The cycles of education are really an interesting phenomenon. They allow for re-do’s, they give us wonderful time for reflection and often give us chances to change. For me, the newest cycle of the 2018-19 school year has been a new one. I find myself out of the TOSA world, out of social studies and history and now fully immersed in the world of teaching video and film. My role in the past has always been as a history teacher and this led me to wanting to help other teachers with tips, resources and other ideas. Over time I became passionate about helping others in education, as a I realized that it was the CONNECTIONS between us which makes us all better. So, I started to share more with my friends, my department, school, district and beyond.
In this great sharing / connected world, I realized that it was a two way street. The best connected educators share but also learn. They are NOT the ones shouting from the hills with the “look at my awesome ideas”, they are the “did you see this” people who try to help others; sometimes with an inspiration and sometimes with a nudge. And its these folks who also listen.
I have had some incredible opportunities to share and learn with others, often through working with organizations such as TCM and CUE which have allowed me to travel to 19 states and meet teachers from all grades, subjects and walks of life. And in almost all of those experiences what I value most is times when I sit with teachers, often at lunch, and hear from them.
I have tried many different tools and platforms in the “quest to share”. I’ve blogged, vlogged, podcasted, listerved, facebooked, presented, key noted and more and throughout it all I have always felt like I have been there. Been connected.
Which makes where I am now a bit odd. You see, I am pulling back a bit. This was not really a conscious effort to protect my sanity as I am starting this new teaching world of video production… it kind of just happened.
I started by swiping away some notifications but then it got just easier to turn them off completely. This led to me just stop opening up some of the tools like Twitter and Voxer. Instead, I find myself thinking just about my class and my students and constantly tweeking the next days lesson
So, I guess this is my public “I’m sorry” if I failed to comment on a tweet, answer a Vox, or reply to an email.
I am still wanting to be connected and know that I will return at some point.
Oh, and yes, I do understand the irony behind my writing a blog post and posting this on Twitter!
As this summer wraps up and the cycle of a new year in education begins anew, I take to my blog to do a little reflection. Like many people who blog, it a challenge to stay on stop of your reflections and writing and the internet is littered with discarded blogs. Although I try to share out in other ways like my podcast “Check This Out”, plus my templates and now listicles, I want to keep at this blog as I find it the most effective tool for being reflective.
So now as I look back at the past two months of mine, I feel content and inspired to start the school year.
And that inspiration for me was simply “TO MAKE”
This was my summer of MAKE, my summer of disconnecting and stretching myself creatively and artistically. I found inspiration in many different places. Like so many of us out there, the things we create aren’t necessarily always a “new idea” but ones we found from others and that is definitely the case for me this summer. I found ideas in a multitude of places. For sure Pinterest was a big help but also just snapping my own photos as I bounced around from place to place in my travels. So, in this post I will share some photos of my finished projects. All of them were a stretch for me, as I am normally more creative with a computer than a saw but I am proud of myself for learning some new skills and making something out of nothing.
Here are five of my summer MAKES:
And its this Making Mentality which will be my focus for my class.
I have decided to turn my Monday’s into MAKING MONDAYS, where I will give my students 15 or so minutes at the start of the day to just “make something”. I will have different mediums, so for example one Monday we may make with cardboard while the next could be Legos. I may at times give them a subtle direction such as “make something for our classroom” or “make a game someone else can play”. But the my biggest focus will be to just step back and allow unstructured, unplugged play and creativity. All in the hopes of getting them engaged in the class and priming the pump in their brains for creativity.
I’ll let you know how it goes
This upcoming school year I will be at Rocklin high school teaching Video Production but splitting my time between my classroom and a computer lab. This lab is being re-purposed; the computers and tables are being being taken out plus new furniture and a chromebook cart is coming in. I am hoping to do a little more by changing the feel and purpose of the room by re-branding it as the "Creativity Lab" I've been reading books like Space, listening to podcasts, watching webinars from Demco, and following the incredible shareouts on the #CUEBOLD hashtag. All of these have got my wheels spinning on what to do with this space. As you can see below... its a bit of an blank palette to work with. So my first thought was.... "it needs a name... and that name needs a sign!"
Step One: Design your title and trace it on Styrofoam.
Step Two: Cut out the letters
Step Three: Cover
Finally, here is how my letters turned out. I was beyond happy with how they turned out and very appreciative of all the help my family and friends gave in this project.
Lastly, you mount these on your wall and since they are foam its so easy to just put in some screws or hooks and then push the letters onto them.
If this got you inspired to create your own please share back your creations!
Recently a team from my district, Rocklin Unified, visited the Ponderosa High library as we're looking for ideas and inspiration in what do with our high school libraries. You see, we are re-purposing space as books which are no longer being used are being moved out. The “what to do with this space”, is a tough question as everyone from teachers to librarians to admin, all have an opinion.
I am part of this team which is looking into options and I thought I would share a little as we begin our process.
I have been recently inspired by both seeing incredible share outs from the CUE BOLD conference earlier this month (check out the hashtag #cuebold to see the conversations about space and lesson design) AND I finished reading this book which you should all get your hands :
“The Space: A Guide For Educators” by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon
The description, “a revolution is happening in education concerning reshaping school spaces to better support learning. This book goes well beyond the noise on learning space design that focuses on pretty Pinterest classrooms and moves towards a more sophisticated conversation about how learning spaces support and drive brain-friendly learning” is a testament how we can look at the classroom and other spaces like libraries as a key ingredient to help student learning and connecting to schools. It is an easy read and will serve as an inspiration to you or to others whom you may be trying to nudge in this direction.
I will just share two of my takeaways from this trip… 1 Big… 1 Small
1) Big Takeaway
What she has created is NOT about the furniture or the tech. It's NOT about revolutionary, crazy images you see on Pinterest. Its IS ABOUT A MINDSET SHIFT of changing the culture of your space. She shared that “the library is the heart, the hub of the school” and they have a belief that “when someone needs help, they go to the library”. This a shift away from the purpose of some libraries which act as a quiet place to go for silent study or to check out materials. Pondo’s library is a place which wants students to come to learn and to socialize and to connect to the school; not just to check things out. Jennifer shared that they had to think about both the physical space and their purpose as a library staff. .
Here’s some of her early ideas:
“Light bulb idea #1: Ask my principal if I can be at the new teacher orientation next year.”
“Light bulb idea #2: See if I can embed myself into a new cohort of teachers”
Here are some of my photos from this trip. You will notice that is not the high end expensive flexible furniture and tech but from reading her blog, you will see how see even with a small budget and a purpose, you can create a shift.
I loved how it shows that she is also a reader and life long learner. It can be a conversation starter about books that can lead to connecting with kids which is always a win.
During my drive back home I said… “I’m making one of these for me and offering to do one for each of my teachers” (oh... I did ask Jennifer about this!)
And here is what I did.
I made this in Google Slides, shared with the staff in a video tutorial how to embed their Bitmoji using the Chrome extension and had them make their own slide. A few staff had me do this for them and others made their own. I picked up some of these stand on Amazon, printed them in color and then sent them over.
Want one for yourselves? Here is my template, feel free to make a copy and modify it as you wish. Customize yours too, for example I changed it a bit since I love listening to podcasts plus I talk about film in my video production class, so I put my most recently watched film.
I’d love to see yours!