Friday, March 31, 2017

Work in Progress 2

Reading Chapter 5 of the BlendKit Reader and 

Coming upon this quote:
"there is a work-in-progress aspect to conceptualizing quality in blended learning"
Really really appreciating 
Taking me immediately back 
To an earlier post from February of last year

As I noted there:
My life has been and continues to be
A work in progress
Whether it be
Cleaning the house
Designing learning environments/experiences
Any other of a myriad of focus

At that time I was wondering and thinking out loud-- which activities/processes that I had just uncovered might best enable learning in the Blended Learning ecourse I was designing 
for Powerful Learning Practice. And as I was considering and thinking on the inquiry environment in which learning would occur, it became even more clear that my aspiration for quality might/should always be a work in progress-- For although I had quite a repertoire of processes/protocols/routines that encouraged interaction and deeper thinking, it has been my experience that there are always more that I haven't yet unearthed. In addition, the tech tools that enable these interactions among learners and with the content are constantly changing and offering greater affordances for learning.

So to discover this perspective in this reading-- after exploring the rubrics and checklists full of ideas yet in many ways prescriptive, at least for me-- caused me to smile broadly. For when I was asking last year in that post, "And that's OK, right?", here was an answer.

Joe Fahs notes "merits and limitations" in the use of rubrics and checklists for Quality Assurance while also adding his favorite quotes, one of which resonates with me:

“One might argue that faculty in meaningful dialogue with other faculty about the teaching/learning process is the most effective form of faculty development with everything else being merely layers of facilitation.
In addition, I'm wondering on the role of learners in supporting the work to assure quality learning environments. When the reading suggests:
"it is in the lived experience of teaching a course (regardless of modality) that much can go wrong (or right)"
from which designers can learn, I'm thinking that learner input is also of value as they have lived that experience also.

Finally, the reading's stance, that designers may

That stance-- of a learner--- can influence, IMHO. everything.
From gleaning new activities/processes as a life long learner of designs for learning
To being open to the possibilities of new learning learning landscapes
To continually aspiring to create the best of environments for learning
And to realizing that designing for learning is
Always a work in progress.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

THIS Caught my Attention

". Attention" flickr photo by Juliana Coutinho shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Springlike weather in March
The cold water pipe to the washer leaking in the basement
The neighbor's dog on our deck
And daffodils blooming just outside our front window
Just a few of the many distractions---

And suddenly as I was reading Chapter Four of the BlendKit Reader,  THIS caught my attention.  

A quote from Laurillard has been a favorite of mine:
"There is no escape from the need for dialogue, no room for mere telling, nor for practice without description, nor for experimentation without reflection, nor for student action without feedback." 
Laurillard, D, 2002. Rethinking University Teaching: A Conversational Framework for the Effective Use of Learning Technologies, 2nd edition. London: RoutledgeFalmer 
but I wasn't really familiar with her work and so with the table I was intrigued, wanting to learn more -- finding this (her thoughts on the design of learning environment) 
(1) Discussion between the teacher and the learner
  • Teachers' and learners' conception should be mututally accessible
  • Both should agree on learning objectives
(2) Adaptation of the learners actions and of the teacher's constructed environment.
  • Teacher must adapt objectives with regards to existing conceptions
  • Learners must integrate feedback and link it to his own conceptions
(3) Interaction between the learner and the environment defined by the teacher
  • Teacher must "adapt to world", i.e. create an environment adapted to the learning task given to the learner
  • Teacher must focus on support for task and give appropriate feedback to the learner.
(4) Reflection of the learner's performance by both teacher and learner
  • Teacher should support the learner to revise his conceptions and to adapt the task to learning needs
  • Learners should reflect with all stages of the learning process (initial concepts, tasks, objectives, feedback, ...)

Her schema is based on forming an information rich environment in which the student has control in discovering knowledge, but the discovery is supported and scaffolded by extra guidance functions (Laurillard, 1993) which provide support and feedback for subsequent learning. These functions are analogous to the coaching and scaffolding at critical times proposed in the Situated Cognition Theory.”
Laurillard argues that different media forms have different affordances, i.e. provide a different level of support for various kinds learning experiences. She identifies five media forms: narrative, interactive, communicative, adaptive and productive. According to Conole and Fill (2005), 
  • Narrative media tell or show the learner something (e.g. text, image). 
  • Interactive media respond in a limited way to what the learner does (e.g. search engines, multiple choice tests, simple models). 
  • Communicative media facilitate exchanges between people (e.g. email, discussion forum).
  • Adaptive media are changed by what the learner does (e.g. some simulations, virtual worlds). 
  • Productive media allow the learner to produce something (e.g. word processor, spreadsheet).”
At Powerful Learning Practice, we have always stressed the critical importance of effective use of technology for learning, of using the right tool at the right time and so this resonated with me on that level. In addition, this framework of discussion, adaption, interaction, and reflection seems to be one around which we can ground inquiry learning environments which I feel hold the greatest potential for learning; a framework that may be very helpful to educators shifting to learner driven/centered environments.

The table from the BlendKit reading and the quote above offer differing terms for the types of activities and media--  experiential from the table appears to enable an additional dimension to learning and that resonates deeply with me.  As I continue to think on how I might adapt/adopt the table, I'm wondering how including both tools for designing and more learner tools for documenting learning along with blending/merging where possible the activity types and thinking that might be a focus of future inquiry for me.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Assessment: Thinking on puzzle pieces

"puzzle pieces" flickr photo by cadavis9797 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Continued thinking here on assessment
As a critical piece(s) in a learning picture
Drawing from personal experiences
And readings
And my beliefs on learning
Wanting to more deeply understand the potential of leveraging the power of technology to transform assessment

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE (excerpted from an earlier post)
Out of sync
Always wanting better
Not in agreement
Time and time again

More than 45 years ago, GRE exams
My answers and scores significantly impacted by the recent death of my mom
Not a reflection of my learning at all
More than 30 years ago, a Master's thesis and comprehensive exams
Real opportunities to demonstrate what I had learned
More than a decade ago, applying for a new position and answering a question on assessment
Replying that the process and the projects themselves illustrated what students had learned
In that new position, creating rubrics for projects for high schoolers aspiring to become teachers
Knowing that the state used the same type of rubrics to assess new teachers
Crying in the car after being told to change the rubrics to written tests by an old school CTE administrator
Almost 14 years ago, with a terrible cold, an appointment to take the assessment component as a NBPTS candidate
Timed testing, no kleenex allowed in the testing room, cranking out as fast as I could responses to 6 questions
No time to think
High stakes testing even for our beloved Harley as his obedience training classes came to completion
In the dark in a strange park, he would not stay as I walked away passing 9 of 10 tasks and failing
He curled up in the corner of the back seat with his head down on the way home
Some 6 years ago, designing and creating online professional development courses for Ohio teachers
Always pushing back against suggestions of quizzes, of tests
Pulling for learner created content and powerful questions that enabled deeper learninG
Grades, points, projects, quizzes, standardized tests, rubrics--
And then MOOC 2008 with vast learning landscapes, autonomy, openness and distributed learning
I assessed my learning in the open here on this blog (in the blog search box, enter CCK08 for 6 pages of posts)
That learning experience was empowering and scary and full of wonder
HEUTAGOGY (as a foundation)
Heutagogy (based on the Greek for “self”) was defined by Hase and Kenyon in 2000 as the study of self-determined learning. Heutagogy applies a holistic approach to developing learner capabilities, with learning as an active and proactive process, and learners serving as “the major agent in their own learning, which occurs as a result of personal experiences” (Hase & Kenyon, 2007, p. 112). As in an andragogical approach, in heutagogy the instructor also facilitates the learning process by providing guidance and resources, but fully relinquishes ownership of the learning path and process to the learner, who negotiates learning and determines what will be learned and how it will be learned (Hase & Kenyon, 2000; Eberle, 2009). 
When designing a self-determined learner experience, certain considerations should be made. A heutagogical approach to learning and teaching is characterized first and foremost by learner-centeredness in terms of both learner-generated contexts and content. Course design elements that support learner-centeredness in a heutagogical approach are presented below.
 Learner-defined learning contracts: Learning contracts support students in defining and determining their individual learning paths. These individualized contracts, such as those used at distance education institution Empire State College (see, define what will be learned (e.g., scope), how it will be learned (e.g., teaching and learning approaches, learning activities), and what will be assessed and how it will be assessed (Kenyon & Hase, 2010; Gilbert, 1975; Cristiano, 1993).     
Flexible curriculum: In a self-determined learning environment, the learner is the driver in creating flexible curriculum, which is defined by the student: learners create the learning map, and instructors serve as the compass (Hase & Kenyon, 2007; Hase, 2009). Flexible curriculum in this sense is negotiated action learning, which adapts and evolves according to learner needs (Hase, 2009; Hase & Kenyon, 2007). Learners negotiate “how, when, where and to what upper (rather than minimal) level they want to take their learning” (Hase, 2009, p. 47).     
Learner-directed questions: Learner-directed questions and the discussion that results from these questions are what guide learners and serve as mechanisms for helping learners make sense of course content, bring clarity to ideas, and promote individual and group reflection (Kenyon & Hase, 2001; Eberle, 2009). Guiding learners to define self-directed questions is one of the biggest challenges facing developers of heutagogical courses, as designers must be “creative enough to have learners ask questions about the universe they inhabit” (Kenyon & Hase, 2001, para. 29).     
Flexible and negotiated assessment: In heutagogy, the learner is involved in designing his or her assessment. Negotiated and learner-defined assessment has been shown to improve the motivation of learners and their involvement in the learning process, as well as make learners feel less threatened by instructor control of their learning process (Hase & Kenyon, 2007, p. 115; Hase, 2009; Ashton & Elliott, 2007; Canning, 2010). One way of incorporating negotiation into the assessment process is through the use of learning contracts (Hase, 2009). The assessment should include measurable forms of assessing understanding of content, including whether the learner has achieved the competencies desired. Rubrics can also be used effectively in guiding learners in their self-assessment process, for example by assessing “discussion skills, quality of work, outcomes, collaboration, academic soundness and knowledge of material” (Eberle, 2008, p. 186).
Another dually important characteristic of heutagogy is that of reflective practice, “a critical learning skill associated with knowing how to learn” (Hase, 2009, p. 49).

Dean Shareski talking assessment as learning
Of documenting learning along the way and reflecting
And the big advantage that technology affords  
Documenting with blogs and vido
That enables feedback from others 
And opportunities to self assess quality of work

from Cathy N. Davidson

Why Student-Centered Learning Needs An Alternative Credentialing Mechanism Cathy N Davidson

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts I’m writing based on my own experiences with student-centered, open, peer, or connected learning (you can choose whichever term suits you: I’m agnostic about the terminology). My purpose is to offer step-by-step advice about the thinking, methods, assumptions, and practical choices that go into redesigning a classroom inspired by equality, not oppression (to use Paolo Freire’s famous terminology). A pedagogy of equality aims to support and inspire the greatest possible student success, creativity, individuality, and achievement, rather than more traditional hierarchies organized around a priori standards of selectivity, credentialing, standardization, ranking, and the status quo. 
That, of course, is the most binaristic way of framing the redesigned student-centered classroom. However, in the real world in which most students live, if they are paying tuition, they also want something more concrete than a sense of their own learning: they want some formal, institutional recognition of the effort they have invested in their learning. (Otherwise, why not just learn from a friend or from a book or online?)

That is where contract grading and peer evaluation come in. To my mind, they are the most expansive alternatives to conventional grading while still offering the student a meaningful, documentable, responsible credentialed form of credit for learning attainments. 
And from Dave Cormier who has an excellent reference list at the end of his post:
You need to ACTUALLY be open to student control
The one thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that shaping the course for themselves is the critical element to contract grading. If you create a situation where the contract exists, but students get little or not input into how its carried out (say you set things up where choice is very robotic, or checkbox like) it will not work.
And my personal experience with learning contracts (with learner examples), which became learning pledges at a learner's suggestion.

From the BlendKit2017 Week 3 reading:
Authentic assessment—assessing student abilities to apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes to real world problems
Observations, presentations, videos that document learning
With feedback from global experts-- authors, historians, scientists
Collaboration with experts in the field-- gathering data
Presenting to professional meetings
Moving to collective action projects to make a difference
And leveraging the technology to collaborate, share
Examples from Michael Wesch




Lots to think on here; an excerpt below:
Characteristics of Assessment 2.0
The type of assessment activity best suited to the digital native would exhibit some or all of the following characteristics.

  • Authentic: involving real-world knowledge and skills.
  • Personalised: tailored to the knowledge, skills and interests of each student.
  • Negotiated: agreed between the learner and the teacher.
  • Problem oriented: original tasks requiring genuine problem solving skills. Socially constructed: using the student’s social networks.
  • Collaboratively produced: produced in partnership with fellow students.
  • Recognise existing skills: willing to accredit the student’s existing work.

And the type of evidence that best fits this type of assessment would be:

  • naturally occurring: already in existence or generated out of personal interest
  • digital: such as e-mail, instant message logs, blog posts, wiki contributions, audio and video recordings
  • multimedia: existing in text, audio and video format
  • distributed: may be scattered across various sources (such as web sites, blogs, inbox, iPod).

FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT (last but so important)

"Powerpoint Slide: "The power of formative assessment"" flickr photo by Ken Whytock shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license
The 5 Formative Assessment strategies to improve learning
•1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success – getting the students to really understand what their classroom experience will be and how their success will be measured.  

•2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning – developing effective classroom instructional strategies that allow for the measurement of success.  
•3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward – working with students to provide them the information they need to better understand problems and solutions.  
•4. Activating learners as instructional resources for one another – getting students involved with each other in discussions and working groups can help improve student learning.  
•5. Activating learners as owners of their own learning
Technology again, transforms the possibilities with Formative, Padlet, Tricider, and blog posts that ask learners to make their thinking visible
So many pieces to think on
To adopt the best lens for assessing learning
Always a puzzle picture in progress
Always room to make it better
Always seeking approaches that support learners in enhancing, deepening their own learning

To be continued-- this puzzle always needing additional pieces

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wide Open 2: Lake Erie and Collaboration in Blended Learning

Captured from
Twenty-four hours and 12 inches or more later (referencing previous post)
The lake remains wide open
And the snow has moved to the south and east
Exemplifying the potential of so many possibilities

And I continue to reflect on similar potential and possibilities for wide open collaboration in blended learning, stretching perhaps key concepts from Chapter 2 reading for BlendKit2017--

As an advocate of minimal guidance for learning and yet recognizing
"The conceptual network of an expert is more richly connected, nuanced, and diverse than that of a novice." Gardner, H. (2006). Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. (quoted in the reading)
however, sensing they are not mutually exclusive. What is/can be the potential for learning if the "design and incorporation of environmental cues" lends itself to wide open collaboration and skillful, accomplished questioning by an expert learner throughout the collaborations? Questions that mediate thinking and enable more novice learners to make those connections and recognize those nuances?

Collaboration-- moving from interaction to wide open collaboration and meaningful conversations among learners and even more than conversation to co creation and co construction may open wide avenues for learning. Baker, Jensen and Kolb highlight the importance of the conversations:

"Conversation is at once the most ordinary and most profound of human activities. It is ubiquitous, ever present, and all around us.  In it many forms-- face to face, telephone, among written texts, or in cyberspace-- conversation is a process of interpreting and understanding human experience."  --Conversational Learning: An Experiential Approach to Knowledge Creation, Baker, Jensen and Kolb 2002
What if in those conversations, those interactions, an expert learner(s) injects skillful questions? In what ways does that engender deeper learning? The art of questioning that effectively mediates thinking and learning is a skill I strive to become more adept at and requires lots of practice and reflection. It's one that appears essential to me for both face to face and blended learning facilitation of conversations. Brett Creech in his post questions the possibilities of asynchronous discussions and this caught my attention:
"asynchronous conversations take place in the impersonal comfort of a graded discussion forum where it was required for students to post an original thought and two responses to fellow students.  Students are expected to keep the conversation civil and it’s written down as a rule of conversation, and to stay on topic.  This is not to say there can’t be strong debates in an asynchronous environment, but a lack of non-verbal communication may not make readers of another student’s post fully aware of that student’s passion for or against the topic of the day."
I guess I'm wondering and thinking that encouraging the development of a community of learners and their collaboration in addition to modeling leveraging the affordances of technology in conversations with images and/or video in conjunction with skillful questions and a light online voice might/can alleviate the flatness of a text environment.

In addition to those conversations, I'm wondering on also stretching the interactions noted in the reading more wide open, moving from interaction to collaboration and co constuction/co creation. Not explicitly mentioned in the reading as trust building-- opening activities to get to know each other, using a wiki to "state viewpoints" create that kind of trust needed to participate in co construction of knowledge and civil discourse. Minus relationships and trust, isn't that learning is restricted and restrained?

What if an initial activity might be the co creation of a online presentation that delineates initial understandings of a topic? Like this created by learners in the March 2016 Blended Learning course from Powerful Learning Practice?

Or in a collective wondering, participating together in developing learner questions on the topic under consideration. Using Todays Meet, Twitter with a hashtag, a chat service or a Google Doc, bringing learner questions back into face to face discussions. In this example, the questions from a collective wondering in The Connected Educator Month Book Club have been "chunked" by leaders and then everyone added their thoughts and ideas to the questions.

An additional example of co construction of knowledge is the following collaborative presentation from a unit on the study of building trust online. In addition to the ideas from learners in the course, the twitterverse was invited to add their thoughts too.

The co construction piece, in the open, seems pretty powerful to me as I've observed from the facilitator role learners co creating repository of resources around a topic, annotating resources together (much like in this MOOCs readings), creating study guides, and moving up Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's connected learner scale to collective action.

Those co creations, that collective action, those conversations enable wide open possibilities for profound learning, in my humble opinion.

Which brings me back to the lake and wide open-- with a wide open lake this time of year, it is beautiful and there are uncertainties requiring the expertise of our weatherperson who is critical in guiding our actions and keeping us safe. It seems to me this is the same with learning. Designing and creating open wide learning, in this case blended learning in which collaboration (interaction) leads to incredible possibilities necessitates designers with expertise in creating just the right conditions and facilitation that can minimally guide learners to vast open landscapes of learning yet realized.

As always, thinking and reflecting on this to be continued----

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wide Open 1: Lake Erie and Models Underlying Blended Learning Design

"Cleveland Skyline from Lake Erie" flickr photo by ralpe shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
An unusually warm February and the lake is wide open
No ice
Ripe for our current "winter storm warning" for Lake Effect Snow where the possibilities for accumulation are endless.
And that can lead to this:

Or this-- In November of 1996 with a lake wide open, 6 days and 60 inches totally validated the possibilities under such conditions. Minus the open lake-- less potential.
Wide open and the possibilities (as I ponder how much snow we'll end up with by the end of the current storm.) that struck me, as I sit here also thinking on blended learning and BlendKit's week 2 topic of blended interactions

What might be those possibilities if our model for design is wide open?

If we adapt and adopt elements of John Seely Brown's atelier model, Clarence Fishers network administrator, and George Siemens curatorial learning as we design blended learning? Not excluding one or another but carefully selecting and synthesizing approaches for each learning environment, learning opportunity. What result might we see?

When I reflect on the Powerful Learning Practice Blended Learning course I designed, I detect that kind of adoption (not necessarily knowingly or intentionally.) For example, everyone contributed to a class blog initially with my posting on the main blog. It is an open studio type space where everyone can reply and learn from each other, elements of  an atelier model.

In addition, each learner was encouraged to develop their personal dashboard, with common resources on blended learning, and individual selections reflecting their own passion around the topic-- embracing the role of network administrator, with Clarence's guidance on the best tool for that purpose, Netvibes (the one page I shared with them as an example).

With an inquiry design, taking on a curatorial model, I created playlists of possible resources for each unit or topic from which learners could browse and select creating a learning environment in which encouraged a wayfinding. The playlist below, an example is from a unit on questioning/feedback.

Pushing or blurring boundaries-- creating more wide open learning environments full of possibilities. And thinking more deeply now--wondering if/how that corrupts/lessens opportunity for learning?

And realizing a need to continue reflection upon both learning theories that speak to me and models as basis for design while currently re-exploring situated learning theory, the notion of cognitive apprenticship especially social interaction and collaboration as essential components.  

Aspiring for the best of wide open blended learning-- and a need, I'm thinking, to be open, adaptive, and curious in the quest to create environments engendering the greatest potential for extraordinary blended learning.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Blending: Cauliflower Hashbrowns and Learning

"Blend" flickr photo by Andy Saxton3000 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Compelled to change to a low carb diet by my Gus' recent diabetes diagnosis and with that selecting from a seemingly endless list of recipes for cauliflower, hashbrowns was one that caught my eye.

Now, we've always enjoyed cauliflower with appropriate spices to tintillate our taste buds. And so, my journey into blending just the right seasonings and processing to  transform this veggie into hashbrowns. The first attempt-- and reponse from Gus-- "It has no taste." The second attempt--"It's pretty soggy." The blending of spices and the consistency didn't transform/enhance/change the cauliflower. So I tweaked the blend-- I cooked the cauliflower rice in the microwave longer, I added more cheese, and I looked for seasonings that would make the change we wished to see (hot peppers, more basil, lots of pepper and a bit of mustard). A different blend and an expanded cauliflower outcome that brought smiles and satisfaction.

A coincidence perhaps-- those hashbrowns prompted me to consider possibililities as I sought a deeper understanding of blended learning. Having designed and facilitated an online course on Blended Learning for Powerful Learning Practice, I was anxious to reflect on that design based on the resources provided in the BlendKit 2017: Becoming a Blended Learning Designer MOOC in which I enrolled.

Starting with basic understandings, the BlendKit Reader Third Edition notes:
"Blended courses (also known as hybrid or mixed-mode courses) are classes where a portion of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning." (emphasis their own)
Two aspects jumped out at me before I continued reading: 
1. "traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning" brought me to question, the process of redesign-- shouldn't the focus be on learning and the environment that best enables it, rather than instruction for all components? And how that lens engenders a multitude of what may have been previously unrealized possibilities? If we adopt the perspective that technology is the conduit for opportunities for learning not available without it, how does that influence redesign of optimal learning environments?

2. And where is learner voice and choice (an important tenet in K12 blended learning illustrated below by Jackie Gerstein and also found in an enlarged version here)? That had been foremost in my mind as I designed the Blended Learning eCourse.

In addition, from that same reading:
"blended learning lends itself to learner-centered, teacher-guided (as opposed to teacher-directed), interactive, and student-collaborative learning."
I'm wondering on and envisioning the possibilities for learning when blended learning is reworked to be learner directed, learner governed-- when that is a foundation for redesigning environments for learning. George Siemens' quote later in the reading seemed to reaffirm that view:
"By recognizing learning as a messy, nebulous, informal, chaotic process, we need to rethink how we design our instruction. ... learners can be provided with a rich array of tools and information sources to use in creating their own learning pathways." 
That resonates with me as well as did the studio based instruction delineated in Figure 31.3. Continuum of Instructional Practice Typically Found in Online and Blended Learning of the reading which was to the right of blended learning with a greater emphasis on learner agency.

Not a complete articulation -- rather a clearer jumping off point for further thinking then. 
Blended Learning as learning face to face and web based 
That leverages technology to learn in ways not previously available 
That enables learner choice and voice
That is messy
And as Jackie Ramsey noted (a paraphrase of what she wrote) more than enhancement for learning as we holistically redesign. 

Which brings me back to the hashbrowns-- these weren't an enhanced version of cauliflower. These were a unique blend of process and ingredients that led to a tasty dish that expanded our cuisine. So with blended learning-- getting that unique blend of process and components that will expand and transform learning.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Hope -- my one word for 2017

"Hope" flickr photo by mclcbooks shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license
Hope for Gus' health--
Hope for our children's education--
Hope for our country--

This post, outlined in my head, half written as a draft for a number of months, now briefly summarizing thoughts I've discovered and uncovered. For I believe that hope will enable possibilities, often ones we've never imagined or ones that seemingly now appear so distant.

C. R. Snyder’s work from the University of Kansas at Lawrence, shows that hope is a function of struggle. ( And as I witness Gus' epic struggle with his MS, I hold hope--
Like John Steinbeck:
Not that I have lost any hope. All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man. (

And as I consider the seeming trajectory of our nation and our public schools, hope, as Synder says will be "the fuel". The fuel to help us reach our aspirations and our dreams-- those of a meaningful public education for every student and those of a democracy in all of its idiosyncracies and beauty that not only prevails but thrives.
To Snyder, hope reflects the interaction between your goals, your sense of personal agency, and your pathfinding ability. It’s your ability to link your present to imagined futures. After all, much of life is contemplating, pursuing, and completing goals — what you might colloquially call dreams — and hope is the fuel that gets you there.

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born. 

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.
~ Lisel Mueller ~

Thursday, January 26, 2017


"Neglect" flickr photo by jblahblahblah shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
This space--
dried up
left to wither

With life pulling in different directions

Now an attempt to bring life to it
To renew and reinvigorate
To again clarify and document thinking