SPARKplaces 2016

“Welcome to the first-ever SPARKplaces gathering.

From the very beginning of daydreaming this event, we were certain about a few things. We wanted:

  • an intimate experience that invested in authentic human relationships;
  • to gather creatives and visionaries that love discovering new ideas;
  • all participants to be uniquely hand-selected year one;
  • a fully immersive expedition, not a pick-n-choose conference;
  • to explore the design of learning environments but make sure we were focused on ‘learning’ first, ‘environments’ second;
  • to trust in everyone’s expertise and experience coming in the door, but more importantly we wanted to see what happens when people let go of their own biases;
  • to be inspired by the spirit of ‘design thinking’ without over worrying details;
  • to ‘wander’ and ‘wonder’ without apology;
  • to ‘do’ and ‘create’ something that gained momentum after the event ends;
  • to see if a tribe could emerge that seeks to keep exploring together over time.”

Such is how the SPARKplaces notebook began with a welcome to the participants. In this two-day design expedition, we gathered in the stunning Convent and Stuart Hall School, situated in the Flood Mansion, and we engaged in a collection of provocations and challenges that yielded compelling design possibilities and inspiring manifestos. For me, one of the most exciting findings took the form of the fast-cycle in which all of this concentrated effort occurred. The window of work, not much more than ten hours when all was said and done, created a set of artifacts and launching pads derived from committed teams of people — work that could be replicated, in process, with the people who make up a single-school community, as well as a tribe of people from various schools.

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Rapid-fire speakers sharing profound talks in five minutes, dinner table prompts hybridizing a Jeffersonian Dinner format, epic questions, learning metaphors, and a learning ecology build palpable momentum, “completed” by a manifesto drafted by each team and percolated to richness because of all of the meaningful pump-priming that preceded the quick-write of shared understanding and conviction.

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Paradoxically, the work felt “finished” and unfinished simultaneously. Wonderfully, it excited me to continue the efforts and forward the next steps…whatever they may be.

SPARKplaces 2016 Storify

Many heartfelt thanks to Christian Long (Wonder, by Design), Carla Silver (Leadership + Design), Howard Levin (Convent and Stuart Hall), and to the fellow participants who poured themselves into this collaboration. I felt honored to be in your learning community.

Please vote for Curiosity-based Learning to be at #SXSWedu

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What if we could create and use everyday rituals and routines to nourish people’s natural, human curiosity and build fun systems to launch innovation projects in schools and communities?!

Well, Meghan Cureton and I proposed a session for SXSWedu (in March 2016) that can do that very thing! And SXSWedu uses a platform to select proposals that includes public voting and feedback (which we think is awesome!) We need your help to spread this good idea and take it even further with collaboration from others at SXSWedu.

Please consider voting for the proposal that Meghan Cureton and I submitted to SXSWedu 2016

Curiosity-based Learning: Exploring Innovation (link)

You can read about the proposed session on SXSWedu’s Panel Picker page (link above), and you can get more details – if you are interested – from the links below.

  • Curiosity-based Learning: Exploring Innovation has just been selected to the Evolve stage on The Teachers Guild. Check it out here and here.
  • I use CBL as the core of #fsbl – “father-son-based learning.”
  • Meghan and I facilitated two half-day workshops at Traverse 2015 focused on curiosity-based learning and exploring innovation.

We’d love to share this exhilarating and change-making method with other educators and innovators. And we’d so appreciate your help in getting to SXSWedu 2016.

THANK YOU! Stay curious! Be explorers!

Curiosity-Based Learning: Teaching Innovation Through Design #TVRSE15

On Tuesday, June 9, Meghan Cureton and I are facilitating one of the hands-on learning expeditions at the Traverse Conference in Boulder, CO. Actually, we’re offering the session twice – from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Mountain Time)

Our sessions are called “Curiosity-Based Learning: Teaching Innovation Through Design.” You can find our session flow and resource links at bit.ly/TVRSE15-Adams-Cureton, and the Google doc is embedded below, too.

Also, you can find a post on the Traverse Ideas blog that shares some details about the thinking behind the session – “How do we teach ‘the explorers’?”

My Learning Journey at #SXSWedu 2014

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For several weeks, I’ve been wanting to archive the learning sessions that I attended at #SXSWedu this year. Today, I finally got around to it.

My Learning Journey at SXSWedu 2014:

Monday, March 3, 2014

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

IT’S ABOUT LEARNING: “Be Present: Mount Vernon Plays to Connect #SXSWedu Session & Creative Mornings Atlanta on #Childhood”

  • Meet-Up with Dr. Reshan Richards, 3.4.14, 4:30 p.m.
  • Mardi Gras Party Hosted by 4.0 Schools
  • Dinner with @am_gallagher, @scitechyedu, @SAISNews, @lndeutch, @kamithor, @elizabeth_lytle

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 Wednesday, March 5, 2014

STORIFY: “Wed., 3.5.14, Bo’s a.m. #SXSWedu #selfdirect #DisruptEdu”

  • Reverse Engineering to Teach Design in High School, 3.5.14, 2:00 p.m.
  • #AK12DC Mentors & Facilitators Conference Call, 3.5.14, 3:30 p.m.
  • Meet-Up with Julie Wilson, Institute for the Future of Learning, 3.5.14, 5:00 p.m.
  • Dinner with @scitechyedu, @jennzia, @WickedDecent, @treyboden, @lndeutch, @coachhkay, +some
  • #dtk12chat live from #SXSWedu

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

STORIFY: “Tapping Crowd Wisdom RE: #Badges #MicroCredentialing”

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STORIFY: Reflecting on #SXSWedu 2014 via Tweets”

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Related: SAIS@SXSWedu

Be Present: Mount Vernon Plays to Connect #SXSWedu Session & Creative Mornings Atlanta on #Childhood

How are you being present – being in the present – and playing to connect?

On Tuesday, March 4, thanks to Mary Cantwell, Trey Boden, a number of folks @MVPSchool, and the organizers of SXSWedu, I enjoyed a fabulous opportunity to facilitate a Playground Session at SXSWedu, in the “Hands On” category.

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Our game plan for the session can be found on Scribd and Google Docs. And Mary (@scitechyedu) captured much of the fun, in pictures, with her post “Mount Vernon Plays to Connect @ #SXSWedu.”

By playing, we were not preparing for anything in particular or readying ourselves for the future. We were playing to be present – to be in the present – and to connect with our fellow playmates, or learners. We were playing to connect with our inner child, our beginner’s mind, and our innate storyteller. We were playing to #HaveFun and thread connections among ourselves and others.

We were playing to…play.

Like kids on a playground.

Like we did when we were immersed in our own childhoods.

At the end of January, Shelley Clifford and I attended a Creative Mornings Atlanta. The theme was “Childhood,” and we heard Aretta Baumgartner and Patty Dees speak about puppetry arts as a way of reconnecting with our childhood — being fully present and playing to connect. As Aretta captivated us all, she strung us together in a game that put us in the role of puppets. And our biggest challenge was to BE PRESENT. To let go of our egos and to simply enjoy playing.

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During the #SXSWedu Playground session “Mount Vernon Plays to Connect,” we reiterated this point about the power of play — there is great energy and fun in being present and being in the present. Amidst the joy of doing so, we connect to a great many things, and, more importantly, to a great many other people.

When we play, we are like children embracing their childhood — playing to learn, playing to connect, and playing to…play.

Be present. Be in the present. Embrace your childhood. Connect. Go play.