Is there more to service?

PIA Adopt-a-Soi

PIA Adopt-a-Soi

This week the school adopted our street, er soi (in Thai) and spent Friday afternoon on our first clean up.  Leading up to the day, my homeroom spent some time talking logistics.  In the midst of the discussion of what to wear, when to go, what to do, one of my students raised his hand and asked, ‘Why do we have to do this?’  For many – including me just after the comment was made – the question was taken as apathetic and disinterested.   Grade 7 angst.  However, as I continued to probe, we realized he was asking much bigger questions.

  • Why doesn’t government services take care of the island?
  • What can we done to solve this problem?
  • How can we as students created larger change?

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to make the effort to clean up our community.   In fact, he was trying to work through solutions so that we don’t have to do that again in the future.   I encouraged the kids to think deeper, broader and more strategically.   Some ideas that came back included:   plastic bag ban on Phuket, CCTV cameras on every street with fines and punishment for those who liter, signs at the airport in all languages to encourage tourists to keep Phuket clean, and improved government services to address the problem.   Now what?  The soi is ours now, but I’ve already told the kids:  next year I hope we don’t have to clean it again.

If approached correctly, I truly believe that service can lead to deeper thinking, meaningful action and systemic change.   It starts small…


Inquiry: To What End?

This is a fantastic, deep and expansive post. A great look into inquiry.

Inquire Within

This was originally supposed to be a simple reply to Aviva Dunsiger’s blog post. I soon realized it would have been too short and thus I could have been easily misunderstood.
It all started with my question: “How do these projects enable deeper thinking?”, question that I asked after seeing her students’ work. Briefly the sequence of activities was the following:
1. Students brainstormed questions to guide their research on natural phenomena.
2. In groups of 2-3 they would write a poem using onomatopoeia and personification in the context of their natural phenomenon.
3. Last, they would create artwork that showed the natural phenomenon they researched about.
At first glance, this is an interesting and engaging chain of activities. Yet, to me, the over-arching question was missing. To what end? What was the understanding the teacher wanted the students to have? How does each of the three activities…

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two educations – Carter G. Woodson and Marcus Burke

ImageMuch truth in this – then and now.   I was interested to read Marcus Burke’s perspective on this in 2014.



MOOCS missing the mark

ImageMatt Levinson has released an interesting post at Edutopia on the failings of the increasingly famous MOOCs.    This is less relevant to the classroom teacher, but certainly has implications that should be considered in formulating education policies and reforms.




The limits of our language

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 06.09.42PopSci and The Atlantic are currently featuring an interesting perspective on the limits of language – captured through this infographic by Pei-Ying Ling on emotions.   Is it true that what we feel is limited to what we are able to label?

So Bad So Good takes it further with this practical reference to 25 non-English words worth remembering!



letters of note

LONBANNERon this new year’s eve, i wish you all a wonderful day/night – celebrating the year that was and that which will be.    and i leave you with letters of note – a site worthy of it’s own resolution for the year to come.    here is a collection of the most popular posts from 2012.     enjoy and happy new year!


Quieting the Mind

The Harvard Business Review has posted a short, but helpful blog post by Matthew E. May on techniques for quieting the mind.   I’m looking forward to bringing all three of these techniques into my classroom next year!