Let’s Know Our Campus & Getting the Wind Back in @clarkbeast

First, I hope you will read these two posts from @clarkbeast (they are brief in length and powerful in message):

“like a punch in the solar plexus”

“a simple vision”

I truly don’t have time to draft and publish a post this morning. By prioritizing this writing, something else important to the start-of-school is not getting done right now. However, a faculty member has inspired me to respond and support. As a true believer in formative assessment and community collaboration, I would be acting irresponsibly if I were slow to respond this morning. Additionally, what middle-school learning could be more important than a place-based education for our children? They should know their world, and that can begin with the very world around them…a world that we are fortunate and blessed to occupy with nearly 200 acres in the heart of Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia.

This morning, I was following my routine of reading a few blog posts. I was concentrating on my folder of “Blogs-Colleagues.” In the past few days, it appears that @clarkbeast has been reflecting even more than usual on the delicate balance between our charge with technology and our critical need to attend to our natural world. Moreover, @clarkbeast has posted a response (same as second link above) to a call for #PBL ideas (link to Keynote on PBL…sent before 8-11-11 JH fac mtg). The intentions for our 8-11-11 JH faculty meeting took a different turn, and we discussed some questions that were not on the agenda. Therefore, we were not able to act with the #PBL ideas that people were asked to bring to the meeting. I am so thankful that @clarkbeast used his blog to ensure that the conversation did not end with a change-of-course-faculty-meeting.

On a related note, as I was playing around campus – in Nancy Creek – with my two boys, I snapped a few pictures and posted to my Posterous blog (such is now a habit with us). To the three Adams boys’ great pleasure, @clarkbeast responded to a post and got us excited about a potential stream exploration (click link to read that quick exchange)!

How can we better know our campus – our 200 acres of Atlanta, GA? What can we do to understand the natural world which is our very own school backyard? In what ways can we use our campus to study the essential learnings present across the departmentalized curricula?

I hope the JH will undertake this challenge this year. We have some superb feet in the door already – past bright spots to build on and improve. What’s best for the children? We need to get outside!

App-etizer: Wildlab Birds


I may play around with a series of posts about apps for iPhone and iPad. Calling the series “app-etizer” for now. Cute, huh?! When I attended ASCD, I went to a session about apps. More than anything, the session got me thinking about a series of posts like this for sharing an app and an idea for how to use in “21C learning.” Also, my iPad 2 has arrived…I migrated without a hitch, and I am just playing to learn…and learning to play.

So, I downloaded “Wildlab Birds.” It is free…I am cheap. We have a bird feeder outside our dining room French doors, and we have gotten into some very novice bird watching. Because we live on campus, the only house we own is at a Georgia lake, and it provides some superb birding as well. Third, I am a big fan of Clark Meyer, and he can make birding seem pretty cool. Anyway, we bought a book for bird identification. But, we cannot figure out how to get the book to play audio (sorry…couldn’t resist).

But Wildlab Birds has easy ID capabilities, and the birds’ songs are available. Also, through GPS, my sons and I can submit that we saw a particular bird, and we contribute to a scientific community tracking bird range and sightings. Last night, in Augusta, I played the song of a tufted titmouse, and three called back to the iPad. I am already dreaming of a naturalist outing at Westminster. We have almost 200 acres, and Clark assures me we have some interesting species and migrations across campus. Oh the places we could go…and the field studies we could explore and create!