Colorado Springs Students Strengthen City’s Cultural Ties with Japan

PEYTON, Colo. – Displaying nametags and smiles Aug. 7, a group of students in Colorado Springs greeted teens arriving from almost 6,000 miles away.

As 17 students representing five junior high schools in Fujiyoshida, Japan, entered Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, nearly 20 eighth graders welcomed them. Many attempted cordial Japanese greetings, as several of their guests snapped photos.

“We wanted our students to have an international experience,” said social studies teacher Gary Heaston, who coordinated the event for the eighth graders at Skyview Middle School. Continue reading

Educators Give Gifted Students New Summer Opportunity

PEYTON, Colo. – Amid a warm week in July, gifted students in the Falcon area of El Paso County experienced a unique summer break – it put them, briefly, back in school.

During Falcon School District 49’s first Gifted and Talented Institute, July 8-12, roughly 130 students from across the district gathered at Vista Ridge High School in Colorado Springs.

While first through 12th graders met with peers who also boast intellectual gifts, who understand their desire to develop their unique talents and build their passions, they shared a period of project-based learning that deviated from typical classroom curricula. Continue reading

Collaborative Media Framework

Collaborative Media: What’s Wrong With Social Media, How We Might Fix It?

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Through innovation, creative people attempt to solve unmet consumer needs. Design thinking is the process of reviewing user experiences with products and services, uncovering implicit gaps causing frustration, and then pointing toward new approaches (Kaufman & Sternberg, 2010, pp. 161-162). In reviewing trends in emerging media, I applied the seven steps in creative problem solving: assess a situation, explore a vision, formulate challenges, explore ideas, formulate solutions, explore acceptance and formulate a plan (Puccio, Mance, & Murdock, 2010, p. 71). Social media’s history and evolution covers a relatively brief period in human existence, but it’s a couple of decades that witnessed massive developments in consumer technologies. It’s time for innovators to reflect on how it might better serve society.

Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Ninety percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years (2013). In the year 2000, we stored roughly 800,000 petabytes, or 0.8 zettabytes (Zikopoulos, Eaton, Deroos, Deutsch, & Lapis, 2011, p. 5). Researchers expect our storage to reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. Simple morning routines are filling storage devices in tons of ways. Data is created when you turn off your smartphone’s alarm, enter an expressway toll road, buy a cup of coffee and access a secure building. Much of the produced information is rarely analyzed, if at all. Continue reading

Fishing Event Gives Special Needs Students Lifetime Activity

Fishing Event Gives Special Needs Students Lifetime Activity

PEYTON, Colo. – More than 80 special needs students gathered lakeside May 10 to explore one of Colorado’s top outdoor activities.

Roughly 100 yards of shoreline along Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs was devoted to Falcon School District 49’s annual fishing event.

Bonnie Mendenhall, District 49 adaptive physical education teacher for middle and high school students, started the event in 2006, after receiving a Future Fisherman Foundation grant for the required instructional materials. Continue reading

History Hook Boosts STEM Education in Colorado

History Hook Boosts STEM Education in Colorado

PEYTON, Colo. – Student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is taking off in Colorado Springs with a new aviation museum.

The National Museum of World War II Aviation opened in October. The founders partnered with the Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science to start an educational program for area kindergarten-twelfth grade students in April.

Deb Haase, an Academy School District 20 teacher on special assignment to CCESSE’s Challenger Learning Center, said the program supports STEM curricula with a hook into history. Continue reading

Fifth Graders Find Ways to Improve Community

Fifth Graders Find Ways to Improve Community

PEYTON, Colo. – While elementary school students in Colorado Springs entered a classroom May 1, several fifth grade girls separated them by gender.

“Boys on the left, girls on the right,” they said, pointing to gender signs on the walls of the classroom at Evans International Elementary School in Falcon School District 49. An upcoming discussion would cover the pros and cons of single-sex schools.

“I’m interested in hearing what they have to say,” said Sean Dorsey, Sand Creek Zone innovation leader, entering the room. “I want to see what they’ve accumulated and see what we can use as we plan our zones.” Continue reading

Voltaire Philosophy

Voltaire: To Online Dialogue Leaders

Online communities lacking leadership often get trapped within the realms of talking nice or tough. Debate is healthy, as it creates a container for reflective and generative dialogue. But within all conversational settings, dialogue leaders must ensure harmony, protecting a culture of inquiry and a commitment to emergence and creativity. They synchronize the actions people take during a conversation. Movers initiate ideas and transition conversations, while opposers challenge their direction – both act as advocates. To inspire, followers complete ideas and support the conversation, as bystanders provide perspective. Leaders keep everyone transitioning through the fields of conversation, ensuring debate leads to breakthroughs not breakdowns. What might Voltaire, an 18th century writer and philosopher, a fighter of free thinking and human dignity, an influencer of the French and American revolutions, offer today’s online dialogue leaders? Continue reading


Preying on Big Data

The falcon soars to a pitch high above a plain, surveying for an attractive piece of data. Another 2.5 quintillion bytes is filling the landscape today, stuffing social media posts, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, cell phone GPS signals and other information systems.

He anticipates the flow of information, staying a step ahead of reactions, considering all environmental conditions. Circling the surroundings, he isn’t expecting the feel of familiarity, but thinking instinctively – nothing is unfamiliar. The characteristics of untrustworthy, unreliable data are consistent across state borders. Continue reading

Educator Focuses on Information Literacy

Educator Focuses on Information Literacy

PEYTON, Colo. — Information is easy to find today, piled into powerful indexing websites like Google. Students must learn how to use it, according Megan Taylor, a history teacher at Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs.

“This is about information literacy – using information,” said Taylor, standing in the school’s library April 12, surrounded by about 120 student projects. Tables held their exhibits and research papers, while computers displayed their documentaries and websites.

Find a turning point when an idea or event changed the world. That was the only project guidance Taylor gave her 10th-12th grade students in Falcon School District 49. Continue reading

How 12 Strangers Agreed on Murder

Six months ago, I was walking in downtown Colorado Springs wearing a blue-and-white pin labeled “Juror Div. 8.” I was part of a group of people selected by two teams of lawyers to interpret evidence in the 4th Judicial District of the Colorado State Judicial Branch.

After the lawyers completed their arguments in the first-degree murder trial, the jury was excused. I’d decide a man’s guilt with eleven other people, culminating two weeks of listening to witness testimonies, and getting acquainted. Finally, we could speak about the most meaningful thing this group of strangers had in common: a twisted love triangle and its deadly shooting. Continue reading