"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things."--Jefferson

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MUST READ: "A teacher is a creative profession..."

...not a delivery system"

Ken Robinson gave recently a fabulous presentation called "How to escape education's Death Valley."

"Teaching, properly conceived, is not a delivery system. You know, you're not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage."
He talks about the difference between the "task" and the "fulfillment" of a verb: like "dieting"...are we dieting or actually getting a result? (His example.)  We can be engaged in the activity of teaching, but is there actual learning going on?

"We all create our own lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and what one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity." 

"And by the way, the arts aren't just important because they improve math scores. They're important because they speak to parts of children's being which are otherwise untouched."

"The point is that education is not a mechanical system. It's a human system. It's about people, people who either do want to learn or don't want to learn."

(Speaking of "alternative educational programs") " These are programs designed to get kids back into education. They have certain common features. They're very personalized. They have strong support for the teachers, close links with the community and a broad and diverse curriculum, and often programs which involve students outside school as well as inside school. And they work. What's interesting to me is, these are called "alternative education." You know? And all the evidence from around the world is, if we all did that, there'd be no need for the alternative."

"Great leaders know that. The real role of leadership in education -- and I think it's true at the national level, the state level, at the school level -- is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility. And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn't have expected.
There's a wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin. "There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don't get, they don't want to get it, they're going to do anything about it. There are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it. And there are people who move, people who make things happen." And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement. And if the movement is strong enough, that's, in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that's what we need."
From the mother of sons, please listen to this excellent talk on educating to get people to learn.  The man is funny, engaging, and amazing.  Take 20 minutes.  Do it :)...

(I think I am going to watch it once a week :)...at least for a while.)
Another fun link to watch is the following, of a school within a public school where a group of kids came together to direct their own education:

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders.  Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."  Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Inspiration, hunger: these are the forces that drive good schools. The best we educational planners can do is create the most likely conditions for them to flourish and then get out of their way."--Ted Sizer

Word studies

I highly recommend each mentor do at least one word study themselves to see what a powerful tool it can be to discerning truth!

Here are a couple "re-written definitions" from our youth on a word study on "work":
-work is a necessity that enables you to grow in heart, mind, and soul
-work is a form of activity that helps us grow and develop not only physically but spirtually and mentally as well.
-work is a kind of mental and physical education.
-work does not only brings happiness to ourselves but to many others
-work is an achievement of serving, learning, and completing a part of our journey through life.

(The following is the best instructions I could find on how to do a word study.  If anyone else has better ones, I would love it!  The purple highlights came from the site I got it from :)...)

Select a key word to focus on.

Look it up in the Webster 1828 dictionary. Select the definition for my focus (sometimes there is more than one definition):

Underline key words that stand out to you and define them:

Looking at how it is used in Scripture/Conference addresses. (Not in general quotes or other articles, at least for this purpose...)

Application: re-write the definition in your own words and how you are going to apply it.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary

E'AR, n. [L. auris, whence auricula; audio.]

The definition for my focus:

2. The sense of hearing, or rather the power of distinguishing sounds and judging of harmony; the power of nice perception of the differences of sound, or of consonances and dissonances. She has a delicate ear for music, or a good ear.

Defining my underlined words:

HE'ARING, ppr. Perceiving by the ear, as sound.
1. Listening to; attending to; obeying; observing what is commanded.

3. The act of perceiving sounds; sensation or perception of sound.

1. Separating from others by a note of diversity; ascertaining difference by a mark.

2. Ascertaining, knowing or perceiving a difference.

SOUND, a. [L. sanus.]
8. Founded in truth; firm; strong; valid; solid; that cannot be overthrown or refuted; as sound reasoning; a sound argument; a sound objection; sound doctrine; sound principles.

PERCEP'TION, n. [L. perceptio. See Perceive.]

1. The act of perceiving or of receiving impressions by the senses; or that act or process of the mind which makes known an external object. In other words, the notice which the mind takes of external objects. We gain a knowledge of the coldness and smoothness of marble by perception.

4. The state of being affected or capable of being affected by something external.  

Looking at how ear is used in Scripture. 

I don't have a lot of spare time so I utilize search engines a lot. There are many references to ear in Scripture and it's hard to narrow it down for this post but you can research more on your own if you'd like to:

The organ of hearing:

Job 13:1 Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it.

Capable of trying and distinguishing words:

Job 12:11 Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?

God Made the Ear:

Proverbs 20:12 The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
Psalms 94:9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?
God Opens Ears. 
Job 33:16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, 
Job 36:10 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.
God Judicially Closes Ears:
Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Seek Knowledge With Ears:
Proverbs 18:15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

Be Bowed Down to Instructions With Our Ears:
Proverbs 5:1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:Be inclined to wisdom.
Proverbs 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;  


We are made in God's image (He has ears-Job 13:1) but it goes deeper than that. God designed the human ear with purposes other than the physical mechanics to hear sound. He created it so we can hear to receive instruction and discipline (i.e. correction). He closes them to get our attention (a way of pursuing us). We are to be careful to what we listen to; we're to seek knowledge and wisdom.

From Tammy Ward:
Do you guys want to take word study to a whole new level? I highly recommend the book "Aspire; The Power of Words" by Kevin Hall. You can read the first chapter for free here:


Here is a brief video with Kevin Hall, who is an LDS author, coach, speaker, etc. He is amazing. 

I am in the process of trying to connect with him on getting his books in bulk at a discount. I am also working with him to come and possibly speak to our youth. After viewing the chapter above and the video clip, let me know if this would be a good master day for a combined Vanguard activity. :)

He is so moving and ... inspiring. This guy understands WORDS...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Service projects

Sample letter to a woman I asked to head these up one year:

"As we start looking toward next year, you have a couple options for how to figure out who is going to do the service projects which months.  I would like to have a service opportunity once a month, Sept-April, with Nov and Dec counting as one month (we can coordinate the service with the December family activity if it works out that we do a family activity that month) .  Not everyone can attend each service project, but it will be powerful to have the opportunity to serve so frequently as a group. 
-You can look at those who did it last year and then prayerfully extend the offer to do it to those who didn't;
-you can just prayerfully assign it (which can be a neat way for people to do things they didn't think they would have otherwise);
-or you can have people sign-up to do it.  (We had this sign-up at the family event at the beginning of the year last year.)

We emphasize service in Vanguard because, like King Benjamin, the best leaders are those who are service-minded :). As you share your enthusiasm for service with those who sign-up, it will be infectious and can become a joy to do!  Your role is to contact the person in charge of the month (say, January) in time so that at our mentor meeting the month before (the first Sat. in December in that case) we know when and where the service project is so it can be in the newsletter, or so we can make the necessary adjustments to timing if we need to. 

I have tried to emphasize in the past that this is an opportunity for the youth and their parents or families to organize a group service.  Your job is (ideally!) to just make sure everyone else knows what is planned and if we need to gather any supplies as a group for the project (like collecting food for the poor, material for quilts, etc.)  It would also be a good idea if you had a list of service ideas just in case someone needed an idea.

These projects can also be a great way for the youth to sign off service project requirements for Young Women, Duty to God or Scouting programs.

Thanks for your willingness to do this!  If you could have what you would like to do for the year by that first mentor meeting for the year on August 6th, that would be grand.  That would be a great time to confirm how the scheduling for Baptisms for the Dead are going, as well.

As always, if you have any ideas, suggestions, or changes that you would like to make in your area of mentoring (or suggestions for others in theirs), the mentor meetings are a great time to bring that up, or you can just email me privately, if you prefer.

Have a beautiful day!"

Overview: how it all fits together...

Okay!  Here it is...the overview!  Don't be overwhelmed...hopefully the posts in the blog will give you clarification and ideas to flesh out the ideas below--look for labels on the blog or in the "Reasoning" tab at the top of the page that match the underlined terms! :)

I have organized it with a general outline above, with a fleshing out of the ideas below that, to help you understand what the outline represents.


I. Foundation

A. Principle Centered Education
            1. Monthly leadership themes (Leadership)
            2. Lenses
                        a. Geo-conquest
                        b. Face-to-Face with Einstein/Eureka!
                        c. Imaginative Arts
            3. Mentor selection of content based upon context

B. Student Agency
            1. Levels of scholarship
            2. Inspirements

C. Inviting the Spirit to the Classroom to be the primary teacher
            1. 4-R
            2. Environment
            3. Mentoring

II. Building Blocks:

A. Classroom tools:
           1. TOME
           2. Reflection 
           3. Timeline 
           4. Original sources
           5. Learning Styles 
B. Mentor Training

C. Levels of Scholarship:
            a. Apprentice/Core class
            b. Journeyman
            c. Master

III. Suggested Methods: (See more about these in the tab "Reasoning")
A. Newsletter 
B. Schedule:
C. Intrinsic reward - those who do the journeyman and master work get to participate in the journeyman and master class and are rewarded with a deeper level of learning.
D.In-class activities
E. Out-of-class activities
F. Monthly Themes
G. Youth Presidency
H. Junior Mentors
I. Adult Leadership
J. Adult Mentors
K. Elections
L. Other bylaws
(cost, age, parent responsibilities, amendments)

The mission of this group is to empower the youth with a sense of personal mission
and enable them to move forward with that mission by:
(1) Encouraging faith in God as their ultimate mentor
and source of truth through the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ
(2) Helping them find value in their own unique mission and introduce the
to various communication styles so that they may communicate that mission to the world
(3) Helping them come face-to-face with greatness as they study the world,
history, people, and science in order to to prepare them to become future leaders* in society.
(4) Creating an environment of respect, decency, trust, and confidence
(5) Teaching service-oriented leadership
*Leader: someone qualified to lead others in the home, community or world

I. Foundation

A. Principle Centered Education
1. Use monthly leadership principles that provide a context for the studies of the month.

2.Make every subject/lens pertinent to the student.  The student learns how true principles apply in government/leadership (Leadership Academy), history/geography (Geo-conquest), math/science (Face to Face with Einstein), art/literature (Imaginative Arts) and how those same principles apply to their daily interactions and experiences in the world.

3. The mentor will select the direction of study for the year in a particular lens, as they prayerfully seek examples of greatness in their chosen area that exemplify the principle of the month. This process gives the mentor the opportunity to more fully appreciate, love and apply their subject and the principles.
a. The mentor is the living textbook.  The mentor seeks to understand the principles deeply and work to apply them in their daily lives.  They will share their experiences and inspire the youth to "come and see".

4. Purpose for Each Lens:
Focus: Developing leadership virtues as we learn to become better followers of God so we may lead others to Him; understanding moral law, or principles of freedom, that allow men to reach their full potential.  Youth will learn about great leaders and nations which have demonstrated these virtues and used them to serve others, as well as those who have not. 
Focus: To enlarge our perspective as we view the world through the perspective of others as we study the history and culture of God’s children throughout the world. To develop the desire and ability see patterns in the past, how they relate to the present and how they may relate to the future; To develop a love for all of God’s children and a desire to serve them.
Focus:  To see God’s hand in the world around us as we understand and apply the natural laws of the earth and the patterns therein. To develop the desire and ability to exercise inductive (i.e. logic) and deductive (i.e. scientific method) reasoning to find truth and to help others to do so.
-to expose them to great thinkers and concepts in history—to teach them to think—as well as inspire them to greatness as they study the lives of great individuals, their triumphs and struggles.
Focus: To see the artistic view of the concept of the month as we study the imagination of man through art and literature. To develop the desire and ability to recognize truth through it’s beauty and feeling.  To desire to create new ways to share ideas to help others find truth.

B. Student Agency

-The student chooses their level of involvement and study - apprentice (know), journeyman (understand), and master (become/intelligence)
-The student chooses from a variety of "inspirements" which incorporate a variety of learning styles in which to learn and understand the subject
C. Inviting the Spirit to the Classroom to be the primary teacher

-Students come prepared to class having done their chosen inspirements and will learn from, teach, and inspire each other.  This preparation will open their hearts to the Holy Ghost. (BYU Idaho learning model)
-Students learn with the intent to act on what they learn and draw closer to God by using the 4 R method: reason, research, record, relate.
-Mentors love the students and encourage they love and respect one another to make the classroom a safe place to fail and try again.
-Making prayer and scriptures an important part of every meeting

II. Building Blocks:

A. Classroom tools:
1. TOME - A notebook used to keep a record of what has been learned.  Students take notes, draw, write "ah-has", keep handouts, or other ideas they would like to use to keep a record.
2. Reflection book - During class the youth are invited to reflect and also to consider how they can apply what they have learned
3. Timeline - When a new event or person is introduced in class, students are invited to note them on their timeline with some key points to remember.  They will begin to see God's hand in the unfolding of history.
4. Original sources should be used as much as possible

5. Different learning styles should be considered when structuring classes and creating inspirements (see “Multiple Intelligence” and “The Element” as good books for background to this concept).

B. Mentor Training
1. Mentors should love the youth
2. Mentors should understand how "His" story relates to every subject (I'll be using the FACE books for this)
3. Mentors should love what they do and have passion for the subject
4. Mentors should learn to lead discussions by understanding how to ask good questions and how to invite the youth to ask each other questions
5. Mentors should participate in the learning process and are seeking to apply the principles in their lives
6. Mentors also participate in the fun and build relationships

C. Levels of Scholarship:
1.      Core Class:
This is the main class of the week for all levels of scholarship to participate in--apprentice through master--where the basic topics and principles are brought up and discussed in a core class with supporting activities.  Different levels of scholars are encouraged to share at least examples from their projects to inspire each other, even if time does not permit the sharing of the full project.
Apprentice Level: the student gains more knowledge about the principle/matter of study.
2.      Journeyman Classes:
These classes will go into more depth about the time period, experiences, events, documents and may use more of the 5 mentoring environments. They may use games to motivate the learning of skills and memorization of facts, poems, scriptures, etc that are important to the lens.  The purpose is to gain understanding (see ch 2 in "Increase in Learning" by Bednar)
Journeyman Certification
Youth who are participating at the journeyman level in a particular lens are invited to certify.  They can choose a certification contract written by the mentor or write their own and submit it for approval. (COG)
3.      Master Classes (Classics, discussion, writing, oral presentations, application) 
        Once the youth are certified in a pre-determined number of Journeyman classes (or qualify by doing the Master-level inspirements for that week, depending upon how the group wants to do it), they participate in a master-level class with the above listed components.  A speech and writing advisor are recommended along with whatever main advisor is in charge for the week.  
      Since this class is "application" phase, the youth will also have more say in subject matter and direction.  (See "Master Class" post on blog for more information.)

Sample Start-up plan for new groups

On this page, I will provide a step-by-step suggestion of how to actually set-up your own Vanguard group.   Adapt as necessary, and hope it helps!  Make your own deadlines, but we have found the following to be good ideals to shoot for in order to get the new year started in an orderly fashion.

I cannot stress enough the value of getting parents and fellow mentors on board with the purpose and mission of Vanguard.  It is not a group that seeks to set-up another conveyor belt :).  It is designed to be adapted and applied to your group as you feel the needs of your group grow and change.  However, I feel that it is essential to regularly re-visit the founding principles found on this blog if it is to be a true Vanguard group.  Review the monthly themes, the mentoring, the training, the "foundation" articles on a regular basis, and seek to bring your parents and youth on board.   Because the nature and approach of this group is quite counter-intuitive to minds bred in the public school system, it is important to continually re-align your activities and classes with your original purpose.

For access to all the files I have compiled over the years for Vanguard, please follow the link below:
Public Vanguard Skydrive

The spring before:
·         Contact Mary Biesinger to let her know you are interested in starting a group…woohoo!
·         Send out an interest "head's up" with a brief outline of Vanguard to find out who is interested
·         Find other willing parents to help mentor and run it
·         Get "trained" by a serious study of site info, attending a training class offered by another Vanguard group, or visiting other Vanguard groups to see how they run their groups
·         Hold “training meeting” for new parents to cover basics in May
   --Sample “General Year description for new parents”…tweak it to fit your group—it’s an older version
   --Sample “Karen’s New Parent info outline”
(Sometimes, I hold these one on one with new families that weren’t able to attend the meeting if I am still looking for interested participants.)

*Probably the most important thing to do yearly is to re-visit the "Books/Articles that Capture Vision."  Like any classic, they will not only renew your passion and vision, they will teach you something new or inspire you to "tweak" something else unique to your group.  If the principle mentor does this yearly in the spring, they will feel compelled to share and encourage the others leading their group to focus on some of the concepts that are of particular pertinence to their group that year.  It is a good review to determine what should be emphasized in the yearly summer training for the parents, youth, and/or mentors.
   A.Email to determine interested participants for following year sent by May 1
   B.Mail registration forms (sample) with bylaws (sample) to be gathered by June 1 (ideal)
   C. Put together “membership scroll” for chapter (name, address, phone number, emails, parent’s names) complete with email addresses for youth by Aug 1 for “Tome packet refill.” (see below)
   D. Send out Summer packet info (sent by July 1):
               -Welcome letter to youth (sample)
        Welcome letter for youth
                          -Letter to parents briefing them on pre-year events and information (sample)
      Sample pre-year letter for parents of participants
               -Questionnaire for youth to fill out (sample)
·                       -Summer reading book mark (samples)
      Bookmark for Year of Miss Agnes 
      Chasing Vermeer Inspirements 
·                        -Art contest for Tome sections invitation (sample)
Art contest invitation

II.Summer activities:
    A.Youth presidency training retreat: inspire them to service-oriented leadership, help them understand their roles, remind them of learning style and personality differences-Advisors
    B.Vision Hike: coordinated by Outdoor Youth and Adult Specialist and Main Advisors (sample)
Vision hike sample outline
    C.Parent Retreat: review concepts and mentoring strategies (sample)
parent mentor retreat info (We scheduled all the material in this doc for one day.  Upon reflection, it would have been better if we had started it the night before and then continued the next day, separating it over two days.  The information was very valuable to the parents, but it was hard to discuss it all very well in the limited time we had.)
      --One group chose to hold a series of summer meetings at the park to cover information. 
    D.Mentor Training meeting: may be held with multiple chapters (recommended)

III.Summer responsibilities:
    A.Determine location, date and time of next year’s classes
    B.Figure out time period of year (if applicable)
    C.Coordinate and gather topics of individual lenses and activities from mentors for an overview of the year (sample)
Overview of years 
   --History subjects
   --Poems and scriptures
   --Monthly Service projects (who and what months-can be included with family activities and other outside activities—like tying a quilt while watching a movie)
   --Science Projects
   --Game Nights
   --Movie Nights
   --Temple visits
   --Art Projects
   --Parent and student devotionals
   --Outdoor Activities
   --Guest speakers
   D.Create a Schedule of the Year including outside (master and journeyman) classes and activities as much as possible (sample)
Sample schedule for year 
   E.Organize new Tome pages for returning students:
   --new Membership Scroll: list of members and their personal contact info
   --Schedule of the Year
   --Overview of the Year
   --New pages for sections in Tome from Art Contest
   --Bylaws (if updated) (sample)
Bylaws example 
   F. Purchase and put together new Tomes for new students (2 1/2-3" white binders):
   --Cover art (preferred use of original image if possible :)...contact me for this if you're interested)
   --All “new Tome pages for returning students”
   --Tome pages (sample)
 Pages for Vanguard Tome
   --Timeline (sample)—suggestion: have parents coordinate with Tome compiler to find a timeline that is best for the youth
Timeline from American Heritage 
   --Extra note paper included in each section, including blank pages for art
   --Bylaws (if not updated and included in “returning student Tome packet”)
   --Plan Parent Training Retreat (sample) 
parent mentor retreat info 
   G. Hold Mentor Training Retreat if applicable (highly suggested to have yearly to refresh and for new mentors!)…if possible, it would be beneficial to coordinate this with other chapters

IV,Other "Deadlines" within year:
   A. Start planning end of year “Outdoor Adventure” in January or sooner
   B. Hold "Vision Night" for older youth (14+) with a nice dinner and presentation about scholarship and youth mentoring (sample not yet available)
I.Parent Mentor Meetings:
     A. Agenda (sample) 
  B.Vision Moment (reminder of “Whys” of Vanguard) (see blog for some ideas…but don’t limit yourself to those!)
  C.Teaching Tips (see blog), like:
       -- How to write inspirements
       --Activities to help in class
       --Ways to bring in the spirit
       -- Personality considerations
       --Tools for teaching: scriptures, resources, networking, etc.
  D. Specific Mentor Training: this is to address certain qualities of effective mentoring (see blog)      --Marni Hall and Julie Johnson are great resources for this!
  E.Discuss changes to class or bylaws (voting on changes as necessary)
  F.Bring up concerns by parents and mentors
  G.Make sure upcoming “outside activities” are scheduled and coordinated
II.Gather info from different mentors so that it can be printed up/sent out two weeks before the new month: ideal deadline for mentors, the mentor meeting the month before   (sample)
         sample newsletter 
III. Youth Presidency meeting
IV. Devotional, Science Project, and Service coordinator remind the next month’s people about their upcoming responsibilities
V. Guest Speakers reminded (previous one given a “thank you”)
VI. Dues paid to building, where applicable.

I.Set-up at location (good responsibility for youth presidency, mentored by Advisors):
   A.Erasers and markers for white board
   B.Chair and tables
   C. Flag, hymn books, posters, scriptures, 1828 dictionaries :) (dream, dream….)
   D.CD player with peaceful music
   E.Video camera or camera for taking pictures and recording activities
II. Babysitting/Joy school for mentor's children
   A. reminder to parent’s involved
   B.   bin with supplies
   D.set-up in room
III.Youth secretaries coordinate and remind about “opening ceremonies”
IV.Devotional and science project coordinator remind people the week before about their project
V.Clean-up location:
   A.Zones based upon location (recommended: divvy up responsibilities with youth)
VI. Get changes in schedule out to yahoo!group (or other communication medium) at least a week in advance.  Any changes made more suddenly than that should have individual families notified
VII. Reminder to post inspirements on the blog for that group