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

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

How Might Stories Scaffold Creative Learning?

My fingers frequently flirt with keyboards, oftentimes making a move, sometimes when they shouldn’t. It’s that digital hush, again: “Facebook isn’t for essays or politics.”

Where ought I write to understand? Describing her writing process, Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

As a graduate student in critical and creative thinking, I’m fascinated by literacy as mastering process, not content. Knowledge isn’t a commodity. It’s an exploration.

It’s about people using tools—it’s sociotechnical. Continue reading

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

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

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


Our Rising Star

Miracles? Devine interventions? The energy of the universe creating connections? An eerie but random set of events?

Rising StarI witnessed an interesting merger with the sun in early July 2012, while driving near our home in Colorado Springs. A vertical vapor trail had helped it resemble a rising star. A couple of weeks ahead of that sighting, we finalized plans to visit my wife’s sister and niece in Quebec.

During the trip in August, we toured Saint Joseph’s Oratory at Mount Royal. Brother André Bessette, a distant cousin of my mother, founded the oratory in October 1904. He was appointed its guardian in July 1909. Brother André became known as a miracle worker by our family and countless others, even beyond his death in 1937. 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