As children the world was our classroom, and most of us are not reminded of that fact until we see the world anew through our own children’s eyes. What happened in those intervening years? If you just thought. “School happened to us!” then stay tuned and discover how schools are bringing the wonder back! Please join as we explore end-of-year Explorations!

Lessons Learned

Dennis – “Take my advice. I’m not using it.”  How often do we actually do what we say? (example: regularly back up your HD)

Chris – Routines are important. I should get some.

Notes & Links

A Twitter direct message from the creators of Choosito!, a paid-for safe-search engine that is on my list of items to review, in response to my mentioning that Concordia International School Shanghai actually holds a two-week block of special classes at the end of the year that we call “Explorations.”:

“That’s great!  I’d love to hear or read about some of the projects. Are you broadcasting,  or blogging about this? I’m sure many teachers would love to hear all about it. Keep me posted,  and thank you for sharing.”

Well, your missive could not have been more timely because today, we are talking about returning the wonder and serendipity back into the end of the school year through “Explorations!”

Google 20% Time

Larry Page and Sergey Brin highlighted the idea in their 2004 IPO letter:

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” they wrote. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

What if we changed “employees” to “teachers” and “Google” to “Students”?


What if we changed “employees” to “students” and “Google” to __________ (someone else? The community?  their own future?)

Daniel Pink has made a fortune by publicizing research on what motivates people. It turns out that creative challenge and freedom, and respect of one’s peers, motivate us. Once we’ve reached a level of income that meets our daily needs we are free to turn our attention from sustaining our lives to enriching our lives.

These realities got some of us at my school thinking. We made a habit of meeting informally at the end of each year. We were teachers and administrators who shared a passion for reimagining the possible for our school. The meetings always ended with marching orders. Each person was responsible for a part of the plan. We hubristically called ourselves the “Brains Trust,” and we set out to earn the name. Many amazing and life-changing programs and grew out of those meetings, one being the idea of something like a J-Term, but at the end of the year. That idea became “Explorations.”

Guidelines for the program:

  1. Inform and educate parents of the benefits
  2. Invite teachers to follow their passions with these guidelines:
  • Must be something that the teacher loves
  • Must be academic – in that content and skills are taught
  • Must result in artifact that community can celebrate
  1. Start with end in mind, beginning in Autumn
  2. Invite students to register, first come first served.

Classes that have come out of Explorations:

Global development

Social entrepreneurship


Applied art and design


Big data


We are becoming a post-departmental school, and that is a great challenge to have.