Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Good Bye 2014 & Hello 2015

For the 2014 year, I selected #bebrave as my one word. In fact, I was re-reading my post from December 30, 2013 and I am very proud of how hard I worked to #bebrave in situations which ordinarily I would have stepped back and let someone else do it. Stepping out of my comfort zone is the only way I can continue to move forward.

I could just keep this one word for 2015.

I will, in my heart and mind, but I am ready for a new word and my new word is:



It was the #northstar that led the slaves away from their plantations as they followed the drinking gourd on their way past the Mason-Dixon Line and for many up to Canada to find freedom.

It was the #northstar that helped those who would sail the seven seas find their way in the night. It was a stable ever fixed point in the sky.

Stars are meant to be the lampposts of the sky guiding and leading us. Indeed, it was an unusual star that lead the Three Kings who many believe to be astronomers to find the Town of David where Baby Jesus was born.
Here in my quaint little country town, the big city lights are so far away. The twinkling stars as they seem flicker due to the atmospheric pressures never really twinkle. They are always shining. Always bright. Always leading.

Polaris. North Star.

So, lead me on #NorthStar, for I am aware of the three bandits that will try to take me away from my true purpose: Activities, People and Materialism. I will put on blinders like the horses who carry the buggies up and down the road or plow the fields need to wear so that they are not distracted from their one true purpose. Focusing intently on my #NorthStar will help me know what things, people or situations to pick up and what things to put down and to rid myself of things that do not matter.

My one true purpose is to Love God, Love People and Serve the World and to love people and use things, not love things and use people. I can do this with my family, with my profession, with my responsibilities. This is all that matters. This is part of being a legacy leaver.

I wait for you 2015 and whatever you will bring through the laughter and the tears as I follow my #NorthStar but never let me forget to seek the following which is the gift I am giving myself this coming year:

  • Important chances
  • Big dreams
  • Direction
  • Discernment
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Hope

 (I know that #bebrave and #northstar are really two words...but not when I use a #!)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Thoughts As I Close Out This Year

Doug Thomas
To be made in the image of our Creator is in my opinion the foremost reason I can have internally to be a maker. We were created to be makers, tinkerers and inventors. We are made to have an imagination that runs wild with possibilities.

When we take the time to tinker, to make, to invent...to destruct and to construct it is that moment where we are alive and living out loud.

Some people think that in education, this is simply a waste of time. Maker spaces should be void of classrooms and chairs should be lined up in rows of neatness.

I look at the room around me in what I have called Learning Studio 222 and we have accomplished a great deal this year, but it is taking time to undo what they thought school was...and taking a chance to believe in learning again for the love of learning.

Problem solving. 

Failing and starting over again with a new plan and a new way to see things is the best idea I have for what learning really is.

I can't wait to see what else this class wants to do!

Love, Ms. H.

"We all derive from the same source. there is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.”

― Henry Miller

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Books About Mattering For Parents and For Teachers

It is all about mattering isn't it. 

It is our heart's cry from the moment we take our first breath until the last of our days.

Buy it on Amazon here!
Mattering. It sounds simple, but it is not. Mattering takes on different forms for each student and for each child we come in contact with because they are uniquely designed to be a one-of-a-kind, original creation!

Mattering has to start first in our family and as a parent, I am always reaching for resources for my family first that can help my own children know that they matter. Then mattering carries over to my group of learners that I am given care over for nine months in my room.

There are many books helping children not just know that they matter, but to have it deeply resonate like a continuous warm wave on their hearts. One such book is a faith-based book called The Love Dare For Parents helping children find their way back to a place called love, where they can accept love, feel loved and know that they are loved. I just heard about this book today and went and picked it up at the book store. Personally, I need this book...professionally, I need this book. Maybe you do too! 

Maybe this book is just the thing that your family needs. Maybe you see no value in purchasing a faith-based book for you in regards to your profession in schools. I dare you to do something different, to to purchase this book because I believe that this book can make a difference in the lives of the students in our classrooms who come with hard hearts and just want to know do you love me? Am I lovable? Do I matter to you at all? Do you see me, do you really, really see me? I can't wait to explore this book! Join me in reading it.  Perhaps it is just the resource that a family in your school needs. 

Buy this book here! 
The other excellent book is called the Five Love Languages For Children.  We are all designed to speak the language of love, but differently. The trick to any relationship including parenting is learning to speak the love language that your child speaks. It offers practical advice on how a child in your classroom or a child in your family gives, receives and interprets love. We all need all five, but we have stronger pulls toward one than the others. I came across a mommy blog Busy Kids, Happy Mom that was really great at explaining more and you can find it here

The Five Love Languages are:
  • Physical Touch
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Gifts 
  • Acts of Service

Sometimes it may feel frustrating in parenting or even in teaching when you can't reach a child's heart. Excellent educators know that when you touch the heart, you touch the mind and that also applies at home. When you feel frustrated, read these books and talk to others. It takes a bit of humility to admit that not all things are awesome and that we do have struggles as a parent or as a teacher with a child in our family or in our class, but amazing things happen to you and will radically change your classroom and your family when you do reach out.

In the end of it all, it comes down to one thing mattering. Love is mattering.

PS: As a mom of a child who is struggling with life and with the growing pains that come with it, I want to thank my family for loving us through. I also want to thank those in my PLN who I reached out to and who met me in my point of need. I love you more than words will ever be able to tell you. Thanks for your encouragement and your prayers and your laughter.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tales From The Coffee Shop: Connected Educators Month Reflection

It is no unusual thing in my life to walk up and talk to people, I can talk all day long to people I don't know. Being outgoing, an extrovert, a teacher,  and a both a teacher's and missionary's kid can make me do things like that at a drop of the hat without second guessing myself.

So as I was doing some edhacking with a fellow colleague of mine, we needed a green screen. As I don't travel with a green screen, we looked for a wall that was green, tried the chair that was green and eventually, I asked a guy with a green sweater if we could borrow his back. Yes, I did that.

He said yes, as he eyed me with one eye (and probably wondered if there was something in my coffee)! It worked and politely I thanked him and walked away.

Later, just before I left the coffee shop, I stopped by to thank him and explain more to him about my favorite app, Touch Cast Pro and how I use it and he was intrigued.

Then the sadness came. He said he was a educator too and he wanted to be out of the profession. He was washed up, exhausted from all the mandates and political mumbo-jumbo.

Being the connected educator missionary that I am, I told him of Voxer, Twitter and #tlap and how at one point, I had been him. I too had had the feeling of being lost on Exile Island and with no hope.

Hope. We all needed it and we find it as educators in being connected. 

Perhaps that is why Twitter first intrigued me. People I had not yet met came my way and I learned from them, the full manifestation of this emerged when the people left the Twittersphere and true connections were made and friendships were formed.

Then the Exile Island that sometimes I felt I lived on  was suddenly inhabited! Whether it was reading blogs from my PLN, or their books, joining GHOs and HOAs and using Google + as a resource everyday became a new treat. There was always a new nugget of learning coming my way.

I learned about standard based grading, maker spaces, genius hour, new Google-ly things and the wonderful world of app smashing. I have learned about apps, tons of apps...like as in a tree filled with bright red apples kind of apps where the boughs are drooping because there are so many.

Now, there is the world of Voxer in my life, to add to the joy of learning. Voxer is like talking in the hallways during a class for me. An authentic voice that connects me with a person that is in my life to push me to become a better educator.

Whether it is driving across the country for an #edcamp and staying overnight with a friend from your PLN, or doing a Tweetup with the #mnlead gang at various places in the Twin Cities or flipping my Facebook into more of a educator's POV, life is really beautiful as a learner.

There is hope for all educators out there who feel like this person with the green sweater at the coffee shop, but it takes us, those who are in the field to come along side of them and share with them our story and bring hope their way. Sometimes it is just one person, one story, one inspirational moment to speak life into someone else.

 Isn't that what we are born to do? 
To speak life?

So, now I am from time to time on Exile Island, but it is just a "game" we play in my #mnlead & Minnesota Educators Chat On Voxer when we go over our 2 minute standard vox..or some dogs decide to hack your Voxer and vox for 15 minutes without you having any clue. (Yes, that happened...#dogswhouseipads).

I close this post with a heart of gratitude to you, my friends in my PLN whatever way I learn with you. Thank you for coming along side of me and for giving me hope, help, inspiration and friendship. I truly am blessed because of you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Learning Studio 222: Summer News With Legos and Playdough

Well, what did YOU do this summer? Here the learners tell us with Playdough and Legos about their summers! So many stories! The most important thing is that the learners become brave enough to tell their story and that they know that they have a story to share with the world.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Welcome to Learning Studio 222

Welcome to Learning Studio 222 for what I trust is a year of academic and personal growth for the learners who enter through the portal towards more self discovery in their learning journey that we will embark on together this year. With many hopes and dreams ahead, I am excited to be the lead learner in this studio and grow in my own learning and self discovery as well! Carpe Diem!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I Am NOT In The Business of Teaching

I am NOT in the business of teaching. I am 

foremost a seed planter. Teaching is my 

passion and my privilege and calling.

Image by Oliver Schinkten @schink10

The harvest will come in due season...the slow emerging of the seed pushing through the soil as it reveals its full manifestation of who that seed is. 

Have you ever been a seed before? Yes. Yes you have...buried deep beneath the soil, trying to make roots...trying to drink in the water...to gain strength to grow and push through the soil. It takes a lot of patience. 

I have been a seed. I have been an impatient seed and a patient seed. I have tried to push through things before it was the right time and didn't grow into the full potential of what it could have been. I have been patient and wondering when my turn will be to pop through the cold, dark soil and see sunshine at last.  

As a lover of flowers, I have planted seeds, over watered them and watched them die. I have not given them enough sunshine to even have the power to push through. I have forgotten to water them and they never grew at all. 

In each of those situations I have listed both about myself and about me as a gardener, I have learned a bit more about myself. 

What I learned is this: It is NOT over night.

Be patient and wait for the magic! 

The way to do this is best through relationships and a You Matter philosophy presented by Angela Maiers. When a little seed knows they matter, when they are needed when a person or a teacher spends time helping them to own their own genius, magic happens.

My friend Joy Kirr sent me this the other day. It touched my heart. It is from the Lorax movie. 

"Let it grow, let it grow
You can't reap what you don't sow
Plant a seed inside the earth
Just one way to know it's worth
Let's celebrate the world's rebirth
We say let it grow
Like it did so long ago
Maybe it's just one tiny seed
But it's all we really need
It's time to change the life we lead
Time to let it grow"

Fletcher Sheridan Lyrics

This year, my goal is to use Brain-based learning coupled with the 8 Intelligences and the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy along with as many PBL projects as possible all linked to two things....You Matter and Geniushour. I will watch these seeds grow. It will be my honor to tend the garden for this season of their life. 

This article called Teaching Is Not A Business was written by David L. Kirp for the Sunday Review for August 16, 2014. It is a good read. "The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers nor markets can hope to replicate. Small wonder, then, that the business model hasn’t worked in reforming the schools — there is simply no substitute for the personal element."  

CTA: What creative ways will you grow learners this year? 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

True Genius

True genius is not taught, you can't go to school for an education to find it. True genius in my opinion is something that is inside of you. True genius is a combination of your gifts and of your talents that you were born with it yet, they are NOT for you. They are in you to help define your higher purpose and for the welfare and behalf of others. They are not to serve you. They are to serve others. 

Gifts are something that you were born with. For example, knowing something about your existence that is explainable in human words.  For example the gift of perception. You know when something just is not right, something is out of whack.  It is not based on any skill or ability. It is innate. It was gifted to you with a big red bow and stuffed under the tree in a box with your name on it long before you were even formed in the womb. It was predestined to be part of who you are. These gifts lead us down roads we did not expect and we find ourselves manifesting them in ways that pull us out of our comfort zone, but are effective at it nonetheless. 

Talents are something that you develop, that were part of your DNA structure, but you have to develop them yourself as you cultivate them with hard grit, determination or dedication to something. These talents often interweave in your life to create your life plan like in  what sports you like, if you play the piano, the jobs you take and the profession you eventually choose. These become your strengths-what you are good at. 

They are often used interchangeably but they are not the same thing however, both need to be grown and strengthened in you.  You continue to build on these gifts and talents as your life goes on. 

True genius DOES NOT mean prodigy. 

Angela Maiers explains it like this. Genius is taking your passions and  your compassion and putting them together to find your true purpose and destiny in this world. Here is Ms. Maiers on EduAllStars Episode 9 with Chris Kesler and Todd Nesloney

Qualities Of A True Genius:

A true genius goes deep into exploring all the dead ends that people give you and say that you can't go beyond. 

A true genius faces failure with a steadfast determination to rise above. 

A true genius has an inexplicable drive and passion that is self driven. 

How Can Teachers Cultivate True Genius?

As teachers we must do a better job of cultivating this genius in our students. The question is how? 

I believe that it starts with whole brain teaching and nurturing the confidence of the student. 

Here is my earlier post on whole brain teaching and my Haiku Deck for my Defense. http://seedsforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-review-of-brain-based-core-principles.html

Bethel University M.Ed Defense 

I also believe that it comes from having a strong philosophy and personal mission statement of education that is solidly founded in student first decision making. Here is mine.

Philosophy of Education:

YOU MATTER! You have a genius in you that is unique and special to you! I celebrate that! I will teach in a way that promotes growth through play and learning. 

Mission Statement: 

I as a professional educator recognize that each child is an one-in-a-million, never-seen-before individual, that all children are creative and that all children can succeed. 

Therefore, I will respect the individual needs of children for whom I have the sacred honor of working with which includes but is not limited to the following: fostering a caring and creative environment as well as emphasizing the social, emotional, physical, intellectual development of each child. 

I believe that each child has a genius and a passion special to them. I also believe that passion with compassion creates world changers. 

I believe that great things can accomplished through cooperation between school, community, parents, and students. 

I believe you matter!

Is it going to be hard to do these two simple steps of whole brain teaching and a student first philosophy? Yes. It is. However, just because it is hard, does not mean it will not be worth it. 

**I dedicate this post to a true genius, Mr. Robin Williams 1951-2014. A true genius who knew how to use his gift to make people laugh and brought smiles to children and troops. A man who had the innate ability of comedy and timing, but who also worked hard to develop his talents in the field. He was a student of comedy and his love for learning kept him fresh. Depression is a demon and comes to steal, to rob and to destroy, and that is why it is so vital to tell people with our words and back it with our actions that people matter. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

What Kills Culture At School? What Brings It To Life?

From Trace Pickering

Dr. Mollie Marti

Culture is killed by the following:

Silence: Not speaking up about what you need and dislike in a respectful way.

Boredom: Meaning is not connected. The students need to be engaged, challenged and enriched.

Few or No Degrees of Freedom to Choose: Age appropriate choice and degrees of freedom to choose the way they want to learn, content areas, and even the teacher that best fits them.

No Freedom To take Risks : This stifles the creativity in the classroom. Students are afraid to do anything at all. They are afraid to fail forward, to risk, take a chance.

Holding A Deficit View of People: We don't need to fix people! When we are focused on weakness, we don't see what their passions are and fueling them. We need to stop seeing people as needy and start seeing them as needed!

Culture Springs to Life when You have these foundations to education in place:

Open Communication

Engaged and Challenge Students

Personal Choice

Allow For Risk Taking

Focus on Strengths

A thriving school is:

Community Facing

Competency Based

Project Driven

Passion Focused

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Review of Brain Based Core Principles

Brain-based Core Principles 

This process of creating a brain-based learning environment is not simple. It is complex, it requires a deliberate shift and not returning to the old mindset. Green, (1999) states that when information is skill driven,  you will have a classroom focused on memorization, repetition and regurgitation. Green states that if you want a successful brain-based learning classroom, it must be founded in the understanding that memory is enhanced when facts and skills are presented naturally through multiple experiences shaped by reflection as well as through collaboration. It is all about creating meaning, mutual respect and acceptance.

Photo: www.alphachimp.com

Caine and Caine (2005) outline twelve principles for developing a brain-based approach at any school. This came after numerous experiments and studies on basic principles for classroom instruction. It involved stepping into classrooms, talking to the teachers, looking at the environments and their previous studies and research on brain development.

The first principle is to realize that the brain is a parallel processor. Like the brain, teaching in the classroom should be based on many methods and techniques, not just one. Many tools in the toolbox are needed so that students can perform many functions simultaneously.

The second principle is that the learning that happens engages the entire physiology. Therefore, brain-based teaching must fully incorporate learning that is done by the natural body and the brain. Learning benchmarks based on age are bound to be incorrect because everyone develops at their own rate.

The third principle is that of recognizing that the search for meaning is the drive for learning. Asking deep reflective questions instead of yes or no questions will encourage this as well as using the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy process.

The fourth principle is that meaning occurs through patterns. Learners are always making patterns of one kind or another. Teachers need to learn to present information in a way that allows the brain to create patterns.

The fifth principle is that emotions are critical to patterns. The feelings and attitudes presented by students need to be honored by the teachers because it affects their learning. The learning climate needs to be that of respect and acceptance as well as reflection.

The sixth principle is that every brain perceives and creates parts and wholes. This is vital for teaching because chunking information will help with retaining and understanding. Learning in isolation will result in regurgitated learning. Create meaning by chunking.

Photo: www.flickr.com

The seventh principle is that focused attention and peripheral perception are part of learning. This means that in a brain-based classroom, a teacher needs to use visuals, transition signals, and understand how music plays key role in the classroom atmosphere.

The eighth principle is that learning always involves both conscious and unconscious processing. Active processing is vital for the students in a classroom to learn. It helps them take charge of their learning as well as understand how they learn. Reflection is essential to learning.

Photo: 8 Intelligences: marekbennett.com
The ninth principle is that we have two types of memory. One is called a spatial memory system and the other is simply a system created for rote learning. In the classroom, so many teachers are focused on learning facts. Too much of this does not transfer learning. It is not sticky learning. It actually can confuse the learner instead and stall growth.

The tenth principle states that the brain understands best when facts and skills are embedded. The way to do this is to invoke spatial memory. This is done best through experiences and real life activity in the classroom. It is bringing teaching alive through visuals, demonstrations, field trips, and performances.

The eleventh principle is learning is enhanced by challenges and stunted by threats. Striving to have a safe learning environment means the threats perceived by the children are low and the challenge to learn is high. This is done through the attitude of the teacher themselves and modeling that attitude for the students. It is also done in the way lessons are delivered in the classroom.

The final principle outlined by Caine and Caine is that each brain is unique.  Due to that uniqueness, classrooms should have many choices and present many ways to learn information. Classrooms should attract learners and celebrate their individual interests.

In summary, Caine and Caine believe that brain-based learning is simply moving from memorized facts to meaningful understanding. It is a way of allowing the learner to be fully alive. It is an approach that benefits all aspects of education.

Kaufman Kaufman, E. K., Robinson, J., Bellah, K., Akers, C., Haase-Wittler, P., & Martindale, L. (2008), devised an acronym for brain-based learning to keep in mind as a teacher prepares lessons.

  • Brain’s Time Clock: Keep rhythm by alternating spatial and verbal commands.
  • Repetition: Use previewing and reviewing strategies.
  • Active Learning: Increase blood flow through physical movement
  • Images: Enrich the visual learning environment.
  • Novelty: Stimulate the brain with new approaches.
  • Be Colorful: Facilitate retention and motivation by color-coding.
  • Automatic Learning: Recognize the influence of non-verbal communication.
  • Social Brain: Exploit opportunities for cooperative learning.
  • Elicit Emotions: Create opportunities for emotional engagement.
  • Develop Thinking Skills: Engage learners in problem solving.

Successful and effective teachers never stop looking for different ways to improve student engagement to raise achievement. Though there are many specific model or methods, brain-based learning is one model that is gaining momentum now. Studying research on the brain and how it affects learning can change the way teachers maximize the learning experience in the classroom. 

Call To Action:
  • Try out Geniushour in your classroom this year.
  • Send out a letter to your parents to evaluate their children's 8 intelligences (here's a link) .
  • Ponder how you can use the 8 intelligences and brain-based education to help increase academic achievement and create a strong culture of learning in your classroom.

Kimberly Hurd Horst, Education Professional 
Isanti, MN United States of America

Caine, G., McClintic, C., & Klimek, K. (2005). 12 brain/mind learning principles in action. R. N. Caine (Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Green, F. E. (1999). Brain and learning research: Implications for meeting the needs of diverse learners. EDUCATION-INDIANAPOLIS-, 119, 682-687.

Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. Basic Books.

Kaufman, E. K., Robinson, J., Bellah, K., Akers, C., Haase-Wittler, P., & Martindale, L. (2008). Engaging students with brain-based learning.ACTEonline. Retrieved September, 2, 2011

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oh, For The Love

When I decided I was going to be a teacher, it was when I was a little girl living in Colombia, South America teaching my dolls and stuffed animals because of my love of singing. It was pressed on my heart through the love of my parents both teachers and the love of my first grade teacher, Miss King to understand my place in this great big world.

When I started teaching in 1994, it was for the love of teaching. As I have continued teaching, it has transitioned into, for the love of deep meaningful learning. As I move into a new phase of teaching, seeking to work outside the classroom as well, as an education advocate and as a presenter on Multiple Intelligences and brain based learning,  it is for the love of positive change.

For the love. We do things for the love and love is something we have in ourselves and we give it away. No one steals it from us.

I teach for the love.

Which is direct contrast to what is happening outside my realm of power with the ongoing and steamrolling power that multi-billion dollar companies are "investing" in children. That is also for the love, but it is for the love of money. They are making big, big money off of children. 

Earnings of the top three: 2013


I went to pearson.com  and there I learned that in the year 2013, total adjusted operating profit was 736 million GBP so I used Google to show me what that looked like in USD. The answer:  $1,260,852,640.00 That is their adjusted operating profit.  (I just wanted to write the number out.)

CTB McGraw-Hill:

I Googled information and found at Media Data Base that their profit was 4,875 billion for 2013.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 
I looked all over and found this information from Digital Book World and there I learned that the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $325 million for 2013.

All three of these companies seemed to have looked at the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as a open door to make a profit. (Alternet shares that Pearson actually owns the Connections Academy which is a online for profit charter school. Did you know that? I didn't.)

This all brings me to my point. My children are not nor are the students entrusted in my care validated through a test. I am fighting my own frustration as it hits the wall with educational agendas that seem to be all about for the love of testing and for the love of money, not for the love of learning.

There is a difference.

Yes, the test will show "growth" on some educational level of some kind. Yes, I am well trained on how to use testing data to help drive the children's learning. Yes, I can also explain the data to the parents without using edu-lingo. I can even read the results of a test upside down so that the families can read it right side up.

I will have to give tests that I don't like. I will have to give them many, many times this year taking away from class time upwards to 20 hours or more for the whole school year. However, I am resolved that testing is not the end all, and I will let the students know that, yes, they want to do their best, but the test is just a snapshot, not the whole picture. That's the problem with standardized testing. That is the problem with the culture of testing that we are living in. Oh, for the love of testing.

For me, it is and will always be about:  for the love of deep meaningful learning to bring about the greatest change and raise achievement scores because the students are learning in a way that is tailored to them. Deep, meaningful learning which no amount of data from any standardized test nor any curriculum can ever provide. 

Image: apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com/

I am getting ready to kick off this school year. This year I will be mostly in third grade and I have a wonderful co-teacher (our recent model for some classes for the past few years) and I really am excited for all the possibilities.

This is how I propose a culture of learning. It is using with deep intention a Revised Bloom's Taxonomy and Multiple Intelligences matrix. (I found it here.)

The use of this matrix as this framework will help me as I continue to sow seeds of learning. If I do my absolute best to teach in a way so that all students can learn and as I seek to understand the uniqueness of each student entrusted to me, I will see growth. I will see true learning.

  • It is continuing to use passion time or as I call it Geniushour.
  • It is honoring each step that the student makes.
  • It is falling in love with the process of learning. 
  • It is making connections and understanding how the world fits together.
  • It is giving the students a voice in their own learning journey.
  • It is nurturing and growing learners through compassion (note my blog post here). 
Call to Action :

What do you do for the love?
How does that impact you in the classroom?
How do you balance out the zealous testing with meaningful learning?

Kimberly Hurd Horst, Education Professional 
Isanti, MN United States of America

The Gift of Compassion

I had the honor to write for my friend Oliver Schinkten over on his blog ComPassion Based Learning. Though I could copy it and put it right here and maybe in a year or so I will, why don't you head on over to his wonderful blog, look around and read my article while you are there! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How Big Is Your Yes?

I used to live along the East Coast where fireflies danced around us all summer long. We would run around and catch them, put them in jars and marvel. There are  a few lesson  that the fireflies want to tell us and how to capture them is not one.

Balance: They hold their forewings called elytra out for balance.

Balance is so important in life. Too much of anything or not enough of something can make you sick either physically, spiritually or emotionally. Life does get out of balance. Its easy to do. We hear the voices of lies calling us to stay so busy. Too busy for our own good. Being out of balance ruins relationships, empties your spirit and leaves you exhausted wondering where you went astray.

Be a light: They produce their own heat without wasting heat energy. 

Being a light in a dark place is not easy. It will take a lot of grit. Sometimes, we will have to stand alone and not follow the popular crowd. Sometimes it means our light its there for someone else to follow. Even one little light will light up a dark night and so can we.

When you capture the firefly and put it in a container and it will soon stop lighting, it knows its trapped and this will lead to death. 

Trapped! I think we have all felt trapped. We are trapped in traps others made for us and we believed their lies. We are trapped in situations that feel like are sucking the life out of us. We feel trapped in a season that seems never to change. We trap ourselves by our fixed mindset. We trap ourselves because we do not tell ourselves the truth. 

Untrapping yourself is NOT easy, it is feels more like how I imagine a caterpillar feels as it is hanging upside down in the dark wondering what is going on as its insides are turning into mush. The journey from caterpillar to butterfly is filled with pain, but beauty will arise. 

I will admit, I have felt trapped. More than once. More than twice!!! Sometimes that season has felt like a lifetime. Now I am untrapping myself, again but in a different way.

At school, I have encouraged students to believe in themselves and I have used the You Matter Manifesto from Angela Maiers. I have spoken these words over the students aloud, in my hearts to them, and in posters. I have asked students to explore their own genius as Joy Kirr has encouraged me to do. 

Together these two core elements of my life as well as my faith have created a wonderful passion in my life to serve. It came from this GHO about a year ago when Joy, Angela, and I along with our friends from our PLN, Oliver Shinkten, Garnet Hillman, Mark Moran, and Justin Staub  met together. A firefly found the synchronicity it was looking for. There are a many lights lighting up the night together with #geniushour and #youmatter. 

My Own Geniushour and My Own You Matter: A place where genius and compassion come together to be the change.

I went back to school to get my M.Ed in K-12 education because I want to become an educational advocate. I believe that hope + compassion + education = change and I believe as my friend Jimmy Casas and my godfather Hal Roberts keep reminding me that we are called to be the change, and I am compelled. 

I want to be led to non profit organizations that work with women and children coming out of sex trafficking and out of domestic violence. I have a plan now, but I also know plans take time to evolve and I know just when you think you have a plan, God has another. 

But as I was chatting briefly with Rik Rowe and Salome Thomas-El, I was reminded that God just wants our YES. This fits in so well with my motto for 2014 which was to BE BRAVE. 

How big is YOUR yes because right now, mine is pretty big. My faith tells me that God can do amazing things when someone surrenders their plan for his. That in the end, is all I want. In the end, I know that my exploration of my own #geniushour, my own passion time, my own mix of passion and compassion is my process from not only untrapping myself, but to make a difference in this very big world. It really only takes one light. 

Here are some statistics about why from Women's Foundation of Minnesota:

  • The FBI has identified the Twin Cities as one of 13 U.S. cities with a high incidence rate of child prostitution. 
  • By very conservative measures, a November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity. 
  • A November 2010 study found that on any given weekend night in Minnesota, 45 girls under age 18 are sold for sex through the internet classified websites and escort services. 
  • In 2010, investigators from three states determined that Minneapolis was the home base of a large domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) ring comprised of three generations of one Minnesota family that was prostituting (trafficking) mostly young girls across the United States. 
  • About 50% of adult women interviewed as part of a 2010 study focused on North Minneapolis stated that they first traded sex when they were under the age of 18, with the average age at 13. 
  • In just one 72-hour sting over the summer, an FBI-led operation rescued 105 children and netted 152 pimps in 76 cities nationwide, including four alleged pimps in the Twin Cities.


  • Be Brave
  • Say Yes
  • Create your very own journey because you do matter and you do have a gift to give to the world. The world needs YOU. 
Do Something!!! Matthew West

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Brain Based Learning: A Reflection

Brain Based Learning: 

Brain based learning is a model for a systematic way of approaching new data and optimizing learning. Brain based learning ties in the Howard Gardner (1999) theory of Multiple Intelligences (linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, musical, body/kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal). Brain based learning recognizes that emotions are linked to learning. It realizes that the human brain is a pattern maker. The human brain loves to take random seemingly disconnected items and from that generate order. Brain based learning recognizes that the best learning comes through balance. 

In the classroom, brain based learning looks like an orchestra. There are many parts to play, a specific set of notes special for uniquely each student. There might be an alto sax or a tenor sax or even a bass sax for example and even though they come from the same family and they play the same melody, they will have different notes to play. Apart from the other instruments they will make music but the song will not be as beautiful as when all the instruments play their notes that are specifically designed for them because when they play as a complete orchestra, the genius created is astoundingly breath taking.  

The conductor of the orchestra, the teacher or as I prefer to be called, the lead learner, takes great time in making sure each note is played accurately, to make sure the instruments are in tune and to verify that the members of the orchestra are all playing the same song. It is a lot of work for the conductor. It is frankly exhausting. So much energy goes into desiring success for each instrument, for each learner. The conductor, the teacher or the lead learner,  keeps the rhythm, and knows the songs deep within their soul, the know the standards and the curriculum. They know the expectations for each learner and there is a plan. The conductor helps those who make squeaky notes, by having wonderful opportunities for great practice with intent as needed. Hours and hours, days and months go by and the song in the conductors heart blends with the sounds from the instruments and the hearts of the orchestra members. Another year of hard work comes to a close. 

Peter Durland: http://goo.gl/bpVIv3
When it comes to brain based learning, it is important to recognize that reading and literacy is more than comprehension or a test. It is more than decoding or basic skills. Literacy is about environment. Literacy is about brain based learning using the Multiple Intelligences and the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Literacy is about engagement. Literacy is about going outside the box of what old traditions have told you and entering a 21st Century world of learning. 

It is time to break free from the mandated and prepackaged curriculum that is geared toward state testing, but ignores true engagement. In Seth Godin’s manifesto called Stop Stealing Dreams: What Is School For? (2012), He argues that the top down industrialized way we "do school" is killing the dreams of learners and something has to change. 

Godin examines the idea of school as it was set up since the Industrial Revolution when in 1918 it was mandatory for children to attend school, as way to prepare students for working in factories. This is no longer the case. Yes, it worked for awhile, but it's not producing the type of learners we need today. Today Godin states, we need students who are aware, caring, committed, creative, goal setters, honest, improvising, incisive, independent, initiating, innovating, insightful, leading, strategic as well as supportive. 

This all in contrast to what many schools desire in their factory based outcome of being obedient. This reinvention of school is what is best for all learners. It is important to make school different, to make connections and not learn in isolation. This is a connected world we are in and to help them make this connection stronger, teachers need to be the answer. It is true as Godin states in his manifesto, that teachers who care can reach students who will care.

*These thoughts are part of my thesis: Brain Based Learning and Literacy Achievement for Boys, in fulfillment of my M.Ed K-12 through Bethel University, St. Paul. Sincerely, Kimberly*