Live Blogging With AHS students.

Live Blogging With AHS students.

Friday, I had the distinct pleasure of listening to some of the most
unique voices in the discussion over Dan Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind.
These voices did not come from an “expert” being paid thousands of
dollars for a breakfast engagement. They did not come from a literary
analyst who picked apart Pink’s prose with perfect clarity and wit.
They came from Arapahoe high school students that were eager to create a conversation, expansive and intense. Check out the discourse for yourselves.

took a look at one of Pink’s chapters specifically: Story. I especially
liked how the conversation evolved over the course of the hour that we
blogged. It seemed to start from a place of pure story, then it evolved
into something about the future of the workplace. Then we got very
theoretical. We started talking about how story can influence memory
and how memory influences story. Even though Pink devotes quite a bit
of time to this idea, I really like the way the students were able to
incorporate it into their thinking. It really got me to start
reflecting on what the purpose of crafting learning environments can

If we create an environment that is ripe enough to learn
within then we are creating an experience; we are crafting the story of
that learning. In turn that learning becomes a memory, one that will be
told over and over as a story if it is good enough. So, in truth, we
are trying to create learning memories for students, ones that they
will hold onto long after they have forgotten the names of their
classmates or what day of the week it was on. We want to create
memories that are so lasting that the events take on mythical
proportions, they start living on as stories of their own.

there a way of analyzing the ways in which we tell stories about our
high school experience to our friends from that time period? Is there a
way to know whether or not those experiences were learning based or
extraneous (not that they were bad things, mind you)? My question to
those students, and to anyone who reads this blog is what is a learning
memory that you have? What is the one experience in an authentic
learning environment that you will never be able to forget?

(Special thanks to Karl Fisch for setting up this amazing opportunity. More of this kind of collaboration and conversation is needed desperately.)


  1. josed

    One learning experience from an authentic learning happened very recently. In what would seem a routine assignment in my Biology class, I found a great learning story. We were to create a drawing of a protist (kind of a mix between a plant, an animal, and a bacteria) of our own creation, in which we had to blend our creative little creature with some labeling of parts that would be in a real protist. It also had to make sense (that is, there were no fire-breathing amoebas allowed). While I found the assignment very easy and a good way to remember things for the test, the teacher said that some students apparently had problems because they were looking for the “right answer” when really there was none, and so they kind of overloaded, so to speak. What was once an easy and routine piece of homework became a lesson in learning. In order to achieve the best learning possible, you had to open your mind to a more right-brained perspective.

  2. LizC

    One of my most memorable learning experiences so far is in Spanish 1 this year. In that class not only does my teacher have us learn things but she always starts the class off with a story from her life or home, which gets all of the kids attention. She does not start off with a huge lecture but rather brings us in by talking with us about things for the first couple minutes. I love how she connects with all of the students in the classroom, and cares about what is going on with them. Part of the class is how good her stories are and how they get our attention, but another great thing is that she involves play in the classroom, which is a topic in Daniel Pink’s book. We aren’t always serious when we are learning and a lot of the time it makes me remember things better because it was involved with a fun activity. My Spanish class has definitely been one of my best learning experiences so far!

  3. NickB

    One of my most vivid memories of an authentic learning environment that I have (other than this class, because it is not yet a memory) is my 8th grade Language Arts Seminar class (or las). This was an 8th grade only class in my middle school hosted by the gifted and talented teacher. In this class, we did much of the same things as my current class; we read books and thought about them deeply, followed a theme for our class, and we even had wikis! One difference that this class does not partake in is Socratic Seminars. These Socratic seminars were similar to fischbowls, but not the same. One major difference was the lack of technology. There were no laptops, no live blogging. Everyone talked, but to prevent people from monopolizing, we tried a variety of different techniques (one was even a fishbowl, where only the inside people could talk and the outside people sat and listened). The other difference was that instead of debriefing on a book, which we did occasionally, we talked about morality things. In the most memorable Socratic seminar, our teacher showed us a presentation called “the facade” which created a metaphor for people holding up big wooden representations that hid their real personalities instead of actual personality facades. Overall, this LAS class was one of my best authentic learning environments.

  4. Ben Wilkoff

    Thanks for your comment on the blog. I really think that your learning story is a good one. I hope that you continue to have such good experiences with turning your homework into authentic learning.

  5. BrianC

    Ben-Though I didn’t take part in the blog with you, I was in an earlier one, but I agree that teaching is really about creating memories that the learners can remember. Throughout my 9 years of schooling, I’ve experienced many different attempts at teachers trying to create memorable ways to teach us a topic, some of which have been more successful than others. I remember one activity that taught use about needs and wants when I was in 4th grade, a student teacher brought in a bunch of things like pencils, erasers, tops, ect… and we each got 2 or 3 things and we had 10 miunutes to get the things we wanted/needed most by trading each other. Then, the teacher told us that we needed to write a story about something useing only what we got by trading. The kids with only toys of course couldn’t do it and learned to get what they needed first, then get what they wanted. This is what I remember whenever someone talks about needs and wants. So story isn’t the only way to rememeber things, activities work too.

  6. Ben Wilkoff

    All Arapahoe students:
    Are you commenting on this post because of a class or did you find it because I linked to the blog? I really appreciate your insights. You all are clearly doing something revolutionary. (Also, feel free to post an audio comment or webcam comment.)

  7. Maura Moritz

    Hi Ben-

    Thank you so much for joining our conversation on Friday. The students absolutely love hearing from another adult voice. They sometimes get sick of what I have to say, so it is nice to have another person throwing questions at them.

    Drop in anytime you would like during our liveblogging. We typically do it on Fridays.

    Maura Q. Moritz
    Language Arts Instructor
    Arapahoe High School

  8. LizC

    Mr. Wilkoff-
    My English teacher gave us the email address so that if we wanted to go and post an answer, we could. It was more of an option that a requirement and some of us decided to do it. I think that you formulated a great question and I definately had an experience I wanted to share! Also, thank you so much for blogging with certain classes. Even though I was not one of those classes,I like being able to recieve insight from adults, and I like that some adults care to share thoughts and ideas with high school students. Thanks so much!

  9. Jordan H

    My most authentic learning experience was when I was in 4th grade. My teacher, Ms. McCabe, had been my kindergarten, second, and my fourth grade teaccher. It isn’t so much a specific class, subject, or fact that I learned, but the way that she was as a person. She really loved teaching, and it showed when she taught. She wasn’t the teacher who whined about low salary, late nights, or grading papers, but rather, the teacher who showed up every day because she had a passion for our learning. She cared about us very much, and it was very sad to see her leave at the end of the year. She had other things to do with her life, but none, she said, would compare to the amazing time she had spent with us.
    That, in my opinion, is the proper learning environment. No matter what technology you have, what subject you are learning, or what style (left or right brain) of teaching is given, as long as the teacher has an unconditional love for his job, he has provided a proper learning environment.

  10. ParkerH

    Hi. I am one of the students that is in a similar, but not that exact class. I am at the same school, but I have the class at a different time and different teacher. Same general topics though. I definetely have a learning experience that I’m going to remember. I am going to remember this year in my English class. I have never done anything like it before, and I’m pretty sure that most students don’t get to talk to Congressman and heads of education about education. This learning style has really been a good thing for me, and I hope that what I’m doing in my class will help to cause a change in learning.

  11. MorganW

    Mr. Wilkoff,

    To recall my most memorable learning experience would be to go back to kindergarten. Kindergarten was the time when I was first learning to read and write, but instead of having specific times for each activity, we were allowed to do our own thing. I remember that we could either join in for story time, color, work on our letters and numbers, or try our hand at reading. Everyone knew exactly what they wanted to do and the teacher was okay with that. We had enough time to do everything, didn’t have a strict schedule, and had up to four grown-ups to help us with whatever we needed. We could play with friends, spent plenty of time outside, and learned how to treat each other nicely. It was loose and relaxed. Nobody ever wanted to drop out of kindergarten or switch teachers and nobody complained about having to go to school. Everybody liked school. We liked it because we were learning. We went home to our parents every night and proudly exclaimed what we’d done or learned that day. Our parents were always proud of what we’d accomplished and if we had made something by hand would ensue to hang it up on the fridge. That is my authentic learning environment that I will never be able to forget.

  12. hannahl

    I have many very memorable moments in my educational past. Of all of these memories, the most prominent ones come from my 5th grade class. Our teacher, Mr. Reiner, is one of the most capable and creative teachers I have ever had. He was, I believe, the start of my passion for education. Through interactive education and challenging the system of education that we had grown up with, he showed us that we could make a difference, even if we were young inexperienced 5th graders, and we did. First of all, I distinctly remember that our class pushed and pushed to get a Smart Board put into our classroom, the first of its kind in our school (and maybe even our district?). We wrote letters and showed how much this piece of technology could help us to learn and create. Eventually, we got a donor and the Smart Board. The overwhelming sense of relief and achievement that every student felt was unimaginable. People who had never before been interested in learning became fervent learners and passionate students. It was a change unparalleled by any besides that of Smith’s class. Also, my teacher would dress up as historical figures and teach us history. Of course, we believed that these were really visitors from the past (or at least most of us). His dictum was “There are two sides to every coin.” This changed me personally because I had before been a very opinionated yet very close-minded individual. Mr. Reiner pushed me out of this into and open-minded and mature approach to my opinions. From a “Beatnik Cafe” where we recited poetry with artwork created by us in the background, to being civil war soldiers drilled and disciplined, that year was a massive leap in the learning of my peers and me. If anybody ever needs to be inspired that education can make miracles, just talk to Mr. Reiner or anyone who has ever been in his class. The respect and gratitude that I have for him is impossible to put in words. That was a very long comment, but it was definitely my most memorable moment (or moments) in education.

  13. Stefania Onofrio

    Mrs. Smith one of the teachers did ask that we answer this question for her class. But you posed an interesting question that many of us were eager to answer
    School is often one big blur of memories. It’s a mix of lessons and friends, learning and drama. But one school experience will last me forever. Right now in my English class we are live blogging with people around the world. We are reaching new depths in our learning and discovering new perception as we discuss the book A Whole New Mind. It is so exciting to be talking and discussing with people I would have never met before. This is one memory that will last a lifetime

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