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The Lasting Influence of Will Richardson

February 7, 2014

If you spent this morning at Will Richardson‘s session, “Old School to Bold School: Modern Learning in a Changing World,” you may be feeling a bit unsettled in your views of education.  This is a good thing. Perhaps you are thinking that he nailed some of the counter-cultural impulses you’ve felt now and then as an educator who means to do well by his or her kids.  Trust that.

Will Richardson was one of my first teachers as I began to understand the shifts happening in education today.  He taught me about RSS feeds in a poster session at ISTE in 2006. He instructed me in how to try out new tools online in his book (the only one available at the time) on Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts at about the same time. I began experimenting with all three, and I saw their effect on my students. They were excited, scared, intrigued, engaged.  I cornered him at a kick-off session for Powerful Learning Practice and asked him how he was able to draw real readers to his blog.  He pushed me to read Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus and to challenge my students to use blogging to transparently document their learning. Once when I arranged for a number of my colleagues to attend one of Will’s presentations, one of my younger co-workers, who reacted strongly in the negative to the ways Will pushed this young teacher to question education, decided I was a revolutionary disguised as an every-day teacher in his midst.  I figured I was on the right track.

Will Richardson cares deeply about education and wants others to crack it open and pursue all it can be. He asks us the hard questions: Why School? If he doesn’t make you question what you do, he figures he hasn’t done his job.

Will Richardson teaches us to think about what matters — exactly as we hope to do for the students who walk into our classes every day.


Design Thinking and Reflection

February 6, 2014

The importance of reflection in the design thinking process:

  • What did you and your team do well?

  • What challenged you?

  • What surprised you?

  • How did it feel to be a learner learning a new skill?

  • How did the process help you develop creative confidence?

Design Thinking : Brainstorming Rules

February 6, 2014

Brainstorming rules:

  • Defer judgement

  • go for volume of ideas

  • one conversation at a time

  • be visual

  • headline

  • build on the ideas of others

  • Stay on Topic

  • Encourage Wild Ideas

Design Thinking Mindsets

February 6, 2014


  • human centered

  • mindful of process

  • show don’t tell: importance of drawing

  • bias toward action

  • radical collaboration

  • culture of prototyping: if you have an idea, build it.

Leading New Literacies

February 6, 2014

After sitting through a three hour workshop on new digital literacy I am left with multiple things: sensory and information overload, inspiration by many great teachers, and puzzlement. I think that many people in the workshop shared some of these feelings, so I do not feel alone. Part of me wants to just drop everything I have been doing in the classroom for 20 years, but another part of me still has big questions about the validity of such a heavy reliance on digital media and technology in the classroom. Perhaps this is because I have had such powerful experiences with non-digital learning. As a teacher, nothing really compares to the learning that goes on when you get a group of students in a classroom, give them a rich text to discuss and then see what happens. Just yesterday I had such an experience in my classroom. There was no technology, just four rich sources and seventeen bright minds who were willing to think, wonder and question outloud. At the same time, I do see where digital tools can stimulate young people and get them more motivated to produce “public” work. I also see the value in connecting to other classrooms and experts. So I am ready to try so new things and see how it goes, but I will be very cautious about “not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Jason Yaffe’s reflection on Will Richardson’s workshop

February 6, 2014

Confused? Uncomfortable? You bet, as I listen to Will Richardson at the ISAS Teaching Conference and his workshop on “From Old School to Bold School.” More to come in a deeper blog post later, but for now, here are some sample questions that Will is putting out there and what I find myself wondering about – What are our students doing with the access in their hands? What other “teachers” are they turning to out there on the web? To what degree are they able to navigate the difference between fact and fiction, reputable “teachers” and those they should avoid? How are we, as educators, modeling exploration of our vast world? Will is empowering us to go back to our schools and to rethink the very definition of education. This surely entails taking risks, trying, failing, and then rethinking what just happened. That’s the growth mindset that can help schools meet our students where they are…before they pass us up (or has that already happened?)!

Great session by Will Richardson

February 6, 2014

If you have not had a chance to hear Will’s message, take the time to check out his website or follow him on Twitter @willrich45. It will change the way you think about teaching. The age of ABUNDANCE is upon us.

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