Author: Matt Karlsen


A treasury of video resources

As this school year comes to a close, many of you are on the verge of having more flexible schedules – allowing some new viewing time. Readers at this site might not be aware of all the resources being posted on our companion site. In case you’ve been missing them, here are a few videos […]


Questions as invitations to play

It’s always a treat to have posts written by guest authors! This one is written by Ben Mardell, Principal Investigator at Project Zero. It is co-posted on the Pedagogy of Play blog. The related sketch-note is by Ellen Reid who found herself paying attention to questions as she participated in this week’s Study Tour of […]


Conditions that invite invention

As J engaged in Story Workshop, he identified a need in the world – and he saw that he had the power to respond to that need. What conditions invite, sustain, and expand children’s inventiveness?  Consider the attached framework.  Which of these conditions is visible in this short video?  Which are implied? Are some neither explicit nor […]


Political Work

Last week’s retreat focused on developing learning communities characterized by courage and collaboration. During the brief days of the workshop, we were rocked by the story of pipe bombs sent to many public figures and terrorist killings in a Louisville grocery store and a Pittsburgh synagogue.  These stories entered into our session – just like the […]


Play, school, and the future of jobs

As much as I find good reason to treat anything that comes out of Davos with a measured dose of skepticism – and as resistant as I am to describe the function of schools as a workforce delivery mechanism – I find the periodic Future of Jobs Report to be provocative.  As the World Economic […]


A call for truth and reconciliation

Yesterday, we held one of our monthly Online Subscriber meet-ups.  Susan and I were joined by Monica Martens, a teacher from Manitoba. She described how she finds the big ideas in Opal School’s resources to be in sync with the way in which Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation work has demanded whole-hearted learning between and amongst children […]


Finding our focus

We are eager to discover capabilities in ourselves and in children that we have not yet imagined. We accept the challenge to shape a new world. Ann Pelo and Margie Carter, Reimagining Our Work: What Story Do you Want to be Known For? Opal School’s six classrooms are organized into three learning communities. Each year, the […]


Confronting the disimagination machine

Friday, a frustrated colleague texted me this worksheet that a teacher in her school had given to the kindergarteners she works with on an “accountable walk” that day.  My colleague wrote, “This is what the testing craze has done. Kids can’t even go for a walk without a worksheet! At my school, a ‘failing’ one, […]


Start a New Story

“Every story starts with the assumption there is some acceptable, canonical state of the world.  What starts the story going is that the expectable, the predictable, canonical state of the world gets violated.” Jerome Bruner, Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, June 2006 “Opal School definitely got me out of my comfort zone… [It] goes against a lot […]


A new vision and mission for Portland Children’s Museum

As you may be aware, Opal School is part of a larger institution: Portland Children’s Museum.  Portland Children’s Museum is an unusual project: A small school serving 125 children, that forms the basis for the professional development of more than one thousand teachers and administrators annually, that is part of an organization that connects with […]