#tedxmilehigh Conference

December 11, 2018 Leave a comment

Tedx MileHigh did not disappoint.  The range of ideas was amazing and surprising. This summary is only a small bit of awesomeness that was this day.

The first speaker was a tattoo technologist.  Carson Bruns is from University of Colorado Boulder and is researching ways tattoos could be helpful in heath.  He has tested UV ray sensitive tattoos that would allow you to know if your sunscreen has been worn off.  He has also tested temperature sensitive tattoos that would be able to tell you if you have a fever or not.

Matt Vogl was from University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus working on Mental Health issues.  He developed Augmented Reality sessions for prisoners in Alaska to be able to assimilate back into society after years of solitary confinement.

Alejandro Jimenz performed poetry out loud with three dancers who told of his family history in Mexico and the United States. He talked about Implicit Bias. Josh Dunn from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs discussed the importance of opposing views. Sabine Doebel discussed the need of teaching executive function and how it can change your life. Susan Cottrell discussed her faith and her family and how she ended up having to choose when her daughter came out as gay.  She felt like the family made her choose her church or her child.  But she has started other Christians in this same problem. Christoff Keplinger was a robotics Innovator who compared Rosie the Robot from the Retsons to the 180 artificial muscles to the hasel artificial muscles.

They also announced the upcoming Ted Talk Adventures which are free and usually hosted by a Ted Speaker.

Apryl Alexander from University of Denver talked about how in college she volunteered at a Women’s Shelter.  1/3 of sex offenders are under 18.  4% of youth never commit another sex crime. Sex Ed needs to be required in all schools. Sex Consent Education is only required in California. Ethan Mann is a microbiology maverick. He studied fowling shich is when barnacles and algae get on ships.  They stick to ships, whales, but not sharks.  Sharks have denticles that are diamond shape. Sharklet Technologies started because the surface energy allows textured surface to have repelling abilities.  Using a catheter for first testing on humans to see if the technology will lower infectious disease.  Laura Rovner from the University of Denver works fro the constitutional rights of prisoners. No one deserves to be tortured by the USA, but solitary confinement is torture. The prisoners use dog runs for exercise. Their vision changes because they don’t ever look more than 10 ft away.  Human identity is socially created.  Prisons are not transparent and they should be.  We have an obligation to bear witness.  Go to solitarywatch.org. Prisons must switch from vengeance and solitary confinement to something more human.

Kimberly Corban was raped in her own apartment and left for dead at age 20.  Somehow she survived.  She is Pro Gun for protection.  6 out of 1000 rapist get convicted. She released her name so that she can turn herself from a victim into a survivor.  In 2013 went to Colorado Legislators to tell her story. IN 2015 NRA wanted her as a spokesperson. In 2016 she was on CNN with O’Bama.  She hates this idea that you are either with us or against us.  Her story was hijacked for political gain.  Most people do not fit in one political box.

Mark Martin is a beat boxer whose mom was a special ed teacher.  When Mark found out how boring speech therapy was, he decided to see if he could make it more fun. When he learned about International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) he realized he could use it with Beat Boxing to teach speech.

Maytham Ashadood was a combat interpreter in Iraq for the US Army.  The combat interpreters were also cultural interpreters.   Then suddenly combat interpreters were targets and so were their families.  He applied for American citizenship for many years and was finally granted it.  He moved to Denver but they would not recognize his college credits, he would have to start over.  Maytham then realized that refugees don’t have instate tuition, but they don’t have any state.  So he worked until he gained instate tuition and has fought for those refugees coming over that have no state, so that they can receive instate tutition.


Reflections of an English Class

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

As part of the Global Scholar Diploma Program, all students must reflect on the classes they have taken with a global emphasis. Adeline Thames reflects on her sophomore English class with Mr. Reynolds.

“In Honors English, we read literature set in a melangerie of countries, cultures, and time periods and delved into themes that remain prominent across literary settings. The class discussions were very passionate and intriguing, and they allowed me to see and understand parts of a text that I may have missed otherwise. Our teacher, Mr. Reynolds, helped to cultivate a fun and intriguing environment for literary analysis, particularly of “zesty” novels/phrases, as he liked to put it. Each day, I looked forward to the class because the individual perspectives of my classmates coupled with interesting themes and motifs that we read about helped me to try and comprehend fascinating concepts, in literature and in life. Mr. Reynolds helped to foster my already grand love of reading by encouraging passionate discourse and intellectual dialogue, sprinkled with “juicy” new vocabulary words and “delicious” motifs (He really liked to describe books with appetizing adjectives). We read books such as Brave New World, Into the Wild, Frankenstein, Macbeth, The Swallows of Kabul, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Where the Bluebird sings to the Lemonade Springs, and Heart of Darkness. I loved reading such diverse, beautiful texts because they each presented unique characters, places, ideas, and challenges, all of which led to a deeper understanding of struggles or themes beyond what I have myself experienced. The struggles endured by literary characters serve as lessons to me and help me better understand the world around me and its vast diversity.

Possibly my favorite part about reading is that through a book, poem, or story, I get to have a glimpse into another world—a chance to live a life different from my own. Literature is a portal for the imagination, a time-travel machine, and a cheap international flight all in a thick stack of ink and paper. Being surrounded by other lovers of literature in Honors English furthered my passion for it, and I still crave books every day. Reading satisfies part of my soul, and books have immensely helped me become a more well-rounded person. I love stories from around the globe, and I hope to one day experience much of what I can read about.”

Adeline Thames ’19 is four-year senior from Flagstaff, Arizona. Adeline’s GSD research will focus on Eating for the Environment: Food Sustainability . Adeline is an active student leader as a Resident Advisor in the Penrose East girls dorm and president of the Environmental Protection Club and the French Club.

#1angryblackman @mumba50

November 12, 2018 Leave a comment

On November 7th, 2018, Menelek Lumumba, a Colorado College alumni visited the college to show his film “1 Angry Black Man“.  Mr. Lumumba opened by telling us that the film is a love letter to a liberal arts education and a tribute to continue with open conversations.  The film’s setting is college English class where they discuss life and books. The writers featured changed the world by writing down their experiences.  Education is a tool, a resource, a weapon, but it is not a protection.  Open conversations with those who you disagree with allow you to sharpen your intellectual sword.   Lumumba also discussed how you write the script, you shoot the script and then you re-write the script while you edit the film.  If you have a chance to see the film, it is worth it.  I can’t wait to see what else Lumumba creates next.

“Yes, And” @TheSecondCity

November 5, 2018 Leave a comment

The book “Yes, And” was recommended during a Google Summit at Falcon School District by Jennifer Williams (@JLenore24).  I loved her session there called Infusing Creative Chaos & the #ImprovEducator Mindset Into Your ClassroomShe is an entertaining presenter and I would love to learn more from her.  The book “Yes, And” was everything I thought it would be.  It was funny and inspirational and affirming.  The authors talk about how often leaders use the phrase “yes, but” . They describe that phrase as negating itself.  How can you say yes and be agreeing and then right away disagree.

The authors have a whole chapter on “How to Build an Ensemble” and how you don’t want a team. A team is usually more competitive. You need to try out for a team.  But an ensemble has to work together.  It is different people working together for a common goal – this is similar to the improv group and how and why it hires who it hires.

The first exercise that I want to try with students and co-workers is the “Talk Without I” exercise.  This teaches us to show more empathy because the world is not all about us. They also explain many more exercises that I will be trying at my school.  They really talk about how life is full of improvisational situations so learning improv is an important skill to have.  This is true partly because in order to be good at improv, you need to be a good listener. This is demonstrated in the exercise “Last Word” – someone says a sentence and the next person has to carry on the conversation using the last word that the first person said, and you go back and forth to practice listening.

At the end of the book they have a great “One Last List” that they believe could apply to any work place.  It is simply but meaningful advice.  If you get a chance, read this book.

Listening to @Moriel_RZ

November 2, 2018 Leave a comment

Listening to Moriel Rothman-Zecher today with a room full of teenagers made me appreciate writers even more than I already do.  Rothman-Zecher talked to the students about his first fiction book that came out in February 2018 called “Sadness is a White Bird” which is described by Goodreads.com as: “In this lyrical and searing debut novel written by a rising literary star and MacDowell Fellow, a young man is preparing to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country.”

Rothman-Zecher had never read from his novel to a high school audience.  He was academic, yet funny – serious, yet hip.  The students laughed and were quiet anticipating his next word.  Rothman-Zecher encouraged the students to read, read, read.  He said the best way to learn how to write fiction is to read fiction. Rothman-Zecher also wished that someone had told him in high school that you didn’t need to wait to write, you just needed to write.  Rothman-Zecher talked about the writing process and sometimes you hate writing but you had to do it everyday even if you just stared at the screen. Rothman-Zecher was originally going to write a non-fiction book about his experience, but he decided fiction allows you to imagine what if. Fiction can take one detail and change it and make an amazing story out of it.  If you have time, pick up his book.  I started it tonight!




September 25, 2018 Leave a comment

I am finally writing a quick review of the blindspot.  It was very interesting book.  The book Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald discusses the Implicit Association Test which looks at hidden-bias blindspots and discovers what it contains.  If you haven’t seen these from Harvard, check out the website at: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html.

The book discusses how Malcolm Gladwell took the implicit test on race and realized he had some racism in his blindspot, which shows that anyone can have them.  The authors even took the same implicit test again and again to try to score better.  But there is not a better score, those blindspots are just there.  It is good to know about them so that you know you have them but you can’t change them.   The term truthiness is defined as “the tendency to accept propositions that one wishes to be true as true, ignoring the usual verification standards for facts.”  In the book, the authors describe mindbugs as “ingrained habits of thought that lead to errors in how we perceive, remember, reason and make decisions.” Social mindbugs are particularly dangerous because they may allow us to trust people we shouldn’t trust or the opposite. Some of our mindbugs are caused by our evolution.  For example, staying away from people that are different from us used to be a necessity, not it could cost a company money.  Mindbugs can be less dangerous if we understand the disparity between our inner minds and outward actions.

Grey lies are usually used in order to spare your own feelings. Humility must be had about self-insight because we have little access to our conscious minds.  The book asks, “can we outsmart the machinery of our own . hidden biases?”  In order to do this, humans must have an awareness of the mindbug, a desire to improve and a way to do it.

Make it Stick Book Study

August 21, 2018 Leave a comment

This summer reading included “Make It Stick” by Peter Brown.  This book should be read by all educators and trainers.  Many good information in it that can be used for “how to learn”.  These are my notes and favorite quotes from the book.

The idea of failure has always intrigued me.  I believe that the word fail means the first attempt in learning.  Brown discusses that failure gives us useful information and can make us dig deeper or try other strategies. “Making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning.” (p7).  There is a lot of discussion of whether re-reading is more helpful than other ways of to review.  In fact, two many re-reading has “negligible benefits at the expense of . much more effective strategies that take less time.” (p15). The authors also discuss the applying of knowledge to real world problem solving. “Mastery requires both the possession of ready knowledge and the conceptual understanding of how to use it.” (p18) .

The core ways to learn are retrieval, spacing, interleaving, variation, reflection and elaboration.  The retrieval practice effect is when learning sticks far better when we have to retrieve the information rather than just re-reading the information.  Retrieving the information changes the memory of the information enabling it to be retrieve again easier. “Practice that’s spaced out, interleaved with other learning, and varied produces better mastery, longer retention, and more versatility.” (p 47) What the authors really want you to do is mix it up.  If we practice all addition and test on addition, then we practice all subtraction and test on subtraction,  the learning doesn’t stick as much as mixing it up. Mixing it up allows us to learn context and decide on the best way to answer the problems. Life is not all addition at a time, life comes at us un predictably and out of sequence.  Practice like you play and you will play like you practice is an old sports adage that does make sense.  Too much repetition is boring, so you need to change how you practice and you always need to keep practicing fundamentals.

Spacing allows for you to forget what you learned so the retrieved can then embed into your learning more.  “Beware of the familiarity trap; the feeling that you . know something and no longer need to practice it.”  Interleaving allows you to switch topics during the practice, not wait for one to be complete.  Studies show that is is more effective to practice different skills at the same time.  When you study flashcards, you shuffle them.  You should not always practice them in the exact same order.  Reflection is a form of retrieval practice and elaboration.  You should ask what happened and what would you do differently next time.

“The process of strengthening these mental representations for long-term memory is called consolidation.” (p71) Consolidation helps the brain give the learning meaning and make connections to your own experiences. “(B)ecause new learning depends on prior learning, the more we learn, the more possible connections we create for further learning.” (p76)   Generation describes not getting spoon-fed information but having to try to solve a problem or answer a question. Studies show that attempting to answer the question incorrectly is better than not trying. Reflection also helps you embed the learning in your brain by using retrieval, elaboration and generation.  “Write to Learn” reflection is about taking new knowledge and learning about how it connects to previous knowledge.

“Difficulties are desirable because they trigger encoding and retrieval processes that support learning, comprehension, and remembering. (p98) Learning happens in three stages: 1) encoding where it goes to short-term memory, 2) consolidation where you organize and make connections to the past, and 3) retrieval where you can apply it when needed. “One problem with poor judgement is we usually don’t know that we have it.” (p102) “Every time we call up a memory, we make the mind’s routes to that memory stronger, and this capacity to strengthen, expand, and modify memory is central to how we deepen our learning and broaden the connections to what we know and what we can do. ” (p112) But that means that “even your most cherished memories may not represent events in the exact way they occurred. (p112)

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman breaks up our analytic system in two: System 1 is the automatic system which works unconsciously and immediately and System 2 is the controlled system which waits for reasoning and our consciousness to weigh in.  One problem with society is that we don’t like ambiguity.  We always try to search for an explanation of why things happen.  Psychologists also coined the term “curse of knowledge” which is the tendency to believe that others know what we know.   “Incompetent people lack the skills to improve because they are unable to distinguish between incompetence and competence.” (p121) . They see know need to improve because they believe that they are competent.

“The responsibility for learning rests with every individual, whereas the responsibility for eduction rests with the institutions of society.”  We know we need to get students to take control of their learning.  We also know that you should never get rid of material you think that your students have mastered because they need to review it again and again to make sure it sticks.

“People who receive instruction in a manner that is not matched to their learning style are at a disadvantage for learning. ” (p132) . The author refers to Carol Dweck’s growth mindset.  We need students to understand that intelligence is fluid.  Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.   Besides learning styles there are also rule learners and example learners.  Knowing what kind of learners all your students favor, will help you be a better teacher.  Students also need to know “use it or lose it”.  “Success is less dependent on IQ than on grit, curiosity, and persistence. ” (p182) In order to increase your ability you need expert performance that comes from deliberate practice.

They discuss Memory Training from the book “Moonwalking with Einstein” . I have the read the book and it is totally worth the read.  The tools are mnemonic devices – such as acronyms to remember things.  The other tool is a memory palace which enables you to take a location you know well and put your memories there so that you can walk through and have a visual reminder of your memories.  Pictures are easier to remember than words. The peg method is for rhyming to remember.  The author ends with these three key skills for learning – quizzing or retrieval practice spaced out, interleave – variety is the spice of life, elaboration – find layers of meaning in new material. Generation is when teachers quiz before teaching.

During discussions the English department like the example of  Stanford Baseball, which translates as creating a classroom where Unpredictability is seen as a an opportunity and not a threat. They called it Predictable chaos.

The Science Department took the following notes:

  1. Theoretical and some very practical. Salient points for the classroom.
  2. There is lots of memorization in Science and how can we do it better?
  3. Learning Style Inventory in Biology textbook talks about how it is not valid.
    1. It is good for students to know how you learn and how your teachers teach. Students need to advocate for themselves when they don’t get the learning with their teachers’ style.
    2. Discussed screencasting and flipping your classroom and how it connects. Need to make sure there is accountability. Taking notes during screencast helps the students process the information.
    3. Students in Simon’s class have to take an outline from every reading. This has improved their scores and comprehension. The book mentions the weekly summary – What have we learned this week?
  4. Quizzing – more quizzes to test their knowledge.
    1. Students need to write the quiz and teacher takes the quiz and then have the students grade the teacher.  Right, Solve, Grade (including evaluating the question).
    2. Have students grade their own quizzes with an answer key.
  5. Teachers emphasize recall, but the experts ask for more modeling and conceptual diagramming. Interpreting the data, not just using the data. What is your understanding of the model?
  6. Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset.  We have many students who are really smart, but are not resilient.  Comment on their process and work ethic, and less about how smart they are.
  7. We need to let them struggle but then follow up.  Give them the feedback so that they can grow.
  8. Challenges – work through the difficulty, not having the answer or giving the answer.  Open ended problems that give them creativity.
  9. One idea is to give students the answers and then ask them to explain how to get to those answers.
  10. Make sure the students know why you are teaching the way you are teaching.
  11. Memorization needs to become knowledge retrieval and then application
  12. Using a synthesis grade.  How can you take the separate chapters and pull them together?
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