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Wednesday
Nov192014

I saw this in a classroom ...

What have you done this week to help someone else?

 

Tuesday
Nov182014

Remember to Breathe

So even though my day did not have too great of a start yesterday …

( see Melissa and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)

I think the way my sister’s day started today has me beat ….

Here is the first post I saw from her this morning:

I reminded her to breathe …

Which seems to be my response to a lot of people recently …

And something I need to remember for myself too!

Her next message to me:

Yes, we were orginally supposed to be in out of town for work today, and Friday they told Matt he didn’t have to go or we would’ve been there with this problem.

Our daddy taught us to look for the positives even when they are not always evident …

It looks like that is something we do without even realizing it …

It is not always easy to do …

But it is needed!

Focus on the positives …

Think about the things that are going right …

Be thankful for blessings

Even blessings in disguise …

 

Monday
Nov172014

Melissa and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Do parts of your day ever remind of a book?

Maybe it is a book you read as a child …

Or a story you remember hearing over and over …

After the way my day started today, I felt like I was the main character in a new book …

Melissa and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

(and I am talking about the book not the movie)

First I was not sure to park, so I drove around the building and the neighborhood several times

In the RAIN!!!

Once I parked and headed toward the building, I realized that I had no idea where my nametag was …

It had fallen off …

So I searched the parking lot to find in …

In the RAIN!!!

As I made my way up the outdoor steps at the back of the building, my shoe stayed connected with the step instead of my foot

My foot landed on the next step wearing only a sock

In the RAIN!!!

I felt like moving to Australia …

So even though it was Monday morning and raining, I had to move forward with my day

The day got better

Although I am not sure how much worse it could have gotten

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is a book that was read to me so many times growing up by my mom and my dad

It is one of my mom’s favoroite books

We made reference to that story all the time

It was a part of our family language

And I guess it still is

I have read that book to and with my daughter

But I am not sure it is a part of our language and connection …

What is a book or story that is a part of your family language?

How did it become that way?

Are there other stories/books you would like to add?

Is about the lessons embedded in those stories?

Is it about the way the story is told?

Is it about identifying with the characters?

Is it about the situation?

Or is just about reading together?

And the sharing that happens as connections are formed …

 

photo credit: sammi.doll via photopin cc

Tuesday
Nov112014

What is in Your Toolbox?

My husband told me today about a good deal he got on a new toolbox.

A post I wrote about a differnt kind of toolbox appeared at the end of last month on the ClassFlow blog, so I wanted to share it here too …

Cleaning Out Your Digital Toolbox

Have you heard stories about a struggling art student who works hard with minimal supplies and then finally has a breakthrough piece, earning enough money to buy a large amount of art supplies?  

She buys anything she has ever thought about using, so now she has a large supply of materials.

She thinks she is all set.

She now has the time and the tools to explore and create anything…

So what does she create?

She has so many ideas that she is not able to pick one…

So nothing gets done…

Paralyzed by freedom?

Think about how many tools you have in your digital toolbox…

Is it an overwhelming number?

What do you think would happen if I said that you needed to create a project using any technology tool that you wanted?

I predict you would do one of two things…

  1. Use a technology tool that you have used before so you will know what to do even if it is really not the right tool for the job

  2. Freeze and feel your mind has gone blank since you could do so many things that you don’t even know where to get started

I guess there could be a third option …

  1. Try to use every tool you know about so it will be impressive but has lost all focus

Did your answer fall into one of those categories?

How do you think creativity fits in all of this?

If you tell someone, “Go be creative,”

What normally happens?

  1. He or she plays it safe inside of the comfort zone

  2. Panics since all these ideas are bouncing around inside his or her head and can’t figure out what to do

  3. Tries  to use all of his or her ideas at the same time

Perhaps allowing total freedom of choice is not the best way…

For encouraging technology use…

Or for supporting creativity…

At times being totally free can be quite confining…

Some of the most successful ideas don’t come as a result of starting from scratch but from thinking about how something that already exists can be used in a new way or for a new purpose…

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Assign one project and provide three ways (or tools) for students to choose from in order to complete the assignment

  • Provide one tool to use but three project options from which to choose

  • Create a menu of options of assignments

  • Have students create a menu of methods to demonstrate learning

  • Offer a Cupcake Wars-style project … provide eight options and require students choose three to combine and incorporate into the assignment

In order to stretch the thinking a little more as part of the reflection at the end, you could:

  • Ask why they chose specific options

  • Ask why they did not choose certain options

I think choice does play a key role here for both engagement and ownership of learning…

But how about a choice of 3 or 4 options rather than 1000 options?

That would be easier for you and for the student to manage…

What else could you use to fill the creativity toolbox?

 

photo credit: Loco Steve via photopin cc

Monday
Nov102014

Obstacles and Opportunities

Picture this …

Setting: a room full of Kindergarten students with computers

Planned Event: exploring National Geographic Books online from a symbaloo created by Kinderchat

Tone: as students come in, there is a feeling of excitement throughout the room

BAM!!!

What was that sound?

My sinking heart when the internet suddenly went down …

I had asked the students to put on their special listening ears and to focus their big eyes …

So now it was time for me to pull out my magic thinking hat …

And develop a Plan B …

So while I was trying to figure out what to do, I did what some say I do best …

I asked questions and got quite dramatic … 

“Who likes animals?”

“Who likes bugs?

“Who likes snakes?”

“Who likes butterflies?

“Who likes to look at pictures?”

“Who enjoys using the headphones to hear things?”

“I have something to show you that will allow all of those things to happen!!”

“Do you have a bookcase in your classroom?”

“Do you want me to show you a bookcase full of books you can explore on the computer?”

“And guess what … I am going to let you pick out what you want to read instead of me telling you what to read!”

Luckily I had pulled up the symbaloo full of National Geographic Books before the internet went out

And I knew from past experience that if I clicked on anything, it would go away …

Since my laptop was connected to a projector, I zoomed in on the first couple book covers …

I asked students what they thought the first book was about and what clues did they use to figure out that answer …

It may have sounded like I had that planned and knew what I was doing …

But that was not the case

I just used my background in literacy and love of asking questions to pull us through …

As I talked what to do when you decided on a book, I decided to take a chance and click to see if anything would happen …

The book showed up!!!!

That meant the internet was back working again!

I quickly showed how to turn pages and access the read aloud parts before letting students choose a book, click on it, and then grab the headphones!

Whew ….

As I reflected on what happened, I kinda liked the way that experience went with the frontloading of background info …

I was also modeling focusing on literacy skills and not technology even though students were using technology …

All because the internet went down

And I had no other choice but to move forward and figure out something else to do …

Sure, I could have cancelled …

But what learning would have happened then …

For the students

And for me

You never know what opportunities will come from the obstacles you face …

Even if you are panicking  inside …