Nobody Owes You Nothing

I’m not going to give this video much introduction other than to say it is about innovation, ideas, kindness and a spirit of generosity mixed with entrepreneurship:

This video would be brilliant to show any class of students working on an Economics unit (I wish I had seen this a few months ago when our third graders were creating their own businesses!) or for students looking for innovative ways we can share the planet.  It is also another great resource for demonstrating taking action that you could show to students undertaking the PYP Exhibition (I have added it to the Videos section of my new PYP Exhibition website).

When I heard the quote from Johnny’s dad (Nobody owes you nothing), I was reminded of a post by Seth Godin a few weeks back about “Almost No one”.

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Johnny knew he didn’t have to please everyone.  He didn’t bend when he was pushed by others to make money off the farmers who desperately need to save money. He didn’t have to leap into partnership with everyone.  He just needed almost no one to see his dream flourish.

Seth’s words really resonated: “…Individuals that fail fall into the chasm of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one.  That’s the wrong thing to focus on. Better to focus on and delight almost no one.”

So that is my mission and my challenge to you:

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The Art of War

I recently came across a stunning photo essay via National Geographic.  Titled Behind the Mask: Revealing the Trauma of War. Soldiers who have returned to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan undertake art therapy classes creating masks to represent their state of mind. Images painted on their masks symbolize themes such as death, physical pain, and patriotism.

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While the idea of creating art to represent How We Express Ourselves is not a new one, especially to those who teach in PYP schools, what is interesting about this exhibition of work is the personal narrative that accompanies each mask.

Images of the soldiers who created the art wearing the mask, quotes from them or their family members and haunting recordings of their own voice, telling their own story, make up the exhibition:

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This could be a beautiful way to showcase student art work. Using an app like Book Creator, photographs of the art and artwork, typed text, and audio recording could be seamlessly added to a book and then exported as an iBook or video. You could even add a soundtrack to your book.

Book Creator has become one of my favorite apps.  It’s functionality, ease of use, multiple features, and intuitive features make it accessible to my Grade One students to use independently. And it would seem I am not alone in my praise of this app.  Book Creator was awarded the Judges Choice Award for Educational Apps in the Bett Awards 2015. The Bett Awards play a key role in identifying and rewarding innovative ICT resources and services for use in education, and awards are considered the highest accolade in the industry.

In my humble opinion, it is totally deserved and I am grateful for the continued innovation and refinement that the Book Creator team put into their app development.

Book Creator is $4.99 for the Education version that does not include in-app purchasing and allows for unlimited books to be created.  If you would like to give Book Creator a trial run, your first book is free with the option for more via in-app purchase:

Click image to visit App Store
Click image to visit App Store

Three Things We Can Learn From Jon Stewart’s Departure

Jon Stewart announced he will be stepping down from The Daily Show – maybe in September, December, or July – or at some time in the imminent, yet distant, future.

As he announced this to his studio audience, he began to speak about why he loves what he does and who he works with, describing his colleagues in three words:

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Not smart, funny, witty, political…but creative, collaborative, and kind.

If you were looking for three words to live by, to be remembered by, to leave an impression on others, these might be pretty good ones to choose.

Thanks, Jon.  You will be missed!

View Jon’s full departure announcement, below:


Change, Coetail

Notice Anything Different?

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I have been doing a little ‘spring cleaning’ (wishful thinking given all the snow on the ground!) of my blog.  I wanted a cleaner, tidier look to the blog and, inspired by my third COETAIL course, I wanted to makeover the graphics and create a more engaging visual display for my readers.

Here is an overview of the changes and the new blog format: 

Next up, is an overhaul of my resume.  I really like my current resume but it is good to keep it fresh and updated so I am looking forward to playing around with it.  I want to incorporate a more infographic feel to the resume while still showcasing who I am – and the color orange (of course). This is going to be my assignment for my COETAIL course on Visual Design which I am loving. I think it bodes well that one of the course instructors blogged about my resume design when discussing this course a few years ago. I look forward to sharing with her the 2015 version, soon!


PYP Exhibition Website

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I mentioned in my last post that I had recently been introduced to Weebly as a website creation tool.  It is very intuitive, incredibly easy to customise, and utilizes the best of sites such as WordPress with an extensive theme library, and Wix with it’s drag and drop functionality. I really liked it and while I was initially planning on using Google Sites, I am pleased that I went with Weebly for this piece of work.

Here is a quick video tour that gives an overview of what’s included in the Exhibition website:

I would love to add other resources to this site.  I linked to some great resources on Action by Ed-ucation, a curated library of motivational videos by Terri Eichholz, and the library of Visible Thinking routines by Project Zero. If you have a favorite resource, video, app, idea, or download that you would like to share, please contact me and I can add it to the resources on the site.

I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about curating this website was reminding myself of the amazing resources that are out there to support our students as they go through this process. Two of my favorites are The Playbook and Ship It.  Both of these I have blogged about previously here and here (and are available in the Downloads section of the Exhibition Website).

As we progress through the journey as a school this year, I want to add in Weekly Checklists and other organizational tools for students and teachers. I also want to add to the websites, videos, and apps as we come across new things to support student learning.


AGIS Conference Reflection – Part One

This past weekend I was at the AGIS annual conference (Association of German International Schools). One of the teacher-led workshops I attended was run by Chris Graham of the International School of Düsseldorf.  He was sharing his passion for coding in the elementary school. Prior to the conference, Chris created a screen cast of his presentation, which you can watch here:

Chris had created a website (using Weebly) to share his extensive collection of coding sites and lesson plans to support the implementation of coding in classrooms. He shared a number of sites that I am quite familiar with and included in my Hour of Code SMORE.

In addition to his coding website, Chris shared a great tool for editing videos called EduCanon.  Essentially, you simply upload a video from the source of your choosing to EduCanon and you can then insert pauses to the video and pose questions to your viewers.  This would be a great addition to the toolbox of a teacher who likes to flip their classroom and have students watch videos at home. I would add a caveat to that: One of the examples I viewed on the EduCanon site was the great video by LifeVest Inside about the power of kindness and the chain reaction random acts of kindness can have.  It is a video that deserves to be played in its entirety and for students to develop an understanding of what is going on, at their own pace. When I  watched the teacher edited version on EduCanon it was much choppier and the message harder to follow.  Using EduCanon might be the way to go for the second or third viewing.  There are some videos that don’t need to be interrupted with more talk.

I was inspired by the slick look of Chris’s website to explore Weebly for myself.  I ended up creating a website for the PYP Exhibition.  I have made one of these before using Wix when I was teaching at Riverstone International School in Boise.  I took some of this content and things from my current school to create a source of information for students, teachers, and parents leading up to, during, and after the exhibition. Weebly is awesome and so easy to use.  

While at the conference, I led a Roundtable discussion on the PYP Exhibition with the hopes of gaining insight from other Exhibition teachers as to how they plan, implement, and evaluate this culminating component of the PYP program.  Notes from our discussion are here if you are also a PYP Exhibition teacher and are interested in our collaborative thoughts. Please add your thoughts too!

One of the things we discussed was how to guide students to take authentic action.  I shared the following video about how NOT to take action:

I also shared 6 Ways of Taking Action which I first learned about via a teacher blogger in Australia who I can no longer track down as his blog has been deactivated.

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When discussing the idea of ‘Action’ it was good to be able to share different ways that this could look. You can download the 7 page Action PDF which features each way of taking action on a different page and a summary page of all 6 ways. You can read my FlipSnack Book here

One of the biggest ‘takeaways’ for me following our discussion was the idea that we are pretty hard on ourselves as teachers.  I think that there are so many great ideas out there and as a teacher, it can sometimes feel like you are not doing enough, reading enough, innovating enough. What you realise when you sit down with a group of fellow educators, is that often what you are doing may seem obvious to you but amazing to others. And that’s a good feeling.