Class of 2011 KSYB Teacher Challenge Commencement

I like that we call graduation “commencement” because commencement literally means beginning. As we graduate from the “30 Days to Kick Start Your Blogging” teacher challenge, I realize it is really the beginning. It is the beginning for all of us new (or freshly spiffed up) bloggers. An interview with my blog started this challenge, so I thought I would end the challenge with a final interview. But before my blog comes out, I wanted to show a word cloud of my blog over the past month. I am delighted with the big ideas and topics included.

Teacher Challenge Blog Posts in a Wordle
Teacher Challenge Blog Posts in a Wordle

Well, Dare to Care Blog, why do you need readers?
Mrs. Krebs and all the fine educators who have been in this blogging challenge learned they have joined a conversation. They believe that they really do have something to offer in their listening to others and in their sharing of their own voices. According to my ClustrMap, in her first eleven months of blogging, she had about 450 visitors. In one month, as she participated in this awesome 30-day professional development program at Edublogs, she had 300+ visitors. From little over 1 visitor per day to 10 per day! Of course, we all know how that happened. Neither she nor I did anything new or exciting. There were no prizes, no gimmicks, her writing skills didn’t improve, nor did she have incredible new insights. It wasn’t the fancy widgets she put on my sidebar or the categories and tags she cleaned up. The only thing that really changed was she joined a community of educators willing to help each other by listening and sharing. It was transformational. Mrs. Krebs and I, her trusty blog, thank all of you!

How can we stay networked? How can the conversations continue?
I believe it will be more difficult without the regular prodding of Sue Waters, Ronnie Burt, Sue Wyatt, and Anne Mirtschin. However, it will be possible, if educators do a few things.

First, join Twitter, if you haven’t already. Follow the four educational leaders above and @mrsdkrebs. Send out tweets when you post a new blog entry. Follow educational leaders and read their blogs.

Second, dare to share. (Just a little play on my name there!) Write posts about incredible lesson plans, questions one has, cool new web 2.0 apps, genius student work, and any other professional and personal reflections. And write them regularly!

Finally, because there won’t be the handy “Posts of the Week” links to visit each others’ blogs, you’ll need to be proactive in going out to read others’ blogs. Have you found some favorite bloggers already? Add them to your reader or subscribe by email. Or add them to your blogroll and visit them regularly.

Why has this challenge been important to you and your blog?
My writer, Mrs. Krebs, asked me to yield to her on this question, so she’s taking over.

It’s an exciting time in education. According to Tony Wagner, American education is due for a major renovation. It’s happened just once before. Over 125 years ago, our school system was reinvented. It went from a one-room school house model to an assembly-line school system, the same factory model we still have today. American education doesn’t just need a reform, it needs a re-invention. I know it’s true. Students think education is irrelevant to their lives. They don’t believe the stale promise, if you work hard and get good grades, you’ll get a good job. I don’t want to waste any of my valuable time teaching in a way that is irrelevant. I want to be in on the conversation that is reinventing education. I don’t have grand ideas, but I do believe I can be part of the discourse. I am eager to listen and share and reflect. My blog has become a part of that!

Check out Iowa Future and Tony Wagner’s motivating talk:

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?