Recently in Edge of Leadership Category

Dat first came to High 5 for the 2015 Annual High 5 Practitioner's Symposium with the East Hartford Youth Services Bureau student group. His vivacious enthusiasm and positive attitude stood out in the crowd!

Dat's personality and the way he showed up - ready to Connect, Empower and Lead -stood out. Ryan McCormick, Edge of Leadership's (EOL) Director, quickly identified him as a great potential participant and contributor for the EOL Summer Program and invited him to attend.

Not surprisingly, Dat brought the same excitement and charisma to the summer program as a leader, motivator, energizer, and spreader of positivity.

EOL facilitator Anne Louise Wagner recalls, "I was fortunate to be in Dat's dialogue group on the final day of the summer program. This gave me the opportunity to see a different side of Dat. When a teacher in the group shared about a challenging moment, Dat identified with her obstacles, experiencing similar challenges in his life, and had the courage to share. The stories and heartfelt exchange was a very special moment for me".

We are thrilled that only is Dat interested in returning to EOL's 3-day summer program in 2016 as a Student Facilitator, but he has chosen to pursue a degree in Adventure Education.

Dat writes,

"I am excited to say that I will be majoring in adventure education at Plymouth State University in the pursuit to further my skills and experience! Everyone at High 5 has made a big impact in that decision and I would like to say thank you for the opportunity."
Dat.jpg


Dat, thank you from all of us at High 5 for sharing your news! We'll be watching for your future contributions to adventure education, and to the world!


If you are interested in learning more about Edge of Leadership or how your high school or youth program can participate in the Edge of Leadership Summer Program, give Anne Louise or Ryan a call at 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

This was just one of the many questions teachers came away with after shadowing a high school student for one full day of school. The shadowing initiative, which most teachers called "eye-opening", was developed and organized by Edge of Leadership students at Lincoln Sudbury High School.

Here is the story of how it began...

It started four years ago when Lincoln Sudbury High School (LSHS) teacher Amanda Klein and several of her students attended Edge Of Leadership's (EOL) High School Summer Program at High 5 for the first time.

Amanda, referred to by her students as Klein, is a true teacher champion, believing not only in her students but also in authentic youth empowerment, voice, and leadership. Klein was a perfect EOL fit and after a great first year, she returned with an even larger group of amazing students the next year. Among them, a 15-year old student named Heidi who, although nobody knew it at the time, would come to have a profound impact on the entire EOL program - and on the teachers and students at her high school.

The story continues...

Each year EOL high school students are asked, "What can you do to improve the community at your high school?" The students of LSHS identified a strong disconnect between faculty and students. They determined that their focus would be to build stronger student-teacher connections, but the question remained, "How are we going to do that?"

This is where Heidi comes in. Heidi had come across an article entitled "A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 Students for 2 Days- A sobering Lesson Learned". The article is about the amazing insight a teacher/coach gained from shadowing students for two days. Inspired by the article, Heidi suggested the EOL group at LSHS organize a similar experience for their school's teachers. Heidi, mentored by Klein and supported by her peers, put her ideas into action. This was no easy task, but the EOL group crafted a plan and presented their proposal to the administration. High 5's EOL staff spent time helping students design an action plan not only for conducting the day, but also to capture and share the participating teachers' key learnings with the entire staff and administration.

In the first session, only 2 teachers shadowed students but their response to the experience was inspiring. The teachers were surprised how much their experience could improve their teaching. Through this powerful, student-led professional development opportunity, teachers gained not only insight, but also empathy.

After the success of the initiative at LSHS and in recognition of her leadership, we invited Heidi to return to the EOL Summer program to play a new role as a student facilitator. Heidi and two other students from LSHS shared their initiative with the other EOL groups attending from high schools across New England. Several of the EOL groups began planning similar initiatives, including our home team at Keene High School.

Recently, LSHS conducted another student shadow day but this time 9 teachers participated over two weeks. The success of the first session convinced LSHS administration to budget for substitutes and organize class coverage for a much larger number of teachers. Again, teachers responded that the experience was "eye opening."

To capture the learning, the team interviewed several of the participating teachers. The team is currently putting together a presentation for the entire faculty. During a recent site visit, Anne Louise and Ryan were able to do a mini-interview with students that you can view at the link. Below the link we've also summarized some of the teacher feedback following their experience.

You can watch the video here.

This is a perfect example of leadership in action and the goals of High 5's Edge of Leadership program.

Heidi has had a pivotal role in shaping how High 5 support schools after the EOL Summer Program. Her name will forever be part of EOL history - and part of the culture of student/teacher connection at Lincoln Sudbury High School.

Sampling of actual teacher reflections:

"The transition from one class to another, it was very challenging to switch mindsets from one subject to another so quickly (Physically and Mentally.)"

"It is easy to "check out" when I had trouble understanding the material."

"Physical switching, going from one building to another, getting to class on time, how quickly some activity was starting at the beginning of class; there was not a lot of extra time; feeling tired at the end of the day, exhausted mentally."


"The day seemed very long. How do students remember everything from the whole day? It seemed like the time between the first block and the last block was an eternity."

"I really enjoyed the experience overall, especially the free blocks. Now I see why students love and need them. I didn't expect that at all."

"Transition-- made me think about my own teaching style and what actually works for students/ audience. In the end, the class is not for me but the students. I'll now be much more aware. I'll start class with music to help students connect to the present class. I knew it before but never experienced it."

"Making sure that everyone is reached, not necessarily everyone talks, but that everyone gets engaged in different ways."

"Cognitive/ academic flexibility that is necessary for students. Have to be good at many different skills throughout day."

"I think that it is really important for teachers to see what a day looks like for students. It is busy, dynamic, frustrating, and takes a lot of fortitude! I will definitely keep that in mind as I plan my future classes."

"Makes you remember what you have forgotten about students' challenges and struggles. I make connections to my shadowing experience all the time while teaching."

For more info on Edge of Leadership, contact Ryan McCormick or Anne Louise Wagner at High 5 - 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

Hands rose defiantly, paralleling the frosted blades of grass surrounding us on top of the High 5 hill that chilly morning. One by one, the 5th graders confidently recited quotes of perseverance retained from their most recent writing project.

They shared . . .

"Persistence is what makes the impossible, the possible likely, and the likely definite."
- Robert Half

"A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence."
- Jim Watkins

"We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are."
- Tobias Wolff

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The conversation continued as we transitioned onto the challenge course, voices fading as young eyes gazed upward at the high elements suspended between tall white pines. Before climbing high, the group was challenged to complete "Knot my Problem," an activity where rope is tangled and then connected to each participant, requiring them to unweave the mess to reform a single circle of rope. Minutes into the initiative the tune changed from excitement and anticipation to frustration and helplessness. Students impatiently scuffed at the thick orange layer of pine needles coating the forest floor, exclaiming . . .

"Can we be done now? Can't we just move on?"

"This knot is impossible. We will never finish this!""
`

It's in moments like these in Edge of Leadership (EOL), that we see how students truly struggle with perseverance. We have heard this before in different ways, how students need more "grit" and character building. We agree, and we have learned a big piece of that is simply giving students more time. Tina Lepple, a 5th teacher from Keene, NH shared her observation that there are few opportunities students have today to push through challenging experiences - it is always time to move onto the next subject, the next thing.

The 5th Graders that day, imprisoned by the knot they had created an hour before, were finally able to form a circle and then disconnect from the rope. As facilitators, we gave space for them to process informally at first, side conversations erupting with laughter as well as some stern faces. We asked . . .

Who felt frustrated during that experience? When and why?

How many people wanted to quit? How did you handle that feeling?

If we were to do it again, (which we wont!)what would YOU want to do differently?

The concept of "timing out" and perseverance was also demonstrated to us by an EOL Summer High School participant as she resisted crossing the swampy pond. She slowly realized that EOL was different and she could not just wait for time to be up. She had to choose herself if she wanted to take on the challenge, not let time decide for her. In the end, she made the decision to cross the pond. I would not say that she was immediately happy with her decision, but the next morning, she shared how that lesson was pretty powerful for her.

This theme of perseverance has woven its way into all of our EOL programming in response to the needs of students of all ages with whom we work. To stay in the loop about all the ways EOL challenges groups to be their best, check out our website as well as our Facebook page.

Submitted by Anne Louise Wagner, Edge of Leadership Adventure Educator

The story of Two Championship Cups, Two Countries & One Coach


In short, they are our latest success story at High 5; another example of Connect - Empower - Lead coming to life. They represent the power of teambuilding and the essence of what we try to achieve with the human spirit. They are the 2015 National Champions of Germany's professional ice hockey league, DEL, the proud winners of the Championship CUP!

But how did they become a part of the High 5 story and their season a focal point of interest throughout our year? Why did what began as a simple phone call in July 2014 from a man named Geoff Ward, end in such satisfaction and jubilation for us all at High 5? Mannheim H5.jpg

To understand the significance, you have to go back to another phone call in June of 2010. This too was from a man named Geoff Ward, but at that time, he was the assistant coach of the National Hockey League Boston Bruins along with head coach Claude Julien. That one single phone call was the beginning of a saga that would see the Boston Bruins coming to High 5 for a two-day retreat in September of 2010 and the winning of their first Stanley Cup Championship in 39 years. It also led to two more pre-season Bruins retreats and two more strong playoff showings.

Fast forward to the call in July 2014."Hi Jim, Geoff Ward here. You've probably heard by now, I resigned from the Bruins and took the head-coaching job in Manheim, Germany with the Adler Mannheim. I would like to have you and your team come over and do what we did with the Bruins that first year."

The operative phrase here is, "do what we did"? In this case it meant crafting a two-day program design that utilized adventure education activities and initiatives to meet the team's goals and desired outcomes. With both the Boston Bruins and the Adler Mannheim the goal was to help create a powerful team chemistry that would lead to a Championship. For the Boston Bruins this meant the Stanley Cup, for the Adler Mannheim, the DEL Cup.

I always like to think that we play a small but significant part in the pursuit of such a goal. All teams want to win. It's an inherent part of who they are; it's in their DNA. But it takes more than simply "wanting" to win to actually win. Teams need three things to be victorious, talent, a good coach and the right chemistry. At High 5, we help jump start the chemistry by setting the stage for the players and coaches to connect well together, to feel empowered and then begin to lead one another. And as much as we provide a spark to make this happen, the critical glue is the ability of the coach to continue to follow-up throughout the season and keep alive the themes and aspirations outlined by us early on. No one does this better than Geoff Ward, he's an exemplary coach who believes in the power of team chemistry as a tipping point in a team's performance. He's been right twice, in 2011 with the Boston Bruins and in 2015 with the Adler Mannheim.

It's no coincidence that this "tipping point" of performance is also what makes the difference in schools and businesses. If we can improve the ability of a classroom of students to work together as a team of learners or the members of a business to function more effectively as a team, their performance improves. It's that simple. We've known the success of this formula for a long time and our work over the years has always aspired to make it happen with each and every group.

What makes the Boston Bruins and the Adler Mannheim story a special one is that in the end there was a trophy proving that it all works! Thank you Boston Bruins, Adler Mannheim and Geoff Ward!

Two Cups, Two Countries & One Coach... yes indeed!

10868271_10152509159147944_8076012081663761319_n.jpgFor the past 12 years, I've had the privilege of working with the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree, MA. I say privilege because when you work in a setting such as this you are invited into the world of law enforcement and the special environment in which they live and work. It's a world that is foreign to most of us but when you peel away the layers, it is comprised of high quality men and women trying to do their best each and every day. They are people just like us but are faced with daunting responsibilities at times and a need to make good and quick decisions based upon greatly varying situations.

Our work with them has involved the team that conducts the six month training and development for each new class of potential Troopers. This is a group of 12-15 veteran troopers who take on the enormous responsibility of shaping the future of the MA State Police during this training period. Our goals with this group during our 5 day workshop are twofold; 1.) to train them in challenge course technical skills so they can safely run the program on the Academy's challenge course and; 2.) to work with them to shape their team chemistry to prepare them for the arduous six month training class. It is classic adventure education wrapped in the environs of law enforcement and military like discipline.

As with all of our programming, it's benefits are measured in how effective the outcomes are for the participants. In the spring of 2013, I got a sense of how powerful our work with them has been. That was the year of the Boston Marathon bombing and I as I watched events unfold on television, I knew that many of the troopers I'd had in class just months earlier were involved in the events unfolding. It was sobering to have just spent time with them and to envision what they were going through during this awful time. A few weeks later, I emailed one of my contacts at the Academy to say,

"I've always been honored to work with you guys but never more so then when I watched the exemplary work you all did during those challenging and horrific days."

Soon after I received this response.

"Thanks Jim, it is times like these that we rely on trust, teamwork, communication and confidence to accomplish the mission and to bring us home safely to our families. The skills that you teach us on our challenge course are utilized during critical incidents like the marathon. Please know that you and High 5 are part of what makes operations like that a success."

I have never had a more touching compliment about the work we do in my 38 year career. I was honestly a bit speechless upon receiving it. But it doesn't end there. Each year since receiving this note, I use it with our Edge of Leadership students during our summer program. On their final day with us they create an action plan for their team to implement back at their school or within their community. I try to convey to them that their work over the past three days to discover, develop and refine their leadership skills comes with some responsibility.

The question I ask them is...

"What are you going to do with those skills to make good things happen?"
Then I read them the letter from the State Police. It is always a very quiet and reverent at this point as folks ponder the implications of words they're hearing; a powerful testament to power of the work we all do.

Connect - Empower - Lead...Be the Example! Yes indeed.

Jim Grout

We all know that investing in staff through training and professional development builds competency, confidence and community in schools and agencies. We also know that the budgets play a big role in what can be offered. Here are some quick tips to providing professional development sessions that have a high level of engagement, value and are budget friendly!

1. Appeal to all learning styles
You've got your listeners, your talkers, your doers and those who just have to write it down and those crazy combinations (how many possibilities does this create?)

When you are choosing a professional development topic, content and facilitator, make sure they really cover all those bases (and not just pretend too).

2 for 1 Bonus: When you intentionally plan to include all the learning styles, it becomes a reminder to your staff to do the same!
2. Be strategic and mission focused Quickly re-read your district, school or agencies mission and strategic plan (probably stashed in a closet, file or on the website). Make certain the facilitator intentionally aligns the training with the mission to refresh the staff on the goals of the organization.


2 for 1 Bonus: You help staff get re-engaged with passion and purpose!

3. Get buy-in from the start
Communicate with participants in advance to front-load how the investment of their time wiladd value and help them to know what they can expect from the program day. A skillful facilitator will be able to help you do this well.


2 for 1 Bonus: Staff are energized and excited before they walk in the door!


4. Hire a teenager while they still know everything!
We say this tongue in check, but truly there are amazing ways to engage students as co-facilitators, to lead activities, to hold dialogue sessions and to add real value (not just set up, clean up and serving the coffee). All while teaching leadership skills and aligning with 21st Century outcomes. Check out our Facebook page and our Edge of Leadership (EOL) website to learn how schools and agencies are developing meaningful student/teacher connections using EOL.


2 for 1 Bonus: You are providing a space for teachers to build meaningful connections with students they may never met in the classroom!


5. Team teaching and learning
We learn best when we learn together. Experiential activities that include problem-solving, brain-storming, communication and shared leadership are the cornerstones of a positive professional learning community. Staff, who spend most of their time working in isolation, build connections and identify new ways to support each other.


2 for 1 Bonus: You lay the groundwork to enhance a positive and professional learning community.


6. Use methodology and strategies they can apply in their day to day.
When staff experience content that they can see themselves using in their class rooms and directly with those they serve, they sit up and take notice.


2 for 1 Bonus: Experiential activities not only teach staff about themselves and their strengths, but they are easily replicated in the academic setting!


BONUS TIP: High 5's Mastermind Circuit is a half-day or full day Professional Development Program designed ESPECIALLY for large groups with a low facilitator to participant ratio . It is cost effective rich experience! Intentionally designed and sequenced activities tap into a variety of academic skills sets, learning and work styles, creative thinking skills and best of all...it is a balance of non-physical and low-physical activities so it is suitable for EVERYONE on your team!

Need help putting together a cost effective professional development program?

Call us today to learn how to bring Mastermind Circuit or Edge of Leadership to your school! Your staff will thank you!

High 5 Adventure Learning Center, 130 Austine Drive, Suite 170 Brattleboro, VT 05301

802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445 fx:802-251-7203

email: info@high5adventure.org

photo-25.JPGDanny Paille, 8-year veteran of the National Hockey League and a Boston Bruin for 5 years, won the Stanley Cup along with the rest of the Boston Bruins on June 15, 2011.

Jim Grout and the team of High 5 Adventure Learning Center has been working with the Boston Bruins for over 4 years. When Danny Paille heard about High 5's Edge of Leadership program he was excited to become part of the program.

"I can link my early hockey success to certain people in my life who helped me discover my own potential and skills," says Paille. "Edge of Leadership helps kids discover their own abilities within themselves, and can be the thing that helps kids find success in their lives. I'm excited to help."

Yesterday, August 6, Paille attended High 5's Edge of Leadership Retreat at the Brattleboro Campus along with students and teachers from schools implementing EOL. Paille completed the Voyager High Challenge Course, participated in team building initiatives and connected with youth sharing his story and encouragement. At the end of the day, Paille completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Fundraising calling out teammates Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid to also complete the challenge.

Plans for Paille's support for Edge of Leadership will include his participation in EOL's High School Summer Sessions, public service messages and development and fundraising support.

Edge of Leadership helps young people discover and refine their leadership skills and then use them effectively back in their own lives, schools and communities. Students and teachers participate equally in the program and all participants are coached to unlock their own potential.

High 5 Adventure Learning Center is an educational non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals, schools and communities use experiential education as an effective tool for improving the way people live, learn and work together. Located in Brattleboro, Vermont and working throughout the world, High 5 provides experiences for everyone that develop a sense of connection and community in a learning environment of discovery challenge and fun.

High 5 extends its sincere appreciation for the support of Danny Paille and the Bruins team and management in furthering our mission.

To learn how your school or community-based organization can implement Edge of Leadership, contact High 5 at 802-254-8718 or info@high5adventure.org.

An interview with Steve Tullar, Principal, Westminster Community Schools, Westminster VT
June 2014

Westminster Community Schools is finishing their second year implementing EOL in a single classroom. The students were in grade 5th the first year and in grade 6 the second year. The same teacher stayed with the class both years. The 5th grade year was the first time these students were together in a single class. In their 4th grade year, administration became aware that this group was different than previous 4th grade classes. In Principal Tullar's words, "this particular class of students struggled against the confines of the school." Evenly male and female, these students were challenged with social and emotional issues that resulted in inability to effectively participate in group work, removal from the classroom and attendance issues. Due to the positive changes in behavior, desire to remain in the classroom, team work and attendance, Principal Steve Tullar choose to continue the EOL implementation with this class as they moved into fifth grade. The following are Principal Tullar's reflections at the end of the second year of EOL implementation.

How would you describe your Edge of Leadership (EOL) program to someone who is brand new to EOL?
What we've worked on in this program is two-fold. First, helping student become aware of themselves within a group or community. And two, to help them work on having a positive individual role within that group or community.

What we saw initially, 2 years ago, was that this group of students was very individualistic. When they had a thought or had a sensory input, they just expressed it, without regard for the group. We thought as they moved to fifth grade, those outbursts and comments were holding them back in terms of social and emotional progress. The majority of this group had demonstrated they could do academic work, but frequently, social/emotional behavior caused barriers to doing the work consistently.

What we found over the two years was that these same students have become responsible, community minded and school leaders. Their decisions are more aligned with developing a positive community. I'm not saying 100% was EOL but that was where we put our focus. We realized that we could build on what was learned and experienced on the EOL days and pull the student back into that mode later. EOL gave us a foundation in how to work with these students.

Did you receive feedback on any changes that were seen at home or from parents/guardians? When they were in 4th grade there was a constant barrage in bullying reports or conflicts. We had both the school counselor and behavior specialist involved and realized needed more support for more progress. In individual conversations, parents have noted that their child has become more invested in school and is having less difficult with peers.

In what ways did the 2013-2014 EOL implementation meet your expectations?
There were a couple of specific things we were hoping would happen. We wanted to provide these students an opportunity to learn about themselves and what they are capable of doing. The reflection component of EOL activities helps students identify what was it was they did that was effective and successful. Then we, the adults, could build on that with new experiences. EOL is based in experiential education. Students learned new skills and how to tackle new things. They learned how to avoid pitfalls that happen in the school setting. And also became very considerate and aware of who brings what strengths to the group.

This was exhibited in the sixth grade culminating projects. This year they focused on doing community service in groups of three and four. They were not buddy/buddy in these groups but were being really responsible, following through, doing things that these students would not normally stick with. And this was very unexpected because in the past they were defiant in terms of things they didn't want to do. What we saw in these culminating projects was the ability to apply the skills learned through the EOL program.

Can you talk about any specific outcomes that are supported by local data?
We've seen attendance rates increase. One child who was chronically tardy or absent has had steady attendance this year. (2011-12 -32 absences; 2012-13- 17 absences; 2013-14 - 14 absences)

Previously (2011), 63% of these students scored proficient or above on the state tests for math and and reading. 74% of the students in this group scored proficient or above on both tests in the fall of 2013. Results school wide show that 48% of our grade 3-6 students are proficient or above in math and 64% of our 3-6 students are proficient or above in reading. In 2012, 73% of the states' students in 3-8 grade were proficient or above in reading, and 65% were proficient or above in math. That same year results for this group of students taking the test in Westminster had 67% proficient or above in reading and 69% proficient or above in math. At the end of sixth grade, 85% of these students met or exceeded grade level targets in reading and 90% of the students met or exceeded the end of year grade level target for math.

Discipline was a major focus in fourth grade and now it is rarely something administration has to get involved in.

Were there positive outcomes of the 2013-2014 EOL implementation that were different than what you anticipated?
Nothing jumps out at me. Very successful in all areas we set as priorities.

What specific behavioral changes or shifts did you observe in individuals that indicated that EOL was having a positive impact?
One significant shift is that students who were not able to speak up in 4th grade are now able to say to someone who is irritating them, "Will you please stop." They feel empowered to say "I can't work when you are doing those things" and then other students lend support. This is healthy behavior.

We have another group coming from 4th to 5th that is similar and we are committed to EOL and are hoping for a repeat.

What was the greatest success story in your EOL program or class this year?
A male student from another school site moved here in 4th grade and not much transition work was done. Clearly he was academically able but had some difficulties. Mostly he tried to stay under radar and not be noticed. He would fool around with other kids but didn't want to be seen by teachers and adults. Over the last six months, there have been big changes in how he presents himself. When I'd walk in a room, he didn't want to be noticed. A few days ago I had just gotten my summer hair cut. He was by the door when I came into the classroom. Generally he says good morning kind of sideways and turns to walk away. This day as he turned to walk away he stopped and said, "I like your hair cut." For him to make an appropriate personal comment to an adult highlights his growth and confidence.

What happens when they leave sixth grade? They will be split between four different middle school options. We are working with High 5 on an EOL academy for MS students that we will host and invite our 7th graders back to check in. We will also work with them to extend their learning in new areas and back into their current schools. Ideally we would like to involve the administrators for components so they can support the application of this learning.

Are there areas of service, training, delivery or content where you believe High 5 could improve the EOL program at your school?
I can't think of anything except more time and days. I started having Jim Grout and High 5 work with my staff. More of that would help teachers understand some of the roles and parts of leadership that are important and how each teacher has a role in leadership. That would help us grow as a school.

Steve Tullar has been Principal at Westminster Community School since June 2005. He teaches a school leadership course entitled "Teacher as Leader" at Keene State College.

Imagine a teacher in-service day organized by students! Would that ever happen at your school?

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It happens at Keene High School in Keene, NH. Keene High School is a High 5 Edge of Leadership (EOL) site. And this is not the first time the students in the EOL program organized and facilitated the in-service day. Their goal: building stronger connections between faculty and students. Amazing.

One of the teachers at the end of the day said, "You know, we don't get too many opportunities to just talk with students. I mean we teach subject matter and we educate them, but this was more about the school community, how they see it and how they feel about their education."

Another amazing Edge of Leadership (EOL) day at High 5!

With thanks to our corporate partner, C&S Wholesale Grocers.

Interested in starting an Edge of Leadership Program at your school? Contact Ryan McCormick at High 5 (802.254.8718)

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