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!
Last month was a bit of a PD whirlwind for me. The two big events I was part of were CUE 18 in Palm Springs and the California Council of Social Studies in San Diego. I have wanted to spend sometime blogging about these events for all the reasons why journaling is important.
But, with that being said, I still haven’t begun to put down my thoughts from those events yet. The reason for this post is simply that I want to reflect and share ONE inspiring moment. ONE moment which I am bringing back to my own district and ONE in which that I feel is more meaningful than almost any tool or tip I’ve shared before.
These are the words from Diana Hess from her keynote “Teaching in a Time of Political Change” from the CA Social Studies conference.
In trying to digest the her keynote, I found myself without a seat, standing in the back and feverishly trying to take notes on my phone. This is NOT the best way to record one’s thoughts and feelings, but there I was with backpack on and swiping away on my phone. Has this happened to you... been in this situation where you are feeling that swell of emotion and motivation but questioning yourself as you write and wondering "how can I get down on paper how inspired I am feeling now, and better yet… how can share these feeling to my colleagues back home”?
That was me.
How can I replicate those emotions and passions I am feeling?
But I did have a few things going for me to help:
1) I had someone filming parts of her speech from his seat in the audience
2) I found a modified version of her keynote on YouTube
3) I bought her books!
After trying to digest these, I've created this post
We are teaching in an extremely challenging age politically; it’s hard to argue that democracy itself is in good shape. Hess showed an impressive collection of data that demonstrates just that point, showing an ever increasing polarization of the left and the right in our country. (see below an animation showing this)
But should this mean we bury our head in our curriculum and stay the course?
No, now should be the time to have these conversations!
“every student in the United States regardless of where they live; regardless of their race, or their ethnicity, or their religion or their social class or their citizenship is afforded a high-quality political education”
~ Diana Hess
Starting this is not easy. There are barriers. And like any barrier, it will be a challenge to overcome it.
What teachers can do are to create and scaffold lessons where students have opportunities to discuss (not just listening to the teachers). In these discussions teachers can help students to learn to speak clearly and back up ideas with evidence as well as learning to listen with civility with those of different views.
Arghh... hold on... I feel like I am not doing a good job in getting her message across.
So, how about this... I found a shortened version of her talk online. Check out the video below. I will be sharing this clip plus my notes from this with educators back in my own district in Rocklin. You can view the video link and my notes from this on this document.
Best of luck to you all on your journey with these kinds of conversations.