December 14, 2017

Before we all head into our holiday break, I wanted to take a quick moment to share a video from one of the most inspiring educators I have ever met, who decided to test a seemingly crazy theory about student learning:

Student’s can learn entirely on their own.

Sugata Mitra stuck a computer in a wall in one of the poorest slums in India and watched as one by one students came to learn from this foreign machine. They explored ideas on the web; became familiar with new software; and even taught each other English to operate the system.

I promised him that this week I would pull back the curtain and share with you his secrets.

S...

October 9, 2017

The Dead Pig

At about 7:43 in the morning the pig keeled over and died. Five students exchanged looks, dumbfounded. 

Was it the feed? They were careful about concocting just the right mixture of feeder and natural compost. It was the same feed they had used since the beginning of their tenure of oversight. 

Perhaps it was an unavoidable sickness. This summer had been quite hot and humid, increasing the risk for air borne illness and bacterial infections. 

The two grade 12 students who guided me on the tour of the farm seemed unaffected. Nonchalantly they mentioned to the younger students that they would need to “dispose of the pig...

September 14, 2017

My Early Days as a Teacher

When I first started teaching some 12 years ago (before I had grey hair), I thought I knew everything there was to know. 

I was confident, overly enthusiastic and woefully unprepared for what would happen the minute I stepped foot in the classroom. 

Needless to say, I was eaten alive from Day One. 

Most of my early trouble boiled down to one simple misconception: I was more concerned with delivering content than I was with designing experiences for students. 

To me, the curriculum lived highest. It was broken up into a series of discrete facts and skills that I wrongfully assumed could be taught in short...

August 27, 2017

On The Way To Work...

On the way to work in the morning, Mark listens to case studies on various patients in order to best understand how to deal with his own. 

In a coffee shop across town, Margaret designs logos for a company she is freelancing with. They want the designs to convey feelings of interconnectedness, as their new software allows employees to work across several platforms. 

At a breakfast table in his own living room, Joe tunes into a tutorial on mixing beats in Pro Tools in order to develop the score for a local tv program. 

Self- Learning

Mark, Margaret and Joe are all engrossed in self-paced learning. There is no c...

July 2, 2017

The STEM Camp

I’m sitting here in a 4th floor classroom of one of the most prestigious campuses in Beijing. Twenty two of the most disciplined students in Beijing have been assembled to take part in an annual STEM camp. I’m in the forensic science class. There is light chatter and excited voices muffled by the hum of the air conditioner.   

The engagement is palpable.

Two girls paint red ink onto a shirt in an attempt to simulate the way in which blood splatters when struck with a bullet. Out of consideration for their peers, they have opened up a window to allow the shirt to vent. One of their partners looks up dates associ...

July 2, 2017

A film studio in a garage

On an early Sunday morning, probably three years ago, one of my students started filming out of his garage. He painted the back wall green, got some cheap camera equipment, gave his hair a quick comb over, and pushed record. His goal- Get people fired up about physics.

He had no idea of his audience, his concepts for each week, or his ensuing slogan. All he knew was that he wanted to share his passion out to the world as soon as possible, and that’s what he did.

Fast forward to today. This same student has close to 500 subscribers, over 5,000 views, and a regular episode that makes you fall in love with...

May 30, 2017

The Lock Pick Challenge

When 34 eager 15-16 year olds stepped foot inside One Stone’s doors, they weren’t lectured or debriefed on the rules. They weren’t even provided with a tour. Instead, they sat on comfortable bar stools, perched slightly above the table in the Maker’s shed and listened to the only words they would hear from their learning coach that day:

“Welcome to One Stone. Learning here will look different than it has in the past. I am only here to set up the activities and challenges. You will have to use your own ingenuity to solve them.”

Pacing slowly around the room, the coach masterfully set up the very first chall...

May 22, 2017

My new Band

Just recently I formed a new band. It’s me and 2 other guys. I’m on keys and vocals. Armando, an amiable, lanky 16 year old kid is on drums, and his pal Mark, a soft spoken protege is on lead guitar. 

We call ourselves “Generation Gap-”first, both because of the wide span of years between us, and because the songs we play span the late 70’s to early 2017.  

But I’m not really here to tell you about my band, or make a plug for our upcoming show. 

I’m here to tell you what makes our band work. 

I’ve been in a dozen bands, dating back to my early high school years to my early 30’s, with guys from all corners of the globe. 

...

May 15, 2017

Where’s the Teacher?

This past week I had the opportunity to visit an extremely innovative school situated in the scenic Stanley region of Hong Kong. The school, International Montessori School of HK adheres to the Montessori philosophy of self- directed learning, with students as young as kindergarten charting their own learning paths; from researching topics of interest, to solving complex math problems with colorful manipulatives and hands- on sensorial materials. 

What impressed me most was the overall sense of calm in the building. Students didn't run around aimlessly, waiting for an adult to pull them in line, nor did teac...

May 11, 2017

Ready for a challenge?

Grab a piece of paper and pen, or pull up a blank document on Microsoft Word. Set the timer for five minutes.

Your task is to write down your school’s vision statement. It’s ok if you aren’t able to recall it word for word. Just get the gist. Ready, set, go!

Were you successful? Pull the vision statement up on your school’s website to see how close you came. 

If you were successful- great, you are way ahead of the curve! If not, don’t fret- you are not unlike the vast majority of school leaders I work with who can tell me all about what they are doing at their school, but struggle defining exactly why. 

You s...

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Kyle Wagner
School Transformation and Project- Based Learning Coach

I help forward thinking educators and schools create socially, emotionally, and globally aware citizens through project based learning.

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