Monday, November 18, 2013

Minecraft Utopia Projects

In our 6th Grade Humanities classes, Karen Niegelsky had students develop their own utopias. A few groups used Minecraft to create theirs. What transpired was pretty incredible. Check it out:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BYOD: Achieving Learning Outcomes Across Operating Systems

Below is an infographic that shows how you can achieve learning outcomes regardless of the operating system. This is just a taste of the possibilities. From

Monday, November 11, 2013

NCAIS Innovate: BYOD @ C'Bury

On Friday, November 1, John Schoultz and I presented at the NCAIS Innovate Conference. Many thanks to Laura Blackburn and the NCAIS team for setting up a great conference. Below is our presentation:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chapel Buddies

Each year our 6th graders are partnered with Kindergartners in a program called Chapel Buddies. We've been doing this since the beginning of the school and it is a fantastic community building opportunity, as well as a leadership opportunity for our 6th grade. Check out some pictures from Kindergarten teacher, Jackie Fuller:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

8th Grade Internships

This year we instituted an 8th grade internship program. 8th graders are working with staff and faculty on meaningful internships throughout the school that help to develop a deeper understanding of the school, provide an opportunity to develop relationships outside of their peer group, and engrain a sense of commitment and dedication to a larger purpose. Check out Caroline Fitzgerald at work with a Kindergartner on Math:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

STEM Trip: 8th Grade to WFU Biology Lab

Nicole Schutt, one of our Middle School STEM teachers, sent along this report from the 8th grade's visit to Wake Forest yesterday:

8th grade Canterbury students took a trip to Wake Forest University to visit the Biology Lab facilities in Winston Hall.  They met with Dr. Ashley-Ross and her three Graduate students to learn about their current research and how it relates to our science studies of natural selection, adaptations, and evolution.  Students learned about the mangrove rivules fish, which uses a "tail flip" behavior to propel itself onto and across the land; the archer fish, which controls its spit to knock down prey above the water; and how the tarantula uses its legs to flip itself over when placed on its back.  This last project has joined with the Center for Design Innovation in Winston-Salem to apply what is learned to designing robots used in the field of science.  Students were entertained by Ben Perlman (pictured above) showing how the rivules controls its jumping behavior.  They also enjoyed a tour of the facilities and used some very impressive microscopes - one particular laser microscope was said to cost over $750,000!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Help Desk....

When I was at the NCAIS Innovate Conference at Noble Academy last Friday, Michele Gutierez shared these hilarious videos to set a context for her talk on digital literacy. I wanted to pass them along:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reframing the American Educational System

Milton Chen: Reframing the American Educational System from The Atlantic on

Mr. Chen wrote a recent article in the Summer 2013 edition of Independent School Magazine that sums up the WHY and the HOW behind the moves we are making here at Canterbury. This video echoes the same sentiments.

Here is the link to the article:

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Invent It. Harnessing Technology in Schools. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ADHD as Difference in Cognition, Not Disorder

I found this TEDx talk this week and thought it went well with something I tweeted from the NY Times about the uptick in diagnosis in the last 30 years.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Start With The Why

Simon Sinek presents a great TED talk on Leadership and flipping the way we act. He codifies the Golden Circle approach to leadership: Why, How, What. Simple is always better.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Social Media: Do We Know What is Cool?

I found this infographic at leaderswest, Digital Marketing Journal, and thought it was a great outline of what our kids are really using for social media:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

7th Graders Head to McNair Elementary to Work on Math

Our 7th graders headed to McNair Elementary on Monday to work with First Graders on math. Our crew created math games and then worked in small groups with the First Graders from McNair Elementary to teach them the games and then help them play. Check it out:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

You've Been Blended!

Nadav Avital, our 5th Grade Composition and Humanities teacher, has been itching to create quick and professional looking videos that help students with their writing. Susan Gebhard, our Academic Dean, found PowToons yesterday and Mr. Avital has already embedded a video into his LMS for our kids. Check it out:

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Hour in the Life of the Middle School

So I've started tweeting this year to showcase all the incredible teaching and learning that is happening at Canterbury School. Each day I try to get into classrooms and find some cool piece of education that is happening and do a quick tweet about it. I've found this to be an incredible way to not only to get into a bunch of classrooms, but also to document in real time the learning of our students. I primarily tweet pictures which has meant I can show objective benchmarks of what is happening in the middle school. Plus, people love to see what we're up to. 

This morning, I was so proud of the work going on in Armfield that I sent out a flurry of tweets to showcase the kind of 21st century teaching and learning our middle vision demands. You can follow me on Twitter @MSDirectorSkeen. Below is the series of tweets from this morning. Enjoy!

5th grade read aloud of Holes by Louis Sachar. Critical piece of reading fluency.

Factor games in 5th grade math. Classic.

Precision bridge building in 8th grade. The design process at work. No extraneous chatter. All business!

Pretty cool move: the tablet as document camera with a $10 USB cord to projector.

Here is a bridge in progress. Notice the pins as forms for glue drying on bridge spans.

Character studies for Wonder in 7th grade on Pic Collage app. Student found this-student engagement at its finest.

"Hey, can I get that picture from you?" Sure, I'll 'beam' it to you...sweet!

Generations of Internet Users

I found this cool infographic at and wanted to pass it along. It's a pretty detailed look at how different generations use the Internet.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Servant Leadership at Canterbury Kicks Off

Anne-Barton Carter
This year we have embedded Service Learning into the schedule. Anne Barton Carter, formerly of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, has come on to teach a class directed at middle school age children.

Inherent in this is the on-going task of identifying our own God-given gifts through spiritual practice and discernment (the connection to theology and faith explored with Fr. Finnin) and employing those gifts in service to the world (the connection to the skills and understandings developed in Leadership with Tricia Fisher, our point person on leadership at Canterbury). This class is active, hands-on learning that encourages both the exploration of different spiritual practices and the application of personal gifts and call to challenges in our community (the service learning projects).  In part, we will be using the principles of and adapting materials from the Servant Leadership School.

Anne-Barton has organized a series of speakers at our Middle School Chapels (Phillips Chapel, 8:10am - 8:35am) to kick off the work of our students. Our students will be developing their own service projects around the work that these four speakers do with their respective institutions. It is exciting to see the students take on such important work with such unreserved enthusiasm. Here is the schedule for Servant Leadership Speaker Series in the Middle School:

October 2 
Don Milholin
Founder and Executive Director of the Out of the Garden Project 
The Out of the Garden Project addresses food insecurity/hunger primarily through Guilford County elementary schools.  Our 8th grade Servant Leadership group is addressing hunger and food insecurity in a variety of ways.

October 16 
Rev. David Fraccaro
Executive Director of Faith Action International House 
Faith Action International House is a non-profit which addresses the needs of immigrants and refugees in our community.  Our 7th grade Servant Leadership group will be partnering with McNair Elementary ESL 1st grade students.

October 30 
Liz Seymour
Executive Director of the Interactive Resource Center 
The Interactive Resource Center offers a host of day services to the homeless in Greensboro. Our 6th grade Servant Leadership group will be addressing homelessness and visiting the IRC.

November 13
Rev. Buch Cochran
Executive Director of PeaceHaven Farm
PeaceHaven Farm is a soon-to-be residential sustainable farm project designed to provide meaningful work and supportive group housing for adults with disabilities.  Our 5th graders are investigating service learning projects with those who have different abilities.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Implications of On-line Learning

In an interesting TED talk, Daphne Koller discusses Coursera and its platform for free, online course from the best universities in the world. In fact, they recently announced that they would be offering four core classes from the first year curriculum at Wharton School of Business. MIT, Harvard and others are already on board with Daphne's company. Coursera and companies like it, coupled with Khan Academy's deliberate and effective move to use BIG Data to inform personalized learning, issue this challenge to independent schools:

Why pay a premium for an independent school?

Our answer....The value-added of an independent school is in the preparation of a whole child who will be fully prepared to engage in and for their greater community.

First, I still believe our teachers and curriculum are as good, if not better, than anything you will find online. And they're present in real time. Your children will be incredibly well prepared academically.

Second, independent schools, and Canterbury specifically, cultivate a sense of cooperation and partnership among students, students and teachers, and teachers and parents that develops in students highly valued and effective interpersonal skills necessary for the 21st century. You can't get that online.

Third, independent schools, and Canterbury specifically, incorporate experiences outside of the classroom that expose our students to the larger world, outline ways to engage that larger world, and encourage students to serve that world in a leadership role. This comes from the doing - the active and outward engagement through leadership and service opportunities.

I could go on, and much smarter people than me have - particularly the former president of NAIS, Pat Bassett - but I will leave the rest for later blog posts. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a series of posts outlining the programs in the middle school which provide this "value-added" and discuss how we are working to shape whole children to lead our community and beyond.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Leadership from Across the Pond: Sir Alex Ferguson

Sean Pollack
In a recent HBR Magazine article, Anita Elberse and Sir Alex Ferguson break down the famous Manchester United Football Club's leadership approach. In a fascinating combination of theorems and practicality, the two authors outline how the soccer club was able to stay on top for so long. A great read for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Ferguson's Formula

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PreK and Kindergarten Open House: Come Join Us

We will be hosting families interested in Canterbury's PreK and Kindergarten classes on October 17th at 9:30am here in campus. We'd love it if you would join us!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Resilience: How Skateboarding Can Teach Us How to Learn

I found this video on Twitter and thought it was a great way to think about how important resilience is to learning. Struggle and failure are GOOD things!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Technology and Kids: A GOOD Story

Scott McLeod presented at TEDxDesMoines and gave a great talk about the positive aspects of kids and technology, particularly extracurricular empowerment. Great stuff.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tablet Learning Program: An Update

It’s been a great start to the school year and we are so thankful for everybody's support as we embark on the tablet learning program. We have taken a deliberate approach in these early days spending time identifying changes in process and procedure that are a part of a shift like this, and I am confident this “front loading” of tablet skills will set the foundation for an enhanced learning experience in the very near future.

Remember, we are a mere ten days into the school year, and while it is natural for any new program to hit some bumps in the road, I have been very impressed with the way our teachers and students are utilizing the new tablets. Here are a few examples of what I’ve seen:

  • A new Google Site created as a home base for writing prompts and resources
  • Google Forms used for opening thought exercises
  • Graphic organizers by students from NoteAnytime displayed in a slideshow from iPhoto
  • Notes and highlighting being done directly on e-texts, along with stylus and finger highlighting on interactive e-text maps
  • A test shared through the Google Platform and handed in through the student folders
  • Cloud On being used in Science classes to link multiple cloud based storage spaces and presentations
  • QR code scavenger hunts
  • Former hard copy worksheets scanned and sent out via PDF

We have four goals for the tablet learning program over the next two years:

  1. Go Paperless
  2. Implement Problem Based Learning
  3. Review and Design 21st C. Assessments: Creative, Authentic, Multi-Faceted, and Professional
  4. Increase Connectivity

I'm optimistic that we are off to a great start towards accomplishing these goals.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Emerging Technologies in Education

This article may be underestimating how fast some of these technologies will be incorporated into schools. Fascinating to think about the rapidity of change that we are facing and how we prepare our students for it.

10 Specific Examples of Emerging Educational Technologies

Monday, September 9, 2013

Young Peacemaker: 7th Grader Receives Major Award

Kobi Selby, a 7th grader, was one of 79 Guilford County middle school students nominated to be a Young Peacemaker. This award, offered by Win-Win Resolutions, is a prestigious one for any person, let alone a 11 to 14 year old. Kobi was one of six students to receive the award and was honored at their banquet this past Saturday. You can see an excerpt from his acceptance speech below. It was phenomenal.

At Canterbury we say leadership "promotes learning about self and others, loving across all boundaries, and serving one's community and beyond." Kobi certainly lives up to this description. Great job!

Mobile Devices for Learning

I found this video which outlines some of the projects that can come out of mobile learning. It is a few years old, but touches on some of the things we're trying to incorporate. Thanks to Amy Erin Borovoy at Edutopia for curating it. You can also find it on my What's Influencing Education Page.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Brain: A Look at ADHD
I was perusing my blog reader and saw this article. I was flabbergasted at the statistic in the first sentence: the CDC puts the number of children with ADHD at 25% The Dana Alliance has outlined some of the research over the last ten years on ADHD and its origins in the brain. Interesting read, for sure.

ADHD: Ten Years Later

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Scary: Geo-Stalking via Smartphone Photos

I came across this video on the blog Dangerously Irrelevant, and thought you all needed to see it. Hyper-awareness is the new black...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Connected Learning

Over the last few years, I've realized that tablets in and of themselves turn out to be about 5% of the change challenge. The other 95% is managing the BIG Shift in teaching and learning. Below is an infographic that does a great job of summarizing one of our goals through tablet learning, which is increasing connectivity.
Connected Learning

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Can I Control My Kid's Smartphone?

By YUN-HEE KIM. [smartfone0729] Reuters.
A Nokia N9 smartphone.
This is a post from January of 2013 and I'm re-posting it for our 7th and 8th grade families who are a part of our inaugural Tablet Learning Program this year. 

Please also check out a post from February 2013 outlining the new paradigm of communication for our students in the digital world. 

I recently spoke with a mom who was concerned about smartphones - essentially mini-computers in the hands of their 12 year old.

What rules should she put in place?

How can I control what he/she sees?

If I don't like what I see, can I talk to the parents of the child who sent it?

What is the school doing about it?

In a much earlier post, I talked about the Internet as the Virtual Wild West and some of the strategies to try and infuse your family's values into the vacuum. Smartphones provide another layer (or thousand layers!) to the equation. I have some other thoughts from an earlier post that may help shed some light on the topic.

I thought I would cull some resources here for you to read that outline some good approaches to the smartphones that are being taken by families.

  1. This article from does a nice job of outlining the basic questions to be asked if you are thinking of purchasing a smartphone for your pre-teen: The Smartphone Generation
  2. This is a good resource from the cyber security perspective about ground rules for teens: Set Ground Rules for Your Teens and Their Smartphones
  3. And my favorite: The iPhone Contract

Friday, August 16, 2013

iPhone Pictures That Will Blow You Away

Alaska, 2006. Digital camera
In 2006 I was lucky enough to earn a grant to Alaska in order to create a unit for my 4th grade class the next fall. I remember borrowing my wife's new digital camera, which was top of the line, small, and lightweight. I was amazed at the crispness and quality of the pictures. My father, who joined me on the trip, used a disposable camera, which he thought was the pinnacle of technological advancement at the time: "This is great! I just take it to Rite Aid, hand it over, and pick up my pictures. It can't get any easier."

Well....6 months later the iPhone was introduced. Today, smartphones take incredibly detailed photographs and put my wife's digital camera from 2006 to shame. Which brings me to my point.

While reading through my Twitter feed, I came across a post on the iPPA (iPhone Photography Awards) from the blog SLR Lounge and had to share it. It brings to mind, once again, how far the technology has come in such a short time. Here is one to whet your appetite: