Summer+ Learning 2018-19

Advancing MVx With a Focus on People-Centeredness

Inquiry, Empathy and Prototyping Our Lives

We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. Grounded in Christian values, we prepare all students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders.

As a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact, our faculty and staff feel a powerful calling to be continuous learners who are growing and developing our professional practice for the good of our students and community. We are leaders in the education industry, and we believe we have an obligation to enhance our own knowledge and skills, so that we can guide others responsibly.

In our strategic response to the world around us - a plan we call MVx - we have three primary design drivers:

  1. How might we make school more reflective of real life?
  2. How might we empower all learners to be seekers and explorers?
  3. How might we inspire one another - and the larger world - through the work we undertake together?

In this year's Summer+ Learning, our focus is on design thinking, a long-standing foundation for our work and leadership at Mount Vernon, as well as an important method of inquiry-based learning that empowers us to pursue all of our MVx design drivers in exciting and integrated ways.

In addition to our common focus on design thinking, our Summer+ Learning also provides a number of books to chose from that connect to some of our other strategic priorities as a school, such as mind, brain and education science, as well as civil discourse and diverse networks.

Equally important, we believe in using the gift of summer on the school calendar to find margin for rest, reflection, recreation and relationships. It's critical to take care of YOU so that you can continue to care for others.

See the two headings below for a quick snapshot of our MV Summer+ Learning for 2018-19, and keep scrolling for even more detail.

Taking Care of You

Engage in the 4R's and Pursue a Passion

"Curiosity and passion drive learning" stands strong as a key design principle and practice at Mount Vernon. And in MVx, we clearly want to empower all learners to be seekers and explorers who spend time discovering and pursuing what excites them and leads to feelings of purpose. What's more, for a couple of years at MVPS, we have been learning more about the 4 R's: Rest, Recreation, Reflection and Relationships. So, for Summer+ Learning, our Mount Vernon learning community first and foremost wants you to take care of you, as you spend so much of your time taking care of others. Pursue that curiosity or passion of your own, prioritize the 4 R's, and consider how you might fill your bucket. If you want to, think about tweeting what you're doing to #MVPSchool or send an email to a group, so that others who are engaged in related explorations might connect with you.

Diverse Network Challenge: As you engage in your hobbies, curiosities and 4 R's, consider who you might connect with to expand and enrich your diverse network. With all of your interactions this summer, who might be a great person to tap as an external expert for a design challenge with your learners and colleagues?

Taking Care of "We"

Common Reading and Choice Options

As a shared and common learning experience, the Mount Vernon Faculty and Staff will read on the topic and practice of design thinking.This common read provides us a chance to reconnect with WHY we use design thinking as such a fundamental and vital strategy for inquiry-based learning and real-world problem solving across all of our grade levels and age levels at Mount Vernon. You may chose to read one or more of the following books:

Also, everyone should read at least one of the books from the "Mini Library for MVPS Strategic Objectives" section below. These titles came from colleagues and a curation process, and they represent topics such as "Understanding Self, Respecting Others, and Engaging in Civil Discourse;" "Inquiry-based Learning and Assessment;" "Mind, Brain and Education Science;" and "Creativity and Innovation."

Diverse Network Challenge: As you read and explore design thinking, consider who you might connect with to expand and enrich your diverse network. With all of your interactions this summer, who might be a great person to tap as an external expert for a design challenge with your learners and colleagues?

"Option B" for Summer+ Learning 2018-19

What If I See a More Personalized and Customized Track for My Learning?

Mount Vernon believes deeply in personalizing, individualizing and customizing learning. So, if "Option A" proposed above and detailed below does not fit the personal and professional learning needs of a faculty/staff member, then she or he can write, propose and defend a Personal Summer+ Learning Plan to submit to a committee of four reviewers: Division Head, Head of Learning and Innovation, Chief Learning and Innovation Officer and Chief Integration Officer. Once the written proposal has been reviewed, the faculty/staff member will have a meeting with the committee to discuss the reasoning and viability of the alternative "Option B" plan.

Consider This...

Suggestions for Sharing the Well this Summer


As you play and learn, share what you're learning and thinking on Twitter with #MVPSchool.

Cognitive Brew

Consider connecting with others over a beverage of choice for an impromptu book club.

Share a Post

If you feel so inclined, we'd love for you to share a post on mvifi.org/blog.

Design Thinking: Inquiry-based Learning and People-centered Problem Solving

Read at Least One of These Selections

Design a Better World

Mount Vernon is all about designing a better world. For nearly a decade now, we have used design thinking as a core, foundational strategy, as well as an overarching mindset, for engaging our community of learners in real-world problem finding and problem solving. For this year's Summer+ Learning we will focus on design thinking as a major topic of our professional learning and practice. All of us can learn more about design thinking, how to put human-centered problem solving into even deeper practice, and ways that we can continue to forward this powerful way to empathize with others and prototype solutions.

Select at least one of the following books. Maybe there's one you haven't read yet. Maybe one really speaks to you. Maybe you want to re-read a selection and explore its provocations with new lenses that you've been building lately. As you read, share your thinking and wonderings with colleagues. And be sure to contribute a reflection to your Folio profile - there's a prompt there for you.

How might we expand our thinking and our work in design thinking in order to design a better world?


CAD Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies and T-Shaped People: Inside the World of Design Thinking and How It Can Spark Creativity and Innovation

Some have called this book "a beach read about design thinking." It's written by Warren Berger, the author of A More Beautiful Question (design thinking as deep inquiry...hmmm). Throughout the book, we learn about a number of Bruce Mau's mantras from his "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth," and we are empowered to recognize and practice the power of design thinking in whatever industry or endeavor we are working and engaging. It is both philosophical and highly practical. As we explore more ways to blur the boundaries between "school work" and "real-world work," CAD Monkeys also provides valuable insights into the business world and the new paradigms for which we are preparing learners to work, thrive and innovate. At the same time, the book is super applicable to our immediate practices as educators and leaders. - Bo Adams

Also published under the title Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Business, Your Life, and Maybe Even the World.


Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

The Kelley brothers have written a humdinger here, attacking the idea that creativity is reserved for only some. Creative Confidence breaks down that myth and asserts that we are all creative. Believing in your creative capacity lies at the heart of innovation; it’s a mindset and a proactive approach to finding new solutions. In this book, the Kelley brothers offer specific strategies to tap in to the creative spark within you. - Angél Kytle


Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student

The future “GIP” (Global Innovation Product) depends on more and more people developing and sharing their creative confidence and capacity to make. In their new book, Spencer and Juliani graciously share a fabulous dimension of their collaborative innovation engine for enhancing GIP - and bettering education. For me, their work strikes a powerful synthesis - combining the inspirational and the practical. With the chapters and various tools provided in LAUNCH, people in schools and other learning organizations will feel encouraged to build their own creative abilities and share the tender and fuel of growth mindset with others. And, educators and facilitators will feel empowered to act and experiment because of the great scaffolding and materials the authors share. - Bo Adams

A Mini Library for MVPS Strategic Objectives

Read at Least One of these Selections

The titles below have been curated by a number of people with contributions based on the faculty and staff survey, as well as those based on very specific strategic priorities for the school, as guided my MVx. Readers can find the "shelves" organized essentially in the following way:

  • Understanding Self, Respecting Others, and Engaging in Civil Discourse
  • Inquiry-based Learning and Assessment
  • Mind, Brain and Education Science
  • Creativity and Innovation

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact

Best-selling authors of Made to Stick and Switch, the Heath brothers explore how certain experiences-- however brief-- can change us. Our most memorable and impactful moments center on four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can curate more moments that matter. This book offers insights into how to be more intentional about creating magical moments at work and in your life. - Angél Kytle


Fearless Conversations School Leaders Have to Have

How might we make school more like real life? We must talk about real world events, be out in the world, and help children face the issues the world presents. This book will equip adults to build an inclusive and safe culture where all students can achieve success through sharing interviews, case studies, leadership strategies, and thinking prompts. - Shelley Clifford


Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

“’Blindspot’ is a metaphor to capture that portion of the mind that houses hidden biases. The authors use it to ask about the extent to which social groups – without our awareness or conscious control – shape our likes and dislikes, our judgments about people’s character, abilities, and potential.”
In the book, Blindspot, readers learn how implicit biases (blind spots) that we as a society carry affect how we treat different social groups in regards to age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, ability, and nationality. The authors examine research and various studies that speak to the impact of stereotypes and prejudices and how these groups are subconsciously discriminated. The hope is that in reading this book, it will help you overcome these preferences by making you aware of them and train your brain to analyze your interactions and relationships with others in a more objective and fair manner. - Brandi Hoyos

Also, if you want to peruse other titles in this category, check out the following books, too:


Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves

"Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards, provides practical guidance to confronting and eliminating barriers of prejudice, misinformation, and bias. Most importantly, the book includes tips for helping staff and children respect each other, themselves and all people. Individual chapters focus on culture and language, racial identity, gender identity, economic class, family structures, different abilities, holidays, and more." - NAEYC Website


The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

I have taken every personality assessment under the sun - some helpful and others not so much - but the ancient wisdom known as the Enneagram has truly risen above the rest. The self-awareness that comes through understanding your Enneagram type (based on 9 different types) is transformative because it holds both your truest self and your shadow self together, with the purpose of helping you move toward becoming the healthiest, best version of yourself. Understanding the Enneagram types also unlocks a greater sense of empathy for those you interact with daily - family, friends, and colleagues. This Enneagram is truly a game changer, and the newest book, “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile is the most accessible way to learn your type and begin this journey of self-discovery. - Brian Burchik


Dive into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice

Trevor McKenzie explores how PBL and traditional learning can work together to maximize student learning. Inquiry-based learning depends on student voice and choice, and we all know student achievement is higher when interests and passions are the focus of learning. Yes/and some skills that students need to learn should be introduced through structures and routines. Dive into Inquiry explores the tension and balance between IBL and structured learning. Through exploration of pedagogical practices, unit plans, student work, and great stories, this book will inspire you to build your own IBL units in the classroom while keeping some traditional structures in place. - Shelley Clifford


Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach

Children have a strong disposition to explore and discover. The Project Approach builds on natural curiosity, enabling children to interact, question, connect, problem-solve, communicate, reflect, and more. This kind of authentic learning extends beyond the classroom to each student’s home, community, nation, and the world. It essentially makes learning the stuff of real life and children active participants in and shapers of their worlds. - Erin Carey, from www.theprojectapproach.com


A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas

Children are master questioners. Unfortunately, as we get older, we become more interested in answers and, as a result, our questioning skills diminish.  In A More Beautiful Question, author, Warren Berger, explores why the art of inquiry is not nurtured in schools or in businesses and what we might do to change that.  As stated on the book cover, "Berger outlines a Why/What if/How system of inquiry that can guide you through the process of innovative questioning—helping you find imaginative, powerful answers to your own 'beautiful questions.'" - Amy Wilkes


Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning

Kids begin their learning journey as curious problem solvers who ask questions and create solutions. As they march through school, something happens, and they begin to play the game of school, eager to be compliant and follow a path instead of making their own. How might we empower all learners to be seekers and explorers? How might we emphasize instructional designs that adapt to curiosities and passions of learners? Juliani and Spencer provide a roadmap of innovative, authentic learning experiences and practical ways to empower students to pursue their passions. This was one of the most engaging reads I have experienced over the last few months-- fast, funny, thoughtful, and full of ideas. - Angél Kytle


Embedding Formative Assessment

"Effective classroom formative assessment helps educators make minute-by-minute, day-by-day instructional decisions. This clear, practical guide for teachers centers on five key instructional strategies, along with an overview of each strategy and practical formative assessment techniques for implementing it in K-12 classrooms: 1) Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and success criteria; 2) Engineering productive discussion and activities that elicit evidence of learning; 3) Providing feedback that moves learners forward; 4) Activating students as learning resources for each other; 5) Activating students as owners of their own learning. The authors provide guidance on when and how to use the specific techniques, along with tips, cautions, and enhancements to sustain formative assessment." - Amazon reviews

If you want to read more about assessment, you might like Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a Traditional Grades School (Hack Learning Series) (Volume 3), by Starr Sackstein.


Transforming Your Teaching: Practical Classroom Strategies Informed by Cognitive Neuroscience

Do you have students that can never turn in assignments on time and can never find their work? Are you looking for ways to improve attention, build test-taking strategies, memorization skills in your learners?

Transforming Your Teaching, by Kimberly Carraway, takes the reader through the brain and learning process to build background knowledge, highlights factors that affect the learning process and supplies practical strategies for skill acquisition. - Elisse Hayes


Making Classrooms Better: 50 Practical Applications of Mind, Brain, and Education Science

Thanks to modern technology, we have learned a great deal about the complexity of the brain and the learning process. Unfortunately, however, we have not learned very much about how to teach in a way that takes full advantage of how the brain learns. In this book, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa describes Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE) science as the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, and pedagogy and draws on research from each of these areas to offer 50 best practices that teachers can employ to maximize student learning and achievement. - Amy Wilkes (Chip Houston enthusiastically endorses, too.)


The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator's Creative Breakthrough

Hope & Wade King are some of the most creative, innovative teachers who love children. For anyone who might feel tired or worn out, this book is a shot of adrenaline that will re-ignite your love of learning, spark your creative flair, and empower you to fulfill your potential as a transformational teacher. With practical ways to make your classroom more creative, and an authentic story-driven way of relating to teachers, this book feels authentic and relatable. Teachers talking to teachers. A quick read that you won’t want to put down! #YouAreAnArtist - Matthew Neylon


Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds

Maker-Centered Learning provides both a theoretical framework and practical resources for educators, administrators, and parents alike. Written by the expert team from the Agency by Design initiative at Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero, this book identifies educational practices and ideas that define maker-centered learning, and much, much more. Through cutting edge research of the benefits seen through maker-centered learning this book includes valuable educator resources, and describes unique thinking routines to foster the mindset and practice of a Maker. - Erin Carey (adapted from Project Zero website)


The power of SIMPLE: Transform your school by conquering standards, individualizing learning and creating a community of innovators

This book focuses on empowering others. Recognizing the need for innovation, flexible spaces, different schedules, real-world work, etcetera, this book puts the teacher at the center and simplifies the way we think about change. If you’re new to Mount Vernon or you’ve been here a while and still can’t figure out how all the pieces fit together, this is a simple 100-page book that captures the essence of why we are moving in this direction and ties it all together in a human-centered, easy-to-understand format. - Matthew Neylon


Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners

Making Thinking Visible is an excellent combination of research and practical "recipes" for visible thinking routines you can use in your classroom. Part I "Some Thinking about Thinking" challenging us to think about the art and quality of thinking rather than how to define thinking itself. Part II "Using Thinking Routines to Making Thinking Visible" houses a host of thinking routines organized by purpose, with specific suggestions on how to use each routine. And finally, Part III "Bringing the Power of Visible Thinking to Life" argues that we should not just use thinking routines in our classrooms, but that we should strive toward creating a culture of thinking.

For more exploring, check out the Project Zero project page on visible thinking, as well as the Visible Thinking Website, which is full of visible thinking routines. -Meghan Cureton

Resources & Rabbit Holes: Pathfinders, Talks, Influencers & Grants

Ideas Worth Exploring (that Help Us Imagine Possibility)

Past Summer+ Learning Pathfinders

Curious about what the Mount Vernon Learning Community has focused on during past Summer+ Learning experiences? Check out our previous common reads, choice books, and other learning pathways on the MV Learns page: http://www.mvifi.org/mvlearns/.

MoVe Talks

Does all of this thinking about MVx cause you to want to dig in even more?! Then consider spending some time within the MVIFI MoVe Talks page: http://www.mvifi.org/movetalks/.

MVPS Influencers

During much of the last decade, Mount Vernon has experienced influences from a number of intriguing and important sources. We keep a growing list of our influencers at http://www.mvifi.org/influencers/.

MVIFI Grants

Each year, MVIFI awards grants to faculty and staff who are pursuing various strategic projects connected to our School objectives, as well as our mission of inquiry, innovation and impact. Discover a number of the grant topics at http://www.mvifi.org/grants/.