10 Things About Digital Learning and Students (click on this to see presentation!)

I recently came across this presentation from Project Tomorrow about digital learning. According to the presentation, they derived the information from online surveys and focus groups reaching 3.4 million people since 2003. Considering the caliber of our program and the personal attention our students receive, I’m not sure that online math would be the greatest priority for us, however, providing a more personalized approach to learning is right up our alley. Take the presentation with a grain of salt and consider which elements would be most useful for exploring at McAuliffe.

1. Mobile Devices
2. Internet
3. Video
4. Empowering opportunities – Mobile devices for learning
5. Empowering opportunities – Different tasks = different tools
6. Empowering opportunities – Digital Footprints
7. Aspirations – Online Learning
8. Aspirations – Games within learning
9. Aspirations – Using social media in school
10. Aspirations – Using mobile devices in learning


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April 21, 2014 · 6:36 pm

A blog by Howard Gardner on a study of human character.

I recently read a review of James Heckman’s, The Myth of Achievement Tests, by Howard Gardner and wanted to share it with you. (Click on the title of the blog to see his review).

In addition to learning a new word, I was interested in his exploration of moral and character education. I’ve attached the link to his post in the title of this blog and invite you to read his work.

The new word I learned is “lacuna”. The Oxford English Dictionary Online tells us that, “A la-cu’-na [luh-kyoo'nuh] is “a hiatus, or missing portion . . . in a manuscript, an inscription, or the text of an author.” It is derived from lacuna, the Latin word for a hole or pit. The word admits two plural forms — lacunae [luh-kyoo',nay] or lacunas — as well as an adjectival form, lacunal.

Thanks Howard!

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April 3, 2014 · 7:03 pm

Communication at McAuliffe

Dear McAuliffe Community:

I really enjoy sharing aspects of our campus life and activities with you. Over the past few years I’ve come to the realization that, even though we are a very active and tight knit community, it is difficult, if not impossible, to see or hear about everything that is happening at McAuliffe on any given week, which is why I write the newsletter and blog.

This month I’m trying a new path in communication. A few weeks ago, 10 representatives from the Oak School in Los Altos visited us to learn more about our social emotional learning program and Responsive Classroom. They really enjoyed their McAuliffe experience and went away with many great ideas for their school community.

They also challenged me to become more digitally relevant by communicating via Twitter. I heard the call and taken up the challenge.

Here are a few ways that I endeavor to facilitate improved communication at McAuliffe.

-                write bi-monthly newsletters.

-                share activities at our PFG and other community meetings.

-                send out occasional community-wide emails.

-                maintain a blog; (http://mcauliffeschool.wordpress.com/) and recently

-                created a Twitter account. @McAPrincipal

Through my adventures in writing, I’ve learned quite a bit about the challenges and joys of reflecting and sharing thoughts with others. I’ve learned that I need to deliberately set aside time to make it happen (which isn’t always easy in a school setting). Because there are so many things happening at McAuliffe, I realize that communications need to go out more frequently (hence the blog and twitter). I’ve also learned that writing is not as automatic as doing yard work or building shelving or bookcases or even reading a book.

Ultimately time has been my greatest challenge. Exploring the wealth of research, TED Talks, and news articles focused on progressive education, science, math, reading and writing, community, constructivism, state and national trends in education, etc takes time. So does reflecting, developing ideas, and crafting them into an entry that is at least somewhat connected to our community.

The final lesson I have learned from my adventure is that we are truly fortunate to belong to such a diverse and engaging community of learners. Having too many fantastic things to share, too many wonderful learning opportunities to describe, too many field trips to capture, too many positive adult child interactions to document them all, too many to write in a single letter/article/blog, is a wonderful problem to have.

So I am happy to continue to carve out a little more time each day to share with you as much as I can about our community and the learning experiences of your children. If you have any suggestions or ideas, on topics you would like to hear or see more about, I invite you let me know. Drop by the office, catch me around school, call me, or send me an email.

Look for Tweets (sp?) about what we are doing on our Learning Day and this coming Monday and our 4-8th grade math training on Tuesday!

Have a wonderful three-day weekend! See you on Tuesday!



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March 28, 2014 · 7:13 pm

New Math is old school at McAuliffe

I found the parent’s response in this article very interesting as well as the follow up by John (the author of the blog).

We’ve engaged in hands-on math at McAuliffe since we began 40 years ago. The power of this approach is the depth of understanding our students develop and their ability to communicate this information to their peers and adults with equal finesse. Our students also understand that there are multiple approaches and, as a result, are free to hear their peers as they share alternative ways to address the problem.  This becomes even more apparent as the math problems become more complex.

The transition for schools that haven’t used this approach previously must be challenging and exciting!





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March 24, 2014 · 3:16 am

Bottom-up innovation…how might this apply in education?

This is a summary of Joi’s TED talk where he discusses the importance of focusing on the here and now. He takes it one step further with an emphasis on bottom-up innovation and describes this process as “chaotic and hard to control” but the rewards are powerful and can affect real-world change…now.

Joi leaves us with these words: “I think we should be now-ists. Focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware and super present.”

My questions to you:

  • Are we identifying and addressing real world issues in K-12 education today? And…
  • Are we equipping our children with the tools they need to identify and address real world problems? If so, how? More importantly…
  • What are the tools all of us need to identify and address real world problems today? And last but not least…
  • How is technology supporting these types of fundamental changes in learning at your child’s school?

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March 23, 2014 · 6:53 pm

“Innovation over the edge” – Mater artium necessitas

This is a link to Toby Shapshak’s TED talk. In addition to sharing some of the amazing ideas coming out of Africa today, he raises an interesting question. How many of us are so caught up in using tech today that we don’t make time for innovation, creativity and thinking outside the box?

In addition to showing me how to make the most of what I have, Toby reminds me of Vaclav Smil’s argument of the need for a strong manufacturing base in order for society to develop, create, innovate, and grow.

It just makes sense that those involved in the development, building, and manufacturing of goods and products of all kinds will, either through necessity or expediency, develop new ways of doing things, new tools to complete those tasks, and open doors for even greater creativity and growth.

Thanks for sharing your message with us Toby!



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March 16, 2014 · 4:30 am

Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi day. It’s always nice to celebrate. All too often we get caught up in the logistics of life. Navigating from here to there, we forget to slow down and appreciate what wonderful things are happening around us and the people in our lives that help to make this all possible.

So, whether you choose to celebrate today because it is 3.14, Einstein’s birthday, or simply Friday, have a fantastic day !

What is pi? In addition to being the 16th letter in the Greek alphabet, “…pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In other words, pi equals the circumference divided by the diameter (π = c/d). Conversely, the circumference is equal to pi times the diameter (c = πd). No matter how large or small a circle is, pi will always work out to be the same number.” (http://www.livescience.com/29197-what-is-pi.html)

It’s also fascinating to note that pi finds its origins over 4000 years ago with the Babylonians. According to the Exploratorium’s History of Pi, there’s a tablet with an estimation of pi that dates back to c.1900 – 1680BC!

So why Pi Day?
Actually, Larry Shaw is credited with establishing Pi Day in 1988…at the Exploratorium.

In the May 1999 issue of Scientific American, Steven Bogart, shared a brief experiment that may be fun to try:

Using a compass, draw a circle. Take one piece of string and place it on top of the circle, exactly once around. Now straighten out the string; its length is called the circumference of the circle. Measure the circumference with a ruler. Next, measure the diameter of the circle, which is the length from any point on the circle straight through its center to another point on the opposite side. (The diameter is twice the radius, the length from any point on the circle to its center.) If you divide the circumference of the circle by the diameter, you will get approximately 3.14–no matter what size circle you drew! A larger circle will have a larger circumference and a larger radius, but the ratio will always be the same. If you could measure and divide perfectly, you would get 3.141592653589793238…, or pi.

Otherwise said, if you cut several pieces of string equal in length to the diameter, you will need a little more than three of them to cover the circumference of the circle.  (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-pi-and-how-did-it/)

Einstein’s Birthday?  And yes, today is Einstein’s birthday. Happy Birthday Einstein!



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