Excitement for the unknown

20% Time: week one reflections.

I’m working with a teacher to implement “20% Time” in her English Language Arts class.  This is really exciting for me, as this has created the opportunity for me to collaborate with Ms. DiDonato (ELA teacher) and got me back in the classroom working with students.  This is her second school year launching 20% Time with a group of students.  She’s iterating on this project, looking to make it bigger and better.  I’m participating weekly to experience the process, the conversations, and to notice “pain points,” challenges, successes, and gain perspective.  We’re working together to help this group of students explore their interests, develop a project, and write/reflect weekly. While we also create a plan to scale 20% Time.

It’s fun work.

What we did:

We discussed the 20% Time concept.  We showed some videos to engage them, explained the connection to ELA standards for writing, and discussed overarching expectations. We explained that there was no “map” (or procedures) for the project; rather, guidelines for weekly writing, reflection, and commenting on classmates writing.  We started “interest finding.”

Finally, the most exciting aspects for the students were these two concepts:

1. Learn anything you want.

2. It’s okay to fail.

The excitement, joy, and anxiousness were written all over their faces.  We’re embarking on this journey, and we know it’s leading to growth.

To be continued.

Kid’s art

The other day I drew a bunch of pictures and doodles with my son and daughter.

I kept their wild drawings and threw mine out.

Their coloring and random lines, dots, scribbles, and crinkles on colored pieces of construction paper were cool looking. Endearment?  Possibly.

It was a fantastic depiction of randomness and creativity.

My own sketch of some ocean waves (that I’ve been doodling on notebook paper forever) looked simple, unrefined, and lacking.

I really enjoy artist’s work, Jonas Draws.  My son and daughter have his book Surfing Animals. It’s a really fun read for a surfer dad!

I sure can’t draw like Jonas, but I’ll keep trying, or perhaps one of them will become artists.

This article here, “What Happens to Creativity as We Age?” is worth a read and probably explains why I have trouble drawing/doodling new pictures.

“Nothing in common”

This might work.

Tell your students to find two things with seemingly nothing in common.

Then, have those students name, draw, photograph, bring in, etc. those things.

Partner students up.

Now, have the partners switch their things with “nothing in common.”

Now, prompt students to think, brainstorm, and write to find the commonalities between his/her partners two things with nothing in common.

Finally, after a few minutes, have students close the activity with a discussion among the class to share out their ideas.

This can be linked to a writing assignment or just for fun.  It might help teach empathy and perspective, promote dialogue and discussion.

It might be fun.

It might fail.

What do you think?  Leave a note in the comments section.

Passion for learning

Here’s my attempt at a description that comes to mind from some things I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks.

When a teacher’s passion for making a difference in kid’s lives, for the subject, for being a coach, for reading, for math, for using technology, for asking questions, for telling stories, for creating connections, (among so many other things teachers do) combined with the art of teaching it creates amazing opportunities for learning.

They create a culture in which everyone is respected, supported, and loves being a part of.  They take risks.  Kids are excited to come to class and bummed to leave.  They’re engrossed in their learning.  There is joy in discovery. There is passion for learning.

The A in STE(A)M.

The A in STE(A)M.

Why art matters. Art touches our heart and soul. It can pull at someone’s heartstrings. It is emotional labor.  The artist creates (in any medium available).  The art can be found in putting a vision of design into the project.  The art and design draw us into the story, project, music, product, brand, company, blog, website, etc.

The art, combined with the engineering, math, science, technology and the human-centered empathy creates solutions, products, and services that keep us engaged. Regardless of career, we can all be artists. Engineers designing bridges. Software engineers designing VR and AR learning games. Product designers creating new technological hardware. Authors writing a novel. Speakers engaging an audience in a talk. Artists drawing with pencil and paper and digitally. Musicians creating poetry, music, and telling stories.

We need to teach that art is an aspect of everything we teach, learn, create, and touch, moreover, how and why we should all become artists.