The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated – Brain Pickings

If you are thinking deeply about communication, collaboration or the environment, then you are sure to take away some good pieces from this post on “brainpickings.” Maria Popova delves into and shares many great resources through the post: The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated. For me, the communication and collaboration of what happens among trees underground is especially relevant. I see a metaphor in the secret and little understood support and connections between the trees and how a school culture works. The symbiotic webs that support and nurture are present in both and often unseen and not understood. In a school, I have heard the phrase that it’s a spirit, feeling, and/or intangible quality. And, while it might be hard to hold this piece in your hand, the communication and collaboration is real and present sharing, creating and supporting the whole network. Whether a forest or a school, the connections, relationships and care we take with each other benefits the greater ecosystem. Take a minute to listen to Suzanne Simard, the TED Talk linked in the post, about how it all works and to hear some recommendations for how we can better understand and help our forests and maybe take away some ideas of how we can better take care of each other.

“Trees are the foundation of forests, but a forest is much more than what you see.”

Source: The Fascinating Science of How Trees Communicate, Animated – Brain Pickings

Let’s Hear It for the Average Child

What an amazing NYT article recognizing that it is not all about the blue ribbons but about the depth of each student’s character and supporting them in finding their passion.

“Life is not a contest, and the world is not an arena. Just by being here, unique among all others, offering contributions that no one else can give, you have already won the one prize that matters most.”

Finland is winning the war on fake news. Other nations want the blueprint

Russia’s neighbor has developed a blueprint for countering misinformation. Can it be exported to the rest of the world?

Source: Finland is winning the war on fake news. Other nations want the blueprint


It’s great to have some attention paid to what is happening to combat misinformation. Media literacy and critical thinking are essential pieces of what we need to keep at the forefront of our thinking in K-12 education. The phrase “teaching them to be digital detectives” strikes me. Beyond misinformation, many other subtle messages are sent via media. How are we teaching students and our adult population to recognize, understand and be informed thinkers? Way to go Finland!

Trainings – River of Life

With all endings, come beginnings! Looking ahead to school year 2019-2020, comes the opportunity to start fresh again with known and unknown colleagues. One transformational inclusion activity that focuses on building relationships and community is the ‘River of Life.’ The time and number of people can all be adjusted to fit your time frame. The experience will connect you more deeply to your team members by building your understanding and empathy.

Source: Trainings – River of Life

What Adults Can Learn From Kids

Wow! This young lady has a message for adults about the potential of kids. The short TED Talk pushes our comfort zones and asks the adults to trust, listen and partner with our students/children to make the future better. One of my favorite quotes, ” It is imperative to create opportunities for children, so that we can grow up to blow you away!”

Is your lesson a “Grecian Urn?”

We all have favorite pet projects that have been around along time. We do them because we believe “the kids love them.” Jennifer Gonzalez challenges us to think about the true value for students and the use of time. In this article, Is Your Lesson A Grecian Urn, she challenges and encourages us to ask ourselves the tough question:

“Does it consume far more of a student’s time than is reasonable in relation to its academic impact?” And she shares… “If students spend more time on work that will not move them forward in the skill you think you are teaching, then it may be a Grecian Urn. And, it may need to go.”

Thanks, Jennifer, for the great reminder that all hands-on activities are not minds-on activities!

Smart Classroom-Tech Integration

Great article that supports thinking and shared strategies about utilizing tech most effectively in the classroom. In addition to reading it yourself, consider reading the article with your colleagues. This could be a good way to promote discussion and sharing of strategies used in class and new ideas that can be tried! Try a coding routine with a team to help share thinking and talk about new ideas.

STEM: Time to move from talking about it to doing it. 

With the exception of pockets of innovation, STEM and STEAM have become common vocabulary with little transfer into curriculum and daily practice. In K-12 education, this surface understanding it not serving our students. In many cases, STEM/STEAM are mentioned as a lab experience and maybe included as an elective opportunity… where it can fit in. And that is the disconnect… trying to squeeze it in without truly changing.

If you only have a surface knowledge about STEM/STEAM, read this article to help move your thinking along. Ryan does a sound job of touching on many critical issues that should have us all thinking about what changes we need to make now in our schools and within our practice. It is time to think about instituting real change. Change that will overhaul organizational structures dating back to the early 1900’s, support teacher opportunities for professional learning and raise awareness of all stakeholders.

We have taken a look down the road at the future needs of our current students. We can see that they will need to operate in a world that has yet to be invented. They will need the 4 C’s: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication backed with a foundation of strong reading/writing and STEM skills. Yet, we continue to deliver a program that hasn’t shifted educational practice and pedagogy to match. It is time to start preparing the students we have in class now for an uncertain future.

The Seven Most Powerful Words in Education

It doesn’t matter whether you are approaching this article from a teacher, administrator or school supporter perspective. These words… “What can I do to help you?”… are powerful.

Many articles talk about how to shift culture or dynamics, I believe these 7 words are a great place to start. In utilizing this simple question, you demonstrate support, concern and most importantly, a willingness to listen and hear what the other person. Are you afraid of what you might hear? Then, all the more reason to start asking.