[cross-posted from Connected Principals]

Jen ratio: the total positive interactions among people in a shared environment divided by the negative interactions; a measurement of the social well being of any shared environment.  (Dacher Keltner, What’s your Jen ratio?).

Promoting positive and supportive school cultures and environments is among the very highest of our priorities as principals and school leaders.  We all believe strongly that a happy and safe school is a prerequisite for learning, and we recognize that this is characterized by positive social interactions that lift our moods and enhance our joy and motivation for learning.

Jane McGonigal‘s excellent and inspiring new book, Reality is Broken,  delves into the intersection of positive psychology (the happiness movement) and gaming, and offers many ways we can consider bring gaming into reality and improve it.

In one of the book’s many sections I know will be fascinating and compelling for educators and “connected principals,” a chapter entitled  Happiness Hacking,”  she writes about “transitory public sociality,” and for this reader it spoke directly to our goal for our schools to be positive places of support, encouragement, and good will.

We experience it in all kinds of public places: sidewalks, parks, trains, restaurants, for example.  These transitory social interactions, when they happen, are usually brief and anonymous: we catch another’s eyes, we smile, we make room for someone else, we pick up something someone has dropped, we go on our own way.  But these brief encounters, taken cumulatively, have an aggregate impact on our mood over time. (more…)

[original version, 11 Ways…, originally published at Connected Principals, 1.24.11]

[Numbers 11-14 have been added since the previous publication.]

Technology and innovation are accelerating rapidly outside education, but not rapidly enough inside education.  To quote NAIS President Pat Basset, Schools which are not schools of the future will not be schools in the future.

Like others, I am fascinated by pieces  forecasting the coming changes in schooling, and I am inspired by their example to offer my own.

Two that have been particularly intellectually intriguing and influential to me are  Tom Vander Ark’s Ed Reformer post,  The Pivot to Digital Learning: 40 Predictions, and Shelly Blake-Pollock’s post, 21 Things That Will Become Obsolete in Education by 2020.

I should add too that my thinking is greatly informed by the Christensen and Horn’s Disrupting Class,  US DOE’s Karen Cator’s NETP: National Education Technology Plan, the writings of Michael B. Horn, and the Digital Learning Now initiatives.

This particular list is intended to present fifteen ways schools can continue to be  relevant, compelling, attractive, and effective to both students and parents in the coming years.   (more…)

This TED video is inviting and intriguing, even if it is not easy to tell how far in her cheek is her tongue.    Part of McGonigal’s point: if kids are more engaged in videogaming than in any other activity, and if deep, compelling engagement is the sine qua non of excellence in learning, then we have to ask: shouldn’t gaming have a place in K-12 learning?   (more…)

Michael Herzog and Qiyam Tung, who teach together here at St. Gregory (Qiyam is a University of Arizona graduate student on fellowship with us),  have taken great initiative this year in enhancing the high school Algebra curriculum, strengthening its use of technology, and using video game programming logic and structure to illustrate the power and value of Algebraic equations.  (See particularly slides 11-20)   The slides above are from the presentation they gave Monday at the annual teacher conference of the Arizona Association of Independent Schools (AAIS).