School 3.0: Partnering for Mutual Learning and Problem Solving – CDC and MVPS

For awhile, I’ve used the term “School 3.0.” When I do, a number of people ask me what I mean by that.

School 1.0: the “traditional” or industrial-age model of school where information transfer from teacher to student is the dominant and defining characteristic. Verbs such as “deliver” and “cover” are used a lot. The currency is grades on a 100-pt scale (in recent half century).

School 2.0: the “21st century movement” in schooling where some number of “Cs” dominate the conversation (communication, collaboration, creative thinking, etc.); information exchanges in two directions and phrases such as “student-centered” are heard frequently. Technology enables some pull-based education. School works to model more of how the world learns outside of school. The currency of school 2.0 leans much more towards learning, and SBG is at least practiced by several progressive thinkers, if not the entire faculty.

School 3.0: the next wave (hopefully) of school transformation. Learning is deeply contextual and relevant. PBL (with a capital P) dominates the mode of work as “schools” (placed-based collections of teacher-learners, student-learners, and parent-learners — more like schools of fish than mere school buildings) are partnered with community organizations, civic leadership, and for-profit and not-for-profit business to address real-world challenges and opportunities. Shifts thinking about school as merely “preparation” for something later and recognizes that people of all ages learn by doing and desire to be positive forces of change in their worlds. The currency is the stuff that matters — the challenges and opportunities for social and capitalistic improvement, betterment, and innovation.

Well, on Friday, August 22, 2014, I spent a full day in School 3.0

Mary Cantwell (@scitechyedu) was invited as the Director of the Center for Design Thinking at The Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation to facilitate two half-days of professional learning and implementation of design thinking with Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Particularly, Cantwell was asked to work with the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (@CDC_NCBDDD) through the Open Idea Lab.

Additionally, Mount Vernon’s Inaugural Innovation Diploma Cohort was also invited to co-facilitate and participate in the partnership to address three SHI (Strategic Health Initiatives): 1) pregnancy and safe Rx drug use, 2) ADHD overmedication versus behavior therapy, and 3) blood clotting. Director of the iDiploma Meghan Cureton (@MeghanCureton) and I collaborated with the twelve student learners (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors at #MVUpper) in the cohort. Also, colleagues James Campbell (@theRealJamCam) and T.J. Edwards (@TJEdwards62) rounded out the team of educators and agents of @MVIFI.

On Friday, “school” for us involved significant collaboration with three CDC SHI teams to employ design thinking to advance our understanding of and to address the strategic health initiatives that the CDC_NCBDDD focused on during its time in the Open Idea Lab that day. Teen agers and doctors and educators and research scientists were bound up together in SHI teams doing the work of learners, problem-solvers, professionals, engaged citizen leaders, design thinkers, difference makers, etc. Everyone brought strengths and limitations to the tables. Everyone drew on the contributions that others offered.

Progress was made Friday. On three SHI. And on School 3.0.

Read about more of the details in one or more of these posts by my colleagues – those young and old not as young:

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s Faculty Summer Learning

With deep and genuine curiosity, I often wonder what schools create, encourage, and orchestrate for their faculties’ summer learning — the collective learning that a faculty shares as a community of learners.

So I thought I would share what we at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation have collaboratively crafted to invite our faculty to learn together as divisional and whole-school learning communities.


Head of Preschool Kelly Kelly shares that

At our closing, end-of-year staff meeting, we went through a few exercises to set the tone for the summer and next year.  Our focus is reflective practice:

1. Reflecting on who we are as teachers, what our beliefs are about children’s learning, and how those beliefs affect how we set up learning experiences for children.

2. Consistently reflecting on classroom practice and the effectiveness of our teaching strategies to facilitate authentic learning experiences.

As a faculty, the Preschool is reading Twelve Best Practices for Early Childhood Education: Integrating Reggio and Other Inspired Approaches. And in similar fashion as last summer, they will get together for book club discussions at Kelly Kelly’s house to collectively think through what they are learning and building in their practices together.

Lower School

A huge hat tip goes to @NicoleNMartin for concepting and bringing to life the Lower School Faculty Summer Learning plan, full of choice and full of continued guidance toward our collaborative achievement of our mission and vision. Nicole’s ideation on this doc, and her commitment to shared testing, feedback and iteration, helped the other divisions to establish their frameworks, as well.

Middle School

Chip Houston, Head of Middle School, led the creation of the Middle School Faculty Summer Learning and posted their digital flyer using Smore. The core of the Middle School exploration jumps off from The Innovator’s DNA, which is on all of the divisions’ reading radars, as we continue to work the entire PS-12 scope and sequence to nurture innovators while building deep understanding of the various learning outcomes we prioritize in the different disciplines. As a school, we believe strongly in the three-legged stool that Tony Wagner describes in Creating Innovators: 1) content, 2) skills and competencies, and 3) motivation.

Upper School

Because of the nature of collaborative creation and prototyping at Mount Vernon, @EmilyBreite crafted another interpretation of the summer learning discussions we were having among the directors of 21st century teaching and learning (now renamed the Heads of Learning and Innovation at each division), and her team helped bring the Upper School Summer Learning to life with the fabulous design work from our Creative Director Trey Boden.

Administrative Team

And with our administrative team, we received a package…

During the summer months, you have several learning opportunities.

1. Read the enclosed book, Scaling Up Excellence. Reflect on your division/department and the mission/vision of the School

2. Utilize the “low-res” materials (and only materials provided) in bag to build a prototype relating to a concept from the book. MV needs to prioritize (scale). There will be a contest.

3. Dialogue with someone (outside MV) about a key takeaway from the book. Document your conversation. Be prepared to share out.

4. Assemble the blueprint. What are your questions about the blueprint? What are your recommendations?

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[Cross-posted at #MVLearns]

Deeper work in 2014-15 with Mount Vernon Upper School

One week ago today, we announced at Mount Vernon that I would serve in a more direct leadership role with the Upper School, in deeper collaboration and partnership with Krista Parker and Emily Breite, while our school extends the search for our next Head of Upper School.

What an incredible opportunity for me to work with the Upper School division, faculty, and leadership as we continue to build a program that achieves our vision for being the best at developing and delivering a 21st century learning experience.

Dear @MissKFitzgerald’s 1st Grade Class… #VisibleThinking #MVPSchool

Dear @MissKFitzgerald’s 1st Grade Class,

THANK YOU for my “See-Think-Wonder” Visible Thinking Routine that you created on my truck. I love it! To see the evidence of your thinking and learning is so fun and exciting.


Mr. Adams

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Shark Tank at MVPSchool – 5th Graders Break Into Business

Last week, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School hosted a Shark Tank for entrepreneurs who were striving to establish startups in a particular target market in Atlanta.

The lean-startup entrepreneurs are 5th Graders!

Thanks to the work that Stephanie Immel (@teachingsteph) coordinated and collaborated with Monica Lage from Break Into Business! And kudos to our young entrepreneurs! What amazing experience in real-world context and application of knowledge and skills.

Read two great stories from the News Page at MVPS and on John Saddington’s blog. And see the Shark Tank judging criteria below…