Saving Lives

We have a group of students who have a passion for helping others. Through the Wilderness First Aid project and some random conversations with students, we found a need for a CPR & First Aid training. We found a licensed trainer from the American Red Cross to come to our space. The picture to the right shows the mannequins we used to learn CPR and some of the students participating. Shaun Martin and I also participated. It's important for us as teachers to also be learners and model this for our kids. It was a long day of training but we feel confident in our new skills! - Kayla Chloupek

Mirror Mirror

The last couple days while other classes are having finals, in Mosaic, we have a process that is getting students to be more self-reflective. 

I saw that students started to be more honest with themselves and more critical of their work. 

Their self-assessments are not something you see in a traditional classroom -  "What have I learned this last term?" "What grade do you believe you have earned?"

Our reflection has a bigger goal. We have students read the descriptors of what makes a good learner: our Mosaic Practices. "Reflection on Learning, Community Awareness, and Producing Real Work," are just a few examples of our thirty attributes. We are having the students go through this reflection every nine weeks to help them keep focus on what we in Mosaic value. 

Without time to think or reflect from past experiences, learning opportunities and celebrations can be missed. What did I actually learn? What could I change for the next time? How did my partner help me overcome my challenges? What did I do well? 

How do we make sure we are reflecting more?

- Joel Justice

a 4-H High School

This post originally appeared on The Grateful Educator

As colleagues and I planned and opened The Mosaic Collective, several renowned educational leaders advised.

Yong Zhao helped us dream big. Instead of tweaking the current model, he prompted us to redesign, reimagine what public school could look like. Tim Kubik and Kristy Lathrop shared the power of real PBL – not “doing” projects but using projects as the learning. Karl Fisch, our fellow public school colleague, shared his vision of public schools evolving in order to truly serve our students in the modern world (a belief he keeps fighting at his comprehensive, neighborhood public high school). Michelle Baldwin (and Anastasis Academy) reminded us that each student has a distinct identity and they must be at the center of any school design – “Students with names.”

Two gentlemen, each with their distinct views and personalities, may have left the most enduring impacts, and continue to work with students and staff as we evolve as a program. Will Richardson, reminds us that learning is everywhere. That standards create obstacles to the more important application and amplification of learning. And Gary Stager reminds us that the best learning happens by doing (and that assessment must change dramatically).

We value these voices, and connect regularly (well…semi-regularly) with each.

Recently, a new voice impacted my thinking. A student – a non-Mosaic public high school student. An athlete. A simple question while she waited for a ride home from tryouts. An inane conversational starter led to some serious reflection and a revelation.

School should look like 4H.

While growing up in Sedalia, a rural community in Douglas County, CO with “more livestock than people”, Julie participated in 4H. It led her to participate in several shooting competitions, including air pistol and shotgun categories, but it also allowed her to explore various interests including rocketry, welding, agriculture, and mechanics to name a few. Her only regret? Time. Too many evenings and weekends dedicated to 4H forced her to miss other childhood experiences.


ME: Julie, wouldn’t it be cool if school looked more like 4H?

JULIE: You mean learn by actually doing?

ME (To Myself): Gary Stager – have you heard of 4H? (To JULIE): Yeah. Choose something to learn and do it. Fly rockets. Weld something.

JULIE: Yes! Do something until you realize you don’t love it. Or “master” it. Then choose something else.

ME: Yeah.

JULIE: That would be awesome!

ME (To MYSELF): School should look more like 4H.


In years past, I have neglected to see the value of 4H in terms of a “formal” education. Failed to see the connection. But lately, seeing students struggle to use interests to drive their academic pursuits leaves me…befuddled and sometimes distressed. The conversation with Julie never devolved into concerns or questions about testing, grades or credit toward graduation, college and scholarship applications (except to note that as a sophomore, she has amassed a tidy sum in scholarship money due to her 4H competitions).

Instead we talked about what she learned while studying rocketry and welding. How much she enjoyed learning with the help of expert mentors. An I noticed her smile – her joy – while telling her stories. Until…she acknowledged the time spent outside of school learning all of this. The choices and sacrifices she made on behalf of her 4H participation.

I can’t think of one legitimate reason school couldn’t or shouldn’t look more like 4H. Can you?

Can't Argue Over This

Being on the transformative edge of education, many partners have influenced our program and our students. Anastasis Academy is one of those partnerships we appreciate most. 

I took a few students from Mosaic to Anastasis to visit and work with them. The day we visited, they were having a debate about euthanasia.

A week later, Branigan and Bryce came to me saying, "how cool it would be if we could do something similar to Anastasis debate." They mentioned not having it teacher driven. I jumped for joy with the excitement about a student driven learning experience where the voice of this was from students for students. "Invent Your Education" is the slogan that we have been working towards, and this is a great opportunity. 

This debate group consists of six students who were willing to be the core team of debaters. A vision Branigan and Bryce have for other students is for them to join with a topic they find interesting and participate in that week's topic. 

This journey for Branigan and Bryce has been full of learning. 

  • They put together two debates on different subjects. Their reflection has been great to watch. They advocated for themselves in their growth by talking to teachers who have been present at the debates and have taken their own notes. 
  • They set up appointments to discuss the debates and give feedback to the other students. 
  • They voiced that students should be reflecting over the weekend to present on Monday. 
  • They shared the Mosaic Practices they believe work for this project to the other students and will be having individual conversations about selecting a few of those practices to focus on

The cool part of learning with this opportunity is that the gentlemen do not see anything they have done as mistakes, but more as a way to improve for the next time. They reiterate to improve and re-evaluate after each step. It reminds me of Austin's Butterfly.

- Joel Justice

Healthy Decisions

Excitement can start from anywhere-and for one student it was through food. Alexa was curious about what she eats on a regular basis turned into how she might track what she is eating. She found that the websites that she was using, deleted her previous days’ info which caused some frustration. We had a conversation about why she wanted to track her food and she just wanted to see if she could eat healthier. This led Alexa to start thinking about how she might create her own system for tracking food that would be more beneficial for her and then turned into how she might provide this for other people who are interested in tracking their food. She created a bunch of questions that she was going to ask her potential clients about what they care about to make it more than just her own food tracking. Due to not knowing a lot about how the body works or why do we need to eat, she starting asking some science questions to get a better understanding about what she is working with. Her next steps are to learn more about body and because of this drive of passion she has had a spark and interest through science and she sees the math potential of collecting data to help drive her app. This inspires me as a teacher to know that if students drive with passion they see value in learning and learn what really matters for that product.


- Joel Justice

Inventing Their Education

"Invent Your Education." The slogan for The Mosaic Collective. Too often we forget it or forget the purpose behind it.

We have students participating in several Learning Experiences - many designed by staff, many individual initiatives designed with staff, and a few designed by our partners in education. And a few students simply invent their own.

Several days ago, Zane, Tate and Hayden shared a YouTube video with Amanda (@kerrart) and me showing an artist creating beautiful pieces of art with spray paint. Their energy level high, they found our limited supply of spray paint and immediately began experimenting and emulating this artist. They eagerly shared, helped, created, revised, started over.

Yesterday, Tate and Hayden completed these.


Beautiful. Personal. Art. And how did they accomplish this? Did Amanda suggest it? Did she teach techniques? Did she assign or co-create a project with a clear rubric? Did she tie their work to specific credit toward graduation?

Nope. She provided some materials, space, time, and then got out of their way. Huh. Who knew?

Inventing Their Education. How are you, your students, your children identifying and pursuing an interest? What are you doing? What are you sharing?

Gary Stager Visit

Gary Stager (@garystager) came to visit Castle View today and he brought some awesome tech with him. Our kids were playing with the drones/robots for hours. 

Spain! By Catalin V.

Getting on the plane to Spain I was excited and terrified at the same time. I couldn’t wait to meet my family and experience life in a different country, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to communicate and that I was going to miss my American family. Despite my worries, living in Spain is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. Of course it is an incredible way to learn the language and experience the culture, but I also learned a lot about myself. I learned what it means to advocate for myself, what it looks like to put yourself in someone else’s shoes....and I learned how to order food pretty darn quickly :) Living with a host family is such an awesome way to experience life in Spain. And you make relationships that will last a lifetime. I still regularly communicate with my family and friends there. Not to mention the fact that my spanish speaking and understanding went through the roof. I went from having a bit of vocabulary and a basic understanding of verb conjugation to easily having a conversation with someone. If you’re looking for a way to experience culture, learn spanish, or just travel, there’s no better way to do it than this.

Contact Catalin:

Making Microscopes

Alex made his own microscope. He even calculated the approximate magnification through a comparative analysis with other microscopes in the school. Cool!

Brain Breaks

Between projects, seminars, and/or outside classes, we encourage brain breaks where the students get to use their brain differently. Some kids read, play music, play video games, while others play chess.

Snow Day Won't Stop Us

We had a snow day yesterday and during their free time Mr. Buch, Ryan, Noah, and Charlie met digitally through Google Hangout to write a program. They met again today at school to work through the code. Just goes to show that learning doesn't have to occur at school or during school hours.

Wilderness First Aid

Several of our students are involved in a book study for Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. Through their interest, we are studying the anatomy & physiology of various wilderness injuries. We were snowed out this week, but we are looking forward to going outside and working through some wilderness injury scenarios! Other Mosaic students volunteered to be actors in our scenarios and we even have some make-up artists from a previous project coming in an give us realistic injuries.

Family University!

The Mosaic Collective hosts Family University - an interactive program in which students, parents, and teachers learn together. This session we split into smaller groups and created a ~30sec video on learning (in only 45minutes!). Here are a couple videos that were created that night. 

2nd Annual Pumpkin Chunkin'

We are hosting our 2nd annual CV Pumpkin Chunkin! This year all entries will be trebuchets. The launch day will be November 2, 2015. Please carefully review the following rules. You need to register your team  here.  In order to use the makerspace at CV you need to have completed the safety training.  You can find the safety training here

There will be an all competitor meeting on Tuesday, October 6th during advisement.  All participating members must attend this kick-off meeting.

Rules & Details HERE

End of Days, Biology & Infections

Through the End of Days project, Mosaic kids (like Noah to the right) are learning about various microorganisms like bacteria. Microscope skills, sterile technique, nutritional environments and more!

NASA Water on Mars!

Mosaic took some time out of the day today (Monday) and watched NASA's press conference on the new discovery of liquid water on Mars. It's a great benefit of having a flexible schedule. We are able to be a part of current events when they happen.

Breaking Glass

Students were curious about why a thermometer (Galileo thermometer) on one of the science desks wasn't working. It got into a cool discussion about what was in this thermometer so we broke it open to find out.

Video Here




We are rolling out our "Teacher Designed Learning Experiences". These are teacher created projects that vary in content and focus. Some examples are:

1.) Global Student Leadership Summit: In this project, learners will explore creating travel experiences to fit the theme Exploring Human Rights. Through the process, they will learn about a region’s geographical and historical connection to accepting and maintaining human rights. Students will make itineraries, budgets, and create language acquisition goals, and ultimately communicate their  “pitch”. How can you create conditions for peace through mutual respect and understanding via travel in a group tour?

2.) Mad Week: In many parts of the world, an excellent education is not guaranteed. As a matter of fact, in much of Africa, a basic education may be an extremely difficult proposition. Many years ago, a local couple identified a specific need for educational and life assistance in Zimbabwe. To help, they created the Nyamashato Secondary School and Feeding Center. While this 501c3 has done much to better the lives of the local youth, many of whom are the head of household as young as 12 years old, the school is in need of some key components in order to improve the potential futures of these young students. Specifically, the school is looking to solve two major issues: inadequate and unreliable internet service, and creating and supplying a sustainable science laboratory.

3.) End of Days: In this project, learners will explore apocalyptic literature and current biological, chemical and environmental dangers to human, animals and the planet by publishing a collection of short stories. Through this process, they will learn about how diseases and chemicals affect the human body and explore Earth’s ecosystems, and develop a deep understanding of storytelling and effective writing, publishing and marketing of fiction.

Etc.! Ask you students which ones they are working towards!