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Live the art of your life and leave a masterpiece

Live the art of your life and leave a masterpiece | Cultural Trendz |

The most basic of the twenty-four principles or elements of the Universe found in the Indian holistic healing practice of Ayurveda is called “Prakruti” or creativity. As human beings, we are first and foremost creators. Our individual creativity is the essence of life on this planet. What we create is the only tangible thing that we leave behind when we die. Our life is the canvas, our intention the brush strokes, our emotions the paint.

Do masterful artists let paintings that they have painted long ago decide how they will look at their life upon waking up each morning? Do the master artists use their creative energy and spend time repainting the same picture over and over because they have decided that the previous copies aren’t masterpieces yet? I see master artists painting new pictures everyday knowing that each one is unique and will speak to and inspire people regardless of how it is viewed. Once a painting is done, does the artist sit in the gallery where it is displayed in order to gauge the reaction, feelings, and thoughts that others take away when viewing it? While sitting there, is the artist apologizing to those who don’t like it, reasoning with those who are angered by it, or smiling with those whose heart was opened by it? I see the artist doing what they do best, what they are here to do, regardless of what others say or think. Do they paint what is in their heart and what they feel passionate about? Is their drive fueled by a knowing that this contribution will be their mark on the world? Faith is placed in the idea that their masterpieces will speak to other lonely artists, whose lives will change the second they set eyes on this art; a knowing that others will use these masterpieces as their inspiration. You have no idea of the masterpieces that YOU are creating for others, every day. Stop looking at your old pictures and wishing you would have painted them better. They are already in the gallery inspiring those who can see them. Do what you do best, what you are here to do. Never stop painting!

    “My brain is only a receiver, in the universe, there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. – Nikola Tesla

The brain or mind are not where intelligence is found. In addition, creativity seldom makes an appearance in those areas. If you are talking about simply regurgitating facts, the brain areas associated with memory are simply doing their job. However, we are interested in creative, inspired, passionate, channeled information in which the whole organism is the receiver. And only a certain few, very personal factors need to be in play to reach such a state. No standardized test or exam can glean this information about an individual. Hence, this is why it continues to remain so illusive. Dare we say that perhaps it is in its intimate, individual relationship with this connection, personal or otherwise, that the creative expression can unfold in its full beauty. The mere idea of producing it or standardizing it would be to extinguish it.

    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

So the question now leads to the idea of cultivating this pure human connection to all that is, was, and ever will be. Indeed, all information can be accessed from here. It is where the wellspring of creativity thrives. Of course, no one individual can see it all. Yet each, if open, will get what they need and want from such connection. The act of defining it would be to cheapen it. For example, how does one define love? There are the descriptions of the physical reactions such as increased heart rate, body temperature and respiration. Yet these would not compare in the slightest, or be able to describe to the unexperienced, what is truly happening since these are only attributes of increased physical activity.

To truly connect, one first needs to have a knowing that shakes them loose from their current, purposely-limited belief system. Such a system is set upon dis-empowering individualism in the name of the collective. In its truest sense, the collective is important but, in this day and age, that idea has been hijacked and co-oped. Dr. Eric Pearl says it best in his book The Reconnection when he states that “we have difficulty understanding the concept that we are all one. If we were the true embodiment of that concept, there wouldn’t be any lessons to be experienced. The ego gives us the identity to experience the lesson in terms of a very specific viewpoint – ours.”

    “You have to be a light to yourself in a world that is utterly becoming dark.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

It boils down to trusting in your process no matter how it presents itself. Follow your intuition, for it is connected to all information outside space and time. If it checks out with your intuition (gut feeling), then send it to the heart to put it into your field of coherence. By mixing that information with your heart’s large, abundant electromagnetic field, you are supercharging it. Only use your mind if some left-brain tasks need to be handled as things unfold. Your analytical mind and its negative voice are essentially blind and impotent when attempting to see an entire situation or attempting to create. The mind is not meant to run your life or seek out inspiration. It’s only there to serve as a tool to accomplish tasks. It’s really that simple.

    “All will be revealed my friend” – Anthony Kedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, March 27, 8:11 PM

We are creative beings living in the midst of a creative universe that is still creating itself. It is humbling and inspiring when understood that way.

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How to maintain motivation when your goals are epic!

How to maintain motivation when your goals are epic! | Cultural Trendz |
Many of us looking in on the tech world see successful entrepreneurs like Arianna Huffington or Aaron Levie and think, How lucky. But what we too often forget is that years before companies like The Huffington Post and Box became the multimillion-dollar enterprises that they are today, their dedicated founders devoted tens of thousands of hours, sacrificed substantial resources, and overcame countless obstacles to get to where they are today. While luck may play a small role in the success of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley’s most famed entrepreneurs, it is their unique mind-sets that provide the energy, inspiration, and drive needed to achieve what others simply see as unattainable. So what distinguishes these entrepreneurs from the rest of us? The seven tech leaders below shared their personal stories on how they think, live, and work in order to survive the grueling hours, overcome the challenges that others have found insurmountable, and achieve what others have failed to do. Arianna Huffington: Think of failure as a stepping stone to success. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, pointed out the importance of understanding failure not as an end, but as a bridge to future success. “Clearly drive, IQ, and hard work are incredibly important. But ultimately what matters most is resilience--the ability to quickly rebound from failures, indeed to see failure as a stepping stone to success,” Huffington said. But Huffington also stresses the importance of having a balanced life--in every sense of the word. “Increasingly, leaders are recognizing the importance of renewing themselves in order to live lives that are less stressful, more creative, and more fulfilling," she says. "We see this recognition in every aspect of our culture, from the classrooms of the Harvard Business School, where students learn to better understand their emotions, to corporations like General Mills and Aetna that have added meditation, mindfulness training, and yoga to the workplace, to Olympic athletes who have made napping and stress reduction part of their daily routines. She notes that a quarter of large U.S. companies now have some kind of stress-reduction program. And The Huffington Post has two nap rooms, and 18 lifestyle sections centered around the theme: “Less Stress, More Living.” "Brands, advertisers, and leaders are recognizing that this major shift in the zeitgeist is not only good for our bodies, minds, and souls, it’s also good for bottom line.” Bobak Ferdowsi: Make sure you enjoy the journey. Bobak Ferdowsi, the Systems Engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose mohawk captured in a photo of the team during the Mars Curiosity landing garnered him instant celebrity status, said he makes sure to enjoy each small victory along the way. Nine years ago when the Curiosity mission started, he said, no one had a clue whether it would be successful--so he learned to live for smaller problem-solving victories rather than the "major accomplishment" at the end. “You begin to feel a little like a hero as you come up with a creative solution to each one," Ferdowsi said. "I think in a project like this one, in which some 5,000 men and women devoted their time and talents, it becomes such a tremendous team effort, with such a singularity of goal that you ultimately end up being caught up in the energy of it all. Those team members become friends and respected colleagues, and no one wants to be the guy who messed it up for everyone else, so there’s a fair amount of fear in there as well.” Rebecca Woodcock: Keep things In perspective. Rebecca Woodcock, founder of CakeHealth, said if you keep things in perspective, challenges are easier to overcome. "It's important for me to make a big impact so I'm drawn to huge markets and massive problems, which is one reason for starting CakeHealth. My mother has been an entrepreneurial role model for me, coming from an entrepreneurial family in the WWII era, growing up on a dairy farm in New Jersey, and widowed with a 10-month-old at age 21 from the Vietnam War. All her life she started her own businesses, from a catering company to vegetable stands at farmers markets. I called my mother one late evening when I was overwhelmed with early startup challenges and not sure if I could finish all the work by the next day, and she said one thing that stayed with me: ‘We can do hard things.’" “I'm reminded about my favorite book about Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe, called Over the Edge of the World. The challenges we face today are nowhere near as treacherous, yet they had such conviction despite the fear of the unknown. It reminds me that the challenges I face in business are a luxury in comparison and that we can do hard things,” Woodcock said. Ruchi Sanghvi: Don’t let fear hold you back. Ruchi Sanghvi, VP of operations at Dropbox, explained that the fear of failure can be a big obstacle to success but said it should be dealt with simply by powering through. “My goals and expectations have changed over time and are often motivated by different things--necessity, opportunity, independence, and constraints." Her goals and hurdles started out small: After college, her only goal was to get a job. At Dropbox, it's been about building a new technology platform. And now she's interested in furthering causes like immigration and STEM education via movements like, said Sanghvi, who previously cofounded Cove and was a product manager at Facebook. “Mobile devices, social platforms, and cheap bandwidth mean we can reach a large number of people if we build the right product, and that is what inspires me on a daily basis," she adds. Sanghvi said she realizes that most of the obstacles she faces are internal, but that she has learned how to work through them. “Most barriers I face are internal, like the fear of failure, the fear of being ridiculed, or the fear of just not knowing how. But I’ve learned to power through them by working hard and remembering to ask for help when I need it.” Shaherose Charania: Do something that transcends yourself. Shaherose Charania, cofounder of Women 2.0, said she is driven by doing impactful work that transcends herself. “Two things in my life always fuel my energy: helping others and innovating with technology. From a young age, through my parents’ teaching and the lessons of my faith, I have felt responsible to give back--to share my time, my energy, my knowledge. In fact, my faith tells me that ‘to save one life is as if to save the entirety of humankind.’ Early on I gained perspective by traveling to developing places and seeing my own relatives, my own people, living in ways starkly different from my own. I learned that whatever I could offer, even if it seemed simple, could create change--and by changing one life, perhaps in some way I could contribute something helpful to all of humankind,” Charania said. “Technology shows me new ways to contribute and create change on a new scale. It helps illuminate ways of using faith, intellect, and innovation to help improve lives, even societies. Through Founder Labs and Women 2.0, I am able to offer what I have to others, enabling them to see and perhaps build new opportunities and to bring new companies and new solutions to the world. That privilege renews me, making me grateful and energized to move forward and face obstacles.” Aaron Levie: Have passion for what you do. Aaron Levie, founder of Box, said his passion and drive--and what ultimately keeps him going despite the long hours and obstacles along the way--are derived from finding answers to challenges that impact massive numbers of people every day. “I'm motivated by solving problems. Sometimes these are problems we didn't even realize we had, or maybe they're problems we're well aware of, but haven't historically had the power to solve. And it's a never-ending thing, because the rate of change in the technology industry generates all-new challenges, as well as all-new opportunities to solve them,” Levie said. When he started Box in 2005, he had a very simple problem in mind. Sharing content between people was absurdly difficult, and was often achieved by passing thumb drives back and forth or sending files as email attachments. Levie decided to tackle this problem by making it incredibly easy for people to store and share information online. "That's still the core of our mission today, but in the past seven years, the world has changed dramatically. The rise of post-PC devices--smartphones and tablets--is as transformative as the PC revolution was in the '80s and '90s. And in 2007, we realized that the information-sharing challenges of enterprises were far more interesting than those of consumers, so we decided to address that, going up against some of the largest technology incumbents in the process." “Every day we ask ourselves: how can we preserve the simplicity of sharing and collaboration for users, while meeting the highly complex needs of enterprises with hundreds of thousands of employees? It's a challenge that's constantly evolving, and it's an endless source of motivation for the entire crew at Box.” Leah Busque: Practice what you preach. Leah Busque, founder and CEO of TaskRabbit, said that focusing only on larger end goals can be overwhelming. Instead, she focuses on each smaller step. “I wake up every morning with a singular goal--to push my company as far as I can that day. My company is dedicated to solving a pretty huge problem, and it can be overwhelming to think of the magnitude of this vision. My approach is to choose specific and actionable items to complete each day to move us closer to these goals, and to encourage everyone on my team to do the same. This keeps us on track for accomplishing the big picture,” Busque said. So, true to the mission of her company, she outsources everything that's not vital--laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning--to free her up for the important stuff. "Which brings me to my biggest productivity secret: I love what I do. Knowing TaskRabbit is poised to revolutionize work as we know it is like rocket fuel to me.”
Vilma Bonilla's insight:
Resilience is key.
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Teaching through inquiry | Engage, explore, explain, and extend

Teaching through inquiry | Engage, explore, explain, and extend | Cultural Trendz |

This article gives an overview of an instructional framework that takes students through the four components of inquiry: engage, explore, explain, and extend. The author describes the central aspects of each inquiry phase, the types of questions students might consider, assessments that check readiness to progress to the next level, and what reflective teacher practice might look like at each phase.


Engaging the learner through a hook, mind capture, or perturbation does effectively initiate the learning process, but engaging students in inquiry-based learning is more involved than just considering student motivation. The engage phase of inquiry includes all of the following aspects: (1) probing prior knowledge; (2) identifying alternatives or misconceptions; (3) providing motivation and interest-inducing stimuli; and (4) developing scientific questioning (fundamental to both science and math classes).

Teacher intentionality is critical for determining the degree that each aspect is emphasized in a given lesson. For instance, if the lesson or unit is inherently highly motivating, then you might best spend your time focusing on revealing students' prior knowledge or misconceptions.

Effective questioning is critical during all phases of inquiry-based learning. Effective questions to guide teacher facilitation during the four aspects of the engage phase include the following:

    What do you know about _____?
    What have you seen like this?
    What have you heard about _____ that you aren't sure is true?
    What would you like to investigate regarding _____?

Formative assessments can provide content-rich scenarios to check your students' understanding and help decide when to move on in the unit. Formative assessments for the engage phase might include a discrepant event (i.e., a surprising or startling science demonstration that powerfully piques students' curiosity), a pre-test to gauge misconceptions, formative probes (Keeley, Eberle, & Farrin, 2005), or KWHL charts (van Zee, Iwasyk, Kurose, Simpson, & Wild, 2001). A KWHL chart is a graphic organizer that facilitates learning by having students answer the following questions:

    What do I know?
    What do I want to know?
    How do I find out?
    What have I learned?

The more commonly known KWL chart leaves out a fundamental step for science and mathematics education that asks students to articulate how the investigation and learning will take place—for example, designing a procedure in science or a solution path in mathematics. When teachers reflect on what has occurred during the engage stage, they gain valuable information that informs their decisions for the next steps of instructional practice. For instance, by asking yourself, what did my students' prior knowledge tell me about their readiness to learn?, you are challenged to address specific student needs before plowing through more material.


Once you and your class have successfully navigated the engage stage, you can lead students into the explore phase. Note, however, that sometimes you might omit the engage stage. For instance, if a previous lesson in the unit uncovered the students' prior knowledge, or if the goals of the engage and explore phases can be collapsed into one instructional activity, then you may begin a lesson with the explore phase. The key aspects that define the explore phase include actively involving students in one or more of the following activities: predicting, designing, testing, collecting, and reasoning (Achieve, 2012; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010; National Research Council, 2012).

Effective questions that help guide students through the explore phase include the following:

    What if …?
    How can you best study this question or problem?
    What happens when …?
    What information do you need to collect?
    Why did you choose your method to study the question or problem?

Formative assessments can be contextualized into knowledge- or process-centered domains that focus on the individual, small groups, or whole class. Furthermore, formative assessment and reflective practice become meaningfully intertwined when individual responses are united with small- and large-group discussions. A common example is the think-pair-share learning strategy (Lyman, 1981).

Often teachers limit themselves to a fairly passive observational role when assessing student progress during explore. Although it may be beneficial to let students wade in the muck at times, you may want to assume a more active role by providing guided prompts to encourage individuals or groups to think more deeply about the investigation at hand. For instance, you could ask groups of students to describe the procedure that they intend to follow, and then have them tell you how this approach will help answer the study question. Doing so encourages students to slow down and think about how they interact with the content and what their thought processes are.

Reflective practice during the explore phase may begin by reviewing individual student entries in science or math journals or by considering students' proficiency in responding to their completion of the H portion of the KWHL chart ("How do I effectively study this question or problem?"). For example, if you learn that data collection seems problematic for your science class, then you might initiate a brief discussion with small groups that focuses on how to gather data in meaningful ways.


During the explore phase, process skills are emphasized as students grapple with ideas. During the explain phase, content becomes central while the process skills are used to support higher-order thinking such as interpreting, justifying, and analyzing. In this explore-before-explain model, students from diverse backgrounds and abilities now have shared experiences as a basis for their claims and ideas. Other prior experiences that students bring to class enrich the learning, too, but learning is accessible to all students because the data collected and observations made were experienced by everyone in class. At the core of the explain phase—and inquiry learning in general—students are involved in a recursive cycle between evidence and explanations. Ideally, the practices (or process skills) and content become embedded in the investigation.

Central aspects of the explain phase include (1) interpreting data and findings; (2) providing evidence for claims; (3) communicating findings (written, oral, using technology); and (4) providing alternative explanations for findings. Effective questions you can pose during this phase include the following:

    What pattern(s) did you notice?
    What evidence do you have for your claims?
    How can you best explain or show your findings?
    What are some other explanations for your findings?

Assessments for the explain phase include lab reports, presentations, and discussions. These assessments can be formative or summative depending on the implementation. Graphic organizers such as KWHL charts and POE (predict, observe, explain) cycles (White & Gunstone, 1992) that may have begun during earlier phases can now be completed (e.g., "What have you learned? Explain your results."). Concept maps can be used in a new way during the explain phase: during engage, they highlight knowledge gaps; whereas during explain, they illustrate links among new concepts, prior knowledge, and learned skills.

Reflective practice during the explain phase entails the teacher considering points such as How strong are the claims being made by the student? How well are students able to convey knowledge of key concepts? How accurate are their claims?


Providing one or more opportunities for students to apply their knowledge in meaningful, authentic contexts during the extend phase helps students solidify their conceptual understanding and develop a more permanent mental representation. You can determine the number of extend activities or the amount of time for this phase by considering the difficulty of the concept(s) being studied, the concept's importance in the curriculum, and the degree of understanding shown by all students.

During extend, students are asked to apply, elaborate, transfer, and generalize knowledge to novel situations. Appropriate questions for the extend phase include the following:

    How do you think _____ applies to _____?
    What would happen if …?
    Where can we use this concept in the real world?
    What consequences, benefits, and risks will come with certain decisions?

At this point in the inquiry process, assessments typically are seen only as summative. However, by providing formative assessment during extend, you can encourage students to think more deeply about their work. For example, you might split students into small teams to perform a new investigation or to solve a new problem that remains focused on the main concepts being studied. Or ask students to reflect in their journals on an area of weakness that you observed during a presentation.

In this stage of inquiry, you want to understand to what degree students are successful in transferring knowledge to new ideas and the quality of understanding that students can demonstrate. Reflective practice in this stage of instruction consists of focusing on the degree of conceptual understanding. The importance of the concept to the subject will help you determine the level of proficiency and the depth of understanding to expect from all students.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

"Founded in 1943, ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner."

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