Hacked education

This morning Team Anastasis watched the video below. We had a great conversation about what it means to be a “hacker”. We also made the connection that Jesus acted like a “hacker” during his time here on Earth. Ask your kids what their take-aways were!



Anastasis Day of Play 2013 #cardboardchallenge

Play is important business in learning. Play unlocks learning in new ways because challenges are met with excitement and perseverance, rather than hesitation. In addition a play-based approach to learning increases creativity, abstract thinking, problem-solving, social cognition (empathy and perspective), cooperative learning with others, imagination and persistence. We saw play do all of this and more during our second annual Day of Play based on Caine’s Arcade Cardboard Challenge.

This year we gave our students a common focus: build a Rube Goldberg machine. For those who aren’t familiar, Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author. Rube was known for his crazy inventions (cartoons) that made simple tasks more complex. While he never built the contraptions he drew, many others have given life to these inventions. The goal of a Rube Goldberg machine is to complete a simple task through a series of chain-reactions. The more complicated and silly, the better! Some classes took on the challenge of building a machine as a whole class, other classes broke into smaller groups.  The results were absolutely incredible!

We spent the weeks before our Day of Play collecting cardboard, tape, tubes and making sure that our prototype lab was fully stocked. Students began dreaming up their own inventions and creating plans in the days leading up to the Day of Play.  We didn’t have a specific outcome in mind for the students. We showed a few YouTube videos introducing them to the concept of a Rube Goldberg machine, and then let them run with it. The learning that happened as a result is testament to what happens when you let students own their learning. Before we knew it, students were having serious discussions about simple machines, stored energy, force, friction and design challenges. These weren’t prompted by our teachers, but rather a natural outcome of students exploring areas of curiosity as they planned. Team Baldwin and Team Nancy really honed in on the idea of different types of simple machines and decided to do further research and try to incorporate a variety of them into their project. Team McGarrity spent a lot of time discussing different types of energy that were being used and learned about forces through trial and error.

On Friday, it was time for our Day of Play to begin! Our students spent the morning working together to create their machines. The discussion was rich as the designs took shape. There was a LOT of failure. The failure was never a stopping point but rather an opportunity to readjust plans and try it again. Numerous students asked me if it was okay to stay in during recess to keep working out the kinks. I saw students work together, problem solve, build, discuss, adjust, innovate, dream, hypothesize, and test. The process was truly something to see! Throughout the day exclamations of, “it worked!” and “this is so awesome!” could be heard. After lunch, we came back together as a whole-school and listened as students explained the ideas behind their machines and then watched the machines go. Sometimes a machine that worked without fail during the testing earlier, hit a hiccup during the actual presentation. We just persevered and talked about what needed to be adjusted to keep it working.

Each machine was totally unique, just like the students who built them. You could see the students in their machines. The video above shows each machine built during our Day of Play. A community favorite was the Photo Booth machine that snapped a picture of the whole group at the end of our day of play. The kids were absolutely in their element!

In addition to the science and engineering that were explored, students learned how to work together in community. I love that each class got to share their genius with the rest of the student body. This is how community and culture are built!

We are creative.

We are innovative.

We are Anastasis!

|Kelly Tenkely|

6 Days and 78 Resources for Digital Literacy and Internet Safety at Anastasis Academy

|Kelly Tenkely|

At Anastasis Academy we are a 1:1 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school with EVERY student using technology throughout the day every day.  Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship are important topics for us because it is so integral to what our kids do while they are at school.  We know that we can’t assume that because our kids are fairly savvy when it comes to learning technology, that they will automatically pick up on digital literacy.  Digital Literacy isn’t a topic that should be relegated to school either, it is essential that parents learn about digital literacy so that they can echo and enforce good technology use at home.  This week we will have a week of intensive digital literacy training for our students.  Being a BYOD school means that these topics come up as we go through the year often, it is nice for us to have an intensive week to refer students back to throughout the school year.  So much of digital literacy echoes good safety practices in “real” life.  As such, we spend time discussing online and offline safety practices during this week and have our local school deputy join us.  Below are our favorite resources to use.

6 Days and 78 Resources for Digital Literacy Internet Safety- ilearn technology

Monday- Online Identity

Children tend to assume that if something is online, it must be true.  This is especially true of people they “meet” online.  Children believe that anyone on a social network, blog comments, forum, etc. are who they say they are.  It is important to help kids understand that not everything and everyone online is what they seem.

Elementary:  Faux Paw the Techno Cat: Adventures in the Internet

Faux Paw PDF book

Privacy Playground: The First Adventure of the Three CyberPigs

Cyber Cafe: Think UKnow

Child Net: Primary

Internet Safety Cartoon

Professor Garfield: Internet Safety

Jr. High: NS Teens Friend or Fake– a video that helps students realize that not everyone they meet online is trustworthy

NS Teens- RescueRun Game

Be Seen app (iTunes)  (Google Play)

 ThinkUKnow Teen

ChildNet: Secondary

CyberSmart: Unwanted Contact

Everyone Knows You Online

Do you really know who you are talking to online video

Tuesday: What to do

Every year I would ask my students how many of them had seen something they knew they shouldn’t have online.  100% of kids from kindergarten through eighth grade would raise their hands.  When I followed up with: how many of you told an adult about it? Only about 2% in the same age group raise their hand!!  When you ask students why they don’t report to an adult they list the following reasons: I didn’t want to get in trouble; Mom/Dad/Teacher would take the technology away from me if they knew, it was just an accident so I don’t tell; I was embarrassed.  This is a big deal!  Kids need to know that there is a trusted adult in their life who can help them navigate their online interactions without blaming them for accidental exposure.  After sharing these videos, we discuss appropriate responses to inappropriate material.  I ask kids to turn off the screen without shutting the device down.  This keeps other kids or siblings from seeing the inappropriate content before it can be reported.  If a student sees anything online that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, confused or something they know is inappropriate they should report it to a trusted adult right away.  I always let students know that they will never be in trouble for reporting this to us.  It is a big help for us because then we know which sites to block so that other kids don’t run across the same material.  Empower your kids to do the right thing by letting them know that they are doing their part to keep a wider community safe.  If children do come to you with inappropriate content, take a deep breath, thank them for their help and report the URL to your content blocking service to be black listed.  No matter how shocking the content is, do NOT get upset with the child!  This will keep them from ever telling you about it again.  Do not punish kids for dong the right thing! Follow up as necessary to help the children properly navigate what they were exposed to.

Elementary: NS Kids: Bad Netiquette Stinks!

NS Kids: Tell a Trusted Adult

NS Kids: UYN game

Welcome to the Web

ThinkUKnow kids

CyberSmart: Offensive Content

CyberSmart: unwanted content

Jr. High: NS Teens: Mike-Tosis

Wednesday: Online Identity/Digital footprint

Children often separate who they are online with who they are in “real” life.  This is a mistake!  It is important for kids to understand that who they are online and who they are in person is one and the same.  Decisions made online can impact their real life in big ways!  Kids also need to know what information is okay to share online, and what information is private and should not be shared online.

Elementary: NS Kids: Be safer online

NS Kids: Be safer offline

CyberSmart: Digital footprint

Jr. High: NS Teens: Profile Penalty

NS Teens: Tad’s Profile Panic game

Top Secret!

CyberSmart: Digital Reputation

Thursday: Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying is becoming a big issue for kids all over the world.  Kids say things to each other online (or about each other) that they wouldn’t dream of saying to someone in person.  It is important that kids know what cyber bullying is and what to do if they encounter a cyber bully. Kids need to know that it is always inappropriate to cyber bully in all of its forms.

Elementary: Faux Paw Meets the First Lady: How to Handle Cyberbullying

Faux Paw PDF book

Communications level 2 mission: cyberbullying

Stuart and Scout: Cyberbullying

The Great Bully Roundup

Hector’s World: Cyberbullying

CyberSmart: Cyberbullying

Jr. High: NS Teens: Terrible tEXt

NS Teens: Cyberbully Zombies Attack

NS Teens: Stand by or Stand Up comic

CyberSmart Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying video

 Cyberbully virus video

Friday: Online Privacy

Here’s the thing about making online content private: it’s never really totally private.  Kids forget that even if they only share with people they know, the people they know may not necessarily keep online content private.  I always use the example of my mom who keeps many of her pictures “private” online.  However, I have access to those photos and nothing stops me from downloading them or taking a screen shot and sharing them with the world.  It is important for kids to know if something is digital, that it can be shared.

Elementary: NS Kids: Passwords

NS Kids: Password game

Google: Playing and Staying Safe Online

Disney Surfswell Island

Privacy Pirates: An Interactive Unit on Online Privacy

Safety Land

Communications Level 1 Mission: Personal Information

Hector’s World Personal Information

Do’s and Don’ts when using social networks

Jr. High: NS Teen: Post to be Private

NS Teen: Stop that post…again game

NS Teen: Stop that post! game

Google: Playing and Staying Safe Online

CyberSmart: Identity Theft

Online Safety bulletin board video

Do’s and Don’ts when using social networks

Every Day Learning: Online Discernment

Children tend to believe that everything they read or see online is true.  Obviously this is SO not the case!  Help your kids learn how to have discernment as they are surfing the net.

Elementary: Google: Detecting Lies

Co-co’s AdverSmarts: An Interactive Unit on Food Marketing on the Web

CyberSense and Nonsense: The Second Adventure of the Three CyberPigs

Passport to the Internet: Student tutorial for Internet Literacy

Using the web for research

Jr. High: Google: Detecting Lies

Allies and Aliens: A Mission in Critical Thinking

Jo Cool or Jo Fool

MyWorld: A digital literacy tour for secondary students

Using the web for research


Parent Resources:

Net Smartz: Includes an online safety education kit, teaching materials, presentations

Web Wise Kids: teacher resources, safety night, safety kits

iKeep Safe: Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum

Media Smarts: lessons, resources, professional development

Carnegie Cyber Academy: lessons, game guides, printouts/activities

ThinkUKnow– videos, lessons, resources

Child Net- presentations, resources, lessons, videos

CyberSmart- resources, professional development

Google: Good to Know

Tree Octopus- Help Kids see that not everything that is online is true.  The Octopus Tree Frog site will put their critical thinking skills to the test!

Remember, as you go through these topics and resources for kids, it is crucial that you tie in the equivalent off-line behavior.  Think stranger danger, reporting inappropriate behavior, bullying, and critical thinking.


***Originally posted on http://ilearntechnology.com

We are Anastasis: Parent Perspective (My Day as an 8th Grader)

The following letter was written by Anastasis parent Amy Whitehouse.  Amy has 4 students that attend Anastasis: a kindergartener, fourth grader, seventh grader and eighth grader.  Amy generously agreed to allow us to post her letter here.
I am completely blown away.  I’m not sure what I expected, but any expectations I had, have been far exceeded.  We started with Mr. Matt in devotions talking about Grace, and how God grants us grace day after day.  His ability to engage the kids while teaching God’s lesson was impressive.  I found myself wanting to come back to chapel each day and learn again as a child learns.
We then moved upstairs with Mr. Fink and the most amazing eight girls I’ve ever been around.  We were shown three pictures and asked to use one word to describe the picture.  Twice, I found myself with no word.  Not the girls though, they pulled words from their vocabulary lists that fit the picture in such detail, and yet sometimes in obscure ways.  Another mom and I kept looking at each other with bewilderment in our eyes.  I kept thinking…these are not the same girls that I knew just two years ago.  These girls carry themselves with such confidence.  They are not afraid of failure, so they are empowered to speak.  They throw out ideas and the depth of their conversations is actually something you can’t fathom until you witness it first hand.  We were next shown two pictures and were told to write a paragraph setting up the scene.  I had written a paragraph, but after listening to the girls, chose not to share mine. 🙂  These girls are further ahead than I am at 40!  Mr. Fink is inspiring.  The way he looks at the girls and validates what they say, is a gift given to these girls.  He listens with his whole being, and looks them in the eyes.
With his words and actions, he tells these girls over and over again during the day that they matter.  That they can be game changers.  That they can go into the world and make a difference.
Before lunch, we took a math test, which I failed horribly (even with cheating), and we were challenged to a competition.  Fink asked us questions off the Citizenship Test, and the kids won 27-8.  We were annihilated.  Enough said.
Next was our first Anastasis Communion.  This was absolutely beautiful.  It’s hard to describe in words what transpired.  All the classes gave presentations on what they have learned from Mr. Matt’s teachings this week.  Each class presentation was completely different and yet so true to who they are, and where they are in life.
Next, Mr. Matt, Mr. A, and the teachers gave each child bread and juice representing Jesus’ body and blood shed for us.  They looked deep into each child’s eyes and spoke life into them.  I about cried as I heard Mr. Matt say, “Tommy, you know that Jesus died just for you?  Do you realize Tommy, Jesus loves you and did this for YOU??”  Beautiful. We then separated into classes, and every teacher prayed a blessing over their own class.  I was able to listen to three different prayers, and literally felt the power of God’s love prayed out over my kids.
Matthew then prayed over the entire school.  The Holy Spirit was alive and active.  Many of us actually felt “electricity” through our legs, myself included.  My 10-year-old told me she physically felt the Holy Spirit enter her body.  Her legs went numb, she started sweating, and her glasses fogged up.  She knew it was the Spirit entering her body.  Amazing.
Next….more school work to do.  Mr. Fink had us watch a film called “Baraka.”  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it, as there is so much to this film.  But my take-away is we all get so caught up with our own agendas, our stuff, our goals, etc. that we find ourselves in the middle of a wound up bundle of chaos.  God has so much more in store for us, but do we take time to be quiet and listen to that still, small voice?
We ended with dodgeball.  I’m telling you….those 8th grade girls are tough!!
I’m so thankful to Lance for extending the invitation for parents to come and be a part of our kids life at Anastasis.  We as parents get so wrapped up with the details of math, grammar, spelling, etc. which are important, but at the end of the day, there is so much more to life and “education.”  I saw kids who KNOW who they are.  I saw kids understand that God loves them completely.  I saw my own daughter FEEL the Holy Spirit enter her body.  I saw my 8th grader standing tall with confidence which needed to be rebuilt.  I saw time and time again teachers speaking truth and words of LIFE into our kids.  I saw teachers faces light up when a child approached them.  This speaks to our kids hearts.  This is living for Jesus.  This is what matters.  This is what I witnessed today at Anastasis Academy.  What our teachers teach, can’t be labeled with a grade, or put into a box.  They are teaching outside of the box, and in turn, our kids will learn to live outside of the box.  Jesus was never one to live inside a box, and He certainly didn’t request that we do so.  I could not be more filled with thankfulness to God for giving Matthew and Kelly the vision for our school, and for hand-picking each and every teacher who spends 40 hours a week speaking life and truth into my children’s lives.
So full of thankfulness and joy!!

We are Anastasis

Anastasis Academy is not your everyday private school. We promote freedom and inquiry, and we strive to be creative and innovative through technology. Self-expression is a key factor at Anastasis, and we crave to keep imagination alive. This school is unique and fun, and we have a strong sense of community. This is not a school that is obsessed with labels, so there isn’t a significant border between, say, the eighth and the second grades. Our school is built on holistic learning, which means we are learning as a whole. It also means that we are being developed not only educationally, but personally. Before I came here, I was failing out of school and felt like I was at a breaking point, especially the year that my father died. It was an act of sheer serendipity that I found myself here. I had no self-confidence, and I just felt like I was completely incompetent. Anastasis has built up my confidence so much, and I am genuinely happy and comfortable at this school. I revel daily in the sheer majesty of this school. We are also objective and look at things from different angles before judging. We are free to learn at our own paces, and questions are always welcomed. Anastasis taught me to love learning and always strive to ask good questions. Our belief is that we should not focus so much on the right answer, but on the journey to find the answer. Learning both inside and outside of our classrooms are what nurture our minds and keep them always longing to know more. As you can tell, Anastasis Academy is unique in terms of education. We are creative; innovative; Anastasis.

By 8th grade student, Emma P.

Anastasis Academy: A Fresh Approach to School

A few weeks ago, Anastasis enjoyed a visit from fellow educator, Gerald Aungst.  It is always great to see our school through the eyes of others. We learn so much through that process! Below is the reflection post that Gerald wrote after visiting.  Thank you Gerald!

Anastasis Academy: A Fresh Approach to School

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of visiting Anastasis Academy in Centennial, CO, about a half hour outside of Denver. I’ve known two members of their team, co-​​founder Kelly Tenkely and teacher Michelle Baldwin, for several years. Being in town this week for the NAGCConference, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see first-​​hand what is happening at Anastasis.

Anastasis takes a non-​​traditional approach to education which borrows from research and best practices in schools and programs around the world. They have adapted and remixed elements of the Finnish public education systemInternational BaccalaureateReggio Emilia, and Charlotte Mason’s work. Learning experiences are highly individualized and project-​​based, they stress formative and performance assessments, and technology is deeply embedded into what they do every day.

I must note that the day I was there was not an ordinary day in the school. It was the last day before their Thanksgiving break, and the schedule was disrupted by preparations for “Meeting of the Minds” (their version of parent conferences) and a service project. Nevertheless, I was able to get a good feel for the culture and environment. I also spoke with most of the teachers and several of the students.

Four things stood out to me during the time I was there:

Students own the school

In each classroom I visited, it was clear that the students felt at home, and that they had taken ownership of the space and their learning. I have been in too many schools and classrooms where the students are clearly guests, albeit welcome ones, in someone else’s domain. At Anastasis, students always have choices and options. When I spoke with the kids, the two most common words they mentioned were “freedom” and “stress,” the latter in the context that they did not feel it here, unlike their former schools. Every student I spoke with knew what they were learning and why, and it was obvious that it wasn’t because they were coached on what to say to an outside visitor. Even more, when I asked about their work, whether it was a second and third grade exploration of Fibonacci numbers in teacher Nancy Babbitt’s class (pictured above), or simply how they were organizing their Evernote portfolios (see left), students were enthusiastic and eager to share their understanding of the project.

Space matters

Classrooms at Anastasis are designed around the learner. There are no student desks. Instead, students work however they are comfortable: at tables, on couches, or in beanbag chairs. Teachers have stocked the rooms with resources and materials for students to use as they see fit. Teaching is a secondary consideration here; in fact, the rooms have no teacher desks, and if there is a “front” to the classroom, it is not the focal point.

Surprisingly, Anastasis is able to do this in space that is shared with a church. On Wednesday nights and weekends, the classrooms are used for church classes. Despite this, Anastasis has worked out an arrangement with the church that allows them to personalize the space. In Babbit’s class, for example, after learning about Rwanda, the students decided to paint a mural of the African country on the wall, creating an opportunity for further research.

Staffing matters

Every teacher in this school is passionate about learning, committed to knowing their students as individuals, and embodies the school’s mission to “apprentice children in the art of learning through inquiry, creativity, critical thinking, discernment and wisdom.” Though the culture and the environment are all about the child, this could not work without a staff completely embracing the school’s values and philosophy. This is not to say, of course, that the seven teachers are all identical. Far from it. Each has infused his or her own style and personality into the equation.

Two places this plays out are in the Crave classes and Spark classes. I did not have the opportunity to observe these directly, but each Wednesday afternoon, the teachers take an hour each to teach focused, topical or interest-​​based classes. Crave classes are designed by each individual teacher around something they want to share, and then students self-​​select across grade levels. Spark classes are taught on a rotating schedule and are built around semi-​​traditional specials like art, music, and phys ed; though it is worth noting that the school’s overall curriculum is highly interdisciplinary, and subjects are not siloed as they typically are in most schools.

Everything is focused on growth

There are no grades, homework, or standardized tests at Anastasis Academy. Students track and monitor their learning through a portfolio which they maintain inEvernote. They have become fluent at recording all of their work in Evernote, including anything done on paper, which they simply enter by taking a photograph on the spot with their iPads. Each student also maintains a log of their work called a “Trace,” which serves as an index, tracking tool, and parent communication device. Teachers post a list of current projects and assignments in the room. Each student I spoke with knew exactly where they were, not only on the daily list, but also in the bigger context of the “block” (similar to a marking period).

Inquiry is evident everywhere. Every project and task I observed originated with some form of inquiry question, whether pre-​​planned by the teacher or inspired by the students. Students explore and create continually. In Michelle Baldwin’s class of third and fourth graders, for example, after hearing a visiting soldier talk about his experiences in the military, students were researching and analyzing songs associated  with various wars, thinking about the perspective and purpose of the song in the context of the culture at the time.

Every class I visited had a similar atmosphere of depth and engagement. The climate is casual but focused, and relationships among the students and staff are comfortable and friendly. Although Anastasis is a small, private school, I would love to see how their ideas could scale to a larger public school. Several questions come to mind:

  • Can this be done in a school of 700 instead of 70? (Tenkely believes scaling up to 150–200 is more feasible; beyond that the close relationships and community that are key to the Academy’s success would begin to suffer.)
  • What hurdles and speed bumps would we have to anticipate and steer around?
  • Are the methods and philosophy dependent on the excellent resources available to Anastasis, or could this kind of school operate with less supportive parents and community and with more restrictive budgets and facilities?

|Re-posted by Kelly Tenkely|

Becoming Fully Alive

|Kelly Tenkely|

Big, sweeping changes don’t seem to happen overnight, as quickly as we might like.  Thirty, forty, or a hundred years go into those sweeping changes: race relations, animal testing, women’s rights, recognition of addiction as a disease.  And yet, in each case, there was a turning point.  Those handful of pivotal moments when someone(s) decide it must be different and that in this moment in time, change will begin.

For me, this pivotal change happened in October of 2010.  Two years ago.  That moment of “it must be different” led to this school, Anastasis Academy.  In many ways, Anastasis feels like it happened over night (we started a school in 4 short months!) and in other ways, it feels like it will take years before the vision of Anastasis is realized.

Sweeping changes happen over time.  Often, they are hardly noticeable as they are happening.  This explains the 5 year old, struggling through their ABC’s who is ‘suddenly’ reading.  When did that happen?!

People often ask why I don’t write more about Anastasis.  The whole process has been incredibly organic and hard to describe to someone who isn’t seeing it unfold with us each day.  I can tell you about students who are becoming fully alive and discovering that they love learning.  Until you see this happen before you, until you hear the students talk about it, it is really a weak representation of what is happening.  Here we are in year two. In a lot of ways, it has felt like a harder beginning.  This is strange in light of what happened last year…starting a school in 4 months from a place of zero.  I think it feels harder because the vision of what could be is being more fully defined and dreamed up each day.  There is this sense of frustration that it isn’t here yet.

The change is hardly noticeable as it’s happening.  It is organic and creeping.  Sometimes I overhear students talking animatedly about figuring out ratios, and exclaiming over learning what portion of the population lives on less that $1.25/day, the change is happening.  The vision is being realized one moment at a time.  These kids are becoming fully alive.  Those teaching them are doing the same.  We hear parents and students describe what we do to others:

This is community.

This is family.

This is church.

This is Anastasis.

This is the beginning of sweeping change, where students can be fully alive and learn how to properly manage their freedom.

So, we will go on wishing that we could already see the full realization of this vision, but we will also rest in the hardly noticeable moments of change in this journey.  We will appreciate the moments in time that keep everything from happening at once.  We will rejoice as we watch it all unfold in it’s perfection. We will wait anxiously for the day when this type of learning is available to children everywhere in the world.

***While we wait, consider joining in this mission to help students be “fully alive” in their learning.  Donate and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project.  This is the vehicle we will use to share this vision with ALL children.

Is Learning an Attitude?


“What did you learn in school today?”

This is a great question.  It helps sort through the activities of the day and rework some information in a student’s head.  Asking this question can start a good conversation that eventually takes the mind down some other cerebral pathways on a journey of scaffolding.  Learning is linked to previous experience and knowledge; good questions cause us to go further.

Why do we stop asking the question as adults?

Who is asking us what we learned in life today?

Starting this week, our students will be asking their parents what they learned each day.  The students need to see learning modeled and understand that all of life brings learning.  As adults, we can interpret the world the same way a child does.  It is either with an attitude willing to learn something, or the belief that our brain is full or we can predict the outcome with a high degree of certainty.

What if learning is an attitude?

If we asked the kids, would they talk about what their parents learned at work, or home, or from someone else today?

Many of us like a portion of the passage below from Philippians 4.  In the context, it’s interesting that Paul reveals his need to learn.

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

It seems, Paul can make the final statement as a result of what he learned.

At Anastasis Academy, we want to promote an attitude of learning.  An awareness of the learning taking place and seeing learning in its many forms and presentations.  What if it took a lifetime?  If so, that would be success.

What we can learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar


This weekend I spent some time with incredible innovators at Stanford University to talk about innovation in education.  All walks of life gathered at d.school to discuss problems in education and to propose solutions.

My biggest takeaway: Education needs more design thinking and collaborative concepting at all levels.

Throughout the day we shared stories, created concept maps, brainstormed collaboratively, identified problems in education and prototyped possible solutions.  I love that we didn’t just give answers. We prototyped possible solutions in the prototype lab where we had access to all kinds of great building materials.  We came up with some pretty impressive solutions.  What if schools operated more like this?  If teachers and students worked together as designers.  This is the drive behind Anastasis Academy’s morning inquiry block.  We look at big questions and work on interdisciplinary projects that incorporate a range of subjects and disciplines of learning.

“What if the process of education were as intentionally crafted as the products of education (i.e., we always think about the book report or the final project, but not the path to get there).” (Fast Company)

Schools have a lot to learn from Google, IDEO and Pixar.  These are companies that have created a culture of creativity, play and collaboration.  IDEO mirrors this culture in their physical space.  The space lends itself to creativity and new ideas because the space isn’t overly prescriptive.  Stanford’s d.school was very similar.  Tracks run all over the building where walls of whiteboards can be clipped in and moved around easily.  A writing space wherever and whenever you need one.  Brilliant.  All of the furniture is on wheels, it is easily moved and rearranged based on current needs.  Large wooden Lego-type blocks can be easily moved, arranged and built with for any situation.

I love the philosophies of Pixar, the layout is designed to foster “forced collisions of people”.  Students with different backgrounds, passions and understandings collided in new understandings.  Would forced collisions of people encourage a whole new population of da Vinci thinking?

At Google play is not only encouraged, it is deeply engrained in the culture.  Spaces are flexible and constantly changing and being built.  This is was the case in Stanford’s d.school and I have to say, the instant ability to edit our workspace impacted our thinking.  “Imagine what might happen if students had this same power to edit and make their own spaces within the school environment.” (Fast Company)

I highly recommend the following article from Fast Company “What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar.”

The article mentions High Tech High, a collection of charter schools in Southern California led by Larry Rosenstock.  Please take the 14 minutes to watch this great video about High Tech High!  Innovation is education is emerging in pockets all over the world. Anastasis Academy is a part of this innovation!

Searching for da Vinci


True learners are multidimensional, they are passionately curious about the world around them.  Leonardo da Vinci was one such learner.  The quintessential Renaissance man, da Vinci was a scientist, inventor, painter, sculptor, architect, cartographer, mathematician, musician- the list goes on.  da Vinci had an insatiable curiosity about the world around him.  He is still highly regarded as a brilliant creative genius, his thirst for learning is just as relevant today as it was 500 years ago.  One question I couldn’t help but ask as I learned about da Vinci: Is the current school system set up to foster the da Vinci’s of the world?

We often assume that because a schools offer a variety of subjects, that we are creating a population of individuals who will excel in a range of subject areas.  The problem with this notion is that children don’t really excel at any of them because they aren’t given the opportunity to become passionately curious about any of them.  25-45 minute subject periods guided by boxed curriculum doesn’t give students enough time or resources to become captivated by learning.  These blocks of time are dedicated toward subjects that prepare students for one thing: testing.

Children need the freedom to explore areas of passion. They need to be allowed to view learning through the lens of life. They need to be shown that subjects of learning are not really separate entities, but rather that learning is multidimensional, overlapping and interwoven.

When I look at all that da Vinci accomplished, it is apparent to me that this is someone who understood that all learning is life, it is connected. I suspect that da Vinci didn’t set out to be a jack-of-all-trades; I suspect that he set out to learn and as he learned, it led to other disciplines, interests and knowledge.  What resulted: a man who was able to use his unique talents and gifts to change the world.

If we send all students through the exact same subjects, the exact same way, to meet the requirements on the same test, do we have any hope of fostering students who are able to use their unique talents and gifts to change the world?  Or, will they graduate from high school with a degree that sends them into the next system where they are now expected to undo all the learning that has made them look the same and decide what makes the unique?

I’m sending out a call to create the da Vinci culture.  Anastasis Academy capitalizes on the overlaps in learning and the transdisciplinary nature of life.  It aims to create a culture of learners that are passionately curious, creative and innovative. We seek to create a da Vinci culture that helps students discover who God created them to be.