Weekly Rap #10

There were two major events this week: the announcement of CV scheduling changes for next year to meet some budgetary constraints and 8th Grade Night. The announcement of scheduling changes (or constraints) came on the heels of a month's worth of gathering input from "stakeholders" ... I, like others, was experiencing a form of fatigue due to over-processing the issue. I'm glad a decision was made and communicated. Regarding 8th Grade Night, I continue to have reservations about the purpose of the evening, but, when it's all said and done, I do enjoy gathering with my colleagues and students to do our best to explain Mosaic to prospective families. This year we had around ten students volunteer to help us do this - they did wonderful jobs of assertively communicating their experiences to families. It was so nice to witness this - we have some wonderful students in Mosaic. :)

Please enjoy this week's reflections. - Ryan

Joel Justice

My week was good. It has been good to see such progression with our game inquiry and seeing the students critical thinking has been fun. They are analyzing their games and modifying to improve them. Cannot wait to see what they bring next week. I am excited for today's origami BOLT to see how kids struggle making sense of folding patterns and not given instructions. I think we are on the right track and hope we can continue this progression.

Mrs. Amanda Kerr:

Fun, I have enjoyed having kids use the 3D printer for their games as well as all the hands-on learning.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

The field trip to the hydroponics farm was fun but the best part of the week was seeing deeper reflection from our students. Our IB group pitched their design (asking for money) and they were rejected for various reasons. They took the feedback they received and requested a re-pitch. They got back together reflected on all the feedback and redesigned their approach. They actually kicked me out of the room so they could reflect as a group freely. It was pretty neat.



Weekly Rap #9

New BOLTs and Inquiry Blocks were rolling along this week. Game making, origami, mousetrap cars, and other activities were the norm as described by my colleagues. Please enjoy this week's reflections. - Ryan

Joel Justice

I cannot believe how quickly this week has gone and how we are almost done with this semester. I was thanked the other day by a parent for pushing a student towards doing more in Mosaic. I think the student has been more engaged in the space because of this push. As we are evolving I notice that our students are pretty welcoming to the idea of providing other experiences for them. I was inspired by walking into Mrs. Lang's BOLT this morning and seeing kids making cars move by using mousetraps. I am excited to hear students' game pitches during 3rd today. Overall, I am exhausted, but I like what we are doing.

Mrs. Amanda Kerr:

I was happy to have the MakerSpace used this week, even if I wasn't there for it. I have a few students asking for Maker Challenges and I was able to help a Humanities 2 class with some MakerEd and my very first screencast.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week was jam packed. I started a BOLT and a guided inquiry block. We are rapid prototyping in both and it is exciting but it is not going as well as I thought it would. I'm struggling to understand how and why the students are thinking the way they are. (This will be the focus for next week.)

Mr. Shaun Martin:

Fast as all get out. Stoked on the amount of stuff I have to do, on the amount of kids that need me for something. I know it doesn't necessarily mean that's the case for the whole joint, but it feels that way.




Weekly Rap #8

What an emotional week! We elected a new president on Tuesday, which, regardless of how one voted, seemed to leave us all a bit exhausted come Wednesday.

Mosaic students and staff were busy this week working on IB presentations and sharing/defending their political manifestos. I’m sure some footage will find its way onto this website.

Students had Tuesday - Voting Day - off from school. It was one of those teacher staff development days. Mosaic teachers were busy planning for the next weeks and the next semester of this school year. I was running around a bit working with a few content groups helping them share their thinking with regard to proposed changes to our school’s schedule and such. Tuesday was a busy day for CV and for Mosaic!

Please enjoy this week’s reflections.  - Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice:

This week was inspiring that for a majority of our students they put effort into putting together demonstrations of their learning. I'm excited for Monday and ready to kick off another IB.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week was productive. Having all day Tuesday to work together produced some ideas that I'm excited to try out.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

This week was super informative. Staff reached consensus on what truly drive student learning in Mosaic and our students completed and reflected in their demonstrations. This week left me anticipating greatness in the coming weeks.

Weekly Rap #7

Another round of IBs are wrapping up which means students will be sharing their processes and learning with each other and with their teachers. The political inquiry block promises student debates to effectively share their individual platforms. Other students will be sharing via talks and discussions, which they were busily practicing on Friday. Behind the scenes teachers spent time talking about the next round of IBs and changes in store for next semester.

Please enjoy this week's reflections  - Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice:

This week was rejuvenating because the students were really reflective after their practice presentations and working with kids on my BOLT they are creating cool end products. Reaching out to outside mentors who will help kids. Seeing old advisement students that will help us become closer with working in cooperative environments.

Mr. Shaun Martin:

Emotional. Lost my cool on a group, lost Emma. Odd.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

Informative because we are learning from our students about what they need based on the information they provide through their actions.


Weekly Rap #6

With Fall Break over it was time to begin another session of BOLTs and Inquiry Blocks. Mr. Martin and Mr. Schneider are facilitating a guided inquiry block on the upcoming election and America's political parties for students who need more scaffolding and immediate feedback. Mrs. Lang and Mr. Justice have organized some time to help students purposefully think about how they present and share their inquiry work - that is, considering their audiences and the art of presenting.

Please enjoy this week’s reflections.  - Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice:

This week was enjoyably frustrating, because we have had to think about how the new inquiry block would start. It is enjoyable because I think we have worked on giving students a little more structure to their inquiries.

Mrs. Amanda Kerr:

This week was fun listening to the kids talk about their new projects and inquiries.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week was disorganized. Giving timely and specific feedback to kids was difficult this week due to different student deadlines.

Mr. Shaun Martin:

I felt encouraged. After a long while not quite knowing where kids were, feel like I now know where a chunk is (regarding asking questions and junk). Seems like for some we are pushing in the right direction....and talking about radical political theory is rad.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

This week was enlightening. The students actively doing shined this week. Whether through pursuing an interest and passion or through choosing guidance from a mentor, their progress was visible. The energy palpable and appreciated.

Weekly Rap #5

Please enjoy this week’s reflections.  - Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice:

This week was rigorous because there were a lot of tough conversations happening in the school. Math was working on what does grading do for a learning environment. Academy meeting was looking at the frontiers of how might we be working towards... In Mosaic I was trying to provide students with opportunities to reflect on their learning and making it more purposeful.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week I had to really step back and not get in kids way. They were finishing up the analysis for their labs (Back to the Future BOLT) and you could see the stress on their faces as they reached the Friday deadline. I know that deadlines are important and they know the expectations but I hated seeing them stress out over it. I had to walk away several times this week and trust in them that they would get it done and that they would ask for help if they needed it.

Mr. Shaun Martin:

Super emotional.  Not sure if Monday-Wednesday counts, but the meeting with the parents of one of our newer students messed me up in the best way.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone use the school structure for such intense personal introspection….not sure I’ve ever seen someone spend so much time looking inward YET seeking to find themselves in others…not sure I’ve seen someone do Mosaic like this.  I am sure I've never felt more protective over a student and that I will do whatever it takes to shield her from anything threatening her search for herself.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

Powerfully reflective.  Students, staff and parents spent such quality time thinking, sharing and reflecting this week. Hoping  this leads to a sustainable pattern in Mosaic.


Weekly Rap #4

It was a short week due to Labor Day. I noticed pockets and groups of intense conversation and learning, but I couldn't quite get the pulse of the space. Maybe we're due for some sort of whole-group shareout or presentations ... or another round or two of our advisement House Cup. I know that CV Showdown is gearing up, but that seems to be fizzling a bit this year so we should go with what we know works within Mosaic.

Please enjoy this week’s reflections…  - Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice: 

This week was long even though it was actually a short week because of two matches this week in tennis and a tennis tournament later in the week. I had great conversations in my professional learning communities this week both in content and academy.

Mrs. Amanda Kerr:

This week was underwhelming as my BOLT kids are not going very deep with the questioning or even responding quickly enough to volley a conversation.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week was gnarly. My "Back to the Future" BOLT group started designing investigations this week and it turned crazy quick. As a content expert, I was excited to hear their ideas, but struggled to help them turn their ideas into tangible and testable investigations. Each student had a separate idea and most were social experiments (and social experiments are hard to conduct in general... add in the fact that students are unfamiliar with that type of experimental structure... yikes!). I spent an extraordinary amount of time working with each student. Pushing their thinking, expanding their ideas, analyzing the variables and possible sources of error... hours of really good - like seriously good - thinking, but man - it was gnarly!

Mr. Michael Schneider:

This week was difficult because I'm trying to separate personal difficulties with my professional responsibilities. However, my advisement students are preparing to share their updates on their inquiry blocks and portfolios. Outside of a few students, their progress and willingness to share brightens my days.


Weekly Rap #3

I’m glad we have a little 3-day weekend - Mosaic deserves it! The place is buzzing with inquiry and activity as students and teachers settle into new routines. IBs, BOLTs, and even Passion Projects are hitting their strides. Our first session of BOLTs has started many conversations: writing, experiments, numbers, design, mysteries, and more … it’s always interesting to walk from one end of our space to another and eavesdrop on student-student, student-teacher, and teacher-teacher conversations. It’s all such an eclectic mix of curiosity, research, storytelling, and questioning - an mosaic of thinking I suppose! :)

Please enjoy this week’s teacher reflections…  - Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice:

This week I feel honored because of how many people made me feel special and with the effort students and athletes are putting forth - they are getting better.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

The week was exhausting. I met with so many individuals this week discussing inquiry block questions, BOLT work, and individual projects the students want to start (check out the Smith brothers idea - way cool). Mosaic really seemed to rev up and it felt like I didn’t have time to even sit down. I also caught the cold thats been passed around so that definitely contributed with the exhaustion.

Mr. Shaun Martin:

This week was otoacoustic(y).  There was a Bristol-Hum-like vibration that rang through the space and permeated my bones.  Always something to document, always someone to guide, always something to prepare, always….something.  I appreciate the hum, its motivating, but its a kind of anxious motivation right now.  The “I need to keep doing” is much like “fight or flight”…just a bit more productive.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

This week was exciting. All of my advisees finalized their inquiry plans and are able to communicate what they hope to learn.  The writers in my BOLT consistently share brilliant nuggets of their daily prose.

Visiting Mosaic

by Dr. Jim Calhoun (originally posted at principalspointe.blogspot.com)

The school year has started. In fact, this is week three. Today I made my first trip to visit the students and teachers in Mosaic. As I walked into the school, I did have a sense of guilt that this was my first trip to see what is going on but I have had to balance that feeling with the my concern of being in the building and being a distraction.

Walking into Mosaic I was pleasantly greeted by several students with, "Hi Dr. Calhoun." I can't tell you how fulfilling it was to here those voices. Then I heard Mr. Martin say, "What's up Dr. J." That is my favorite nickname by the way. My trepidation was immediately relieved.

Mr. McClintock has way of inviting people into Mosaic that reflects my experience. He says, "Come down and breathe the oxygen."  It is as if breathing the oxygen can make you feel good. I can tell you that breathing the oxygen in fact did give me a feeling of contentment and exhilaration. It is an emotion (or a high) that I miss tremendously.  

It brought me further joy to hear and see how smooth the start of the year has gone. Students are focused and have a deeper understanding how they can be in charge of their own learning. Teachers have learned the best ways to communicate with each other and with students. There is a certain structure that is now in place that allows for more freedom. That may be contradictory in it's nature but yet that is what is happening. The experience reminded me of the book Triggers, written by Marshall Goldsmith. He writes about the need for structure to be able to improve but also indicates it has to be the right structure. I would add that the structure must be balanced so that you give individuals the power to develop their own structure which then reinforces the learning cycle. This is what I see happening in Mosaic.

So, thanks to all the Mosaic folks who made me feel at home. I will be back soon.

Weekly Rap #2

Mosaic was a happening place this week! We had our first IB presentations and the asking of questions for IB #2 as well as the launch of our first BOLT session and the selection of Showdown events. All in all, it was a crazy and fun week.

Enjoy the teacher reflections...  -Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice: 

This week was inconsistent because everyday had another thing to do and having different conversations can have that feeling of not having consistency.

Mrs. Amanda Kerr:

This week was busy and loud because the MakerSpace was packed and bustling.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week was entertaining because of the IB presentations and the second round of questioning. The kids come up with such intriguing questions that I wouldn't think of asking.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

This week was rewarding because I conferenced with so many of my advisees after their presentations. It gives me a much better sense how to help each of them craft better inquiries that match their interests.

Weekly Rap #1

Here it is, the first in of like 30-something of these … brief reflections from Mosaic teachers about the week. We’re calling them “Weekly Wraps” and they are meant to convey the most memorable and enduring teacher reflections of the week.

A nice way to finish the week, yes?

Here you go!  -Ryan

Mr. Joel Justice:

This week for me had me enthralled… I was running around the room, talking with each of my advisement students. Each conversation different than the previous and the questions the students are asking are a great start for how Inquiry Blocks should be for the rest of the year. I am excited to see what other questions students are going to investigate and what learning experiences they will gain from them.

Mrs. Amanda Kerr:

This week was one of anticipation and tremendous introspection because I found myself analyzing and reflecting on each and every aspect of my teaching. I’m at a point in my career where I have much to be thankful for and many opportunities that demand attention. I am proud of our FabLab (and in the Maker movement in general) and excited for how I can merge my ceramics, art, and building/creating passions and experience to forge a pathway that students will love.

Mrs. Kayla Lang:

This week had great flow. Taking time for thoughtful planning during our 2nd hour together has really fostered an environment of communication – between the staff, students, and teachers. The kids seem excited for the “Mosaic 2.0” changes and the staff seems to have the same level of excitement that we had when we first opened the doors in 2014.

Mr. Shaun Martin:

This week was crazy because of all the implementation of new stuff, all the team building, and the old newness of it all.

Mr. Michael Schneider:

This week was exhausting because kids sought me out, questioned, conferenced, and asked for advice and collaboration … it’s a wonderful exhaustion. 

First Week - Upcycling

Recycling is good, but upcycling is better! Upcycling is the process of taking what we normally throw away (used goods or waste material) to produce something that is often better than the original.
We create too much waste, and upcycling is a fun way to reduce the amount of garbage we generate. In this project, students will create upcycled items to provide better items for the classroom and this is a good exercise to help create a culture where students are not being told what to do. In this project they will be modeling a design thinking process.

The buzz in the maker space was a lot of fun!

Culinary Team

Our culinary team met today for a preliminary tasting of the menu for Tuesday's event. Here are the finalized menu options:

Appetizers: Mini Calzones & Fruit Salad

Main Dishes: Chili and Biscuits & Cajun Pasta

Desserts: Blueberry Muffins & Coffeecake

Drinks: Fresh brewed coffee, infused water, and iced tea.

These options will be served individually (Top Chef style) so you have the opportunity to try whatever sounds interesting to you. 


Can Mosaic students go to college?

Of course! But our application will look a little different than the traditional student. To help address this, Grand Canyon University, University of Colorado Boulder, and Colorado State University were invited in to talk about what this might look like.

Video Here or copy and paste the following text into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRNCla_kNsY&feature=youtu.be

Think about Thinking

"Think about Thinking." This phrase is always funny to me because of the complexity but simplicity. 

I have found myself the last few days, thinking about my thinking, and it has spurred me to start collecting my thoughts. 

I went back and read the recent blogs on cvmosaic.org/blog and teachers have said how we should be redefining who we are and trying to model learning with students. This made me think about how true this is for all of us in the space. Here are a few examples:

  • Natalie Tunick is going to MEMA to learn with Ryan McClintock and students. 
  • Shaun Martin has been working on putting together episodes for Mosaic (First one came out and is amazing! Here is the link). 
  • I have put together some opportunities for students to learn probability through March Madness and Michael Schneider has helped create excitement through his active participation as a math learner. 

My point is that if we truly hope to help students become better learners, we have to take away our roles of "Content Experts" and follow our passions like the students and be curious. 

How might we get students to see these or participate more in what is going on in this amazing space? 

- Joel Justice

Getting Down to Business

Several weeks ago Michael Schneider posted about Tate, Hayden and Covert experimenting with spray paint art. Their dedication and passion for this art form caused me to push them further to see if they could turn it into a business for themselves. Their work has improved with each experiment and now Mosaic is sponsoring their first snowboard blank to paint. Brendan Hanson has joined their efforts and once this first board sells and they get a taste of success, we will begin working with them on business marketing, plan, budgeting etc. All the things that make up starting and running a small business.

10 teams pitched their ideas for a food truck this week to a panel made up of Rex Corr, Jim Calhoun, Scott Gaerte of Lost Coffee and Scott Dowis, CV’s DECA sponsor. Each team was expected to provide a name, logo, sample menu and appliance list - with only a week to prepare. The pitches were each very solid and their excitement from the kids for the project was obvious. Next, we will determine teams to move forward with the hopes we gain sponsors and can start re-fitting our box truck over the summer for an August opening.

Just yesterday sisters Megan and Nicole came to me wanting to start a small business making and selling polo wraps, These are used to keep the lower part of a horse’s leg to provide protection and support. They are working on their mission statement so they can use that to drive their logo and name development.

Catalin continues to wow us with her on-going Magazine, The Smile in You. Pretty soon her magazine will all be online and she can gain sponsors while selling subscriptions. On April 4th she presented to the Young Entrepreneurs Academy as an alumni on her experience with them last year.

Given we have a community driven by independent business ownership and an entrepreneurial spirit, it comes as no surprise that our students are so active in creating their own path.

Entrepreneurial behavior = the Mosaic way.

- Amanda Kerr





Originally posted on Alex's blog - http://cyborgfish.blogspot.com/

"If you did not know already BB8 is a Star Wars Droid from Episode 7 The Force Awakens. For my project I have decided to build a fully functional BB8 droid. So far I have the main body constructed, as well as the head with the details in pencil applied. I have also 3d printed his eyelid and holo projector. To build my droid I am following an Instructable. Here is the link."

- Alex F.

10 Steps To Help Create Effective Group Presentations

This post originally at PreciseUncertainty.

It seems as if more and more of my work is collaborative in nature – including presentations to either my colleagues or at conferences. Students also have to frequently design and give presentations as groups or as partners. Reflecting on some presentation work with both students and colleagues has led to the creation of this customizable ten-step procedure. Check it out! Each step is designed for either individuals or for when gathered as a whole team.


Step 1 - Team: Have a metered discussion about the broad topic/question that your presentation is to address. By metered I mean somewhat normed – be cognizant of how much or how little time you are talking and how much or little time you are listening. Strive to facilitate input from everyone involved.

Step 2 - Individual: Create written summaries of the team discussion. What are your major “take-homes” from the discussion? What struck you as important and particularly interesting? Finish your writing by writing a “driving question” inspired by your summary.

Step 3 - Team: Quietly read each other’s summaries. You may have to rotate several times depending on the size of your team. Make personal notes as necessary. Synthesize the ideas and driving questions into an agreed upon team driving question or thought. Create and share a live document (e.g., a Google document). Make sure each team member had edit permissions.

Step 4 - Team: Create a list of “subquestions” to effectively answer/address the driving question or thought. Organize these as an indented outline:

Driving Question/Thought

Question #1

Question #2

Question #3

This outline will serve as the backbone of your presentation. Decide whether you will individually contribute to each subquestion or whether you will divide the responsibility of who address which subquestion(s).

Step 5 - Individual: Add pertinent information to the outline sections. Include links to sources and such. Add this information as an indent to the question.

Driving Question/Thought

Question #1

Information necessary to answer/address the question.

Step 6 - Team: Organize and share your team’s thinking to an audience. Ask the audience to note when they desire a visual to accompany your words and what type of visual(s) the think would bolster your words. Process your audience’s feedback and add “raw” slides (or placeholder slides, which may be blank save a few words that remind you of the slide’s purpose).

Step 7 - Individual: Design slides using the principles taught in resources like Presentation Zen and Guy Kawasaki's 30-20-10 ruleRemember that your slides should enhance and supplement your words and vice versa.

Step 8 - Team: Formally present to an audience. Solicit feedback about both the content and visuals. Ask certain audience members to focus on the content and ask a few to focus on the visuals. Have them share their feedback aloud and without interruption. After they have done so, rotate back and ask any questions that their feedback generated.

Step 9 - Team/Individual: Modify, edit, and repeat Step #8 as often as possible. Make sure to also give each other your feedback in addition to that of the audience.

Step 10 - Team: Give your presentation and then debrief. Go! Give your presentation and have fun. Meet some time after you give your presentation and share your take-home ideas and feedback. Learn from your individual and collective perspectives.

I hope this procedure, or some part of it, helps you craft wonderful presentations when working in a group or partner format.


I’ve been on a roll painting these last few weeks. Landscapes mostly, though I am planning on a few portraits of my three maniacs. I had inspiration and time to paint Superbowl Sunday, these 2 ingredients so rarely coincide that I had to take advantage. But I lacked canvas or watercolor paper. What I had in abundance is Girl Scout cookie cases. Having recently been to the Andrew and Jamie Wyeth exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, I recalled that Jamie Wyeth’s most recent work, Inferno,  is a very large mixed-media piece on cardboard.

I figured if it’s good enough for the Wyeths and the D.A.M, then it’s most certainly good enough for me. I painted in acrylic, a small work on the inside of a Samoas case the completed work is only 7”x16”. It turned out to be my best work in many years. I decided I liked the torn edges and the texture of the work so I decided to mount it, rather than mat and frame off the tears. It has become #1 in my cardboard series.

Since completing these, I’ve played with gouache for the first time since high school, I have some oils I want to play with and I have in mind some larger scale works that I plan to do on the box my replacement heat element for my dryer was shipped in.

What does this have to do with Mosaic? As a staff we recently came up with a draft of a list of what see as tangibles in a Mosaic adult, one of those things was the modeling of learning and doing. The other is to re-brand ourselves not as teacher but by our passions. I decided, off the cuff, that I was a “Facilitator of Doing”. So here I am, transparently modeling my doing- making and experimenting. What are you doing?

- Amanda Kerr