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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 4.40.08 PM

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.



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.

#AK12DC – Briefing and Windows into Design Summit, March 21-22

#AK12DC = The Atlanta K-12 Design Challenge

The Atlanta K-12 Design Challenge lives as a collaboration among 11 Atlanta schools – half of them independent in governance structure and half of them part of the Fulton Co. public-charter system. The original grant proposal leapt from a jumping-off point of believing that public and private schools in Atlanta could partner as an innovation nucleus to amplify the trajectory of powerful educational transformation for ALL Atlanta schools.

Through generous funding from the Howard R. Dobbs Foundation and an operational collaboration precipitated by The Center for Teaching and bolstered by connections with Stanford University’s d.School, this inter-school workforce (read “dream team”) is employing design thinking to explore the needs of educational users and to expand the power of iterative prototyping to enhance learning for virtually countless people throughout Atlanta.

The Summit

On Friday and Saturday of this week (March 21-22), the 11 schools gathered as a whole cohort for a second time (the first time was January 14). This mid-stream design summit provided time and opportunity for schools to advance the empathy gathering they’ve been doing at their schools by defining their challenges, developing their POV (Point of View) statements, and iteratively prototyping solutions for the needs of a particular user they met during their initial discovery immersion.

Below are a few links that provide windows into the work accomplished on Friday and Saturday, March 21-22.

What’s Next?

The next stage (“Stage 2”) involves continuing the school-based work through further testing and iterating of prototypes, implementing emerging solutions, and transforming practices.

Stay tuned. It’s exciting times in Atlanta education!


#NAISAC14 Archive of My Conference Experience

In the last days of February 2014 (2.26.14 – 2.28.14), I attended #NAISAC14 – the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference 2014.

During the conference, my real-time tweets served as my note-taking and my reactions/responses to what I was learning.

Below, I’m simply archiving the sessions I attended so that 1) I have a snapshot of my conference experience in my ePortfolio, and 2) colleagues at my school and in my PLN can ask me questions about any of the sessions in which I participated.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

1:00 – 4:00 p.m. “My MakerEd Wednesday at #NAISAC14”

NAIS Bo Wed 2.26.14

Thursday, February 27, 2014

NAIS Bo Thurs1 2.27.14

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. “MSA: A Tool to Alter the Way Schools Think About Education”


9:30 – 11:00 a.m. “The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All,” Lyn Heward, General Session Speaker

NAIS Bo Thurs2 2.27.1412:00 – 1:00 p.m. “Exploring Homework: Making it Work”



1:30 – 2:30 p.m. “Speed Innovating”

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. “Independent Matters: Dare to Explore,” Mae Jemison, Steve Pemberton, & Jay Shuster, General Session Speakers

Friday, February 28, 2014

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. “Connecting Learning and Value: Zero-Based Strategic Transformation”

NAIS Bo Fri4 2.28.14 #boandgrant

9:30 – 11:00 a.m. “The Power of Education,” John Quiñones, General Session Speaker

NAIS Bo Fri5 2.28.1411: 30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. “The NAIS Teachers of the Future Program” (


NAIS Bo Fri6 2.28.141:30 – 2:30 p.m. “Risk Taking and Moonshot Thinking: A New Vision of Strategic Planning”


3:00 – 4:00 p.m. “Creativity and Connection,” Eric Whitacre (one & two), General Session Speaker [one of the BEST keynotes I have ever experienced anywhere!]

Connecting Learning and Value: Zero-Based Strategic Transformation #NAISAC14 #boandgrant

Description, Slide Deck & Storify (#boandgrant)
from the #NAISAC14 session that Grant Lichtman (@GrantLichtman) and I facilitated
Friday, February 28, 2014

NAIS Bo Fri4 2.28.14 #boandgrant


Storify (tweet collection): “Connecting Learning and Value: Zero-Based Strategic Transformation #NAISAC14”

My MakerEd Wednesday at #NAISAC14

My MakerEd afternoon on Wednesday, February 26, at #NAISAC14 (National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference 2014)…

Read and see the Storify: Creating a Maker Mindset at #NAISAC14

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