Pursue Your Interests

20% Time: week two reflections:

I had the opportunity to visit Ms. DiDonato’s sixth grade ELA class again last week for 20% Time.  It was awesome!

Students journaled, worked on their interest finding charts, discussed and shared ideas and bounced new ideas off one another.  Their ideas for projects were taking shape.  Some students were still deciding upon ideas to take action on.  Everyone still has time.

Via Hangouts, we also had an excellent conversation/student interview with one of the Google for Education team members, Peter.

Students asked him great questions about his college and career path, his current work, if he gets 20% Time (yes, he does and he shared a cool project for “social good”), and other examples of interesting projects Google has launched.

One of the more interesting questions was: “What did he think about all of the devices and time spent on the Internet by kids?”  Peter’s response was solid.  It was thoughtful, articulate, and mission-driven.

One of the most important messages that Peter conveyed related perfectly to our 20% Time project.  It was that every student should pursue their interests and passions because opportunities will usually find us.

 

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.

Goal Planning

It’s a new year and there’s been a lot of posts on social media about New Year’s Resolutions, goal setting, etc.  I’m really not one for resolutions but am all for goal setting, and more importantly, goal planning.  A new year is a good time to reflect upon accomplishments and challenges.  However, I believe all of us do better with goal planning.  A goal, or objective, will unlikely be met if we are not actively evaluating and taking actions to reach our goal.  Think about all of those forgotten or never reached New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s hard for adults.  Imagine how hard it is for students.  If we are not engaging with them to discuss their goals, they may never reach them.  Our students set goals at the start of the school year and now is the perfect time to connect with each of them to check-in on their progress.

Plan. Do. Check. Act. (Repeat).

Now is the time to teach our students how to create an action plan, manage a schedule, reflect, and take actions towards their goals.  It’s also an opportunity to consider student-led conferences to discuss what’s working and what isn’t and their challenges and successes from their perspective.  Allowing students to lead the conversation.  There are many ways to stay organized offline and online, like journals and Google Calendar, where students can reflect on daily/weekly progress and add daily/weekly action items to reach their goals.  Goal planning can also involve students identifying other important teachers, coaches, and parents that can help students reach their goals.  Finally, the whole process of creating an action plan and reflecting upon learning promotes and teaches metacognition.

Ideas:

  • Use calendars, task lists, and journals (offline or online) to break the marking period or year into manageable windows.
  • Use journals (offline or online) for weekly reflections.
  • Provide students reflective prompts.
  • Give students specific, targeted, and empowering feedback.
  • Use motivational and inspiring quotes.
  • Consider portfolios to showcase progress and final goals/objectives
  • Teach students how to track progress on any of the online programs that they use.

Please feel free to share your ideas and strategies in the comments section of this blog post.  Happy goal planning!

A map vs. a compass

A map provides a picture of a specific location. It can show you the routes you may take.  If you stay on the roads, you know the path you’re going to take.

A compass always points the direction you’re heading.  It allows you to get on and off a course.

A map shows you the known ways.

A compass gives you the freedom to discover new ways.  It allows you take your own path while still getting you to your desired end goal.

A map tells you what is interesting.

A compass guides you to find your interests.

A map is a representation of the world.

A compass helps you navigate the world.

It’s good to understand how to read maps.

It’s better to use your compass and follow your own path.

It’s even better to discover new paths, ideas, points of interest and share the map you’ve just created.