It has been five years since I first reviewed Ada Twist, Scientist on this blog, and I even recommended it back then for my Gifts for the Gifted list in 2016. The book, which is one in a series of collaborations between author, Andrea Beaty, and illustrator, David Roberts, in the Questioneers Series, is a delightful story about a young girl who embodies the curiosity and experimental personality of a S.T.E.M. hero in the making. Now, Ada and her friends (Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck, who also star in their own books by the dynamic duo of Beaty/Roberts ) are featured in a new animated series on Netflix that officially drops on September 28, 2021 — but don’t despair if you don’t have a Netflix subscription. You and your students can watch two episodes right now on YouTube: “Cake Twist” and “Garden Party.” The adorable cast of characters plus the real-life scientists who appear at the end of each episode will engage pre-school and lower elementary students while showing them how to brainstorm, problem-solve, and deal with mistakes. This mixture of fictional and authentic role models that are brought to you by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, are the perfect inspiration for our next generation of change-makers!
My good friend, John Hinds, former principal of 17 years and current leadership consultant, just published a video that I wanted to feature on the blog today for my weekly anti-racist post. Though his video does not explicitly address racism, it does encourage us to examine our own biases as he relates a story about his first tour of a school to which he had been assigned. It brings me back to a couple of books I reviewed, Talking to Strangers and Bias, in this post, and the idea that our brains are naturally wired for bias to help us bring order to our world. As many administrators and teachers are returning to work in the next couple of weeks, I think that it is important to be conscious of our tendencies to make assumptions and how those assumptions may be detrimental to ourselves and others. One way to combat this is the Bias Toolkit, which is one of the many resources you can find in my Wakelet of Anti-Racism Resources.
I really like this video from Ethan Hawke about giving yourself permission to be creative. I’ve noticed a few things in student-centered learning when it comes to being creative: students have a hard time figuring out what they really love, students compare themselves to others far too often, and students are afraid of appearing foolish if what they create is not good enough. As Hawke points out, children don’t start out with those inhibitions; our societal “norms” produce them. I believe that is to the detriment of our community. While I don’t think education needs to become a free-for-all, allowing students to do whatever they want, I would like us to spend more time in schools helping students to find out what children truly love instead of focusing on their weaknesses. And, as the late, great Sir Ken Robinson also advocated, we need to stop diminishing the benefits of creativity in our schools.
Venture Lab is all about bringing entrepreneurial learning to students. One way they do this is with Pitch Events, and you can see a variety of student pitches on their YouTube Channel. The Sunshine Sisters pitched their idea in December of 2020, and you can watch these three adorable girls talk about their product and answer questions from adult business leaders in this video.
Learn more about all of the programs that Venture Lab has to offer here. And don’t forget to join me for a Design Thinking Q&A this coming Monday!
John Hinds was the principal at one of the schools where I worked for 10 years. Since then, we have remained friends and he moved on to lead two other schools. He and I both retired in December of 2019, and he has his own consulting business, JL Hinds Consulting. John is passionate about sharing what he has learned that works when it comes to leading a school — and he is also very honest about the mistakes he has made. He has started a YouTube channel of short videos with advice for school administrators.
Though I know most of my readers are teachers, I want to share this with you in case you are considering administration or know someone who might benefit from these. The videos are about building community and paying attention to all of the pieces that come together to make a school thrive. John has been a wonderful mentor and coach for me throughout my career, and I think he has very practical and helpful suggestions even experienced administrators may appreciate. So far, my favorite videos are, “Foyer Triage” and “Collaborate with Your School Community”. (See my post, “Thinking Outside the School,” to see an example of John’s collaboration with the community.) He has more videos on the way, so please subscribe and share!