Curiosity and Imagination are Survival Skills

I’m loving the new Iowa Future website. In the Overview section, it explains how we can’t teach to our past, but to our students’ future: “That is why Iowa Future is promoting the need for innovation in education, sharing ideas from across the state and nation, and highlighting the work underway to prepare for the future, to help all students realize success and possess the knowledge and skills to be ready for tomorrow, not yesterday.”

On a post yesterday at there was an interview with Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap. On the video, addressing Iowan citizens, he explained that to be ready for college or the workforce, our students all need to be lifelong learners and active and informed citizens. The following are the “Seven Survival Skills” our students need, according to Tony Wagner:

1. Critical thinking
2. Collaboration across networks & leading by influence
3. Agility and adaptability
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
5. Ability to access and analyze information
6. Effective oral and written communication
7. Most importantly, curiosity and imagination

In addition to these intellectual survival skills, Wagner reminds his listeners that the habits of the heart have always, and will continue to be, important: The qualities of empathy, moral courage, and a strong work ethic are skills of the heart.

Wagner said we need to develop core competencies and work to teach and test them. Most countries leading the way in education have already been doing this. In Iowa, we are not. An example he used is that the Iowa Test of Basics Skills does not even attempt to test whether our students are critical thinkers.

His talk made me open the Iowa Core Curriculum website and take a look around. I quickly found evidence of the first six survival skills in the sections on Literacy, Employability Skills, and Technology Literacy.

I guess I wasn’t surprised that I did not find evidence of the seventh—curiosity and imagination—the skill he describes in the video as “most important.” Am I wrong? I hope so.

Is curiosity and imagination a standard—either explicitly or implied—in the Iowa Core Curriculum? Is curiosity and imagination in any state or country’s curriculum?

A Wall Full of Widgets

Another snow day in the Midwest, along with teacher challenge Activity 7 on widgets, compelled me to go searching for snowflakes to lightly fall upon my blog. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until some of my students noticed it, and were rightly impressed. Now I can show them the code and let them put it on their own blogs. If you would like the snowflake code, in honor of the greatest snowstorm in U.S. history, you can cut and paste it from here:

<script src=”” type=”text/javascript”></script> or get it

The rest of my blogging time today was spent with a potpourri of widgets! I have seen some interesting things about QR codes, so I made one for the first time. (Is a QR code a widget?) I couldn’t figure out how to capture the HTML code (if there is HTML), so I didn’t put it in my sidebar.  If you have the means to read QR codes, you may be able to scan this and read my profile.  I don’t have a device that reads QRs, so I can’t check it out. Check out this video for some amazing educational applications of QRs at McGuffy School District. A good blog post by Kimberly at I Heart EdTech also gives uses for QR codes in educational settings.QR Business Card





Yesterday I saved an archive of my blog so I could monitor changes in my sidebar, before and after the big cleanup. I used Photovisi to make a collage.

Yesterday's Sidebar

It is a bit mixed up, but I think you can get the idea that it was full of widgets. The link sections were too long, as I had 21 students’ blog links listed. Those were moved to my new class blogs page. I removed extraneous widgets that were there by default, and I followed Sue Waters advice on what were must-have widgets. Additionally, I added a little note about my blog. I didn’t want my sidebar to be  long and cluttered again, but I still needed to add some must-haves, and I did—an RSS feed chiclet and a subscribe by email box.

In addition, now I have useful categories, newly named and organized, and I kept the tag cloud. I also went back and tagged all my old posts, something I hadn’t done since I started my blog a year ago. The ClustrMap went to the bottom of the page, along with two other badges I’m proud of—we’re in the blog directory and I’m an Edublogs supporter.

I believe my sidebar is still less cluttered today than it was yesterday. Hopefully, it will also be more effective today than it was yesterday. However, as I drafted this post, I stopped midstream and added a Twitter feed widget.

My, what fun! OK, I must stop now, or I’ll be back to my meter-long sidebar. But, wait, how about Shelfari? And I’ve definitely been wanting to check out a grocery list widget, a springtime in Paris widget, and the ubiquitous Elvis classics widget. Oh, never mind! Really, I do need to stop widgetizing this blog!

What do you think about my new sidebar? Did I improve it with Activity 7? Any suggestions for making it better? Do you think it’s still too cluttered? I would welcome any comments from my fellow #ksyb friends! In addition, if you can read a QR code, will you please let me know if mine says anything?