For many of us, at least in the United States, another school year is over. Even as we eagerly embark on our rejuvenation journeys for the summer, you might be thinking, as I am, of new ideas for the next school year. This week, I would like to share some of the improvements I hope to make in my classroom for the 2013-2014 school year. Since today is “Fun Friday”, here is an element of fun I want to emphasize more next year – doodling!
I need to encourage more doodling in my class – maybe even model it more for my students. I’m not talking about the distracted kind of eyes-staring-out-the-window-while-you-scribble type of doodling. I’m talking about doodling with purpose and panache. The Vi Hart kind of doodling:
Sunni Brown can give tell you all of the myths about doodling in a fun, doodly way:
For more examples of doodling, you can see “10 Brilliant Examples of Sketch Notes: Notetaking for the 21st Century.”
Below, you can see one of the 10 pieces, based on Seth Grodin’s talk, “Stop Stealing Dreams.” (I had to look up “one-buttock playing”, which I assure you is completely appropriate in context!)
For many of us, at least in the United States, another school year is over. Even as we eagerly embark on our rejuvenation journeys for the summer, you might be thinking, as I am, of new ideas for the next school year. This week, I would like to share some of the improvements I hope to make in my classroom for the 2013-2014 school year. Today’s post is about offering more opportunities to my students using online tools.
I am so excited about a pilot project that we are doing in my school district this year. A group of us (elementary gifted and talented teachers) got together, and decided to offer some online classes to our students for the summer. The classes are FREE, and anyone in our 3rd-5th gifted classes throughout our district was allowed to sign up for one. We had 320 students sign up for this first summer. We would have had more if we had not cut off the registration date or if we had opened it up to more grade levels. This tells me that there is a thirst for knowledge that motivates our students to learn even when they are not in school.
You can visit a sample of our course catalog here. I removed the links and the teacher names to ensure privacy, but I want to give a huge shout-out to all of the teachers involved, as they are doing this on a completely voluntary basis during their summer.
We are using Edmodo as the vehicle for delivering our courses, and I am just in the process of realizing the potential of this web application (also available as an app). As I mentioned in yesterday’s Genius Hour post, there are so many students out there who want to learn more than what is being offered in their regular classrooms. Edmodo gives us the opportunity to give them more options, allowing us to schedule assignments and posts that they can access on their own time. There are certainly other online class sites out there, but this is what our district happens to be using at the moment, and it serves our purposes very well.
Thrilled as I am about our summer program, I would like to see it expand. I would also like to implement a similar program throughout the school year. So, my goal for this following school year is to try offering some courses for my own students that can be done on their own time – or, if a classroom teacher agrees, in place of work that they have already mastered in the regular classroom.
Please understand that I am not envisioning these courses to be MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Course), or to replace the physical teaching environment. I want to keep the courses small and personalized. I want the courses to enhance what my students are already learning, and to fuel their desire for finding out more on topics that interest them.
I plan to write a reflection about our summer experience in a couple of months (most of the classes began yesterday), after I get feedback from the students and teachers. In the meantime, if you think you might like to try something like this, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
This is a neat poster (created with Smore) from Huffman ISD that gives some ideas for shaking things up a bit in the classroom. Though the poster was designed to help teachers to prepare their students for the STAAR test (Texas’ statewide assessment), the activities can really be used with any topic, and to support any learning goal. Some of these may not be new to you, but you might find one or two suggestions that you haven’t used in awhile. If you are still in school for a couple of weeks (as is our district), then you may want to refer to this for some last-minute ideas. ”Carouseling” is one of my personal favorites – although I have never used that title for it before!
I am embedding this below, but it may not show up. So, here is the link: https://smore.com/0udr
Last year, around this time, I posted about the Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) graduation speech that I planned to share with my gifted 5th graders. I did share it with them, and I intend to share it with my current 5th graders this week. They will go on to middle school next year, and Jeff Bezos says everything I hope these students will remember – much more eloquently than I can ever phrase it.
This weekend, I heard a TED talk on the TED Radio Hour from a different Bezos, Mark, who I assume is no direct relation. Mark is a volunteer fire fighter, and though his story is quite different, I am fairly certain that Jeff Bezos would nod his head in agreement with Mark’s message. One line, in particular, resonated with me, “Not every day is going to offer us a chance to save somebody’s life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one.”
And so, this year, my students will view two talks by men named Bezos. As a teacher for 23 years, I have tried my best to “save the shoes” on a daily basis. Before this group of kids move on, I am going to make one last attempt to enter that burning building and grab 16 pairs to dole out to my class. They might just throw them away, or they might slip them on and wear them forever. I will probably never know, either way.
This performance by John Legend for TED says it all. This is what all children want to hear from the adults in their lives. I think it makes a good companion piece to this post by David Brooks, “The Seven Most Important People in A Child’s Life”. And, maybe it’s the kind of connection high school student, Jeff Bliss, really wishes all teachers would establish with their students…
I found “29 Ways to Stay Creative”, created by TO-FU Designs, on the Innovation Excellence blog. I’m not sure about the advice to “Drink coffee”, but I am definitely on board with the other 28. I already sing in the shower, so at least I’m taking a step in the right direction. My favorite one is, “Stop trying to be someone else’s perfect.” I think I’m going to print that one out and post it in my classroom.
I love it when a Fun Friday post just falls into my lap as it did this week. I found this video on It’s Okay to Be Smart. I am definitely going to be adding this to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Students. It is a film of Wil Wheaton (you know – of Star Trek, Stand By Me, and Big Bang Theory fame) giving advice to a mother’s newborn daughter about why it’s awesome to be a nerd. He might have just become my favorite nerd of all time…
If you like this message, you might also want to check out my post, “It’s a Nerd’s World“, featuring a great article on this topic.
Yes, I know the Build-On Lego Brick Mug is a bit of a departure from my usual posts, but it is Fun Friday, and you must admit that this is a great idea! A good portion of my gifted students love building with Legos, including Lego robots, and I am pretty sure that they would be thrilled to receive one of these as a gift! Although this might make it even more difficult to convince your child to “stop playing at the table”, you know you kind of wish you had one, too!
For more recommended games and toys for gifted kids, you might want to visit my Pinterest board.