Tag Archives: tim ferriss

Always Be Curious

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Tim Ferris has one of the best podcast series around and his most recent podcast with author, Walter Issacson does not disappoint. Issacson is the author of many biographies, including The Innovators, Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Kissinger: A Biography, and his most recent, Leonardo da Vinci. Both Ferris and Issacson have made their life work to tease out key stories, rituals, habits, and daily practices of well renown people.

You can listen to the podcast here.

Below I share some highlights and lessons that inspire my daily life.

“I think Leonardo da Vinci teaches us the value of both being focused on things that fascinate us but also, at times, being distracted and deciding to pursue some shiny new idea that you happen to stumble upon. Balancing intense focus with being interested in a whole lot of different things is something that we have to do in the Internet age.”

“We relate to Leonardo da Vinci because his genius was just being passionately curious about everything. He wanted to know everything he could know about our universe, including how we fit into it. We can’t all have a superhuman intellect like Albert Einstein’s, but we can be super-curious. And we can also quit smashing curiosity out of the hands our children.”

“Leonardo da Vinci had such a playful curiosity. If you read his notebooks, you’ll see he’s curious about what the tongue of a woodpecker looks like, but also why the sky is blue, or how an emotion forms on somebody’s lips. He understood the beauty of everything. I’ve admired Leonardo my whole life, both as a kid who loved engineering – he was one of the coolest engineers in history – and then as a college student, when I travelled to see his notebooks and paintings.”

“Throughout his life, Albert Einstein would retain the intuition and the awe of a child. He never lost his sense of wonder at the magic of nature’s phenomena-magnetic fields, gravity, inertia, acceleration, light beams-which grown-ups find so commonplace. He retained the ability to hold two thoughts in his mind simultaneously, to be puzzled when they conflicted, and to marvel when he could smell an underlying unity. “People like you and me never grow old,” he wrote a friend later in life. “We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”

“And by reading his notebooks,” Isaacson continues, “whenever I had the chance and marvelling at how much he crammed on a page, I could see the connection that his mind made as it danced across nature, from the beauty of a woman’s smile to the miracle of a bird in flight.”

“I think that in order to be innovative,” says Isaacson, “you have to question the traditional ways of doing things. Leonardo did that. Steve Jobs did that. Einstein did that … It is the nature of creativity to not just do what was done before, and whether it was Leonardo’s flying machines or his drawings of a dissection of a human body or his plan to divert rivers, or his way of making the smile of the Mona Lisa so mysterious, all of that was a great act of creativity.”

“One of the things I’ve learned from Leonardo is how to be even more curious and how to be more observant; how to make lists every morning of the things I want to learn or the questions I want to ask. We can all be more observant and more curious … Leonardo made me more intentionally curious.”

Issacson has written biographies of so many geniuses that we can use as models and mentors for creativity, education, and passion. In all of his subjects, including his newest book on Leonardo da Vinci, stayed curious, admired beauty in the world, learn through travel, and keep journals with questions you wish to pursue daily.

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Image retrieved from http://sciencevibe.com/2016/02/17/leonardo-da-vinci-did-not-see-a-divide-between-science-and-art/
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Technology to Aid the Struggling Reader:

ISTE, Capstone, Amplify & School Library Journal are collaborating and hosting a webinar on how to leverage technology to help new and struggling readers.

I am honored to be part of this panel discussion along with

K.C. Boyd, Lead Librarian, East St.Louis (IL) School District

Cynthia Merrill, Literacy Consultant

and Moderator, Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal

During the webinar I will be sharing strategies and technology tools to aid struggling readers.

Technology tools that I use in my classroom to help support the diverse readers in my classroom include the reading platform Actively Learn. Actively Learn is an online tool with a library of thousands of texts and Common Core-aligned lessons that both teachers and students can interact with in real-time. In the reading platform, teachers assign pre-existing Actively Learn materials to students or upload their own content, then track student responses and activity using data tools within the platform. Students can interact with a text by digitally highlighting and annotating, responding to embedded questions and content, and leaving feedback and comments for peers. Students can translate the text in their home language and define unknown words within the platform. Students can mark their confusion within the text and the teacher is able to annotate the text with additional links for clarity and deeper meaning to support student reading. In my classroom I utilize Actively Learn weekly for Articles of the Week in order for students to make connections across texts and address current events.

Audio books are another tool beneficial to struggling readers. I love my Audible App on my phone and listen to books every chance I have including my commute to work and home. Listening to a text while reading can help students visualize and comprehend complex text. Students are using different skills when they are listening versus reading but research shows that students have a higher listening comprehension than reading comprehension. In addition, podcasts are great texts for students to listen to explore concepts and ideas. My favorite include NPR’s Radiolab podcasts and any podcast from author of Tools of Titans (2016), Tim Ferriss. Check out Tim’s Podcast with YA author Soman Chainani.

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Two great resources with more about technology tools and strategies to engage diverse student learners include  Jules Csillag‘s  Differentiated Reading Instruction and Robert Furman‘s Technology, Reading & Digital Literacy: Strategies to Engage the Reluctant Reader.
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The Four Hour Teacher: 10X Student & Teacher Output

When you look at your daily or weekly lessons, what are you filling up your time with in your classroom?

This is a question that I ask myself often to help strengthen student learning and reflect on my own teaching practices. My intentions in my classroom are to teach what is important, limit and eliminate wasteful worksheets or information to help my students succeed and learn in deep ways.

Before I address how teachers can do the same in their own classrooms, I want to talk about why and what prompted this vision for teaching.

I am a HUGE fan of Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, and The Four Hour Chef. The concept behind his books and podcasts are to strip down information to the essentials tools and knowledge in order to optimize output ten fold.  Ferriss is an entrepreneur, writer, and teacher. In fact, he has said he always thought that he would be a ninth grade English teacher. His books are like cliff notes to mastering cooking, weight loss, and managing time. His podcasts are interviews with amazing entrepreneurs that taps into their own successes, mindset, and rituals that got them to where they are.

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Work versus busy work. Efficiency. Filtering the “signal from the noise.” These are the ideas that I transfer into my teaching and classroom to accelerate learning. It’s about searching out what works in education and literacy learning to dedicate my class time to developing students’ reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing skills. This means “engaging students in the best learning opportunities” (Frey, Lapp, Hattie, 2016). In my own classroom these learning opportunities include: Genius Hour, Interactive Reading Notebooks, Gamification, Articles of the Week, Reading and Writing Workshop. These are the approaches and tools that help me meet the variety of learners in my classroom. At the same time, I hone in on the purpose, context, and timing of the practices students are engaged in my classroom on a daily basis.

What does that look like in my classroom? Here is the calendar I created  last week for the first semester of school (20 weeks). The calendar outlines the units of study I will dive into with my students along with the skills and topics I teach in order to provide students the opportunities to build on and improve their abilities as readers and writers.

Want more on Tim Ferriss?  Here are three of my favorite podcasts he has done that offer insight into this mindset and philosophy on learning.

  1. Tim Ferriss featured on Freakonomics
  2. Tim Ferriss interviews Malcolm Gladwell
  3. How to Think Like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos
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