! I hope you have enjoyed this as much as I have! I hope to do this again in the future!

Dream on my friends!



Day 12: Dreaming about Learner-Centered Schools by @wrightsroom #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 1 Comments

Editor's note: Wow! I can't believe that it's the final post already! I will have one more recap tomorrow with some final thoughts and some thank you's! I hope all of you can join us tonight (12/20) at 7:30 PM EST for the 1 time #12DOD chat! We will be discussing our hopes and dreams for education and how to make them a reality. 

I dream of one day being the administrator of a school that is entirely blended and learner-centred. But more than this, I dream kids will experience this from Kindergarten, through to grade 12. I know this is a reality in a few places, but it’s far from the norm.  The average child’s school experiences are drill and kill and stand and deliver, but I digress.

I dream of classrooms that are alive with student conversations, questions, and inquiries, regardless of their age. I dream of learners who are able to craft questions they are curious about and who have the tech ability and network connections to chase them, or teachers who have the know-how and learning network to facilitate the process.   Furthermore, I dream of kids who are able to take the outcomes of their curriculum, and decide what they’re going to learn, how they’re going to learn it and how they will show their learning.  As part of this, I dream of kids who are able to thoughtfully articulate their thinking, who can evaluate their mistakes and design projects with purpose and impact. I dream of classrooms where teachers and learners share ownership of the learning environment. 

I say learner-centred, rather than student-centred, because there’s much more to life than being a student.  There’s more to life than being academic. I’ve come to realize that being good at school really only means you’re good at school. I dream that education systems will begin to realize this.  Too many of our kids complete their education without having any idea what they love or what they’re really good at. Instead, too many need to recover from their experience.

How would I begin this dream? With my students, we start with unlearning, so with teachers, I plan to start the same way.  My students often don’t question their education because they don’t know what they don’t know. I think teachers are often the same way.  For many years, I was the stand and deliver teacher because I didn’t know any other way.  Changing what you know can be frightening and threatening. Consequently, I have a dream that teachers will take risks, regardless of their fears, not always knowing the direction or the outcome because their students need them to. 

What would it look like for teachers to go through a process of unlearning? Too often what we do in our classroom is simply perpetuating the way we were taught. What would it look like to begin to imagine different possibilities? I dream of teachers who are willing to peer into the classrooms of others who have begun the voyage, and who are willing to imagine how it might change their own teaching. I dream of a staff who is willing to critically evaluate what they don’t like about school, and use this to begin to purposefully design classrooms that empower learners. 

What I propose isn’t simple. The road is long, difficult and messy.  And yet, I believe, it’s worth every moment. 

Shelley Wright is a teacher and education blogger living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in Canada. She teaches high school English, science and technology and works with other teachers interested in connected, inquiry-driven learning. Her passion is social justice and helping her students make the world a better place. She blogs at Wright’s Room. Follow her on Twitter at @wrightsroom.


Day 11: Dreaming about Growing Pains by @bennettscience #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 3 Comments

Editor's note: Tomorrow is the last day for the 12 Days of Dreaming! I am so honored that so many people have participated! We will cap off the series with a Twitter chat about the different post and our dreams for education using #12DOD at 7:30 pm EST on December 20.

If you have kids, know people with kids, or work with kids, you know that they will face some painful days as they grow. First comes teething, which I’ve heard is a nightmare. Then, the awkward pubic years when bones are stretching faster than the brain’s balance centers can keep up. Years pass, our joints begin to ache when the weather changes, and we can’t heal up from injuries as fast or as completely as we used to. 

The business of growing is difficult.

But, through all the pain, we learn a valuable lesson: pain and growth have to come together to be meaningful. 

I don’t know many cyclists that learned to ride a bike the first time their parent let go of the seat. A scraped knee from falling off of a bike helps us learn that balancing is much easier when we’re moving forward.  As we move through the pain of growth, we come to expect better things when it’s over.

Schools are a prime example of pain and growth. Students, you have stories about working through very difficult classes. Teachers, what about the student that tested you every day of class? Administrators, you can tell us about the first year teachers that have come through your building.

Pain is an indicator of growth.

Education is in a painful place right now. Schools and governments are polarized against one another over education. We are being blamed for many social problems, and there isn’t much trust in the state or federal leadership. Teachers are fearful for their jobs and the role testing will (or won’t) play in how we are evaluated. 

Within the frustrations and the stress, though, we have an opportunity to implement better schools.

It is our responsibility to model growth to our students. Brainstorm with your colleagues on how to implement changes. Work with student advisory groups to solve problems. Encourage someone more frequently than you complain about a particular circumstance.

The attitude shift begins with recognizing that if there is no pain, there is no growth..

Don’t be soured by painful situations. Recognize the opportunity for growth and focus on the goal rather than the immediate. There is no silver bullet for any single problem. But, we can turn a lot of silver BB’s into a comprehensive solution. 

Let us know in the comments what growing pains you’re having and what you’ve learned as you’ve worked through them.

Brian E. Bennett (@bennettscience) is a science teacher living in South Bend, Ind. He has spoken nationally and internationally on flipped learning, most recently speaking at ISTE 2012 in San Diego and as the opening keynote speaker at the 2012 Flipped Learning Conference in Chicago. Bennett writes frequently about flipped learning on his blog,Educator, Learner.


Day 10: Dreaming about Connections by @guster4lovers & @Thomasson_engl #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 1 Comments

Editor's note: We will have a #12DOD chat this Thursday, December 20, at 7:30 PM EST. We will be talking about our dreams and how to make them a reality. In the meantime, enjoy this great post about the power of collaboration!

This August, as each of us finished our first day of school, we collapsed into chairs and stared at our computer screens, much like we had on every first day of every previous school year.

But there was one major difference on this first day of school:

On that screen was a person, a partner, a friend, a collaborator, one who understood us and understood exactly what had happened in our classroom because they were the one who helped to plan and prepare it.

Three months after meeting on Twitter, we decided to team-teach.  This meant starting over with curriculum maps, syllabi and methodology.  This meant finding a way to work together from 2,500 miles apart without ever meeting face to face.

As a result of that decision, we discovered that we now had access to a collaborative partnership where lessons were planned, frontiers were traversed, troubles were shot, and problems dealt with jointly.  And slowly, the difficulties and challenges from previous years began to disappear.

But we needed to know why, needed to be able to explain the machinery at work behind the scenes.  We knew that collaboration was important, but our transformation entailed much more than that.  Both of us had collaborated in the past, and we even had an extensive PLN on Twitter, but no collaboration had ever fixed the root issues: teaching isolated us; creating an effective learning environment was difficult; meeting the needs of each individual student was near-impossible; we weren’t doing well enough, and often, we weren’t even doing enough, period.

Those problems still exist and will probably always exist.  Unlike past collaborations, however, this one gave us direction and insight.  Now we had someone to accompany us on the journey, where we could face problems together, plan lessons together, and even work with students together.

In trying to figure out how this worked, we stumbled upon a way of thinking about teaching, learning, and collaboration that mimicked the process we had gone through and provides a way of replicating that process.  We call it The Equation:

Develop Relationships → Ignite Passion → Build Skills → Take Ownership

On the first day of school, we were not aware that the equation even existed.  We just lived it and figured it out along the way.  As we discovered The Equation, it gave us the ability to see it as a transformational process, but one that can happen in any classroom or collaborative partnership.

With The Equation, our process, the one that made us less isolated, and allowed us to be better teachers, can happen anywhere.

If only we had known that from the beginning.


Despite having the most solid curriculum and plan we had ever had for the start of school, at six weeks into the year, we kept running into the wall.  Our heads hurt from ramming the brick wall so many times, without getting any closer to breaking through.  

We just didn’t understand why all the things that had transformed us - relationship, passion, skill and ownership - wasn’t working in our class the way we knew it could.  We searched for answers, but it felt like throwing a dodgeball against the same brick wall; for everything we would try, the ball just kept sailing back at us with no visible improvement, not even a loose brick.

Instead of breaking down the wall together, that wall started to break down our relationship, our passion, and our ownership over the situation.  We, of course, didn’t have the perspective to see that, so we just assumed it must be our own lack of skill that was the problem.  Many times, we wondered if this was even worth it; with the amount of time and energy we were spending, our classrooms should have been magical places of transformation.  And they weren’t.  This collaboration was difficult, perhaps the most difficult thing either of us had ever done in our career.

For every step forward, it felt like we were pushed back five steps.  Every victory was marred by some failure or imperfection.

Added to that, we were both already broken when we met.  But the collaboration we discovered and nourished over those first few months was helping to heal those deep wounds left from years of failure.  

And now, the first six weeks of school reopened those wounds and nothing we did could make them go away again.

So we ignored it.  And things just got worse.  We were still friends, and we still planned and de-briefed lessons together.  But the alchemy that our collaboration brought us over the first few months had disappeared and we didn’t know how to get it back.  We wondered if it was even possible, or if it really had been a dream...one that ended with us waking up, being back to where we had started.


Frustrated, broken, exhausted and overworked, we stumbled into Thanksgiving break.  In that state, Cheryl took a day trip with another Twitter friend and high school teacher, Karl Lindgren-Streicher.  They met up for lunch and then drove to some of the vineyards in the Napa Valley.  Along the way, they called Andrew and within minutes, a day off became the spark that reignited everything: the passion for our students, our flipped class, and our relationship.  

That is when we realized that we had been Doing It Wrong.  The equation never was meant to stop with us.  

It had to be flipped too.  

Our students needed to experience what we experienced over the summer.  And just like with teachers, the equation doesn’t work on people in isolation; no, our students needed to be transformed through their relationship with us, and with each other.  Only then could our classrooms become the kind of community that in and of itself had the power to transform.

It was then that we finally understood that we had neglected building relationships with our students.  Yes, we were working with them one-on-one, and talked to every student, every period, every day.  But they didn’t really know us, and we didn’t really know much about them, apart from their academic ability in reading and writing.  

We had done it backwards.  We were so frustrated by how little ownership the students had over the course that it blinded us to the truth: before they could be responsible for their learning, they needed to care about us, care about the subject, and build their skills.

Just like we had to do when we started working together.  

We have a term for when what we do matches the process we expect of our students: it’s the MetaFlip.  In the MetaFlip, we deconstruct the actual process we as collaborative partners had gone through, and then plan backwards to ensure that our students can repeat our process successfully.  And this time, being successful meant starting over at the beginning.

So we deliberately built activities that would allow our students to get to know us, and for us to get to know them.  We threw in the most high-interest and real-world-relevant content to engage their passion for literature, writing, and arguing.  Then we used that content and leveraged that relationship to build their skills in all those areas.

Although it’s taken an entire semester to get there, our students are finally back to where we wanted them to start: taking ownership of their learning.  During the most recent project, not a single student asked how or even if they would be graded.  Students are designing the final unit and preparing all the content, as well as making the assessment and reflecting on their learning.

So how did it take this long to figure it out?  Well, there’s a darker side to the equation.  The darker side is the anti-catalyst.  The forces that we can’t control, but that affect us every day, whether we are in the classroom or not.  

There is the Socio-Emotional anti-catalyst.  This one can be a death in the family.  An accident or injury.  A break-up.  A physical or mental health crisis.  A traumatic memory resurfacing.  A friendship in decline.  These are the things that our students carry with them daily, often unnoticed to anyone else, but that weigh them down under the force of sorrow, anger, or fear.  These are the things we carry as well, both for ourselves and for our students.

There is also the “I Know How To Play School” anti-catalyst, which actually often works in tandem with the “I Don’t Know How to Do School” anti-catalyst.  Much like socio-emotional issues, these affect teachers as much as students.  We have all been conditioned into the factory model of education, and flipped learning represents a major departure from that model.  We are now asking for critical thinkers, not machines to rival Google’s knowledge.  We now want creative, innovative thinkers, not someone who can twist a knob or pull a lever on the assembly line.  

But neither we nor our students know what it’s like to not live in that model.  So when grades aren’t all that matter, and when learning is the focus, the transition is going to be challenging.  There are lots of questions for which we don’t have definitive answers:

How do we grade?  
What are we assessing, and what SHOULD we be assessing?  
How do we develop intrinsic motivation?  
How can we measure creativity and innovation in an A-F world?  
How do we build academic behaviours but still keep the focus on the Real World?

These anti-catalysts are so dangerous because they are often ignored; when you are neck-deep in the ocean, you’re working hard not to drown.  

The truth is, we’re all drowning.

But that’s why we need each other.  

The equation starts with relationship for a reason.  The most powerful solution for any problem in the classroom, or in life for that matter, is relationship.  It is what saved us from throwing in the towel on this collaboration when it got difficult.  It is what motivates our students to keep going after they fail.  It is often what gets us and our students to school every morning, whether or not we feel like it.  

Relationship and community are what gets us through unspeakable tragedy, loss, and grief.  It is what gives us the strength to keep going, and hopefully, to heal.

Relationship has to be the glue of a classroom, and our flipped classroom, with cross-country team-teachers, needs a hell of a lot of glue.  Our country and our fellow educators also need a hell of a lot of glue right now.


Once our students believe in us and we invest in them, our community can then shift to finding and developing passion for learning.  We can get them excited about thinking, reading, writing and speaking about the Big Questions in life, and about the stories that make up our cultural heritage.  Through that passion, we build their skills so that they can not only understand but participate in that culture.

Finally, we transfer ownership for the learning from teacher to student.  At that point, we finally flip our class - after all, if a flipped classroom is student-centred, the real flip must be in giving students the responsibility to succeed or fail together, as a community of learners.

And through this process, we keep pushing back against all the anti-catalysts - the narrative that reminds us we aren’t good enough, that there is too much broken, that no one cares, that we are wasting our time, talent and treasure.  In pushing back, we are creating space for grace, hope, and possibility.

It is that sacred space - where there is affection, passion, skill and responsibility - that takes our dream and makes it a reality.  

The equation creates alchemy.  And what is alchemy, if not taking a dream and making it tangible?

Dreams can only guess at what is possible.  But what seems possible isn’t always what’s real.

Instead, our dream of what we wanted our classroom to be, and what we wanted for our students, is nowhere NEAR as powerful, as beautiful, as transformational as what we have now, together.

We couldn’t dream up a relationship where who we are matters more than what we do.  

We couldn’t dream up a passion that inspires each of us, unites us together, and drives our students.

We couldn’t dream up a person who would help us get better at teaching and would help our students get better at learning.

We couldn’t dream up a classroom where our students are partners in their learning, where we get to learn as much as our students, and all together, we make our classroom into a collaborative community.
And while we couldn’t dream of a world where our collaboration is possible, we couldn’t dream of a world where what happened in Connecticut this past week was possible either.  

Where this kind of transformational relationship and community is not just possible; it’s essential.  Where isolation is only a memory, and in community, we somehow find the strength to deal with tragedy.

Unlike that teacher we both were once, standing alone on the first day of school, we no longer need to face trouble and tragedy on our own.  By reaching out on Twitter to someone we still have never met in person, we found the only thing that has the power to change us, our students, and our lives.  

We found an end to isolation.  Someone else who would stand with us through our darkest hours, and remind us that we are not alone.  But fixing us and our relationship isn’t enough.

Our dream is that all students can find the same thing.  And for that to be possible, our dream has to start with our fellow educators.  

We want all teachers to feel the strength of community supporting them, encouraging them, challenging them, and helping them heal.  

Our dream is that none of us feel isolated.  And none of us has to be alone.

Our dream is that the equation starts transforming lives now.

Just like it has transformed ours.

Both Andrew Thomasson and Cheryl Morris teach English at the high school level. Andrew is a 10th grade teacher at Forestview High School near Charlotte, North Carolina, and blogs atwww.concertedchaos.com (on Twitter – @thomasson_engl). Cheryl teaches 11th and 12th grade at Redwood High School in Marin, California, and blogs at www.morrisflipsenglish.com (on Twitter – @guster4lovers). They operate a website for their students at www.tmiclass.com and can be reached through their joint email at tmi@tmiclass.com. More information on how they are team-teaching from across the country can be found at their blogs and www.tmiclass.com, and their instructional writing/reading videos are on YouTube.


Day 9: Dreaming of Better Space by @johntspencer #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 3 Comments

Editor's note: My heart is heavy as we start the last week of the 12 Days of Dreaming. As we move forward with our dreams, there are 20 children who will never see their dreams fulfilled and countless people effected by this great tragedy. As we move forward this week, I hope we will all love a little more, reach a little further, and dream a little longer. This world will never be perfect but I refuse to think that we can't make it better. Take time today and hug a child, thank a teacher, encourage a parent, and remind somebody that they matter. 

Dream on my friends. 

“Ditch the Astrodome”

I remember watching baseball games in the 1980’s. I couldn’t tell if the Giants were playing in Pittsburgh, Cincinatti or Philadelphia. Every stadium was the same – a giant, donut-shaped behemoth meant for concerts, baseball games and football games. It was a one-size-fits-all mindset that ignored the nuances of the game.

Perhaps the worst of these stadiums was the Astrodome. Built in the sixties as a futuristic prototype of stadiums, it featured the world’s largest Jumbotron in the outfield and the trendiest yellow, orange and blue colors throughout. However, when the light blinded players, they painted the tiles and brought in Astroturf. The l turf injured players. The fans had horrible sightlines. The stadium grew into a modernistic relic.

So, it has me thinking about our donut-shaped behemoth schools systems. Some say we should crush them and build new places with iPads and Chromebooks and STEM centers. Think outside the box. Go futuristic.

I wonder, though, if we are simply setting ourselves up for a new Astrodome. See, I don't want to think outside the box. I don't want to demolish school altogether and start out with something new. I want to repurpose the box. I want to redesign schools so that they fit the purpose of learning.

My favorite ballparks are the ones designed with the baseball experience in mind. AT&T Park in San Francisco and Camden Yards in Baltimore come to mind. They are both high-tech without featuring tech as the driving force. There is an aesthetic and a purpose to the places that respects both the current context and the vintage past.

So, my dream for education is a little more like AT&T Park. Here’s what I mean:
  1. Respect the vintage while also thinking about the future: We need to recover nuance, paradox and a reconnection to the land. Some of the best ideas are vintage. Reformers need to be mindful that relevance is not the same as novelty.
  2. Open up the spaces: I’m struck by how open the best ball parks tend to be. Fenway and Wrigley fit this concept well. Why not open up the schools a little more? Create gardens. Allow for windows that open. Don’t tear down all walls, but maybe create some half-walls.
  3. Reconnect with the community: The newer ballparks open up to the community. They don’t feel as gated and guarded. You can see the beach or the skyline of the local community. What if schools were more open? What if they fit the identity of the community? What if we had more mentors, guest speakers and community experts?
  4. Be intentional: My favorite stadiums are built, not as stadiums, but as ball parks. They are designed for the game. We need to rethink the purpose of education and design schools that fit the purpose of learning. I would love to see more integration between subjects, more projects, more problem-solving and more critical thinking. I’d like to see fewer tests, packets and homework.
  5. Embrace creativity: The best ballparks have creative dimensions. Whether it’s the Green Monster or the ivy-covered fences or the home run porch, there is something creative to the place that fits the identity. I would love to see schools thinking creatively about space, curriculum and instruction. 
John Spencer is a sixth grade ELL teacher in Phoenix, Arizona. Over his nine years of teaching, his students have been involved in documentaries, murals and community service. He has also worked in doing professional development and coaching in technology integration. He blogs at edrethink and writes a column for Kappan Magazine. 


12 Days of Dreaming: Week 2 Recap and Week 3 Preview #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 0 Comments

Well, week two is in the books and just like that we are heading into the final week of the 12 Days of Dreaming. Thank you again to our amazing guest bloggers, our readers, those who shared out the post, and those who commented! What good are dreams if we don't share them with others and pursue them with all of our might?

Week 2

The week started off with an amazing post from Josh Stumpenhorst! I get excited every time I read it. 
This is my hope… the day when we will stand together as parents, teachers, and students and know that learning will one day be free. It will be free of curriculum, free of standardized testing, free of grading, free of unhealthy competition, free of financial restraints, free of textbooks, and free to be whatever the learners need and when they need it.
It is my hope that we push and fight for this! This is the message we need to be pushing in our schools and our community. It's one that we should fight for in our classroom. Those of us who are also parents, should be seeking this for our own children. Thank you Josh for capturing my dreams!

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about this project is just seeing how creative people are when they write. My good friend Shira Leibowitz took a great approach to her dream. I love how gave us insight into her personal journey as a learner. I think we can all learn from that. I think teachers are at their best when they are sharing their personal journey with their students. Dr. Leibowitz captures the shift we need to see in this paragraph.
We’ll need to envision education anew - shifting our focus from teaching to learning; from curriculum to feedback on practice; from standards to core values. These shifts will require us to think differently about potential ways of utilizing learning spaces, schedules, personnel, student groupings, and technology in order to improve the quality of learning. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations and will require collaborative, creative exploration and dreaming.
There are so many blog post we can branch out of this paragraph. However, it's not overwhelming when we take her advice and we strive for "collaborative, creative exploration, and dreaming."

Next we had Allie Holland reminding us what education is really all about, relationships. I can't say enough good things about Allie. Even though I have not known her for very long, I know she is a passionate and compassionate learner.
Moments that remind us why we teach are what we need to focus on; not the pile of papers we have to fill out or the other requirements that come bombarding our way. It’s very hard to see beyond all of this many times, but our students deserve our best, no matter what.
Thank you Allie for reminding us to look past the bureaucracy of education and to focus on what matters most!

Finally we got to end the week with a double post from Mr. & Mrs. TeacherCast. Jeff has been a great friend to me. I'm not sure there is a person who works harder at delivering great content to educators than Jeff. Jennifer is a great educator and an awesome wife for listening to her husband record countless podcast. ;) Jeff talked to us about redesigning the media hub of a school and Jennifer talked about music education.
I firmly believe that there needs to be a distinction in schools between a Media Center and a Library. A Library is a place for books.  It is concept as old as the books themselves.  It is a place for students to sit down with physical materials, put their thoughts on paper and learn.  It is a one-way place for knowledge.  For more than 100 years, students have entered libraries to take knowledge away from pieces of paper that have all the answers in the world.  The Media Center, however, is a place for students to sit down and not only gain knowledge, but share it as well.  
Jeff's point is clear. We need design schools that encourage and empower collaboration!
I wear many hats as a professional musician and educator. Those terms are interchangeable for me. As a musician, you innately teach and as an educator you create and change the people around you. My daily goal is to teach, perform, and learn with my students as if I had my ideal classroom.
You can feel Jennifer's passion for music education. It always breaks my heart when I hear of schools cutting the fine arts. It's such a great opportunity for our students to express and find themselves.

Week 3 Preview

We are going to finish strong next week with post from Shelley Wright, John Spencer, Brian Bennett, and the collaborative team of Cheryl Morris & Andrew Thomasson!

Finally we will have a 1 time #12DOD chat Thursday, December 20th, at 7:30 PM EST! We will be discussing how to make our dreams a reality! 

Thank you so much for taking part in week 2 of the 12 Days of Dreaming!

Dream on!


Day 8: Dreaming about Music & Media by @TeacherCast & @bassjen1 #12DOD

@mr_brett_clark 2 Comments

Editor's note: Today's special post is a double post from Mr. & Mrs. TeacherCast! I hope you enjoy both post, comment and share! Thank you for participating in the 12 Days of Dreaming! Don't forget to check out the other post! Only 4 more days left!

Dreaming about the Library: 
Reimagining the Schools Digital Hub

I have often thought, "If I could design a school, how would I design it?"  This isn't a very easy task.  There are many things to consider.  First, you would have to find a great location. The layout of the school grounds would include various sporting fields and space for additional out-door activities. The school building (itself) would be designed to accommodate thousands of learners.  Second, there needs to be strong leadership that not only had an eye on the future, but a humble mind to learn from both the present and the past.  Lastly, I would build this amazing establishment with several underground tunnels and passageways leading to the worlds greatest cultural establishments so students can take a field trip at any moments notice.

At the heart of this dream is the buildings particular shape and structure.  This building would have to have a common meeting area for both students and staff to meet, work, and function in a collaborative space.  In the perfect school, this centralized location would be the Media Center.  

I have often spoken and wrote about the concept of a Media Center.  I firmly believe that there needs to be a distinction in schools between a Media Center and a Library.  A Library is a place for books.  It is concept as old as the books themselves.  It is a place for students to sit down with physical materials, put their thoughts on paper and learn.  It is a one-way place for knowledge.  For more than 100 years, students have entered libraries to take knowledge away from pieces of paper that have all the answers in the world.  The Media Center, however, is a place for students to sit down and not only gain knowledge, but share it as well.  

Students live in a world of Web 2.0.  These small but important words are often pushed around the social media markets like they are nothing, but in reality, they mean EVERYTHING to society and to education.  Web 2.0 as a concept gives students and educators the ability to do something they could never do in a Library.  They have the ability to teach the book something it didn't already know.  This concept is far overlooked as an educational option these days.  This Interactivity between content curation and content creation would be the pinnacle reason behind making the Media Center the largest social space in my dream building.

Each Media Center would be outfitted in a similar fashion to the way an Apple Store currently is set up.  An open floor plan where students entering the space can have a panoramic view of everything that the room has to offer.  In the middle, would be a series of tables, each with a tablet device where students can access a complete catalog of the Media Centers Resources.  Against the walls would be flat panel internet video screens where students would be able to approach and control by voice manipulation. Other stations would be equipped with audio and video editing stations.  The Media Center would become the Digital Hub, Social Hub, and Educational Hub, not just for the school, but for the entire community.  Students would be able to create content, and with a push of a button, upload it for the entire district to view and learn from.  This model would completely revolutionize the concept of a "flipped classroom."

Is this a possibility or an improbability?  I hope this question never guests answered. I hope that the day never comes where we have to question the desire for technological progress and collaboration power between staff and students, and school and community.  In the mean time, I will continue dreaming and pushing forward with these dreams hoping to one day make them a reality.

I'm curious to know what you think?  What would your dream Educational Hub be in your school? 

Dreaming about My Ideal Music Classroom

First thing in the morning, my students drop their instruments and music books off into our room. The 4th graders are excited and can’t wait to learn about the new note or rhythm they will be learning because it will be their first time playing it, ever. Some proudly announce which family members they gave a performance for over the weekend.My favorite responses are students that tell me which notes they need help with or what is their favorite song (after only 7 weeks). All of these conversations, student-feedback, would ideally take place in our own classroom.
My ideal classroom has space for everything and everyone. The cello rack and violin/viola rack are against the wall,to the right of the door. The shelving units for band instruments are right beside them. The chairs are ergonomic, rehearsal chairs, not tiny children-sized chairs or over-grown slouchy folding chairs. The walls would have current sound proofing technology. Opposite the instrumental storage area are two mobile storage rack for the 20 black iron music stands.  There is a bright bulletin board that proudly displays all of the new terms (English,German, French, and Italian). Another bulletin board has a colorful chart to show who is in the lead for turning in practice logs.  Between the bulletin boards is a panel of mirror on the wall that is easily accessible to students and teacher to model correct posture for performing during a lesson. In the back of the room is a small Mac computer lab that is equipped to record students’ playing tests and save the files  to their own Dropbox account so that they can have a digital portfolio of their progress that will follow them through high school and beyond.  Whole ensembles  will be able to Skype and perform for peers across the world.Along with an audio portfolio, students will blog with themselves by using an “in-house” network. They will compose short pieces based on their current knowledge of notation, theory and pitches. These pieces will be shared to the world in a Live-Binder.
What I have described above is a dream. Maybe some forms of this dream exists in some alternative to the current standard educational choices available. We all have pieces of the ideal classroom even now. Why not start kids on recorders in public school at an age earlier then 8 yrs.? As human-beings, all of us  have a fundamental need to create. If we all learn how to speak at a young age by mimicking, listening and experimenting with what our family does around us,  we can use those same skills and support to encourage a class of 1st grade violinists. What other discipline in school motivates  students to become independent learners. Even as a musician on an elementary level, you need to hear/see/feel what you need to do to achieve the desired goal. However, if you do not get the response you want the first time, you truly do need to “look in the mirror”, experiment with the variables and teach yourself what you need to change.
Our reality is that tremendous sacrifice exists in education today in both the “Forrest” and “The Tree” perspective. School districts are cutting costs resulting in an exodus of highly qualified staff. There are political causes to some of this educational distortion but it all passes because the citizens of our country speak with their vote. In the broader perspective, education is running more stream-lined but according to the students’ achievment, this is not helping them. Anything that is not ‘common core’ gets hit the hardest. The visual and performing arts, physical education, and technology curriculums are vital in developing well-rounded productive citizens. The ancient Greeks knew this. Yet we ignore their wisdom by slashing and minimizing these programs in modern education. Children need to be taught to create and utilize all of the 21st century possibilities. This won’t happen when the teachers (adults) that they look up to are afraid or not allowed to incorporate mobile devices and 21st global methods of project learning into their classroom.
I wear many hats as a professional musician and educator. Those terms are interchangeable for me. As a musician, you innately teach and as an educator you create and change the people around you. My daily goal is to teach, perform, and learn with my students as if I had my ideal classroom. The longer I teach, the more I credit my student’s success to the natural resiliency of youth. Instruments and 1st year books in hand, they will play a lesson or rehearsal any place that is available  in a school building. If my students decide to continue their participation in creating music or at least use their basic knowledge of music to have a greater understanding of the world then I know that my ideal classroom has been achieved and it has no walls.

Jeffrey Bradbury teaches in the North Brunswick Twp School District. He teaches Music Theory, Music History and has a wonderful high school orchestra that he is very proud of. Jeff earned his Bachelors and Masters Degree from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. In his free time, Jeff enjoys teaching, playing violin, conducting, web design, and podcasting. You can find him on his website www.TeacherCast.net where he writes blogs, creates Audio Podcasts, reviews apps, and provides Screencasts to help teachers learn how to use todays technologies. @TeacherCast. For Music Lovers, he can also be found at: www.BradburyMusic.com

Jennifer Bradbury is a professional musician and educator. Jennifer’s favorite performances include soloing with orchestra, the Dragonetti Concerto and Koussevitsky concerto under the baton of her husband, Jeff Bradbury. Jennifer Bradbury earned a Master of Music in Double Bass Performance from Peabody Conservatory in 2006 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Double Bass Performance and Music Education from Carnegie Mellon University. Teachers have included Douglas Mapp, Paul Johnson, Anthony Bianco, and Boris Blumenkrantz. Jennifer serves as an instrumental instructor for the Pennsauken School District. In May 2010, under her direction, the Phifer Middle School Orchestra received a superior rating at the High Note Festival in Allentown, Pa. She resides in Pennsauken, NJ with her wonderful husband, Jeffrey.