Friday, July 29, 2011

Idea Overload: Here's Some Help

I am one of those people that has too many ideas...I am sure some of you are rubbing your eyes saying..."Oh boohoo, Lit Maven."

Yes, I should feel blessed...but no... I feel so overwhelmed by them. Even the notion that I could never develop all of them puts me into a cold sweat.

But...after searching I have come across some helpful resources that I would like to share with you. Here is one of my favorites!

Do More Great Work By Michael Bungay Stanier. The book has a series of exercises that help you to decide what your Great Work is. Please watch the video, The Alchemy of Great Work, to understand the concept of bad work, good work and great work.

Then there is a series of exercises to actually make a decision on which idea is the best to work on. The book can be found at bookstores and libraries. If you register on his site, you get the graphic organizers that come with the book for FREE.

I am really impressed with the Do Great Work interviews such as: Seth Godin and Neil Pasricha....Even if the subject seems to be far from your 9 to 5 job there are always some Universal ideas to relate to.

In addition to the interviews...Michael gives the best introductions I have ever heard.

So if you are like me...or not like me...check it out!

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who's Launched? Matthew McConaughy has! Ideas for Changing Education seems like everything I have been reading is...ideas are fine but not putting them into well...just like catching bubbles....kinda useless...(although WARNING..this is cute!)

Or as our buddy Wayne would say:

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."
– Wayne Gretzky

Therefore, today's post is all about focusing on launching ideas.

Guidelines for Launching Ideas from Boyton and Fischer (2011)

1. Know your "Gig"
Gig is defined as..."what you are all about and where you want to be going professionally." (p.122)

Boyton and Fischer provide some guiding questions such as..

Do I enjoy spending time and energy on this initiative?
Do I want to be known as the person who brought this idea to life?

2. Focus on One Idea at a Time
...and most importantly "structure your idea so that it requires no more change than is absolutely necessary." (p. 124)

3. What Keeps your Boss up at Night?
This is called the "Hot-button" principle. (p124) You are more likely to have your ideas accepted if you can link it to your Boss...not this one.

4. Your Idea is a Bit Better... Cause Why?
The way to make your idea appealing..."frame your idea as extending and improving an existing idea." (p.125)

5. Find Guinea Pigs
Before you go "public" with an idea, try it out! (p.125)

6. Why Should They Care?
Just like anything...let others know what's in it for them. (p.126)

So there you go, some guidelines to get you started...

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who's Charged Up? Wil Smith is! Ideas to Change Education

So where were we...

A few posts ago, Dawson found himself learning about being a conversation continuer or a terminator. I think we can all agree that the only time to be a conversation terminator is when you are suffering from low blood glucose...

Today let's discuss even more ways to carry on the conversation.

Here is a little homage to John Hughes

Here is an example of a really poor conversation.

Okay so what can you do to be a continuer...

Here are some ideas from Idea-Busters and Idea-Builders

Idea-Busters vs. Idea-Builders

It just doesn't grab me vs. Tell me more
Who's going to do it vs. Here's a way to do it
It's been done to death vs. Let's do it better (or differently)
We can't afford that vs. Let's figure out a way to pay for it
Don't fight the system vs. Let's change the system

Now if you want something to pump you up for great educational conversations...

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who's Bogus? Bill and Ted! Ideas for Changing Education

"Most schools are preparing kids for 1991" - Heidi Hayes Jacobs

You know what is even more depressing?...this is the movie that was playing in 1991...

In Boyton and FIsher's book Idea Hunter, they have a section titled, "The Value of Naive Questions." (p. 136) Their "obvious question" example is a pen company asking, "How can we increase pen sales?" asking the naive question,"What business are we in?" lead to the realization that they were not in the pen business but rather the gift business. So you can see their direction in how they conduct business would change.

So Lit Maven, what is your is Friday and my patience is thinning...

OK! Here is an Educational Application:

OBVIOUS QUESTION: What can we do to raise the reading scores?

NAIVE QUESTION: "What business are we in?"

So to repeat...

"Most schools are preparing kids for 1991" - Heidi Hayes Jacobs

In Education, are we pulling back enough to see the big picture or are we continuing the ways of the past? Do we truly know what we are aiming for? Have we considered everything?

Here is a selection of current educational pioneers on this subject:

Alan November

Heidi Hayes Jacobs,

Will Richardson

I think we need to ask the a teacher, as a staff, as a district...

What business are WE in?

Now to get you all fired up...

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Human Head Weighs 8 Pounds? Ideas for Education

Who can forget?....

Well...that kid knows how to keep a conversation going! In order to keep an idea flow going, you must decide:


Boynton and Fischer (2011) state,
" create successful conversation, make sure that you're sending the right signals to your conversation partners, letting them know that you're interested in the real exchange of ideas." (p.132)

So first...what is a Terminator? Besides the obvious

The book gives examples of the way doctors talk to their patients, sometimes they indicate they want to "continue" the conversation, and other times to "terminate" (p133).
Here is a real life "Terminator" example:

Flashback to Feb 1998, I was newly diagnosed with Cancer. Every visit I had to get a chest x-ray. This time I looked at the requisition form and in the section labeled Stage was:
Stage IV....
This stage is bad...
there is no state V.

I had been told I was stage II.

So I asked, "Oh it says stage IV, I thought I was stage II."

Cancer doctor said, " are Stage IV...which means you now only have 65-80% survival rate."


(PS..isn't this a sad picture!!..for so many reasons...)

Ok, let's try that is a "Continuer" example:

So I asked, "Oh it says stage IV, I thought I was stage II."

Cancer doctor could have said, "I am sorry for the confusion, let's talk about it."

Can you see the difference?!

Please check out the rest of the conversation.
So there we have it...

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Who's Agile? Betty White Is! Ideas for Changing Education

Well if agile means lively...the best image I could come up with is Betty White. Not only is she still active and virile...but she keeps up with Social Media on Twitter.

Today is a continuation of Monday, Wednesday's and Friday's post.

The Idea Hunter is organized around this acronym:

I Interested – Be Interested, Not Just Interesting
D Diverse-Diversifying the Hunt
E Exercised-Mastering the Habits of the Hunt
A-Agile- Idea Flow is Critical

So..."Idea Flow is Critical." Ideas themselves, "do not start out auspiciously." (p.103) Basically ideas have to ruminate together often amongst others to develop into something that can be used.

Here is an example from Stephanie Meyers' Twilight

"I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately."

Then of course that idea steamrolled into four books, movies and nice tourist dollars for Forks Washington. Not to mention really cool Edward and Jacob T-shirts...kidding...oh so kidding...

Educational Applications
Steve Jobs designed Pixar's building to have an atrium in the center, with all the bathrooms, cafeterias and mail slots. (p.107) Why? To encourage a mix a people during the day.

Are our schools designed this way? I would like to think that elementary schools have a common hub for teachers (staff rooms) and students(lunchrooms) but I think we can go further with this.
How can we really increase the flow of ideas?
1. Perhaps multi-age groupings
2. Multi-use classrooms
3....Teachers visiting each others rooms
4. Graffiti Walls on Paper OR Online
5. Wallwisher
6. Other Collaboration Sites
Consider also, increasing the flow of ideas between schools!

Boyton and Fischer state "...putting people in motion with ideas is often more important than the ideas themselves, which are all subject to idea flow." (p. 109)They also noted, "...the stream of ideas does not flow in a straight line."(p.109)

6. Yet another idea is to take a "weirdo" to lunch. "Get to the people who hang out in places where you don't normally hang out." (p.110) So clearly the image of the Breakfast Club comes to mind. Note: Probably not a great idea to tell the person you are taking out to lunch that they are "The Weirdo".

7.Prototyping was mentioned in the previous posts. But the key idea is not waiting to show off your ideas, instead start early and regularly. I think about Demonstrations of Learning that schools are using in place of parent teacher interviews. Twice a year....max. But what about the rest of the year? Also consider that demonstrating the process of learning is often more powerful than just revealing a product.

Key Point
"Make the Ideas visible, and to start making decisions on them." (p.118)

There is still so much to share about IDEA Hunter. Check out new posts this keep those ideas flowing....

Please take the time to share how you keep your ideas flowing!

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Who's Exercised? Robert Downey Junior Is! Ideas for Changing Education

Okay...It should have read "Sherlock Holmes Is!"..But I decided that since Robert Downey Junior played Sherlock Holmes it would be RDJ...the Lit Maven likes to take liberties...

So recap....


Today is a continuation of Monday and Wednesday's post.

The Idea Hunter is organized around this acronym:

I Interested – Be Interested, Not Just Interesting
D Diverse-Diversifying the Hunt

E Exercised-Mastering the Habits of the Hunt
A-Agile- Idea Flow is Critical
Today the focus is on "E"...just how do we "master habits of the hunt"?

Boyton and Fischer suggest "...people who excel at the Hunt immerse themselves both inside and outside their fields." (p. 72) So there is definitely a strong link to the last two posts in that you need to be interested and search out diversity.

Searching for ideas is an active process as suggested by Aristotle, "...What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." (p.73) This is not a matter of relying on chance, but rather, "Chance favors the prepared mind." (Louis Pasteur p.74)

The power of observation that is the focus today. Just what are we looking for and how can we keep track of it?

When we observe? What do we notice? Are we "noticing the right things?

Educational Applications

Create a "Personal Platform of Observation" (p.80)

Step One: Observe your customer. In education, this would be a variety of audiences.., parents,students and other educators. (p.82)
"What do (parents, students and other educators) care about?"
"What are their frustrations?"
"What can we learn by talking to them, by paying attention to their body language?"

Step Two: Record Your Observations. Perhaps using a notebook, photographs, portable tape recorders, post its, index cards or even sending yourself an e-mail.

Step Three: Make a prototype. Boyton and Fischer explain prototypes as "very rough versions of an idea." The goal is to create, "...something that another person can evaluate." (p. 87)
Check out The Back of the Napkin and Unfolding the Napkin for more ideas on that.

Step Four: Observe Yourself. What are some of your personal experiences? (p.88) Are there some things that you think could be improved on?

Key Point
Create an Idea Portfolio (p. 91)
After recording ideas, how do you group them, other notebooks, digitally in a box. It is not enough to collect and organize ideas, it is also important to schedule a weekly review. Often while looking over ideas, common themes emerge.

Have you started to collect your observations? Does your hunt include diverse sources? Are there areas for improvement?

Here's a practice test!

Let me know how it's going!

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who's Diverse? Jon Hamm Is! Ideas for Changing Education

Jon Hamm is diverse:

Mad Men
30 Rock
The Town
Jon Hamm's Jon Ham (SNL)

We can all be Jon Hamm's here's how...

Today is a continuation of Monday's post.

To recap:
The Idea Hunter is organized around this acronym:

I Interested – Be Interested, Not Just Interesting
D Diverse-Diversifying the Hunt
E Exercised-Mastering the Habits of the Hunt
A-Agile- Idea Flow is Critical
Diversifying the Hunt

A narrow focus will not lead to Educational Change. By this I mean, looking only within in Education, and not outside at other businesses or institutions.

Which begs the question, Who is in your Idea Network?

Boyton and Fischer discuss networks having strong and weak ties.
Strong ties, as you might suspect, are the people you work with most days, perhaps team members or staff. A weak tie is someone who is in a different social circle, professionally or sometimes in another part of the organization.

An American socialist, Mark Granovetter, wrote an influential paper Strength of Weak Ties (1973). Based on the idea of job hunting, you are more likely to secure a job reaching out through weak ties, WHY?...because reaching out to those with Strong ties, resulted in a smaller circle of job leads. (p. 52)

It is important to note that weak ties do not not serve the function of experts but rather different voices on a subject. "Their role is to say things you might not otherwise hear, spark thoughts that otherwise might not come to mind. What they provide is not a substitute for expertise it is a supplement." (p. 53)

I think the best pop culture example is Undercover Boss, in which bosses went undercover as one of their workers and made discoveries that they would not have previously considered.

"Widening Your Intellectual Bandwith" (p.54) How To Tune in To Other Frequencies

Sure we need to have depth in our knowledge, and this comes from focusing on all educational themed resources (blogs, journals, conferences etc.) But there is also a necessity to look beyond because, "Innovation is fueled by diversity." (p.63)

I can speak from experience. Naturally I have a tendency to find interesting ideas but only recently have a tried to marry it with education. Here is a list of my new gems that are not considered to be in the field of Education.

1. Blogs
Many of the blogs that I subscribe to are focused on business or writing.
Seth Godin
Zen Habits
Brain Pickings

2. Audio Books
Poke the Box
Trust Agents
The Element
The Laws of Success

3. Magazines

4. Books
Caffeine for the Creative Mind
Presentation Zen
The Art of Changing Hearts,Minds and Actions

This is just a peek at some of the ways I diversify. Do you have any favorites that you'd like to share?

Until Next Time,
Lit Maven Out!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Who's Interested? Pee Wee is! Ideas for Changing Education

First check out this link. Pee Wee Gets an IPAD

Now THAT is an interested person!

So I just picked up

Idea Hunter:How to Find the Best Ideas and Make Them Happen by Andy Boynton and Bill Fischer.

Always on the look out for more ideas on ideas… For me, I found connections to all our discussions on 21st Century Learning.

What can we as educators do to be change agents?


This book uses the acronym IDEA to present 4 core ideas.

I Interested – Be Interested, Not Just Interesting
D Diverse-Diversifying the Hunt
E Exercised-Mastering the Habits of the Hunt

A-Agile- Idea Flow is Critical
As always, I look for ways to connect the ideas I find
So what does it mean to be Interested not just Interesting?

It means to be curious.
Boyton and Fischer state that "...curiousity...can more than make up for a lack of brillance." (p.27) and "...a curious mind is on the look out for surprises." (p.27)

So being curious means to look beyond, to not take everything at face value...essentially look past the ordinary. Why? "...because an ordinary idea in one setting could prove remarkable if applied to another setting." (p.28)

Example: Charles Birdseye, a furttrader circe 1910's, noticed that frozen meat from the hunt retained all its goodness when thawed. He wondered, can't we do that for goods sold in stores?....VOILA...the Father of Frozen Foods!

"Ideas need to be found and replicated." (p29)
How can we leverage ideas for use in Education?


Did you know about "Sell the Best Hour" or similarily the "20% rule"?

Well, some companies have discovered that when employees are given an hour a day to follow their passions and interests, on company time...good thing happen!

Google employees are given one day a week to "follow their interests and passions"? HALF of the companies NEW products have stemmed from this rule!

Wow! Says the Lit Maven....

Teachers were given this permission....
Students were given this permission....

ANARCHY!!! I don't think so...what do you think?

I think we need more students that wake up like


Next Post: D Diverse-Diversifying the Hunt

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