Thursday, July 27, 2017

Test Scores and Educational Reform

In the book, Counting What Counts:  Reframing Education Outcomes, there is an interesting comparison between the statues of Easter Island and the goal of high test scores in education.  Just as the Easter Islanders based their success and progress by the statues, many in education have become obsessed with competing globally for the best test scores.  The emphasis on these test scores has caused less emphasis on other areas of education which can be detrimental to the fostering of creativity and the acquisition of soft skills necessary to compete in a modern ecomony.  Ironically, this movement, GERM (Global educational reform movement) is described as "infecting" education.

While certainly test scores have some worth in quantitative measurement of student progress, it cannot be the only measure, and alternatives must be considered.  One of the book's authors, Dr. Yong Zhao, equates the measurement provided by test scores to the concept of one taking medicine to treat an ailment.  While the medication can make a positive difference in the prognosis and progress of the health of the individual, there could be side effects of that medicine that hurt something else in the body along the way.

We must find a way to alternatively teach students and to evaluate progress to create more well-rounded, global citizens whose educational experience has been one to foster an entrepreneurial spirit so necessary in our existing and future society.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Welcoming a New Crowd!

In a few weeks, I will be welcoming some returning students to our CAPS Teacher Education program along with many students who are just now starting this journey with us.  I am excited for this new adventure and am anxious to see what opportunities the year brings to us, but I am always wanting to make sure that I can provide the best insight, opportunity, and knowledge to pass along the passion of pursuing a career in the field of education. With the help of my returning students, I hope that we can do just that and have some fun along the way.

One new venture this year will be our partnership with Real World Scholars.  This organization will be providing us with the resources and support to create our own in-house educational start up.  Under the leadership of co-CEO's Makenna Peterson and Kate Stalcup, (both CAPS Teacher Ed returning students), we hope to start our own business with future education in mind and with an entrepreneurial flair that will create an authentic learning opportunity for them and their CAPS Teacher Education colleagues.

Other planned activities:

*Collaborative co-planning with Mid-America Nazarene University's Department of Education to host a regional Educators Rising Conference

*Presentations at the Regional Educators Rising Conference and the Greenbush Technology Conferences for Teachers

*STEM virtual teaching alliance with Manhattan, Spring Hill, and other school districts

*Preparations for competing and presenting at the National Educators Rising Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida in June 2018

Please watch our twitter feed this fall  to follow our progress as we embark on these and other exciting adventures!

The Competitive Advantage

When trying to get ahead in the entrepreneurial world, attention needs to be given to two factors:

COMPARATIVE advantage:  I need to make sure I can offer my product or services at a lesser price but uphold the quality of what I am offering.
                                                                                       DIFFERENTIAL advantage:  I need to make sure that the quality of what I am providing outweighs that of the competition.

Primary to both of these factors, I would think, would be sustainability.  I would have to find a way to uphold quality while remaining affordable in a changing economy.  Even if I would interchange parts or find other manufacturing shortcuts, I could not sacrifice the integrity of my work!


In thinking more about the effectual thinking model of entrepreneurship, what came to mind was the podcast on "We Work," discussing the start up of Mighel McKelvey's communal workspace concept.  He discussed creating the community aspect as the model for replacing typical work place environments.  He started something with not a lot of capital, but with what he was passionate about and that with which he already had to work.  His life environment played a part in the start up.  He was raised in a commune by his mother and a group of other women, so from the start, he realized the importance of community as a support system.  It also brought to mind a place here in Lenexa with whom we have done some work...Plexpod.  It sounds like a similar system.  Great things are done together, and creativity is certainly not fostered in isolation.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Winning the Lottery

One of my pet peeves is listening to teachers say, "I'm just a teacher," and listening to others say, "you are so lucky that you get 3 months off."  To the former, I say that you are of much more value than that.  You are a professional who can steer the future, make students dream, and change the world.  To the latter, I say, "It's July 18, and I am sitting here at my computer working on opening activities for my classroom in August."  And, that is an almost daily occurrence.  As a learning engineer...there...I said it...I am always looking for, reading about, focusing on new ways to help my students become life-long learners.  Even when I might sit
(Image:    for the proverbial time on the couch to catch a movie, I see themes and actions that I can bring into my classroom of life in some way.

I was recently in conversation with other professionals who were in fields other than teaching, and the subject of winning the lottery came up.  A couple of them said that they would not show up for work the next day.  One said that he would be able to retire early.  Then, they turned to me and asked what I would do, and my comments were the same that I said to my students when they once asked me the same question.  My students had asked me if I would even show up for work if I won the lottery.  I responded, "You know what?  I would still be here with all of you, but there would not be a KIA in the parking lot."  You see, I'm in a profession that I love.  I have already won the lottery.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Effectual Thinking & Entrepreneurism

Effectual logic is people-dependent and causal logic is effect-dependent.
That, in a nutshell, describes effectual thinking for me.  I found it interesting to read Sara Sarasvathy's views on decision making:

  • Type 1-Causal-choosing means to create an effect
  • Type 2-Effectual-having a set of means and looking toward all of the possibilities
In education, there seems to be a gap between what we teach students about being entrepreneurs and how entrepreneurs actually behave.  In most instances, we use a causal approach for students...have a goal in sight and then collect all of the resources necessary to work toward that goal.  This is based on preconceived notions, and all of    (Image:
the resources collected are determined by the aspects of the goal as envisioned.  Effectual thinking looks more at what students already have and what they know about themselves in order to guide them to thinking of possibilities.  This is a very iterative approach to decision making, and it is very difficult for many of us who have forever found ourselves trying to prepare for a goal in the future...we feel safer that way...we know where we are going...but do we really?
Effectual thinking, as one entrepreneur in Sarasvathy's writings put it, is like selling a product before it is actually built.  In this new era of entrepreneurship, this type of thinking seems to focus on a more random approach to solving a problem and depends heavily on creating networks around the entrepreneur that end up giving direction...possibly in a different way than originally thought.  It is highly dependent on a more empathetic approach to problem solving, and it considers "affordable loss" or using minimal resources to develop something to market.  The "sell before you make" reminded me once again of the story of Jim Poss who sold solar-powered trash bins even before production just by appealing to the needs of those he thought might need it most.

Instead of traditional market research that we usually emphasize with students, the marketing research would be more of a hands-on approach to development.  Also, getting buy in early would eliminate some of the uncertainty of going further with an idea.

The founder of U-Haul developed the company from basically nothing.  Even with limited resources, the founder was able to gradually build from within, taking successes and pitfalls along the way as clues for further direction and building.

In my own world, I have been looking at entrepreneurship as a causal form of creation:  create a product that I would want and see if others like it...with an effectual approach, I could use the people around me to help me develop my ideas and dreams.  I always thought I had to have capital ready to go if I ever wanted to create I know that entrepreneurial thinking does not really follow that pattern.  I need to work on my network and listen to those around me!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tim Brown, IDEO, and "Design Thinking"

Tim Brown is the current CEO of IDEO (, an organizational design firm.  In this role, he focuses on empathy and the needs of the end user in design.  Design thinking is less of a sequential form of steps in design but more of an overlapping of thought and creativity.  Design thinking is considered a tool for tackling problems by looking at the needs of people, utilizing technology in a constructive way, and using these attributes for business development success.  A strong emphasis is placed on emotional meaning and solving problems in a collaborative environment with a focus on constructive and effective teamwork.

I can see the concept of design thinking working well in an educational environment as well...most teachers are in the profession because they are passionate about helping others achieve their goals.  The empathy factor is already there, and the craft would be to take what is learned about student needs and focusing on the technologies available and finding ways to help them to be successful.  I think it is fascinating to find how these principles applied to the business world have a place in developing authenticity in curriculum for students.

A Case Study in Modern Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneurial example that follows the Timmons Framework of entrepreneur--opportuntiy--resources--is that of the experiences of Jim Poss.  As a person, Jim Poss was creative, inquisitive, and passionate about causes even from a young age.  He was a true entrepreneur in the modern sense of the word...looking at what he could create from what already exists in his repertoire.

When searching for ways to revise or change his ideas, he was constantly considering the culture around him as the basis for what he would do next.  When he had the idea of creating a solar-powered trash compactor, he knew that in order to make it               (image:
a go, he had to find a way to make it profitable for the businesses
to use.  Although he traveled through a series of experiences and business ventures over the years, he kept coming back to the idea of helping the environment about which he was passionate.  Through many iterations, he managed to bring his idea to fruition by using his entrepreneurial skills:

Solving a Problem
Seeing failure as a step toward progress
Keeping his ideas, products, and supporters flexible for change

Before he even had a product created, he sold the "concept," of what he wanted to do.  He found a way to develop to the customer's needs in every way possible.  He kept his idea alive for a solar-powered trash compactor and put himself into many situations in order to make his idea work, not allowing the doubts of others to interfere with his goals:

  • He found a way to afford a patent 
  • He went back to past colleagues as investors once he had established himself to earn their trust and their respect, 
  • He found the necessary niche by reaching out to ski resorts in Vail amid protests against environmental destruction in terms of building and expansion
  • He rebuilt his product based on the suggestions of his initial customers (working in a 2-bag removal process instead of a 1-bag removal process 
  • He watched the market to make sure that components pricing would not weigh heavy on profits (when steel costs increased, lessening the number of steel components) 
  • He worked out a leasing agreement to alleviate high initial costs allowing more customers
  • He proved his product before he worked toward heavy-hitter investors
I enjoyed reading about Jim Poss.  I'm afraid that at this point in my life, it would be difficult for me to go through many of the steps that he did and keep true to my goal and not allow the doubts of others affect me decision making.  

When working with my students and guiding them through the design process on projects, this story will provide some great modeling for them as an example of how to truly be an entrepreneur.  At every stage, he managed to turn what could have been a roadblock into an opportunity to go another direction but still work toward his goal.  

I respect the bulleted items listed above as models of a true iterative process.  Jim Poss was truly an entrepreneur when compared to the characteristics state previously.  As he saw opportunity, he used it to assess what he had to complete the next step and truly allowed himself to look at the big picture in tackling a problem to solve pertaining to something about which he was very passionate.

New Venture Creation

The modern entrepreneurial concept of New Venture Creation can be broken down into 3 main components:  Discover, Ideation, Launch.  This framework follows the design process in the steps necessary for a successful project launch.  The most important of the three, I believe, is the Discover stage.

Recently, I was talking to the creators of a product to be used in classrooms with students.  After
(image:                                   reading some on the New Venture Creation model, I surprised myself when I questioned them about their discovery process...asking about how they did their market research and to what extent.  I was surprised to find that they had created their product and then took it to others to see if it would be something usable.  This seemed backwards to me after studying the modern concepts of entrepreneurism.

This Fall, I will be working with Real World Scholars ( to help my students build a business that will offer a service or product for those in the field of education.  What I have learned about the entrepreneurial process thus far should help me in working with my students as they go through the very important discovery phase of developing their business.  I am excited for sure!

AGILE Manufacturing and Design

The AGILE manufacturing design can be applied to the design and building of products and software that demand iteration and constant reflection on progress.

Design is considered as a sort of flow chart of steps in development and creation.  The process is flexible and is very interactive.

(image:                                     This process calls for certain parts of the
process:  1) a design that allows for fast and easy variations and changes during and after development, 2) a method of disseminating information, using technology, to all parties involved in the iteration, 3) partners in the process who also support the rapid iterations along the way after reflection and testing, and 4) a culture or team of other developers or team members who also buy in to the iterative process for design.

As one of the initial teachers and curriculum developers for CAPS, we used such a rapid prototyping method for developing the authentic and flexible curriculum in our programs.  The design of our curriculum, while established within the confines of objectives and standards, remains flexible and follows the trends of business practices surrounding us.  By incorporating our website and other services and through our virtual network, we are able to communicate with others to coordinate concepts that truly reflect the culture of productivity and entrepreneurship which we promote with our students.

In seeking out partners to assist with our curriculum development, we looked to industry leaders and higher education programs which support our goal of creating programs that change with industry and push our students' limits to catapult them into an environment much like those modeled by local and national businesses and higher education preparatory concepts.

The exciting part of all of this is that my curriculum changes every year.  By working with those outside entities, we are able, while keeping with our basic curriculum objectives and goals, to re-fashion our activities, assignments, and experiences for our students into real-world opportunities.

Real World Scholars Project

Two nights ago, I had the opportunity to attend an event put on by Real World Scholars (  Michael Crawford and Elyse Burden were tremendous hosts of the event at which I was able to network with many who share my passions for changing education to make it more entrepreneurial and authentic for students.  I have to say that hanging with others of the same mindset actually inspires me to try new and better ways to form my classroom into an authentic and innovative platform for students who want to explore and become more entrepreneurial in their lives and in their careers.

As I discussed topics with my colleagues at the event, I realized how lucky I have been to be placed before the opportunities presented to me to learn, to innovate, to create, and I had to think about how effective professional development could truly be if more teachers had the chance to congregate and percolate ideas for change.

In the Fall, I am hoping to partner with the Real World Scholars organization in order to start a business in my classroom with my students.  I am looking forward to the guidance of RWS to teach my students the skills of being entrepreneurial decision makers for themselves and for their future students and colleagues.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Educators Rising National Conference

 The CAPS Teacher Education National Presentation team of Megan Andrievk, Breanna Clark, Savannah Gorman, and Kate Stalcup flew from Kansas City to Phoenix, AZ on June 23 to attend the National Educators Rising Conference there.  Accompanied by instructor Tammy Fry and co-chaperone Susan Schuckman, enrichment teacher at Blue Valley's Timber Creek Elementary School, they excitedly and confidently embarked on an adventure!  Upon arriving on a hot, 110+ degree day, they organized their thoughts and prepared for the week's activities.  Armed with their Microsoft Surfaces, they quickly connected to WiFi and began to put the finishing touches on their presentation The Young and the Techless:  The Daily Drama of the Digital Divide and to make final preparations for their competitions:  Megan-Interview and Non-Core Subject Teaching Careers, Breanna and Savannah-Impromptu Speaking, and the team of Kate and Savannah-Researching Learning Challenges.

Megan placed 8th in the National Top 10 in Interviewing!  We are so proud of all of our team as they competed against students from other states, most of whom had already been through local, regional, and state competitions before competing nationally.

Asked to present two concurrent sessions, our team presented on Saturday and on Monday.  Both times, they embarked on a new adventure as they presented from Ms. Fry's phone!  With the help of an external speaker, they produced a powerful multi-media presentation on equity in the classroom and educational technology tools for teachers and students.

We were fortunate to have one of our Kansas state supporters at the conference.  Idalia Shuman, Kansas State Director of Teaching and Learning, was there to support us and cheer us on.  We also found time to connect with another Kansas group from Gardner High School who also came to the conference to present, network, and learn.  In addition, we were able to network with others from the CAPS Nationwide Network, from Washington, MO and from Bentonville, AR.

In addition to presenting and competing, we were able to participate in some interesting and memorable UBER adventures, eat some great food, make some great friends, and learn to handle the heat (literally) when power went down one afternoon at the Convention Center and the hotel.  We also heard inspirational talks from recognized, successful educators as they spoke from their hearts about the status of students, teachers, and education in general, and we spent a fun night on the campus of Arizona State University and another in the town of Scottsdale, AZ.

All in all, we had a great bonding trip and had the chance to network with some other great practicing teachers and future teachers.  We will miss our seniors Megan and Savannah but know that they will continue their Educators Rising legacies at Kansas State and at Johnson County Community College and also continue to work with us at CAPS as we welcome our returning group and our new students in our program.  We also look to Breanna and Kate to provide continuing leadership for us all!  There are already plans being made for next year's national conference which will be held in Orlando, FL, at Disney.

As the team returned to the CAPS facility on the night of June 27, tired from the week's activities, they realized that what they had just experienced would be a life-changing memory forever.  Though we all now go somewhat our separate ways, we will always hold in common our goals and experiences from the 2017 National Educators Rising Conference in Phoenix.

Thanks, team, for making this conference one to remember! And, thank you for representing your CAPS colleagues in a most professional and positive way!

Looking at my Strengths...

I view my strengths, as Marcus Buckingham has suggested, as those things about which I am passionate and that build me up as a person.  In my career at CAPS, the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies, we spend a lot of time looking at programs such as “Strengthfinder,” “Wayfinder,” “Management by Strengths, “ “True Colors,” etc. as ways to manage our own passions in working with future students/leaders and to shape our curriculum outcomes in our goals of working with our students.
As a part of our professional development, I was able to take the Strengthsfinder survey as a staff member.  This gave me some insight into my personal drive and views of success.
In the Fall of 2016, I was a part of a group of educators selected nationwide to write a national curriculum for Educators Rising ( which included not only a curriculum but also a set of micro-credentials to be used to assess teacher readiness and effectiveness.  As a part of that group, we again had the opportunity to take the Strengthfinder survey as a means to develop our successful operation in teams for the purpose of systematically developing the curriculum.
My top five “strengths,” as defined by the survey remarkably fit my habits and thought processes.  I was excited to finally put my passions into some understandable terms.  The list included, in order, Input, Achiever, Intellection, Maximizer, and Ideation.  Upon reading the descriptions of each, I found myself laughing and say, “yes,” often.  I feel that the categories hit the proverbial nail on the head in terms of who I am and what I consider strengths and how I manage my weaknesses.
This particular category states that I am inquisitive, always want to know more, and see myself as a voracious collector who hoards ideas and belongings in order to save things that may be needed later.  It was nice to learn that having this as a high strength made me a natural fit to be a teacher, researcher, or journalist.  Truly, it seems that my career choice so long ago totally fit who I am as a person.
Ironically, the description also alluded to the idea that I should accept that I will never know everything and that I should surround myself with people who are disciplined and can somewhat “corral” my sporadic thoughts for a purpose. 
I think that doubting my ability to know everything is definitely a weakness that I have managed, and I find it funny that I have done that in my career by seeking out really disciplined people to help me direct my learning.  I think that is how I have managed that part of myself that houses that constant doubt.
Again, the survey results mentioned that surrounding myself with disciplined people can help to direct my efforts.  I constantly need to achieve and am mad at myself if I let down to relax without finishing a task I must complete.  Working on my Ph.D. has even made this worse for me.  I find myself segmenting my time during the day so that I can have long periods of time to read, write, or reflect.  While this would appear to be a good form of discipline, I find that my mind wonders frequently, and I can be distracted easily.  Perhaps this is a weakness that fights against that achievement.  Again, surrounding myself with driven people tends to keep me on track and work on that focus I desperately need. 
This screams Tammy…having a LOT of mental activity but sometimes with a lack of focus.  I tend to come up with lots of ideas, and it frustrates me when others don’t jump on the wagon of what I think is a great idea.  Reading about this as one of my strengths lead me to realize that not everyone connects the dots as I do or as quickly as I do.  This is so true to my personality. 
I had to think back to the interview transcript we read of the Google employee who talked about the rapid creation, continued ideation model.  I would thrive in that type of environment.  Many times, I will dive into something without thinking it through, but eventually it morphs into something even better than it would have formed with much careful planning at the start.  While I realize that this is dangerous, I see it now as a strength as an iterative form of thinking and development!  One way I think I could better manage what some see here as a weakness in planning is to keep a log or diary along the way to follow my thought process.  I am working on a blog for that purpose.
Also, I have found success in jotting down random thoughts at night if I have a lot on my mind and can’t sleep.  Example?  Here is such a rant of random thoughts from just last night.  Please don’t judge…remember my weakness of doubting…J  I often find it relaxing and freeing to speak into the “notes” option on my phone…
The jilted cloud no technology how many students in high school teacher at prep programs continue the effects of current teacher education on entrepreneurial mindset of teachers how technology integration levels determine entrepreneurial to the Teachered teachers at the technology dance with your partner the day time stood still lots of technology and the day technology was taken hostage The three little rigs the three little zigs 
The secret lives of megabytes a monumental laugh. Hiding behind a cloud the truth about TEACHER's fears of technology why David hates school technology for sissies the big bully
The fistfight fistfights jacks and other recess horror stories we missed recess recession and Schools
Leaning forward lean principles of entrepreneurism in instructional design within classrooms leaning over the edge
When lean doesn't mean lean
The diary of a tech phrase teacher memorizing the Gettysburg address memorizing sentence writing and learning to survive in the real world it's like riding a bike
Leaving love the conscious decision making of divorce
Strengthening your purpose leading with the self volcano in the cloud unpredictable state of technology I remember the student who brought the volcano he worked hard to form it =looks so real and we were all intrigued I asked him about how the eruption would occur and was told that all it would do would trickle down the sides--however when lit exploded and burned holes in the classroom carpet...
Crazy hair days the many sides of the month and teacher so many classrooms so many faces so many
The world is a bully and students realization of the real world real world bully some misconceptions of minor did you Keeshan lost at sea visual learners struggle to survive the making you an entrepreneur changing learnings paradigms
Educational branding sending our students to the slaughterhouse but I want to be an artist how we unintentionally shape the lives of her and deserving students. For the love of the same way educational reform does it happen shopping across Town the dangers of school choice. The face in the mirror how shaving your students views of them selves impact their futures the cost of lost the price we pay for 30 students away

Sent from my iPhone
The last two categories fit me as well:  Maximizer and Ideation
As a Maximizer, I am a proponent of “rapid learning,” (which I again attribute to rapid prototyping) and I seek out opportunities to help others succeed, ie. teaching and coaching.  In addition, I am definitely one who focuses on strengths and not weaknesses.  Rather than realizing that I may have issues with organizing or directing my thoughts, I love the fact that I can come up with lots of ideas or tasks to try and manage organization and direction by looking to other focused people to help in that area.  I like to come up with ideas and then have students make sense of how to approach them!
In terms of Ideation, I love to find connections, and nothing makes me happier than finding a way to accomplish something in a manner different than presented to me.  For example, I have used CANVAS as a learning management system with my students for the past two years.  We have used the free version.  I found that my students had to open up multiple calendar entries to try to find activities listed for a particular day.  I knew that I could come up with a way to fix this, so I created a “searchable database.”  Very simplistically, I paste each day’s activities, chronologically, on a separate webpage as I place them in our CANVAS calendar.  Students can use the CTRL+F option to search for a term in the activity, and they are taken right to the information.  I felt proud that I could create this help feature for my students, something that CANVAS had not even supplied for them.
By digging deeper into the Strengthsfinder system and by reflecting on my own practices, I feel that I have a handle on what makes me tick and how I handle my passions and also those things that seem less important to me but are necessary to participate in the professional realms in which I place myself.