Tag Archives: students

What skills do we value?

26 Aug

After having the privilege to listen to Yong Zhao discussing his new book ‘World Class Learners – Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students’ I was reminded of Sinead Duffy’s post regarding the characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset, thus I am sharing this with you.

If these are the skills of successful entrepreneurs & Zhao says “To succeed in this ever-changing world, students need to think like entrepreneurs: resourcefully, flexibly, creatively and globally” – how many of our schools value these skills?  More importantly, do we foster these or try to extinguish them in our classrooms?  My fear is that there are too few schools and teachers that agree with Yong Zhao, and by the time they confront the reality that he is right, so many students may have missed the boat.

12 Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneurial Mindset

By Sinead Duffy 4th July 2012

Success does not happen overnight. It takes hard work, perseverance and continual self-improvement. Every highly successful entrepreneur has a great story to tell. Often times, you’ll  be amazed by what most of them have gone through before becoming famous entrepreneurs.  They may be ordinary people but they do not have ordinary minds.

Here are the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs.

1. Passion

They absolutely love what they do; it energizes them and makes them come alive.

It doesn’t feel like work, because they feel they are doing what they were born to do.

2. Belief

Their self-belief and belief in their ideas enables them to succeed. They have faith in their ability to succeed and proceed when others doubt their ideas. They believe they can make it work and never allow their circumstances to place a limit on their potentials.

3. Courage

They have the courage to take on new challenges, to follow their instincts and to go boldly where no one has gone before.

4. Determination

Highly successful entrepreneurs have great determination. They are determined to make their ideas work, no matter how difficult. They are determined to nurture their ideas and watch them flourish.

5. Instinct

They are good at making decisions, tuning into their gut feeling and weighing up consequences in a heartbeat. The more decisions they make, the better they become at decision making.

6. Risk Taking

They are prepared to take risks and step outside their comfort zone to get what they want. Interestingly, a lot of their decisions are calculated risks.

7. Vision

They begin with a dream of what they really want to achieve and they set clear goals and objectives. From that, they strategize, plan and act on what they want to achieve. They inspire others to focus on achieving results.

8. Discipline

They are brilliant at getting things done and this takes commitment, hard work and dedication. They get up early, work late and never give up until they get what they want.

9. Resiliancy

They have failed in the past and they know that they will fail again in the future. They are not afraid of it. They have learned great lessons from their failures. They turn the situation around to make it work for them. In fact, other innovations can even emerge from failures.

10. Adapt

They are early adopters and quick to respond to changes that affect their business. They are not afraid of change, not afraid to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. They understand that change is a certainty and face whatever life throws at them with courage and hope.

11. Inspire

They motivate and inspire others to achieve results. They recognize and nurture talents and qualities in others.

12. Learn

They are always willing to learn and invest in their own personal development. They attend seminars, network and rub minds with like minds. They seek out others who share their passions and build relationships with people who support and encourage. They have great mentors and coaches and work on ways to continually improve. They grow daily, and never fail to make use of every opportunity.

Perhaps you can identify many of the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs in yourself.  Are there some you feel are stronger than others? Are there any of the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs that you would like to further develop?


Why I Let My Kids Have an Internet Presence

20 Mar

 by Gwyn Ridenhour (gwynridenhour.wordpress.com)

Thank you Gwyn for being so eloquent in your thoughts and actions.

Education and technology – it seems everywhere I look folks are talking about it. Should we do more, less? What about virtual schools? Interactive white boards? Cell phones? Facebook and Twitter? Should we let kids be out there on the ‘net? Should we post their pictures? Won’t they be kidnapped??
These are legitimate conversations, and each person has to make these kinds of decisions based on their own comfort levels and according to the needs of the individual child. I know people who are aghast that my kids each have a website with their names attached. I know many others who don’t even blink about it.

The way I see it, there is risk in everything we do. We put our kids on school buses every day without seat belts. We let them play contact sports. We drive our cars on roads with thousands of other imperfect drivers.  We fly in planes. Heck, we get up in the morning. I figure you can get injured or killed just as easy staying safe at home as you can if you travel across the world. But personally, I would take the second, far more interesting option.

So yes, I let my kids have a presence on the internet – first and last name and everything. And though I’m sure there are risks involved, the benefits for us far outweigh them. Here are some of those benefits:
I’m going to be talking mainly about Eva’s online presence, because it is more fully developed than Ian’s is currently.  Ian is still developing product for his site; once he has sheet music that bands can use, he’ll be able to connect with people in much the same way that Eva has. We are also still developing his website’s overall message and determining how it will best benefit other kids and musicians.

It Provides Real-Life Motivation for Quality Work
I talk a lot about doing away with grades for my kids’ work and instead providing the same types of motivational opportunities that drive adults. Kids aren’t so different from adults in that respect. Getting an “A” might feel good, but having your story published in a magazine feels better. Eva knows that her books aren’t just going to be filed in a cabinet, but read by dozens and dozens of people, many of whom she’ll never meet. Talk about motivation to produce quality work.

The kids’ online presence serves as an important element for this type of motivation. They each want to enhance the quality of their websites, and in order to do so, they have to continue to produce quality work. They also love it when I share their accomplishments on facebook. Though I emphasize that it’s not about the hits, likes, and comments, but instead about the connections those things represent, there is something exciting about seeing that positive feedback. It’s validating.

It Enhances Sense of Identity and Purpose
Over the past two years, Eva has come to see herself as an author. This year, she’s also come to see herself as a public speaker. Her website has not only enhances that sense of identity, but has helped create it, as it has made the sharing of her video lessons on writing possible. Making the videos allowed her to practice public speaking with the comforting lack of a physical audience. Her global positive feedback has boosted her confidence. And when she spends time tweaking and evaluating and adding to her website, she is learning to polish her professional image.

It Connects Us with People from Around the World and Creates New Opportunities
Through social media, our family has been able to connect with some pretty amazing folks – people we would have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Many of these people are our creative heroes, including Neil Gaiman, Sir Ken Robinson, Adora Svitak, and for Jamie, Peter Straub. These people live all over the world, and we live in middle of North Dakota. But with twitter and facebook, we have been able to talk with them as if they were next door. Amazing.

We’ve also “met” dozens of writers both young and old, teachers, principals, musicians, home educators, parents, kids. Eva has talked with folks from all over the world, sharing inspiration to write and tell stories.

And the opportunities! As a direct result of Eva’s video lessons on writing, she has been invited to speak in elementary school classrooms, both in person and via Skype. The possibilities are terribly exciting. One year ago, I would have thought the idea of public speaking for Eva was out of our grasp, at least for several more years (she can be very shy). But now… I stand in amazement at her poise and courage.

It Helps Us Be the Change We Wish to See in the World
What I want most for my kids is two things: 1) I want them to be happy and fulfilled by their life choices and 2) I want their life choices to benefit not only themselves but others as well. We’ve got just this one world, and it will be what we make it. I want my children’s world to be full of compassion, intelligence, generosity, and creativity; we have to be those things if we want that reality. We are living in a unique time, and can connect with people across the world in seconds. My kids have gifts to share – to inspire and create, to collaborate and enrich. What better way to improve both the quality of their lives and that of others than by encouraging this exchange of ideas and support?

And There’s More to Come!
With all my talk of internet presence, I recognize that we only dip the surface. We primarily use blog-based websites, facebook and twitter to achieve our digital goals. Starting today, husband Jamie is forging a new online frontier. To promote his novel Barking Mad (Typecast Publishing, 2011), he is embarking on a blog tour. Every day for three weeks, a different literary review blogger will post a unique interview with Jamie. Some of these interviews actually feature the dapper Reginald Spiffington, the main character of the book. What an exciting prospect! He hopes to connect with more readers and writers this way, and of course he hopes to boost his sales.

It really is a hilarious book, by the way – a comedy murder mystery with a werewolf! Set in 1931 England, the book reflects some of the literary joy of Agatha Christie and the Jeeves and Wooster stories. You should come along on the blog tour and learn about this exciting new venue together with us. His publisher is also giving away prizes both during and at the end of the tour. For more information, visit Jamie’s calendar page.

One Final Note on Security
I shouldn’t close without letting you know the ways I do protect my kiddos. They each have email addresses, but I receive copies of every incoming email. I proofread most of what goes back out as well. Youtube comments have to be approved by me, and I don’t allow youtube likes or dislikes. All comments on their websites also come to me for approval. As neither kid is 13 yet, neither of them have facebook accounts. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s not a perfect world. I say we forge ahead and embrace the positives in a smart, informed manner!

What about you? How do you feel about giving your children a presence on the internet? And how do you think the internet should be used in the classroom?

Tweetle Dee

6 Feb

Schools are using twitter as an electronic noticeboard for students, parents and staff, writes Mark Sparvell, as published in Education Review.

Many of us remember being startled from a 1970’s heat-induced classroom doze by the fearful speaker box springing to violent life. When I visit schools and see these artefacts from a gentler, more analogue time, I secretly fear it will command me to go to the principal’s office (which, as a principal now should be a pleasant request).

Increasingly, the modern day equivalent of the speaker box is social networking.

Lorie Vela (www.collaborationideas.com) believes if you really want to know how students and communities think, what is important to them and to learn their language, you need to engage with them in ‘their spaces’. Vela identifies twitter and facebook as two social networking sites of interest to schools.

Twitter is a free service on the web that allows a person to send short (140 characters) status updates to multiple followers. Signing up for twitter is easy, and following someone’s tweets (twitter messages) is even easier. There are many reasons for schools to consider exploring the possibilities of twitter. Laura Walker (http://twitter.com/mrslwalker) summaries a range of reasons.

Twitter can be like a virtual staffroom, where teachers can access in seconds a stream of links, ideas, opinions, and resources from a hand-picked selection of global professionals. It can enable excellent teachers to reflect on what they are doing in their schools; what is working well and what needs improvement. It can provide quality-assured searching, as you increasingly trust the people you follow and hone and develop your list. And, it’s about communication; expressing yourself in 140 characters is a great discipline.

An entry point for many schools is to use twitter as a reach vehicle to your community.

Schools use a twitter account as an electronic school noticeboard which pushes out messages (tweets) to those who are subscribed (followers). Examples from schools recently surveyed through my blog have included posting ongoing scores from sportsday; recognising achievements of staff and students; brainstorming ideas and gathering feedback; and, sharing links quickly, instantly and to many.

Other examples include providing an instant response tool for professional learning sessions; reminders about closure days and special events; and, canteen specials and requests for assistance.

Stewart, a parent from a regional South Australian school notes (via sparvell.com): “As a parent I found twitter a wonderful way to stay in touch with issues and activities in the school community. As with a lot of parents I am extremely time poor and this information enabled me to streamline my days and create time for activities involving my children.”

It could be argued that some of the examples from the field are simply transmission functions of a social media platform that could be used to do so much more. I understand this but also understand that sometimes finding the ‘inroad’ is a starting point. (See box for my top tips for getting started.)

One of the first professional learning webinars to be delivered through www.palnet.edu.au will be around social media and schools. To be notified of this event, go to www.palnet.edu, register and select participation in the ‘ICT Strategic Planning’ group. The palnet environment is built ‘by principals for principals and aspiring leaders’ and is scheduled to go live late November.

Ps. follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/Ian2325


This will seem wildly egocentric but I’m following conversations on my blog www.sparvell.com about the role of social media as tools for communicating and engaging with school communities. There’s a quick poll to look out for on the front page asking visitors to identify their most recent ICT purchase, an RSS feed of trending ICT topics and a very curious’ Clustr Map’ tracking ‘Where in the world?’ visitors are dropping in from.

My other favourite blog is edublogs.org. With over a million fully searchable blogs dedicated to education, you are sure to find all the tips, challenges, support and resources that you need to explore and engage with blogs.


If you are going to explore twitter as a reach vehicle for your school, here are my top five tips.

1. Keep it simple – twitter allows for 140 characters. Make sure you are communicating what it is that is most important for your audience to know. If you are unsure what they want to know- ask them!

2. Keep is smart – There’s a fine line between engaging with casual txt-speak and compromising your ‘position’. School tweets need to strike the line of professional but engaging (don’t finish with ‘xox’!)

3. Provide a guide- Explain through your conventional channels what you are exploring and seek support. Add twitter links to your school webpage and on your email footers.

4. Don’t saturate – Most parents will be receiving tweets via their mobile devices. The last thing anyone wants is a dozen trivial tweets a day. Use sparingly, apply three to four times weekly and see your doctor if pain persists.

5. Protect – Have clear agreements around who can tweet and who approves. I managed our schools twitter account and staff who wished to send out to the twitter feed would email of text their messages to me. It’s important to maintain the integrity and quality assurance of public communications.

Mixed Perceptions

1 Feb

Kids Using Digital Media

The subject of kids and media — how much they consume, what’s “good” for them, what parents’ role should be — is a broad and complicated topic. New studies are continually released with a wide range of advice and information.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is a great resource of illuminating research, and recently completed a comprehensive report calledFamily Matters: Designing Media for a Digital Age. The report is packed full of interesting (and sometimes counter-intuitive) information, including the following:

  • More than a third of parents have learned something technical from their child.
  • Most believe that video games help children foster skills that are important to their academic achievement.
  • 57% recognize that digital media presents ways for children to converse and connect with friends and family.

Those are just some of the positive perspectives from the report. But it’s a lot more nuanced than that. Here’s more about the study.

By Eleanor Yang Su, California Watch

A majority of American parents say they are concerned that digital media is interfering with childhood development. Yet most do not think their own children spend too much time with electronic devices.

That’s according to a recent report [PDF] by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. The nonprofit research lab analyzed surveys of 810 parents with children ages 3 through 10 and reported some seemingly paradoxical findings:

  • About 59 percent of parents say their children’s digital media use prevents them from getting physical exercise.
  • More than half (53 percent) say the media use can pose a threat for online safety and privacy.
  • About 40 percent of parents say digital media infringes on time their children would otherwise spend in face-to-face interactions.
  • Only 18 percent of parents believe their own children spend too much time with digital media.

“If kids start using computers before they get to school, they’ll be at an academic advantage because they’ll be more comfortable with the tool.”

Why the apparent contradiction? Researchers say it’s likely because the nature of digital devices today is more private and portable. Parents may not be aware of just how much time their little ones are spending in their rooms, using social networks or playing video games.

Some childhood experts said the findings are not surprising, considering earlier reports on media use. Children ages 8 to 18 are spending an average of 7½ hours a day with digital media, includingTV, computers and video games, according to a study released last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Parents need to consider what sort of activities their children are missing out on when they spend so much time with electronics, said Peter Mangione, co-director of the Center for Child & Family Studies at WestEd. The San Francisco-based nonprofit provides research, development and services to improve learning outcomes.

“I would not want a child spending half their free time on digital media,” Mangione said. “When they’re in the middle of the childhood period – age 7 through 10 – they’re meant to be engaged: talking with people face to face, working in groups, collaborating, learning how to regulate behavior. Those are the things that have an impact on how well the child will function later on.”

While many groups have blamed digital media for hindering family relationships and infringing on children’s physical activities, the Cooney Center researchers are cautiously optimistic about its potential to educate.

“It’s a digital world, so at some point, kids are going to use digital media, whether by choice or not,” said Lori Takeuchi, author of the Cooney Center report. “If kids start using computers before they get to school, they’ll be at an academic advantage because they’ll be more comfortable with the tool.”

Takeuchi added that social media can help expose children to other cultures and viewpoints.

“It gives kids this idea that they can communicate with the world outside their home,” she said. “So you can raise them to care about the planet and world issues.”

But, she said, that potential will be realized only once television producers, video game makers and other media producers create better-quality educational programs.

Unlike movies and TV shows with broader appeal, many video games tend to target just children or adults. There is an optimal period, around the time when children are 6 or 7, when they want to engage in games with their parents and could stand to learn something, Takeuchi said.

In the report, she made recommendations to those in the industry to innovate and create new programs and applications that would give children a chance to use their digital media to socialize, exercise and play with others.

As for her advice for parents, Takeuchi suggests that they make screen time into family time by watching TV or playing video games with their kids. That would help inform parents about how much digital media their kids are consuming and make it a more enriching experience.

“Research has found that kids learn a lot more when a parent is watching TV with their child and is there to explain what’s going on,” Takeuchi said. “Parents can be open-minded and seek out information about the potential of using digital media for learning.”

Eleanor Yang Su is a contributor for California Watch, the state’s largest investigative reporting team and part of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Learn more at www.californiawatch.org