Council on Innovation 2015


Screenshot 2015-10-19 21.44.31

This Friday, Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation sponsors an annual event called Council on Innovation, where we invite a group of 20-25 industry leaders and entrepreneurs to join us for a day of learning. The structure for the day includes moments of discussion, MoVe talks, a salon lunch, and a design thinking Flashlab all centered around one theme. This year’s theme, “Disruptive Curiosity,” will drive our day together as we purposefully plan moments of intersection between faculty, students, Council members, and members of the greater Mount Vernon community. In the morning, after the welcome and introductions, we will lead our Council through the Four A’s Protocol around an article called Curiosity is as Important as Intelligence, a Harvard Business Review piece. During this segment in the past, I’ve so appreciated hearing the insights, thoughts, and provocations of our Council as they engage in a discussion around something that is connected to who…

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The Camera Never Blinks

Tonight was simply fantastic! Things clicked and flowed in such a way that just made for a spectacular preview. So happy to be a part of this show, and so thankful for all of the family members and teachers who came out to support us tonight!!! Before curtain call the cast and crew just smiled and had the highest of high fives, and danced a great dance back stage; for we were a happy family. Now I’m even more pumped for opening night tomorrow!!!


What things I have seen, what sounds have I heard…



Four people. Four brave and brilliant young people (okay, one faculty guy, but he looks pretty young) took stage tonight and  delivered some of the most wonderful work I have seen in my days as a director/teacher/artist.  In the shadows and blue lights offstage, there were three hardworking stage crew folks that spun and juggled a lot of plates, props, light and sound cues. There were times, many onstage tonight that we were just there, sitting in the dark, around the shaman’s fire circle, listening full body to the song of the story. This is why we come back to act and direct, sing and dance, laugh, cry and get the what of why we need to create. This. This. This.

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Past to Future: Storytelling, Where Will it Go Next?

Yay, I’ve officially posted my first post to my new AP Lang blog site! One of our goals is to share our big thoughts and questions with larger audiences so as of Friday, along with creating this first blog prompt, we’ve decided to create a new hashtag, #IDHacksAP so we can tweet out our thoughts to hopefully start conversations with a community of curious learners like us! Can’t wait for the experience to continue after this monumental first step in our latest innovation!!

From Moment to Memory


For most people, at some point in high school you learned about The Hero’s Journey. This journey is the typical pattern seen in most books and movies, and in general most stories.

Joseph Campbell, a great philosopher on storytelling,  created this concept after recognizing these patterns in the early 1900s and now it’s regarded as the secret sauce to creating a great story. The process describes the path a hero must take as he/she faces many challenges and meets new people along the way to help him/her reach their final destination.

However, storytelling as a whole has been evolving over the years. In the early years of human history, storytelling was always done orally. People would share stories on where to hunt for food, or stories of religion or memories being passed down from old to young.

It wasn’t long though before pictures started to be incorporated into storytelling. Scientist…

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The First Day

As an extra bonus tonight, I thought I’d repost my Collab-Course classmate and fellow Disney Cohort member’s blog about today’s first day with AP Lang. 🙂

Struggle Against Silence

Well, we’ve officially started. Anya and I have created our own AP Lang course (link to Anya’s blog posts about it), which we will be taking this year.

Our course focuses a lot on what we want to do and what we love to do. In a few words: innovation, education, and the fine arts.

For a bit of background, this all started last year when Anya and I were complaining about the writing assignments we had to do in English class. Given how much writing we do for Innovation Diploma and on our blogs, Mrs. Cureton brought up creating our own AP Lang class, and it happened.

I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical at the beginning. Excited, but skeptical. After all, I’ve spent 15 years of my life with teachers deciding what we’re going to do each class with very little student autonomy (aside from the…

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The Day We Colonised Another Planet in Class

I was just doing History homework and thinking about how boring reading a textbook is in my opinion. Then I was thinking about a challenge I have for some of my friends who love history/English: what if instead of a history textbook we had a series of stories that each took you through the life of someone during a time period? These stories would need to actually have a plot line and some character development and some interesting moments so they keep you engaged like a text book doesn’t.

Then I went on my computer to blog further about that idea (probably some others would have come up) when then I see an email with this blog post. I read it and was giddy with excitement!!!!

This stimulation sounds like so much fun!!!! And it connects so well with what we’ve been talking about in both English and history this year. I would love to see a similar project implemented at MVPS!!!!

Steve Mouldey

Mountain on Planet Epic: resource to utilise or sacred ground? Mountain on Planet Epic: resource to utilise or sacred ground?

This post is being jointly written by Danielle and Steve and cross-posted on both of our blogs (you really should check out Danielle’s blog it is awesome). We are co-teaching a Science and Social Studies module called Post-Mortem for the first half of this year. This post is to share a learning experience that we designed to kick off the second term of our course: colonising another planet.

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The Break Begins: Car Battles

image1.JPGimage2.JPGToday one of my friends had a Christmas party and it was so much fun! My closest friends and some siblings all were hanging out, talking, eating, playing Just Dance, and also battling with toy cars.

The toy cars were what I found specifically interesting because what we did was take balloons and taped them to the back and then had pins taped to the front. The goal was then to pop the other persons balloon. However there was the added challenge that the remote could control both cars so sometimes one person would be controlling both of them at the same time.

It was fun to build the cars with strategic positioning of pins and then to battle them. Our joke was that it was truly something nerds would do to have fun.

I like how we did this after finals week because it gave us time to get together after all of the stress and just relax a little. It’s important to know when to take a break, and it’s the best when you do it with true friends (that don’t care about how you dance.)

(Co)venture to the Roof?

My fellow cohort member, Abigail, wrote a great post about what’s been happing with the ID coVenture to the roof and this connects great to what I was planning on blogging about anyway tonight, so I’d really encourage reading it. And I’d also like to share my comment on it as well: Abigail I think that’s a great summary of what’s been going on with out coVenture, thank you for sharing. I would also like to add something about “The Life of a Project”. You may have not heard me at the very end since I was walking out of the room, but I think we are somewhere in between “This is going to take some work” and “This sucks– and it’s boring”. I plan on doing my own post later tonight about this idea of a “messy phase”, but in as a preview, I think this is becoming a little bit of a struggle for us because school has never exposed us to it, and that thought was really forming in my mind during this meeting.

I also think the “The Life of a Project” is missing a few steps. It never talks about the break through “ah ha” moment. That period of time where you finally feel like you figured out something good that will work to solve your problem. That first little moment of success that drives others. Sure in the end your project probably won’t be as good as you may have once imagined, but that doesn’t make it awful. The way it is worded (and I know you didn’t make this image or anything) makes it sound like the project was a throw away that you suffered through and never enjoyed it, but you just had to get it done because you were told to. Such an important part of why we decide to even embark on a venture is because you are excited about it and care about the results and who it will impact.

If there is no feeling of success and pride at the end of a project (venture), then you aren’t done yet.

Innovation Diploma

Today, the Innovation Diploma Cohort had our weekly meeting to discuss about our (co)venture, originally called: “(co)venture to the roof.” A (co)venture is an engineering project that some people can work on in pairs or teams, concerning a topic on which the pairs or teams are more passionate about. The whole entire Disney Cohort has proposed the idea of working to build something on the roof. For the first week we really started assigning a specific day, Tuesday, to meet and discuss about our formed (co)venture. Then we split up into groups, based on who thought they were stronger interviewing or researching about the topic, then those teams talked about what their next steps were. I know that the interviewers decided on pairs, who were going to meet with different students and faculty and ask about, what I feel, related more to space in general.

The next week we met…

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What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger


Sometimes boundaries are what limits creativity, but sometimes they are what encourages it. My wrist has still been messed up, I have to go to the doctors again tomorrow after having been on Tuesday because apparently there must have been a bunch of small injuries throughout my left arm and now it is just like “blah”. I have scar tissue everywhere, and like in the Lion King, Scar isn’t good. The lady had to first use her hands to break up some of that scar tissue, and now I can’t use my wrist much besides everyday stuff for two weeks, and then I will have to do PT stuff for basically the rest of my life because my wrists are just weak in general and they need to be strengthened.

Not using my wrist for another 2 weeks proposes a problem since I am preforming an acro routine Saturday. Therefore, we just had to get creative. Today we had to go through the routine, that my top only learned last week, and change most of the skills so that I can do things without involving my wrist. This included creating some things that aren’t really allowed for our level. For example, we are still tumbling; however, I obviously can’t do a front handspring round-off like I was going to be doing. Instead, I had to practice trying a few different things to try and make it look like tumbling my partner will do. The only real options were some form of a one handed cartwheel (with my bad hand, so I stretch awkwardly across my body, which isn’t impossible, but harder) or a one handed front walk over, which I luckily already knew how to do and with my right hand. The end product was something no one in the gym really thought possible. I figured out how to do a one handed round off (your feet get together in the air and there is flight) off of my one far hand and still get enough power to rebound (jump at the end), turn, and then go straight into a one handed cartwheel, which is close to the level 6 tumbling (we are 7). A bunch of us were really impressed I could get that much power with one hand, and I wouldn’t have known I could do it without having the limitation of my wrist.

There were also other dance and skill moments where we had to think of new things, but in the end, it all looks pretty good. My top and I are preforming at the Sandy Springs Festival at 1:30ish (I think) on Saturday, which leaves us hardly any time left before then to practice. We added another short practice because we have only done the full routine a few times, but it is looking presentable which is exciting. The routine now has some cool, abnormal things in it, and while many of them will change back once my wrist is in usable condition again, it is still fun to try these challenges.

Through this I have come to notice that boundaries are not the opposite or evil to creativity, unchanging boundaries are the problem, when you change the limits, that is typically when you find the most creativity.

Just Another Blog Post


I changed my mind today.  We were prompted to write about our story about something that bugs us. I had decided a few days ago that I was going to write for my “WriteNow” once again about interpretive dance, and my bugs about social stigmas, and the arts being neglected, and how we waist space. However, today I realized, that I’ve already shared most of those stories. If you want to read about them here are a few post I’ve done: “I Challenge ID to Dance,” “The Lost Hallway,” “Equal“.  I still care deeply about those topics, but I felt like I was retyping old news to a new source. Instead I wanted to act like I was just adding a post to my blog, and therefore, I want to write about something I haven’t yet shared.

Yesterday many innovation diploma students started and some even finished their WriteNows. For many students yesterday, they still had this bad connotation with the word “WriteNow”, and they were struggling to write because they felt the pressure of being graded. Margret shared a presentation in ID today about her experience with writing her WriteNow, and after our discussions today, I realized that I needed to pivot my topic. The current story I want to tell is about how we write at school. 

Yesterday, I posted my reflection on writing for 100 days in a row, and I think that helped start this train of thought; “Writing is thinking. It allows you to know what you are thinking. If I have learned anything from blogging, it is how I found that even when I couldn’t think of anything to write about, there was still something to write about, because there is always something to think about.  Writing captures thoughts; thoughts are stories; and stories bring ideas.” If writing is just a way to organize your thinking, why is it that some students hate WriteNow? 

The old way we did WriteNow was all about using facts to answer the prompt that you were given. Your true opinion and personal writing style weren’t all that important as long as you knew how to write in the exact format that would get you an A. I hated WriteNow time last year as much as any other high schooler at MVPS, but I don’t hate writing. I just blogged for 100 days in a row, so what made that writing exciting and not feel like wasted time? 

To be blunt, I don’t think students were ever taught from school how to enjoy writing. At school writing was always about learning the exact format you need to use in order to get a good grade. Writing was just about learning how to work the system. You could forget about wanting to express yourself, or trying something new in your writing, because you never knew what a teacher would think of it. Writing should be about expressing yourself though. In my opinion stuff like grammar and spelling are only important to the extent of people being able to understand what it is that you are trying to say. The more important thing is to get your story and your thoughts out there into the world for someone else to hear. 

When I blog I’m not concerned about a grade. I don’t care if I’m not writing in a 5 paragraph essay format. No one complains about me not indenting each paragraph. And yet, when I blog I know for a fact that people are hearing my thoughts. With WriteNow sometimes I may never get any feedback, and when I do it usually is just about how well I followed a rubric. But when I blog, people comment and like my post within minutes sometimes, and the feedback is always based off of what they thought of my ideas and opinions. My posts have inspired conversations even in New Zealand, and it is because of what I write, not about how I write it. Most of my WriteNows were barely read by one teacher.  Plus, some people have even commented that my grammar and writing skills have actually gotten better as I continue to blog, and it has nothing to do with being graded, because I’m not getting a grade. Even the WriteNow I’m writing this very instant had a rubric attached to the document which made me want to gag. I don’t want to think about a grade. I want to think my thoughts, and not feel pressured to change my writing based off of how someone else expects me to write. If I truly believe and care about what I write, that is what will benefit my later writing. This isn’t just my thoughts either. Most of the Disney Cohort all had similar opinions. 

I want WriteNow’s to be a time where I can write about what I care about. I want to know that my thoughts won’t just be graded and then neglected forever. I want my writing to start conversations around the world. I want my writing to inspire me and others to go do something. I want the rest of the high school to feel passionate about writing. With this in mind, I had an idea. 

Most of the ID members already blog, and soon the rest of the high school will also be encouraged to blog about their observations. Blogging is writing, and blogging is writing about your observations and then your opinions and thoughts on them. I want my WriteNows to feel like my blogs, so why can’t my posts be my entry for each week? What if we redesigned the way WriteNows were done so that it was really about the students’ opinions? Each week students would blog about their observations through out the week. Then at the end of the week, students would pick one of their entries to submit as their “WriteNow” for that week. 

As I understand it, the purpose behind WriteNows is to get kids to practice writing and encourage thinking. As of now, WriteNows just put fear and dread into the hearts and minds of students. I’ve previously hated WriteNows, but this time our only prompt was to share our story about something that bugs us. We were encouraged to talk about our thoughts and opinions basically any way we wanted to. The only real requirement was that you had to write. I chose to just write my story like I would any other blog, and this is by far my most favorite WriteNow that I have ever written. I actually excited and enjoyed writing it. I want the rest of the high school to also enjoy writing, so why don’t we get rid of the stress of a rubric and writing in a specific format? Why can’t we just write? Why do the grades matter? Why does the format matter? Why does the topic matter? How might we make WriteNows feel like just another blog post? 

144,000 Minutes (100 days) Of Blogging; Challenge Accepted!!!!!!!!!!!

Who Am I?


(This was the picture for my very first blog as well.) 

I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe it has actually been 100 days since I started this blog. So much has happened in the last 100 days. Today I scrolled through all of the titles of the post I’ve made, and it’s amazing how in each title that set of words holds a memory. Memories of observations, questions, rants, camps, ideas, challenges, friends, and most importantly the titles capture in a few words experiences of learning. 

I can’t even express how glad I am that I started blogging. Today Mr. Adams said something that really stuck with me, “Writing is thinking. It allows you to know what you are thinking.” (Well he said something like that.) 

Blogging everyday was definitely a challenge. There were days were I was not motivated at all to blog; I either had a bunch to do, or I was really tired, or I would have to use my phone to post within that day, or some other excuses I may have had. However, if I have learned anything from blogging, it is how I found that even when I couldn’t think of anything to write about, there was still something to write about, because there is always something to think about. 

Blogging has helped encourage me to observe the world more closely, and I’ve really enjoyed the thoughts that have come from the observations. I’ve also enjoyed having a place to share my story. With all of the design thinking I’ve done, I’ve really become apparent of the importance of a story, but also the importance of sharing a story. If a story isn’t shared what can it really do? 

While some of my post took a lot of effort to come up with, others were about thoughts I’ve been having for a while, but maybe not many people knew about them. Blogging makes my thoughts seem like they are actually going somewhere. I would also like to think my writing has improved by trying to record the thoughts. (Practice makes perfect.) 

Listening is just as important telling, and by blogging myself, I have become more aware of other bloggers and have heard so many stories through my blog. I’ve loved the experience, and though my challenge has been complete, my story isn’t done yet. 

I am most definitely 100% going to keep blogging with or without a specific challenge to do so. Once one challenge is complete it leaves room for another challenge. One challenge I want to complete is to go through and categorize my post. (It only took until post 100 for me to finally learn how to do that.) The last few days I have been debating about continuing to blog everyday or not. Like I said, it has been a challenge to keep myself to that, but as of literally this moment, I have decided to try anyway. There are going to be days where I may not be able to blog (like while on my school retreat this Sunday), but I still want to try and capture those stories. Writing captures thoughts; thoughts are stories; and stories bring ideas. 

Blogging has opened my eyes to a “Whole New World”, and “I want to be where the people are, I want to see them, see them dancing.” “Just because you find that life’s not fair, doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.” “It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.” I’m ready to try “defying gravity”. “I can go the distance.” “I just can’t wait to be king,” but until then I must “Be Prepared” for what the world that is as “mysterious as the dark side of the moon” will throw at me. So let’s just say the challenge of life has been accepted.