My 8th Blogiversary

I write for me, I share with you, and the world seems a little smaller.

8th-BlogiversaryJust like last year, here is my blog’s year in review: The posts I’ve written and a quote from each. I hope that you will find something that appeals to you.

If you have subscribed tocommented onlinked to, or simply taken the time to read my blog… I say a heartfelt

Thank you!

(Most popular post of the year: Learning and Failure)

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The Teachings of Roy Henry Vickers

"Roy Henry Vickers ~ Photo by David Truss"

As an educator, I wonder what we do to foster the ‘four directions’ in each of our students? What do we do to connect students to their emotions, and the gifts that these emotions give us? What do we do to give students a spiritual grounding? (I use spirituality independently from religion). And finally, how can we embed storytelling more meaningfully into our classrooms? Listen to the podcasts and I think these questions will be very relevant!

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6 key ingredients to the art of storytelling

This story was told to me over 25 years ago. Until now, I’m not sure if I’ve shared it before? Yet there it is in the recesses of my memory, a simple story that lingered, and perhaps helped to shape me, even if in subtle, unmeasurable ways.

Here is another story that has ‘moved’ me…

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iHub Garden Build

iHub-Green-Inquiry-Garden-Photo-By-Richard-StewartLast Friday three students at the Inquiry Hub Secondary School, in Coquitlam BC, organized a garden build. It started with Grade 9 student, Shauna, applying for and getting a World Wildlife Fund grant. This led to some inquiry questions around the best soil, water and temperature conditions for growing lettuce. And Friday’s garden build was the latest progress in developing an urban/inquiry garden for our school.

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Lessons on living life

Zach Sobiech

I just sat with my wife and oldest child watching this 22 minute video. It says more about how to live your life than anything else that I’ve seen. Watch it now.

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A Lesson on Win-Win

After years of teaching this lesson I finally wrote it down for my masters terminal paper for the University of Oregon: DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT LEADERSHIP PROGRAM. Yesterday, I revisited this with current Inquiry Hub students and incoming students for next year. I should have spent more time on the debrief, but I think lessons of this format really take practice to do well. If you try this lesson out, please share how it went with me.

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Godin – The cost of neutral

In a compelling blog post, ‘The cost of neutral‘, Seth Godin says,

“Not adding value is the same as taking it away.”

Quote by Seth Godin, image by Son Jong Beom

The short, poignant post is directed to you, the individual reader, and urges you to step up, participate, and do more than what you are expected or told to do. Godin is essentially delivering a message that teachers give to students almost every day!

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The Inquiry Hub – Bright Ideas Gallery


Connect, Create, Learn – iHub

Imagine a school built around inquiry-based learning. Imagine a school where students take control and drive learning. Imagine iHub.

There are 3 distinct parts of the day at the iHub:

  1. Teacher-Directed Classroom time
  2. Learning Commons time
  3. Dedicated Inquiry time

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Leadership and Capacity

This reminded me of a conversation that I had a while back with a friend and mentor, where he spoke about, “Stuff, not people.”

What's falling of the back of your truck?

“Stuff, not people.”


“Stuff, not people. When things get really busy, and you can’t do everything, things will ‘fall off the back of your truck’. When that happens, make sure that it’s stuff, and not people.”

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Looking Back

And yet, we live in an era where people talk about education being broken… Like ‘it’ is a thing we can dispose of. If something bad happens in one class, or one school, well then the whole system is failing. I’m as tired of that sentiment as I am of the emotional roller coaster I’ve had this year. There are some AMAZING educators doing creative things with students that we could not dream of just five years ago. It’s time to move on.

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Positively Memidemic

Synopsis of the conversation: We are stuck using language like ‘contagious’ and ‘virus’ (or ‘viral’) to describe the positive spread of ideas and themes. I asked Bruce Wellman, for alternatives that don’t have such negative connotations and he suggested the idea of memes.

…That’s when I suggested a new word: Memidemic

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Risk and Reward

The real failure is failing to take the risk for fear of failing!

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Perpetual Beta

I agree with Darren Kuropatwa that while we can implement some key guiding principles, we shouldn’t necessarily be talking about best practice. More practice can always help us improve on the best way(s) that we currently know of. So, in effect, the current ‘best’ usually isn’t the future best practice. This leads us to being in perpetual beta, experimenting and doing things differently.

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Behaviour Modification


The best behaviour modification going is engaging students in meaningful work that matters. Educators have incredible power, and we can choose to help foster a love of learning in our students (and ourselves) or we spend our time managing students and their behaviour.

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A framework for inquiry

The Points of Inquiry_ A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st-Century Learner - Barbara Stripling - BCTLA

Using this common language will help guide us in our quest for truly inquiry-based learning experiences.

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Learning and Failure

Learning and Failure by David TrussThink of this: If students (regardless of skills and abilities) have only ever met success, and accomplished every task, assignment and project they have needed to do for school, then they weren’t pushed hard enough. In this case, it is the program that is the failure, because the students were not challenged as much as they should have been.

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Shifting Learning – Presentation for RSCON4


Shifting Learning  – What Did You Learn At School Today?
We hear a lot these days about project based learning, inquiry based learning, etc… What does that mean? What does it look like when schools shift away from “drill and kill” learning towards big ideas, questions, and “no right answer” kind of learning? And what kind of questions can ‘we’ ask to  support students in their learning?

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Networked Chambers Do Not Echo


…what inspired this post was what really excites me about being a “Connected Educator“: the ability to learn any time, anywhere from a network of inspiring educators. I’ve heard people talk about the blogging or Twitter “echo chamber” but I don’t see it. The fact is, an echo chamber is a metaphor for a closed system and my network is anything but closed!

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What Did You Learn at School Today – Parent Presentation

Here is the ‘Parent’ version of my #RSCON presentation: Shifting Learning – What Did You Learn at School Today?

I did this presentation just a couple days before the Reform Symposium and it really is similar… Shorter, and with questions at the end geared more to parents than teachers, but essentially the same presentation.

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keep it simple


I’m perplexed by the complicated nature of delivering an education to students these days. We spend so much time feeding the bureaucratic machinery, following policy, meeting requirements, and complicating simple tasks, that we can forget what is really important.

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Students Talk about Learning at Inquiry Hub

They shared their main reasons to coming to the Inquiry Hub and their biggest challenges at the Inquiry Hub.

Main reasons:

  • flexibility
  • self-paced
  • explore different interests
  • technology
  • can finish courses even faster

Biggest challenges:

  • being disciplined to get course work done
  • use time effectively
  • balancing work at home and work at school

Two great quotes and take-aways from this webinar:

  • learning how to learn to fail
  • learning differences not disabilities

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This and That

…here are a few things bouncing around in my head.

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Finding Balance

No matter what occupies your time, or what commitments you prioritize, it seems like finding balance is a challenge many of us face today.

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Training and Coaching

I think it would serve us well as educators using an inquiry model with students to think of ourselves like coaches. The conditioning is cross-curricular, the practice needs to be purposeful, and the training is ongoing, with opportunities to improve many skills throughout the process. Coming up with a good final product is important, but it’s the day-to-day training and practice where we really need to be providing feedback and good coaching.

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Tribute to Dino

Dino Karageorgiou

I think that as I sat half-buried, trying to get snow out of my coat neckline, Dino felt sorry for me, and he was explaining to me how I had brought the snow job onto myself. It was the start of a wonderful friendship.

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That’s a year of posts! I hope that you have or that you will find something valuable to your own learning, and as always, I welcome your feedback.

Think good thoughts, say good words, do good deeds.