Hello [go_get_displayname]. Welcome to week 1 on the path! Which path, you ask? Well that’s simple. The only path that matters…yours.

The way forward is described below. The required items are listed first, and then the optional items are below. If you have questions, please ask them of your peers. Random acts of kindness and service to others is highly valued in The Narrows, I feel sure they’ll help if they can.

Naturally, The Guide is available as well, but may be helping others down the path at the moment, so please don’t just sit there. A life of adventure requires movement, even when we’re not sure exactly where to go. Take one small step…and then another.

“There are plenty of people holding flashlights, casting shadows, offering directions. Perhaps it’s best if you light your own way.”


These are the things everyone is responsible for completing…

Weekly Requirements

We’re just getting started, so the specific weekly requirements you’ll normally see here (publishing your DPU and attending your weekly Trail Maintenance meeting) aren’t listed.

Your primary focus this week is to go through the daily tabs and complete everything you find, with the primary goal being to get familiar with The Narrows. How we operate, what we value, etc.

Any questions you have should be asked for sure. This is a week of ‘getting up to speed’, but starting next week, it’s full speed ahead, so don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it.

By the end of Friday’s class, please be absolutely sure you’ve done the following:

  • Read very closely through the front page slider and the ‘What we value’ section right below it.
  • Read through the Friday tab thoroughly and watched all the videos.
  • Have an appropriate picture and bio on the Vista PLA site.
  • Published your first Digital Portfolio Update (DPU)
  • Completed the Set Up form

You’ll be taken through all of these items as you move through the Wednesday and Friday tabs, but use this list as a way to stay on track and ensure you’ve done everything you’re responsible for.

We weren’t here on Monday this week, so you have no requirements.

Welcome to your very first Expedition, [go_get_displayname]! So nice to have you here.  First things first…I’m sooooo sorry I couldn’t be here on day one of our new semester, but don’t worry. Your obligations are clearly spelled out below, and you have plenty of time to get it all done.

BUT PLEASE…don’t think that because there is a sub today, you can sit back and do nothing. As I suggested before the break, everything changes in the 2nd semester, and that change starts today. No exceptions. If you don’t take that seriously, the consequences will be severe.

Okay, now then…In order to get familiar with your new surroundings, we need to work our way through some explanations. But since we have a short day today, and I’m sure you’re overwhelmed with excitement about being back at school, we’ll start slow.

For today, you have one requirement. Take a moment to click through the slider on the front page of the site. The first slide has that icon of a sun, and the heading “A History Class, Yes…” Read each slide – and I mean it…actually read the slide and get clear on what it says. Then click on through to the next one, and continue reading to understand every single slide. You’ll know you’re finished when you get back to the first slide. These slides don’t have much in the way of details, but they do offer you a broad explanation of what you can expect this semester.

When you’re done, be sure to check out the ‘What We Value” section right below it. Again, read every word. Click on each of the 4 sections to expand them (the 1st is automatically expanded for you) and take your time getting clear on what The Narrows expects of you.

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but reading through the above sections closely, with a sincere effort to understand, is perhaps the most important thing you’ll do all semester. Please take it seriously.

Here’s the thing about The Narrows…you don’t want to start off cutting corners.

When you’ve finished with this (I mean really finished), you’re done for the day. Of course, you should feel free to get a jump start on Friday’s work by clicking on the Friday Tab. Either in class, now, or on your own time. You never know what you may find.

Otherwise, very nice work for today my fellow wanderer. See you back here next time.

Welcome back, [go_get_displayname], great to see you again. Today, we’re going to focus on some of the basics of how The Narrows works. Remember, The Narrows is part of our learning environment, and it’s where your daily/weekly instructions and Adventures will appear. So getting clear on exactly how to find your way around, what’s important, what your opportunities are, etc., is critical. So work through the below carefully, and thoroughly..it will be time well-spent and it’ll help you get off to a good start.

When you come into class, your first job is to look at the side board for instructions. They may be simple, they may be more involved. Either way, that’s priority #1, and you should do it immediately upon arrival. As will be discussed in later Adventures, there is a significant benefit to getting to class early and being ready to go BEFORE the bell rings. More on that later, but ‘being ready to go’ means you’ve read the side board and are logged into The Narrows.

There will be a Weekly Expedition posted on this site every Monday morning (you’re reading one of them now). This expedition will have VERY important information and you need to get to work on it immediately.

Every expedition will have some things you are required to do. Some of them will be required to be done that day, others will be required to be done that week, but to be successful, you’ve got to treat these expeditions as priorities. Required items will be clearly marked under the following heading: REQUIREMENTS:

In addition to the requirements, there will also be optional items. These optional items are just that. Optional. However, you should know that there are benefits to doing more than you are required to do. I would strongly urge you to put the days of doing the bare minimum behind you. The Narrows has no patience for such behavior. Optional items will be clearly marked under the following heading: OPTIONAL:

These Weekly Expeditions, as previously mentioned, are posted Monday mornings, but you are responsible to read them at the beginning of every class because things will be added on the regular.

Before we move on, I have a question for you, fellow Adventurer. Do you think The Narrows will care for your excuses? Will it care for all the reasons you might come up with as to why you didn’t do something? How certain circumstances prevented you from doing what was required of you? How unfair life can be?

No, I don’t think so either.  Members of our community in good standing – those committed to our values of effort, integrity, generosity and a willing posture –  will find The Narrows an empowering, rewarding and fun place to be. Those who don’t…won’t.

Are you ready to proceed my friend? Good.

Okay, so you know each day starts with a check of the board, and a read-through of the Weekly Expedition. And in that expedition you’ll find some things you have to do, and others you can choose to do if you like.  Fantastic.


So at this moment, you’re not logged in, so at the top left you see the word “Login”. That is where you’ll click to get logged in. But not now. You don’t have a membership to the Narrows just yet. We’re still getting to know each other, after all. But that’s coming soon.

Still, though we need to get clear on the workings of the site, so you can begin your journey in earnest.

Rather than write this section out, though, let me show you. Please watch these short, but important videos.

Miles and Capital

I know that video doesn’t make a ton of sense yet, but it will, friend, it will. At the very least, though, you now have a basic understanding of one key idea about The Narrows. Specifically, that if we play by the rules, and adhere to our values, we can level up, earn capital and buy loads of stuff – class privileges as well as actual products (food, etc).

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that I’ll be maintaining a Leader Board. One you can all see at any time, and so it will be very clear who is contributing to The Narrows, and who isn’t. And naturally, there’s a VERY STRONG connection between your contribution and your Elevation and Capital…two things that impact your experience here in The Narrows quite a bit. Next up, let’s talk about…

Weekly Expeditions

Simple enough, yes? Great. That leads us to the next stop on our expedition…Adventures. You want to pay particular attention to this folks, it will help explain exactly how you will earn most of your Capital in this class. And Capital is what you’ll need in order to buy the stuff you want.


You’re doing so great, [go_get_displayname], I’m proud. I know this seems like a lot, but we’re base-building here, and these small steps are important. Keep up the great work.

Now we’re going to step away from The Narrows for a moment, but don’t worry, we’ll be coming back as soon as we finish some important work.

Okay, you might recall that prior to the break I had you go to the class website and set up your profile so that it included an appropriate picture and brief, but nice, bio. Just so there is no confusion about what is ‘appropriate’ and what is ‘brief, but nice’, here are examples of both…

Appropriate Profile Picture:

Jeb Dickerson Profile Picture
Appropriate Bio:

I’m a history teacher in year 2 of the Personal Learning Academy at Vista High School. With a year under our belt, we’ve learned a ton and we’re looking to improve.

As recent recipients of the XQ Super School Award ($10 million…WHAT???), our timeline for changing public high school has been shortened. So next year – 2017/18 – will be year 1 of our implementation of our version of a truly Super School, with personalized learning as it’s foundation, and a focus on student strengths and interests.

It’s bound to be messy, but change, and growth, often is. Can’t imagine a better arena in which to get my hands dirty.

Please note, ‘brief, but nice’ also means that you’ve spelled things correctly, capitalized things properly, etc. If you’re unsure about whether you’ve done that, have one of your peers read it over and offer some advice.

QUICK NOTE: Much of what you do as part of your Weekly Expeditions will have you work through Adventures which, as you learned above, earn you Miles and Capital. You’ll have other opportunities to earn and level up as well. Most of these earning opportunities will be very much based on the honor system. That is, I’ll trust you to claim credit for the things you’ve done. But I have to warn you…if it is discovered that you’ve claimed something you haven’t fully earned, the penalties are severe.

Please go to the Vista PL Academy website, get logged in, and confirm that you have an appropriate profile picture and bio as part of your profile. NOTE: The site has been redesigned, so you may not recognize it. Don’t worry, everything works pretty much the same…have a look around, I’m sure you’ll figure it out. There is a tutorial video for how to set up your profile here, in case you didn’t do it when you were supposed to, and you’re unsure how to do so.

If you are still in need of an appropriate picture, please take one now. No, don’t wait until you’re home, or at lunch or whatever. Use your phone, or the phone of a friend, stand in front of a simple background (one of our white or blue walls will do), and take the picture. Then email it to yourself, add it to your drive, and upload it to your profile as instructed in that video. Questions? Ask your fellow Adventurers. If they can’t help you, ask The Guide. But absolutely do not move on to the next step until you’ve completed this.

Okay, to finish off today’s required items, we have, perhaps, the most important task of all. We have to get you set up as a member of The Narrows.

Once you’re done with this, The Guide will arrange things in just the right way and, before you know it, you’ll have legitimate credentials (user name and password) to login to this site and begin going on Adventures of your choosing. And that, my friend, is when the fun really starts.

Okay then, let’s get started. Your final priority is to complete the Setup Form I’ve created to get me all the details I need to configure your account. To do that, however, we have one in-between step to complete first.

Specifically, you’ll need to publish your first Digital Portfolio Update (DPU). What’s that??? Good question, we’ll get to it all in good time. But for now, here’s what you need to know.

You will be required to publish a DPU every week. And your DPUs must use a consistent format, with all the same information each week. Well, the information will change, but the KIND of information won’t. I’ve created a template with the required information that you can find, and use, here (but watch the below video first).

Here is a video that explains EXACTLY what you need to do…

Okay, you’re doing great. You ARE doing great, aren’t you? I mean, you’ve done everything to this point, right?

We’re almost done, but we have one more thing to do. Specifically, we have to get you set up as a member of this community. As a member of The Narrows.

In order to do that, I’ve got a VERY simple form for you to complete, but it’s SUPER important that you do it accurately. And, there’s one thing I need you to get before you fill out the form. Specifically, I need you to get the URL (the web address) of your author page on the VPLA site. Another quick video…

The link to the Setup Form is here… Once you’ve submitted that form, you have finished the required items for today. Normally, I’d encourage you to dig into the OPTIONAL items, but since your membership account is not yet active, I don’t have any additional/optional items for you to work on.

One VERY important thing to remember is this…in order to get credit for the things you do in The Narrows, you must be logged in. That’s the only way you’ll earn the miles/credit/glory that is available. There are no exceptions to that.

Great work today…looking very forward to seeing you out on the trails. Cheers…Your Guide.


These are the extra things you may choose to do throughout the week if you like.

The following are things you may choose to do for additional miles (MI) as well as capital (C) – not to mention to grow and learn and become better. Sometimes these optional items will relate directly to the work you’re doing, other times they will be random. Either way, they represent things the Guide feels are worth your time.

As always, though, the required items above are the priority. Feel free to do these on your own time as well.

ONE NOTE: I don’t recommend you do these until you are set up with a full membership to The Narrows and can log in properly. We’ll be doing that – getting you set up with your membership account – on Friday. And only when you are logged in do you get credit for the work you do here.