I enjoyed a great day presenting at ISACS last week in Louisville.

Below you’ll find most of my materials from those presentations; thank you all who attended and thank you ISACS for inviting me.

Innovative Schools, Innovative Students:  A near identical version of those slides is available here.

Innovation is Iteration: the Marshmallow Challenge

After this highly interactive and energetic workshop, participants shared with me a set of great ideas they had for bringing the marshmallow challenge back to their schools.  One person spoke of being at a K-8 school with “family groups” composed of one student for each grade k-8, and using them there; another said she was at a PS-12 school where the pressure to be perfect and right all the time felt very strong and she wanted to do a school-wide marshmallow experience; another explained they were moving toward an iPad 1-1 implementation very slowly, concerned they needed to get everything in order just right before launching and that she wanted to do this to encourage people to jump in and start experimenting.

The slides above, which I used in a webinar I presented Monday for Simple K-12, is based on a post I wrote about a year and a half ago, entitled 15 Ways our Schools Can Prepare to be Relevant and Meaningful in 2015 and beyond.

The new presentation has evolved, of course,  a fair amount since that post, and it will continue to evolve, I am sure, in an organic way.     In this newer version, I made more of an emphasis on digital citizenship, added in some discussion of open computer testing, and expanded the conversation about personalized learning (via adaptive learning software) to include a discussion of recent fascination with student-centered learning analytics.

As I discuss in the webinar, this post/presentation/ongoing thinking can be seen as my response to or contribution to the work of others posing and framing the question: why school and how school should be in these fast changing times.   It is in part my tentative, still and always developing response to the subtitle of Will Richardson’s new book, Why School: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere.

It is also, in a sense, my take on Michael Horn’s article (co-written with Clayton Christensen), Rethinking Student Motivation, in which they offer their thinking on what students “hire” education for.  (For more about that, including a short dialogue I had with Michael in the comments, click here).  Using Horn’s metaphor of “hiring,” I am trying to answer what schools need to do to continue to be employed by students, and what they need to do to support their students in being employed in their future.

Let me unpack just a bit the two key descriptors.  By compelling, I mean learning which is engaging and attractive to students; it what they will find compelling them to want to come to school.   We want students to come to school not because it is mandatory nor because we offer them some vague promise it will prepare them for their future, but because they are eager to be there and to make the most of the environment.   In part, my intent is to preserve the bricks and mortar school-house, which I still think is a wonderful thing, but which is facing fast increasing competition from virtual learning environments, and so my argument for those situated in buildings is to determine what is it which will continue what brings students to school.

By relevant, I mean meaningfully and valuably preparatory for the world in which our students live today and, to the best of our ability to forecast, they will live in tomorrow.    What do they need to learn and what do we need to do to ensure they do?

Readers here can access and view the webinar at this link— but not necessarily for free.   If you are already a full member, you should be fine for free viewing; if you have not joined them yet, you’ll see a $17 price tag, but I think you can get a free basic membership, which then entitles you to watch a small/limited number of on-demand webinars for free.

I am seeking more opportunities to share this presentation;  readers who might be interested could suggest to your school, state or regional association, for instance, that I be invited to present at your next conference or professional development day.  This is a continually evolving conversation, which I think will be a little bit different each time I share it.

Below are some of the works cited in the presentation.

Last week I had the pleasure and honor to present online to the #Leadership20 MOOC, organized by George Couros and situated in a sense upon the Connected Principals Platform, with a session keyed to theAlberta Education Principal Quality Standardnumber 3, Leading a Learning Community.

Above you can see the slides; click here to open (it takes a couple of steps, including a download) the recorded session on elluminate complete with my audio and the chat commentary.

Below are my resources– books, articles, posts– referred to in the presentation.


  • Dweck, Carol, Mindset
  • Megan Tschannen-Moran, Trust Matters
  • Bryk and Schneider, Trust in Schools
  • Tough, Paul, How Children Succeed

Articles and Posts

Lessons Learned from the Good High School Project

Grant Lichtman Learning Pond educational journey blog

HBR article: Are You Learning as Fast as the World is Changing? Bill Taylor

Why I Blog: A Principal’s 13 reasons

Smackdown: Sharing Technology uses among the St. Gregory Faculty, 2012

Faculty Meeting Edcamp, Richard Kassissieh

Cale Birk  Collegial Conversations

9 Suggestions for the Welcome Back to School letter from the Principal

Michael Thompson article for parent conversation, Peer Pleasure Peer Pain.

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision-Making, Recommendation 2, Teach Students to Examine their own data and set learning goals

St. Gregory “Egg” 21st century skills and character Report Card

KIPP character report card

Awards posts: