Tag Archives: Kiran Bir Sethi

Contagious learning: lighting fires, deep practice – The Talent Code VTR SPW

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
—W. B. Yeats

How might we send the right signals? What if struggle is celebrated and encouraged until it just clicks?


Summer Reading using VTR: Sentence-Phrase-Word:
The Talent Code
Chapter 7: How to Ignite a Hotbed

Then it clicks. The kids get it, and when it starts, the rest of them get it, too. It’s contagious. (Coyle, 156 pag.)

Contagious…it’s a good word. How might we empower learners to take charge of learning? Hear from Kiran Sethi:

Coyle, Daniel (2009-04-16). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Doodling the C’s – Lesson 05: Listening

How do we practice Information Age skills?  Which of the C’s do we actively engage with, share in the-struggle-to-learn with others, and intentionally insert into daily practice?

Creativity and innovation, Communication, Critical thinking and problem solving, Collaboration, …

Last week’s lesson was on memory boosters.  Lesson 05 is on listening.

Project:  Listen to a couple of TED talks of your choice.
(suggestions below).

1st TED Talk:

  1. Practice the technique of visually thinking about what you are hearing.
  2. Listen to the video twice.
    1. During the first time, stop the video when needed to pause to sketch.
    2. On the second time through, do not stop the video. Work your way through and see how much you can sketch note.
2nd TED Talk:
  1. Be brave.  Practice what we’ve learned in Lesson 4: Memory Booster.
  2. Sketch-note the chosen TED talk without stopping the video.  It is ok to miss some things.
  3. Share your doodle using the hastags #ShowYourWork and YourSchoolsHashtag #TrinityLearns or #WALearns, etc.

Remember… It takes practice.

  • Share your poster with someone and ask for feedback.
  • Scan or take a photo of your work and insert it in your Doodling the C’s Google doc, on your blog, or in your My Learning portfolio.
  • Bonus: Tweet a copy of your poster using the hashtags #ShowYourWork #TrinityLearns (or your school’s hashtag)

7:20 TED talk and doodle session #TrinityLearns #showyourwork


(sketch by @katonims129)

How might we experiment and learn together about creativity, communication, critical reasoning, and collaboration? What if we risk, practice, and share to make our thinking visible? How will we grow and learn if we practice and accept feedback?

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 8.30.28 PM

As you can see from the email above, Kato Nims and I have been experimenting with sketch noting or doodling to take visual notes since the beginning of the school year.

Twenty-four of our colleagues responded that they would like to participate on Thursday with several more asking for another session next week because of carpool duty.  The little experiment turned into a bigger experiment.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 8.58.38 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 9.00.37 PMEighteen of us gathered in the Art room at 7:20 this morning and another six met this afternoon. We watched Kiran bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge and sketched.

We shared our sketches and ideas in small groups and debriefed the experience.  We will try again next week. I wonder who might take action on this experiment in other venues to learn with others.

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Resources shared in our session:


Spreading an “I can …” culture: Aware, Enable, Empower

While serving as a member of the Algebra I team at Westminster, I collaborated with colleagues to communicate essential learning targets to our community.  An example is shown below.

Graphing Linear Functions: Unit Two Essential Learnings – Algebra I

By the end of this unit, you [the learner] must be able to say:

  • I can state the formula for slope, am able to use the formula, and can apply that slope is a rate of change.
      • I can find the slope given two points.
      • I can find the slope from a graph.
  • I can find the equation of a line from given information including a graph, the slope and y- intercept, slope and a point, two points.
      • I can find an equation of a line given a point and the slope.
      • I can find an equation of a line given two points.
      • I can find an equation of a line given a graph.
      • I can find an equation of a line parallel or perpendicular to a given line through a given point.
  • I can demonstrate computational fluency with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and powers of real numbers.
      • I can convert units by using the appropriate ratios (dimensional analysis).
  • I can apply linear functions to model and solve application problems.
      • I can solve application problems involving linear functions.
      • I can solve application problems involving direct variation.
  • I can read and interpret graphs.
      • I can read and interpret information given a graph.

I have been rereading The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning.

“In order to engage in high-quality assessment, teachers need to first identify specific learning targets and then to know whether the targets are asking students to demonstrate their knowledge, reasoning skills, performance skills, or ability to create a quality product. The teacher must also understand what it will take for students to become masters of the learning targets:  What must students do to acquire knowledge, reasoning skills, performance skills, or the ability to create a quality product? Equally as important, the teacher must share these learning targets and strategies with the students in language that they understand. It is not enough that the teacher knows where students are headed; the students must also know where they are headed, and both the teacher and the students must be moving in the same direction.” (Conzemius, O’Neill,  66 pag.)

As I wondered if the “I can…” work we crafted in Algebra I was scalable, I watched Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge again.

I’ve watched this particular TED talk at least 2 dozen times.  I learn something new every time I watch.  This time the talk connected to the “I can…” statements communication and collaboration with students.  Could we use the idea of “I can…” statements with younger students?

Conzemius and O’Neill encourage educators to identify specific learning targets and express them as “I can…” statements written in kid-friendly language.  Skill and strategies to be learned and assessed should not be a secret.  We should communicate desired outcomes clearly.

One of the highlights of my week involved collaborating with my colleagues to write Everyday Math “I can…” statements for our learners and their families.   It really started a couple of weeks ago with our fantastic 2nd grade team in a team meeting.  In less than an hour, this team of highly motivated educators discussed the essential learnings for a unit and developed the set of “I can…” statements shown below.  I’ve chosen to quote the entire post to show their good work.

Unit 1 in 2nd Grade Math    (posted on 08.20.12)

Unit 1 has begun! This unit is primarily a review unit which focuses on numbers and routines. Lessons review tools in the toolkits, routines for working with partners and small groups, using the number grid, telling time, and counting money. Students are encouraged to practice their addition basic facts (sums through 9 + 9 = 18) as much as they can each week using flash cards, games, or the computer to hone their skills. Later this week, we will post a list of websites that will be useful at home. Today they were given a place in their white binder to record their practice times. Before we know it, the addition facts will be mastered making computation much easier!

By the end of unit 1, your child should be able to say:

    • I can draw tally marks.
    • I can find the value of a collection of coins.
    • I can find missing numbers on a number line.
    • I can solve number grid puzzles.
    • I can tell and write time to the half hour.
    • I can show 10 several different ways.
    • I can count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.

Two weeks later, with no coaching from me:

Unit 2 in 2nd Grade Math!     (posted on 09.06.12)

Unit 2 focuses on reviewing and extending addition facts and linking subtraction to addition. Children will solve basic addition and subtraction facts through real-life stories. In Everyday Mathematics, the ability to recall number facts instantly is called “fact power.” Instant recall of the addition and subtraction facts will become a powerful tool in computation with multidigit numbers such as 29 + 92.

By the end of Unit 2, your child should be able to say:

  • I can add and write turnaround facts.
  • I can write fact families.
  • I can add single-digit numbers.
  • I can subtract basic facts. (up to 18 – 9 = 9)
  • I can extend a numeric pattern and solve and write the rule for this pattern.

Please click on “Read More” to view the Unit 2 parent letter.

While Kiran Bir Sethi’s inspiring TED talk has always spoken to me about PBL, this time I focused on helping learners progress through the stages of aware, empower, and enable.

    • Aware – see what is to be learned
    • Enable – adjust and practice behaviors to learn
    • Empower – lead others to learn

Offering learners multiple ways to become aware of what is to be learned and designing experiences to lead learning and practice should enable and empower the learner to grow stronger and more confident.

This week, our amazing 3rd grade team, collaborated on Everyday Math “I can…” statements.

Unit 2: 3rd Grade Essential Learnings

 The main topics of Unit 2 are addition and subtraction of whole numbers with special emphasis on the basic facts and their extensions; solution strategies for addition and subtraction number stories; and addition and subtraction computation with multi-digit numbers.

By the end of Third Grade math, children should demonstrate automaticity with all addition and subtraction facts through
10 + 10 and use basic facts to compute fact extensions.

By the end of Unit 2, your child should be able to say:

  • I can identify the digits in a multi-digit number and express the value of each digit.
      • Example: 465
        The value of the 6 is 60.
  • I can find several names for the same whole number.
      •  Example: 20
        10 + 10
        Veinte (or another language)
  • I can use basic facts to compute extended facts.
      • Example:
        If I know 2 + 3 = 5, then I know 20 + 30 = 50 and
        200 + 300 = 500.
  •  I can add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers.
  • I can tell and show time on an analog clock at the five-minute marks.
  • I can complete “What’s My Rule?” problems.
  • I can solve number stories and write number models.

Please refer to the Unit 2 family letter for additional information and vocabulary.

Our goal is to facilitate experiences to spread the “I can…” contagion.  We want our learners to be able to say:

      • I can do math.
      • I can solve problems.
      • I can persist when I struggle.
      • I can collaborate with others to learn together.
      • I can communicate what I know and what I want to know.

Next week, our wonderful 4th grade team begins “I can…” work.  Hmm…this seems to be spreading.

Will writing learning targets in the voice of the learner rather than the teacher help all interested parties focus on the learning rather than the teaching? Can we spread the “I can…” bug?  Will we strive to be contagious?


Conzemius, Anne; O’Neill, Jan. The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2006. Print.

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (2 of 3) The First Course: “School Tools” – PBL for the Adult Palette

[On Monday, June 25, as part of the Center for Teaching’s annual Summer Institutes, Bo Adams and Jill Gough are facilitating day 1 of a two-day workshop on PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, place-based learning, passion-based learning, etc.). The online course description is linked below, and the outline for day 1 follows. The pre-institute assignment (the “appetizers”) and a short description of the “flights” structure can be found here.]

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (2/3)
The First Course: “School Tools” – PBL for the Adult Palette
(Day 1 – Monday, June 25, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

EL #1: I can share my deep understanding of PBL through PBL methods and pedagogies, as well as with direct-instruction and conversation.

EL #2: I can commit to PBL with student learners by working through stages of rapid-prototype planning, implementing, and assessing.

CHALLENGE: Because you are attending this Center for Teaching Summer Institute on PBL, the CFT intends to use you as PBL leaders in 2012-13 (and beyond!). Westminster is furthering its Learning for Life vision, and Drew Charter is envisioning a PBL high school, so PBL leaders are high in demand! We want to help you prepare your PBL-leadership tool belt. By the end of this CFT-SI, you will build and present a multi-media resource about PBL that you can use to support a host of adult and student learners engaging in the complex wonder of PBL! Consider it a crucial deposit in the bank of visionary work! [We may even go Pecha-Kucha or Ignite style!]

Resources to consider including in PBL multi-media tool:

  • PBL Framework(s)
  • PBL “Expert Voices” from research and practice
  • PBL as “place-based,” “problem-based,” “passion-based,” as well as “project-based” [ideas around campus, Atlanta, etc.]
  • PBL Video Resources – pictures are worth 1000s of words!
  • Examples of PBL being tried and attempted/implemented
  • Interviews – voices from students and adults about how and what we want to learn
  • Ideas for PBL you intend to implement yourself

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Questions, Connections, & Empathy Flight

  1. POST-UP: What questions do you have about PBL and “the Challenge”, as well as questions about related opportunities such as integrated studies, teachers working in teams, etc.?
  2. AFFINITY MAP: What connections do we see in our questions and ideas?
  3. EMPATHY MAP: What’s it like to be a student? + provocations from “Writing-Is-Thinking” Flight of Pre-Assignments (How to Create an Empathy Map using Google Docs)

9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
School IS Real Life – From Simulations to Social Justice Flight

  1. World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements – morning movie & popcorn!
  2. “Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge” – and candy!
  3. Synergy 8 Ignite – and a Coke!

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Knowing Places and People Flights – Diners’ Choice

  • Learning Walk Flight – Armed with an iPad, laptop, or other smart device, explore, inquire, and record by…
  1. Capturing at least 3 pictures of people, places, or things that could spur PBL;
  2. Archiving at least 2 video interviews of people discussing a possible learning project, problem, or passion;
  3. Brainstorming at least 1 idea for a community project. [BONUS: Base it on a synergy of the above!]
  1. locally,
  2. nationally,
  3. globally.

12:00 p.m.
Lunch…PBL really stirs an appetite!

 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail Flight

  1. UNDERSTANDING CHAIN or GRAPHIC GAMEPLAN: With a partner, craft a storyboard of your PBL multi-media tool concept. With one or the other of these two Gamestorms, we will be able to co-post our “slides” or “path points” on a common game board so that we can share across groups.
  2. Begin building assets, as time permits!
  3. Rapid-prototype presentations of storyboards before we adjourn for the day.


Coming Soon…

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (3/3)
The Second Course: “School’s Cool” – PBL for the Student-Learner
(Day 2 – Tuesday, June 26, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)

[Cross-posted on It’s About Learning and Synergy2Learn]

“I thought Contagious was bad. Can it be good too?” #Synergy

“I thought Contagious was bad. Can it be good too?”  was an early reaction to Kiran Bir Sethi’s TED talk on day one of Synergy.

Have you been introduced to Kiran Bir Sethi, the founder of the Riverside School in Ahmedabad?

On day one with our new Synergy team, we used the TED talk, Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge, to introduce Synergy to our new learners.

More from the backchannel:
(Remember…a backchannel is for quick, collaborative note taking and sharing ideas…we encourage our learners to take the editor off of their shoulder and record ideas.  They can polish their writing later when they journal on the ideas that stick.)

  • Inspiration is contagious.
  • kids are doing things for each other instead of adults doing things for kids
  • Contagious; Laughter, Happiness i can- get infected
  • laughter is contagious passion is contagious. i can.good feelings can be contagious
  • The “infection” is slowly spreading
  • 100,000 children stopped and took the time to think “i can.”
  • I think it is about kids being able to change things, not just adults
  • this sounds like synergy.
  • kids can make a change- just find something you want to change and act on it
  • one week of kids doing their part can change so much.
  • I think one of the main points of the video is that kids can change the world no matter how old they are.
    when adults give kids a chance they take it and actually make a change
  • the teachers are the people that believe in us and say “you can”
  • this video shows how much we (8th graders) can help so many people or things
  • the children are using teamwork to change people’s lives like synergy
  • contagious is a good word
  • its good to have the “now” mindset rather than “later”
  • the words “i can” is very important because service, and helping is contagious. You must “infect” minds with the “‘i can bug”. Children must be aware, enabled, and empowered. Take your studies out of the classroom, and change billions of lives. Go from ‘i can’ to ‘you can’ to ‘we can’.
  • I think we have all said “i can” at one point. What these children do, and what Kiran Bir Sethi is saying is almost exactly what Mr. Adams and Mrs. Gough are telling us.
  • Contagious -“i can” -aware: seeing the change -Enable: be changed -Empower: being the change Teacher told me, to… i can! Simple tool kit, sent to india schools Children will thinking of solutions Kids Teaching parents to write&read
  • contagious, infect “I can” aware (seeing the change) enable (being the change) empower (lead the change) “you can” “we can”
  • I think in synergy We will take charge

Amazing!  Isn’t this what we want for our learners?  Actually, isn’t this what we strive for from our citizens?  Aware…Empowered…Enabled community members mobilized to effect positive change.

How can I continue to strive to become the teacher and adult described by two of our Synergy team members?

Teachers are the people that believe in us and say “you can.”

When adults give kids a chance they take it and actually make a change.

Give kids a chance…live the message “you can.”

Get infected…spread the “I can” bug.