Have you ever thought about how learning outside of school can be just as valuable as learning in school?
I’ve been bugging my mum for awhile now with questions about the meaning of irony. I’ve asked her so much, she sometimes anticipates a question from me, and says, “No, Liv that’s just a coincidence.” But, I think I have a perfect example of irony: all the times people ask me about missing school for my LivBit work. When someone pesters my nana with the same question over and over again, she always says, “If I had a nickel for everytime someone says that to me, I’d be a rich person!” And, that’s how I feel about the questions around me and school and LivBits.
It’s ironic people ask me about school since my LivBit work is soooo RICH with learning opportunities. I’ve actually worked and reworked this blog post for several days, trying to find the best way to explain my learning. I’ve edited out HUGE examples of all the things I learned on my last adventure because the list of things I learned was too long. I thought maybe I should list the content areas underneath each example to “prove” my learning is legitimate. Maybe it would satisfy some of the people asking me questions about missing school, but instead, I hope my words will be proof enough. I’ve also tried to figure out just the right words to explain how grateful I feel for the opportunity I had because I’m fearful people’s constant questioning means I don’t show enough gratitude.
Last week, I had an incredible opportunity to travel to Anchorage, AK with the Follett Learning team. If you don’t know who Follett is, let me tell you! Follett Learning is an incredible book company, working all over the world to get books in the hands of kids! Lucky me, I got to announce the winners of the annual Follett Challenge!
Tudor Elementary in Anchorage, AK is this year’s Grand Prize Winner for their inspiring project, “Young Global Citizens.” The coolest thing about Tudor’s project is how similar it is to the work I do on LivBits. It's such an outstanding example of how #KidsCanTeachUs!
Tudor’s efforts won them $60,000 in products and services from Follett Learning! I have sooooooo many #heartbeeps thinking about how their work will touch the world even more widely now that they have Follett’s support. It was very humbling to be a small part of Tudor’s story, and I learned soooo much while I was in Alaska, and I made soooooo my new friends!
In case you’re curious or are worried about what I learn when I miss school, I hope this mashup of facts from my Seattle/Alaska/Portland adventures proves how much learning happens from my LivBit work.
There are no direct flights from Boston (my home airport) to Alaska. But, if there were, it would be about a 12-hour flight to Anchorage. Oh! In case you’re wondering why we went to Seattle and Portland (since I got several messages asking how many cities I planned to hit on this trip), it’s because my mum has a very serious eye condition, and we had to take a short break in flying to relieve the pressure in her eyes. We decided to make a sad situation, HAPPY!
I finally got to meet the very first person in my #DigitalTribe, Susan, also the voice for Helen the Shark. If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know how important Susan-Helen is to me. Susan and I recreated a picture (you can see it in the slide show above), that’s so special, I’ll never forget it! I hope when you think of my work, you’ll think about this picture and how real digital connections are in the life of a learner.
I was able to add to my #tutuproject throughout this trip, and the Seattle pictures were so special and in so many iconic places! I even got to meet up with my Disney friend, Amanda, who just happened to be home visiting her mom! In 24 hours, I saw two people I SUPER love in Seattle! How awesome is that?
Did you know Seattle is one of the most literate cities in the United States? It has the most bookstores and libraries per capita, and the most library card-holders to check them out! BEST LIVBIT FUN FACT EVER!
The Alaska state motto is “North to the Future” and although I don’t think any state motto beats NH’s “Live Free or Die,” I do think Alaska’s is pretty cool! It made me think about my connected learning journey taking me all the way to Alaska; first digitally, and then, in person. I’m positive I’ll never forget their motto because of its meaning to me as a learner.
One of my best #KidsCanTeachUs fun facts about Alaska is about their state flag! 13-year old Bennie Benson designed it in 1926. It became the official Alaskan flag when Alaska became part of the Union in 1959. Isn’t that AMAZING?!
Alaska’s schools are the MOST diverse in the ENTIRE United States. This is a pretty awesome claim to fame because I think most people would imagine the most diverse schools would be in a big city somewhere, but not true! Alaska has more cultures/ethnicities/races in its schools than anywhere else in America.
The Anchorage School System has over 100 schools in it. Some of the schools have specialized programs like STEM, Montessori, and even immersion programs in German, Japanese, and Spanish. Tudor Elementary School, where I visited, has a school within a school program. Some of the kids are in a K-2 Montessori program, and next year they are expanding their Montessori program into the upper grades too! I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!
There are A LOT of moose roaming around Alaska. They aren’t shy, and will even come into people’s yards to eat and visit. Schools often have moose (or bear) evacuations if one shows up on the playground!
More than half of the world’s glaciers are in Alaska. When I was there I saw the Matanuska Glacier from the air! It had sooooo many turquoise blue pockets from compressed ice crystals. It’s one of the most beautiful things in nature I have ever seen.
I was in Alaska at an incredibly cool time of year! The sun barely set at night! It was twilight all the way until almost 2:00 in the morning, then the sun would set for a little while, and then come right back up. As it gets closer to the summer solstice, the sun in Anchorage will be up for almost 19.5 hours! Some Alaskans say all the light is their gift for so much darkness in the winter! I think it also means all that light fills people’s souls with joy to carry them through the year.
Alaskans have very generous hearts. When I was there, I met so many incredible people. They wanted to share their cultures with me, and why they call Alaska home. I loved learning about what the different native groups ate, and what some of their traditional clothing looked like. Also, no one I met lived in an igloo, but they told me plenty of Canadians do!
Portland, OR could have actually ended up Boston, OR since the name was decided when the founders, one from Portland, ME and one from Boston, MA flipped a coin to decide the name! THIS NEW ENGLAND KID LOVES THIS FUN FACT SO MUCH!
I saw my first nude bicycle rider in Portland. It was interesting. 😬
Portland’s slogan is, “Keep Portland Weird.” Maybe that explains the nude bicycle rider???? 🤔
Powell’s City of Books is apparently the world’s largest independently owned bookstore. I spent hours there and wrote lots of recommendations for books! I was so excited to see they encourage kids to write recommendations! It’s the only bookstore I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to LOADS of bookstores) that has kid-written book recommendations. WAY TO GO POWELL’S!
Maybe someday we can have small tech devices for book recommendations. That way, kids of ALL ages can recommend their favorite books. I chose to write recommendations for picture books since all the ones written for those were by grown ups. If we used tech, we could have kids make voice threads or their own BITS for their recommendations! So age wouldn't matter! All kids could participate! SOMEONE TEAM UP WITH ME TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN! 🙏🏻
Portland’s nickname is “City of Roses” and the International Rose Test Garden has over 10,000 rose bushes with over 600 different types of roses! It’s one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever visited, and I loved looking at all of the different names of the roses. My favorite was the Charlotte Rose because it reminded me of my little sister, and it made my heartbeep for home.
I hope my long list shows how learning is everywhere. My mum says being curious about the world means you’re ALWAYS learning. And, I think that’s very true. I’m so grateful how much learning LivBits brings me. I learn from every experience I have. Sometimes my learning is so personal, it takes me awhile to process it. This happened in Alaska when one student shared about living with her brother because both her parents died. She was just a little older than me, but her comments made me think about how much kids have tucked up inside them every single day; how school is really only a small part of life; and learning comes from living everyday with your heart wide open to the world.
Here are the wishes lingering in me after this adventure: more opportunities for kids to learn WITH the world; more grown ups who genuinely encourage ALL kids to be part of a learning story; more ways for kids to use technology to CONNECT to places they’ve only ever dreamed about; and more encouragement for kids to become GLOBAL CITIZENS, like the kids I met at Tudor Elementary School. Finally, I wish for you, loads of adventures you’ll experience with your HEART WIDE OPEN because I think that’s the best kind of learning ever.
Thank you Follett Learning for helping me have a learning opportunity that will not only stay with me forever, but has changed me forever. You are defintely a copmany with your heart wide open. I am so happy I am connected to all of you!
And congratulations again to my friends in Alaska at Tudor Elementary! If I could have stayed with you forever, I would have in a heartbeep.💓
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Have you ever thought about how📱+📚+🌎=🙇♀️
You don’t have to be a grown up to care deeply about another person, or to have wishes bigger than the present moment. Kids can have those feelings too. Kids can understand the power of being there for each other and encourage each other’s dreams. I’d say one of my best qualities, is my heart. It’s open to the possibility any dream can happen. I don't think I'm unusual; most kids have open hearts.
This week, I worked really hard to create a promo video for my school visits. I combed through loads of pictures, video clips, tweets, and emails trying to find just the right content. I hope I captured the feeling that happens when I visit schools to share my LivBit message. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/266234532
As I was searching, I thought about the feelings I GET from visiting different schools and the feeling I hope to GIVE during a visit as well. I could simplify the feelings by saying they are full of heartbeeps. But, I know, people might not know exactly what I mean. So, let me explain a bit more by describing some “heartbeepy” examples of why kids teaching each other is so important.
In Ohio, I met a kindergartner who followed me around her classroom and kept sneaking up and hugging me from behind. She whispered, “Can’t believe you’re really here, LivBit!” Except she actually called me “RivvBittt” which made my heartbeep even more for her. Her hugs were a reminder of how powerful my LivBit videos are even to the youngest students. I learned while I was visiting, this little girl doesn’t always have people outside of school who encourage her reading and thinking. I felt determined to keep a connection going even after I left her school. I’m lucky one of her teachers sends me videos of her, and I send videos back.
Just recently, I was sent videos by kids in Massapequa, NY. They made them as a sort of endorsement encouraging other schools to have me visit. The coolest part about receiving these videos is, it wasn’t an assignment from their teacher, it was something these kids did on their own time. Each time I watched the videos, (and I watched each of them about 100 times), I thought about how incredible it was to see kids who were passionate about my message, so much so, they encouraged other schools to have me visit! Another Massapequa student actually wrote an entire book about me and then sent videos explaining the book and why she wrote it.
Last night, one of the teachers from Tadlock Elementary, the school I visited last week in Frisco, TX, sent me a sneak peak of a video she created with her staff as a way to encourage the kids to do well on the Texas Standardized Test. I felt proud she included me in the video doing some of my crazy floss dancing, because I know the kids will love it! And, it will also keep me connected to them for longer than just the day I visited. School visits have the power to go on and on. All kids need is access to tech and permission to keep sharing.
One of the most important things I’ve learned from LivBits is how much learning can happen when you see the world as your classroom. Being a connected learner means having opportunities to learn from kid activists, authors, scientists, ballerinas, and people I admire and wish to be like. It also means having the privilege to visit schools and work with kids and teachers sharing my message #KidsCanTeachUs. It means being inspired by those people too!
I’d say the one downside of being a connected learner is the amount of time I spend missing people. My heart is filled with A LOT of missing. I’d say sometimes equal parts love, equal parts missing. But, the missing piece is the price you pay for sharing your story with the world. Once you share your story, it doesn’t belong to just you anymore; it belongs to the world. When you share your story, you become responsible to other people, and this means you have to open your heart to hear their stories too. All this leads to a whole lot of missing feelings. Those feelings squished together are what create heartbeeps.
I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t have desires and wishes to do something good for the world. It’s just each kid shows desire in different ways. So, if you’re a grown up reading this, and you’re wishing for more heartbeeps, just find a kindergartener and ask them about something they love. I PROMISE! You’ll find some heartbeeps by listening to them.
I was reminded about the power of my own heartbeeps from my kindergartener “RivvBit” friend who lives in Ohio, but also lives in my heart now, too; by my Massapequa friends who sent me video heartbeeps; for sure, by my Tadlock teacher, who sent me heartbeeps, too when she valued my flossing skills; and in all my missing feelings, there are sooooo many heartbeeps just waiting to be noticed.
Your world is filled with heartbeeps; you just have to look closely to see them. When you see them, you’re changed forever and ever, ever. So, embrace the missing. I promise, it’s worth it.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Hi, I'm Liv and I am super excited to share my thinking with you!