131004-730

Online Behaviors for Public Relations, Enabling Community Thinking

Like classrooms, online communities can be structured to make thinking conscious, deliberate, clear and focused on needed outcomes. However, to get there, virtual communities require intentional dialogue leadership. For that, communications specialists must study the ways to organize and arrange interaction patterns, so they may outline a productive structuring of their time and energy. While participatory media is sought out to modestly inform audiences, it must not be confused with broadcast media—it’s social. In the attached report, I explain important online behaviors for school public relations, those that help enable community thinking. Continue reading

140412-754-lomo

Why We Must Break Concepts into Pieces, Let Ideas Linger

During an open house event April 7, I joined University of Massachusetts Boston’s Critical and Creative Thinking program in honoring the work and upcoming retirement of Dr. Carol Smith, a professor of psychology and pioneer in cognitive development, conceptual change and restructuring, and learning for deeper understandings.

UMass Boston faculty members described Smith’s decades of dedication, compassion and goodwill, as she navigated through transformative learning and problem solving, identifying what’s important to think about, as well as why and how. They explained her comfort in appreciating diverse perspectives, and her capacity to offer mixed observations. Continue reading

Almeida_Junior

Why The World Needs Nimble Thinkers

During an open house event March 3, I listened to stories offered by graduates of the Critical and Creative Thinking program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Their stories revealed several common themes among the program’s alumni.

While virtually seated in Boston from Colorado Springs, via an online Google+ Hangout, I heard the first graduate explain how the curriculum had caused some restlessness. She started reopening texts, revisiting ideas. Her thinking had evolved. Her view of the world had changed.

After completing the program, “I figured out just how much I had learned,” she said. Continue reading

How a School United to Tell a Student’s Secret

How a School United to Tell a Student’s Secret

PEYTON, Colo. (Nov. 15, 2013) — Eleven-year old Katarina Lucardie had a secret she couldn’t hide any longer. She wanted to tell it. She wrote a note.

“I have this cell thing that makes me lose my hair,” wrote the sixth grader last month to her counselor at Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, located in northeast Colorado Springs. “I’m bald, but a I wear a wig.”

Lucardie was born with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss. When she started fourth grade at Springs Ranch Elementary School, the symptoms progressed. By Christmas, she was bald. Her mother ordered a wig. Continue reading

Colorado Students Use STEM to Solve ‘Crime’

Colorado Students Use STEM to Solve ‘Crime’

PEYTON, Colo. (Nov. 7, 2013) — “I felt like I was going after someone who needed to be stopped, pulled over, you never know,” said seventh grader Maddelyn Sackuvich, exiting a flashing police vehicle Nov. 6 at Falcon Middle School in Peyton.

Sackuvich, 12, was part of a group of sixth and seventh graders taking turns in a parked patrol car. The approaching line of students trembled each time someone wailed its siren. Wesley Woodworth of the Colorado Springs Police Department said, “This is my office.”

Nearly 100 students from Falcon Middle School were participating in a Crime Scene Investigation Camp-for-a-Day, an event offering experiences that combine science, technology, engineering and math skills. Continue reading

Critical thinking

Reflection on Critical Thinking, 21st Century Intellect

“Critical thinking” recently topped a Forbes list covering important job skills for the 21st century, suggesting employers are looking for candidates who “use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems” (Casserly, 2012).

As Socrates opined, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must constantly re-examine our beliefs, and identify when remaining intellectually honest requires us to accept contrary opinions. We must represent a genuine curiosity for other’s belief systems.

We’re already highly collaborative today. Every day, more than 500 terabytes of data is sent to Facebook, with the processing of text, photos and videos (Facebook, 2012). Twitter’s microblogging platform receives 12 terabytes daily (Naone, 2010). Actively and passively, we’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day – 90 percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years. (IBM, 2013). Continue reading

Colorado Students Give Voice to Domestic Violence Victims

Colorado Students Give Voice to Domestic Violence Victims

PEYTON, Colo. (Sept. 24, 2013) – Amanda Hanson was 15 years old and more than three months pregnant Aug. 19, 2002, when she was strangled, beaten and stabbed.

An explanation of her boyfriend’s continued carnage was presented Sept 24 at Patriot Learning Center. The horrific mutilation on a trail in Manitou Springs, involving “sticks and a boulder,” sparked a somber embrace for several students. Some cried.

“She was the age of some our freshmen here, so it’s really relatable,” said 12th grader Celine Inge, 17, standing near a life-size cutout of a female figure, constructed of plywood and painted red. Hanson’s story was hung over the figure’s shoulders with a ribbon. Continue reading

What Makes a Colorado Healthy School Champion?

What Makes a Colorado Healthy School Champion?

PEYTON, Colo. – The kids always ask, ‘What’s for breakfast tomorrow,” said Jeanne Hornberger, scooping eggs, sausages and cinnamon rolls, restocking fruits and milks.

Hornberger is the nutrition services manager at Skyview Middle School, where breakfast is now offered for a second year. Each morning, the cafeteria typically caters to 60-70 students, of which about two-thirds arrive almost daily.

“Sometimes, I just come in for a small yogurt so I can be focused,” said sixth grader EJ Sutton, 11, while eating breakfast with several friends talking about their favorite sports teams. Continue reading

Colorado Students Unveil Civil Rights Tribute, Remember 9/11

Colorado Students Unveil Civil Rights Tribute, Remember 9/11

PEYTON, Colo. – “The hatred I see today bothers me – it bothers a lot of people,” said James Wade, while unveiling a school project Sept. 11.

Wade, 17, a 12th grader known for his creativity at Patriot Learning Center in Peyton, Colo., had led the school’s ninth through 12th grade social studies students’ three-day civil rights project that combined ideas, materials and artworks.

During the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, they unveiled to their school a pictorial tribute to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Hung in a hallway, a large, bell-shaped pressboard contains the collage of student works, each representing excerpts from King’s speech. A cutout of the word “freedom” is situated as the bell’s clapper. Continue reading

Survival Story Aims to Inspire Colorado Students

Survival Story Aims to Inspire Colorado Students

PEYTON, Colo. – “You have a choice to be bitter, or get better,” said Rai Henniger, speaking Aug. 9 to a group of high school students in Peyton, Colo.

While Henniger was setting up a fireworks display May 12, 2007, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, he says it was negligence that led to a powerful explosion. Someone had ignored a critical safety precaution.

The blast threw him 15 feet, leaving him with a 1 percent chance of survival. Continue reading