Mind Games

Puzzles, riddles, magic tricks,– I’ve always been happily amused and amazed with mind games. I finally saw “Now You See Me” for the first time all the way through today and it was a pretty incredible show. Between that movie and taking the ACT today, I figured tonights post would only make sense to be one more mind game:

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No One Likes Stress and Anxiety


It makes me disheartened with education when I see people physically upset (crying actually) due to stress about the end of the year. I truly don’t understand why we make the end of the year so full of stress and anxiety right before the holidays too. No one wants stress and anxiety. Teachers don’t want it, students don’t want it, parents and families don’t want it. Why is it still here?

(This reminds me of my recent post about the SAT.) What if there was a fun  way to end the year that still gave students the opportunity to showcase their learning over the course of the semester?

Like what if the year ended in some big puzzle challenge where you were in small groups, or even a class, and you had to use what you’ve learned over the semester in order to find the answer? Similar to at nerd camp last year when we took 3 hours to break a code as a class and then solve the riddle once decoded. It ended up testing most of what we had learned thus far about cryptology and helped us grow as a team. It tested our collaboration and communication skills as well as the problem solving and creative thinking skills; plus it made us think more about how they used codes in WWII which lead to really interesting conversations. This experience was tons of fun (it’s actually one of my favorite challenges that I’ve ever taken on) and yet it was really challenging and a great test of our knowledge too!



I think this quote from Hamlet accurately describes what I’m about to write, “Word, words, words.” These thoughts all happened today, and while I don’t do the best job at showing the connections between them, somehow in my mind they were a connected train track in the puzzle going on there.

First off, feedback from my internal:

A big take away from me was that really with both of my ideas (the roof and Story Festival) they are concerned with relationships between people and how space and other variables contribute to these relationships that we build with in communities of learners. It was an interesting connection that I hadn’t quite made yet, so thank you Ms. Cureton for sharing that insight. Another idea that she gave me that I am really interested in pursuing is designing a design thinking challenge to take a group of students through that is around this idea of relationships and space and stories to help me focus in on a problem/issue to then do some more combining of ideas to really make sure what I do is beneficial to the needs of students. (I do know that my immediate focus is on students.) We didn’t have more time as a cohort for working on ventures today, and sadly I won’t again until Tuesday because tomorrow I will be at Georgia Tech’s women engineering conference while the cohort is at ROME.

Another thing that has been bothering me more and more lately is how we use the word “innovation”. I think we may inaccurately use it sometimes which is why several students in the high school are starting to get repulsive about the word. Innovation is important, but innovation is not the same as everyday solution seeking. Innovation is about creating something new based on human needs, it isn’t just about solving a problem.

Innovating isn’t deciding to email a friend to ask for pictures from a textbook because you left yours at school. Innovating is noticing how often kids forget their textbooks and realizing that homework from the textbook can often be googled, so the homework may not be designed to help kids learn and grow as it should be; therefore, you decide to redesign the way we give homework so that it helps students actually retain knowledge and grow as a learner for the future of the world.

There is a distinct difference in these 2 approaches to a problem. The solution seeker is finding a quick fix to a problem. The innovator is figuring out why the problem exist and how to make sure that the problem doesn’t happen again by redesiging  the system so it is more efficient to the original purpose.

At MVPS we have 6 mindsets, collaborator, ethical decision maker, creative thinker, communicator, solution seeker, and innovator. There is a separate mindset for solution seeker and innovator because they are not the same thing!!!!! One finds a solution, the other creates a solution. While at school we too often associate these together and thus misuse the words. Words are powerful, and the over, inaccurate usage of them tends to stick with people. Students are starting to hate the word innovation because we say it all of the time, and for a school centered around innovation, that is a problem. Any word that you use over and over again, eventually gets old. Innovation is a strong, powerful word. People are proud to be an innovator because it is something that not everyone can say. To be an innovator is a great accomplishment, and I don’t think we should use the term so lightly.

Moving from that, sign ups for Interim (our big trips in March before spring break) were today for sophomores. I really wanted to (and am very excited to say that I get to) go to San Francisco for a design thinking trip!!!!!!!!!!! I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go because seniors and juniors got to sign up first, but surprisingly no upper classmen signed up. I thought this was an interesting statement on the school. None of the eldest kids signed up for the design thinking trip, but 9 did from the sophomore class. I think this shows how far the school has come in a short amount of time. I don’t believe the older kids have been submerged into this new way of schooling as much as the younger kids. Basically: they have been in school longer, so they have been more use to the standard form of schooling. Now to some extent you must keep in mind that there were also trips like Costa Rica, Italy, and a New York college trip (the first and so far only 3 to be full to my knowledge) which are pretty awesome. However, I think some students may have not signed up for the trip because they felt overwhelmed with the idea that they would be working on this trip, and also everyone isn’t as use to design thinking as some of us and it can be a lot to take in and get use to.

Then there are some students that I know signed up for the trip (or will since freshman must wait until tomorrow) just because it is in San Francisco and they wanted to go on a trip. This really urks me, to know that students will be going that don’t really care about the design thinking that we will be doing. They may surprise me, but they may not.