Change, Inspiration

Responsive

One of the things I have read about is the importance of kids getting to talk in the classroom.  If it is an inquiry based classroom it stands to reason that the voices being heard should be that of the students. Our school is a PYP school that offers “guided inquiry” and it is the guided part that is really important.  The role of the teacher is ever-changing, yet one of the key tasks is to move conversations along.  To facilitate discussions, to guide inquiries.

The following guide is very comprehensive and offers loads of strategies that move (as opposed to blocking) conversations forward:

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The TERC also has a checklist that teachers can use to deepen the discussions:

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One of the best practitioners I have seen when it comes to kids talking is Tasha Cowdy. Tasha and I worked together at Yokohama International School.  She was a kindergarten teacher and like no other teacher I have ever seen before when it came to really listening to her children, moving them forward, and guiding their inquiries. I would love for everyone to see her teach to get a feel for what guided inquiry really looks like.  It is amazing. You can get a brief feel via her blog.

If I could sum Tasha up in one word, it would be:

Tasha responds to her students. She doesn’t try to get ahead of them in her planning but takes the time to listen while they talk and responds to them where they are at in their understanding.  She listens and she acts – but she is not reactive. Her actions are considered, measured, timely, and responsive. 

That is the key when it comes to creating discussion and dialogue in classroom.  The students have to feel like their is a point to their participation (not just to please you and give you the answer you want and already know). When classrooms are responsive and children’s conversations are key to moving inquiries forward, then we have a true inquiry classroom.

Inspiration

The Why Guy

Simon Sinek is the “why” guy. He advocates that we should ‘start with why‘ and in doing so, will discover our purpose.

His advice: find out what you like to do, how you do it and then consider why you do what you do, the way that  you do it.

Simon has a Golden Circle that you can learn more about by watching his TED talk on the subject – one that has been viewed over 21 million times!

Simon generously shares his art. Click here to view a folder of free resources that will help you to help your kids uncover their ‘why’. One of my favorites from this folder of resources is Speak to Inspire Action which gives you tips to help you speak and present in a way that will inspire others to join your cause.  For working with kids, The Friends Exercise is great for helping kids discover their why.

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Inspiration

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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Inspiration

Be Kinder Than Necessary

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

— Albert Schweitzer,

French philosopher and physician

I am a firm believer in kindness. And being kinder than necessary. To me, kindness is when you see a person, a thing, a situation that needs something and you help fill that need.  To serve others is truly the way to make a positive impact on the world.

In my role as Learning Technology Teacher in the Junior School, one thing I see across all classes is students who are motivated to help other students when using technology.  Someone will ask me to show them something.  I will show them and then their neighbour will want to know too. Before I can show them, the first student I helped will lean over: “I will show him!” and the two of them will chatter away, leaving me out of a job.  It is the best kind of unemployment I could hope for!

I explicitly build this into my teaching, asking “Who thinks they could teach someone how to….(do whatever we are doing)?”. “Who thinks they could help someone else?”. It is not always a zen-like state of bliss but I am hopeful that kids will see the value in learning from each other.  And that these behaviours will spill over to other facets of their life outside of technology.

New perspectives.  Sharing understanding. Building on ideas.  These are reasons I choose to be connected as an educator and I believe these are ways students can make a positive impact through the use of technology.  Technology allows us to go places we may never go in ‘real life’. This exposure to ideas that were previously beyond our reach must make us more empathetic, more inquisitive, more inclined to think, question, and wonder. Some examples that come to mind:

  • Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and the incredible way in which he has shared his understandings of planet earth with us from his reflections in outer space.
  • Humans of New York genius, Brandon Stanton and the way he captures humanity from behind his camera lens in NYC and, a few months ago, around the world when he partnered with the UN to bring us snippets of humans in Iraq, Jordan, Uganda, Keyna and six other countries in the Middle East and Africa.
  • Peter Menzel’s Global Family Portrait: Material World and his Hungry Planet: What the World Eats both give amazing insights into what people have/have not in this world. This is one thing that is so hard to explain without experiencing it first-hand (especially poverty) but this goes some of the way to allowing students to connect globally to the ideas of others.

So, how can students use technology to make a positive impact on the world? I think Hugh Macleod has some great advice:

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He doesn’t stop there.  Here is a Hugh-inspired, play-by-play for you and your students:

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  1. Inspire and Be Inspired: Look, explore, inspire
  2. Become “Intoxicated by Possibility” – so much to do!  So little time!
  3. Dream big! – Nothing is out of your reach!
  4. Make a dent in the universe – The time is now, the person is you! Make A Dent!

I think in some ways, the key question here is misleading – or at the least, tends to lead us in a direction that we may not need to go in.  The use of technology is not the key point.  The ability to make a difference in our world is the key part.  Technology can help that process, it can accelerate that process, it can inspire that process.  The desire to connect with others, the opportunity to make a difference, that is what should be driving this process.

Use technology to connect, to inspire, to dream, and to act.  That is how we will change the world.

If you are still looking for some support to help you in this quest, one of my favorite, favorite websites is Inspire My Kids.  The name says it all and it does just that with a wealth of amazing resources designed to connect kids that want to make a difference.

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Action, Inspiration

3 Questions That Need Answering

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These three questions are from the latest Kid President video.  His video is a call to action, specifically for support of #socktober, but also just a general call for people everywhere to ask themselves:

1. What am I not ok with? 

2. What do I have? 

3. What can I do about it? 

With action being such an important part of the PYP, I couldn’t help but think how useful these questions are to help kids focus their thinking and ideas in order to take action.

Need an example?  Take the dolphins.

1. I am not ok with the slaughter of dolphins or the trapping and raising of dolphins and marine animals in captivity for the purpose of human entertainment.

2. What do I have?  Well, if I were Michael Beerens I would say that I have artistic talent and the ability and passion to create videos of my art. If I were Mirim Seo I would say that I also have the ability to tell a story through my art. Both artists also have the incredible power of the internet, a global platform from which to share their work.

3. What can I do about it?  I can make a video.  I can illustrate a book to get my point across.  And then I can share my work online:

TILIKUM from MICHAEL BEERENS on Vimeo.

Click here for her full story.

How could you use these questions to help your students in their quest to take action?

For additional resources on inspiring action in your students, check out Inspire My Kids – one of my favorite places on the web with inspirational stories about kids taking action. It has a wealth of resources and is the site you need to check out if you want to feel inspired by the young people of our planet.

Inspiration, Leadership

Raise Your Voice!

I read an article tonight about some students in Denver, Colorado who walked out of classes in a planned protest again the School Board’s recent proposal to that course materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

High school students Bronwyn Elisha, center left, and Tori Leu, center right, cheer as a passing motorist honk in support of their protest against a Jefferson County School Board proposal to emphasize patriotism and downplay civil unrest in the teaching of U.S. history, at Ralston Valley High School, in Arvada, Colo., Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Students from at least two high schools walked out of class Tuesday in the second straight day of protests in Jefferson County. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)(Credit: AP)

As I looked at this photo,  I couldn’t help but think how incredibly proud their teachers must be. To have organized (via social media and texting) a peaceful, educated protest in order to have an education that allows them the opportunity to learn from history.

They were not the only young people using their voices for good this week.  Brown graduate and actress, Emma Watson, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the HeForShe campaign, the goal of which is motivating men and boys to end gender inequality.

Her speech was a strong, educated, passionate example of how important it is to seize any opportunity that comes your way when given the chance to use your voice. Emma shared her own nervousness about her speech, offering the following advice to herself and to others who may question wether or not they should speak out:

In my nervousness for this speech and in my moments of doubt, I told myself firmly: if not me, who? If not now, when?” – Emma Watson, UN HeForShe Speech

Finally, motivation doesn’t get much more motivational than from high school football player, Apollos Hester. He delivered the following speech in response to his team winning their football game by one point:

All of these young people are remarkable examples of how powerful their voices are.  This made me question my own teaching and how often I encourage and give opportunity for students to raise their voices.

How do you allow your students to raise their voices in your classroom? Could you hang this poster in your classroom?  Would your kids believe you meant it?

Inspiration

Dot Day – Make it Matter!

Dot Day

 

Yesterday was Dot Day!  Did you ‘make your mark’?  More importantly, did you ‘make it matter’?

My Dot Day was spent proctoring online standardized tests – the antithesis of Dot Day, ironically.  I made a special trip down to our cafeteria to check out our Dot Day wall of awesome which cheered my spirits immensely thanks to our gorgeous art gals, Lisa and Kate.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4And then I came home and forgot to read The Dot to my daughter and play her the Make Your Mark song (but I promise I will keep Dot Day alive and do those tonight!).

After bedtime, I came down to work on a MOOC I am currently enrolled in: Powerful Tools For Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling.   We are spending five weeks learning about the power of telling stories digitally.  It is already one of my new favorite things.  Our first assignment was to create the plan for the story we will make and this is what I am going to do in honor of Dot Day:

Digital Storytelling Plan

 

So, while it may not have started out as the best Dot Day, it has ended up being a super inspirational Dot Day for me, for sure! I think Vashti would be proud – and I hope I can do justice to such a great book (and author!) in my story!

Dot Day, forever!

POSTSCRIPT: I have started my storyboard and I think I want to change it as a tool for teachers to promote Dot Day and why we as teachers need to make our mark too.  Thoughts?

Creativity, Inspiration

Dear World….

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For the past three years, I have ended the school year with a “Dear World” inspired photo shoot. This is a chance for my kids to express who they are and the message that they would like to leave as they depart our classroom and head on to new things.

This past June, I did it again with my gorgeous kids.  Their quotes were original and heartfelt and their photos make me cry! They are strong, determined, passionate kids with so much to offer and they possess the determination to see them through anything.

Here are our messages of love and hope from us to you….enjoy!

 

Dear World….xoxo MIS 4D 2013/14 from Munich International School on Vimeo.

Inspiration, Reflection

Note To Self

Three things I need reminding of today…

1. Be not a slave of the ordinary.

2. Shun the non-believers (thanks, Patty!)

3. I love what I do. 

What do you need reminding of today?  What reminders could your kids set themselves to keep them focused on their learning journey?  Who inspires them?  Who inspires you? 

 

Note to SelfShun the Non-BelieversI love what I do

Inspiration, Mindset

#LikeAGirl

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Since when was doing something “like a girl” an insult?  This is what director Lauren Greenfield set out to discover as she began the social experiment known as  the Always #LikeAGirl campaign. 

 

Watching the video, I think of all the strong, brilliant, talented girls I know (including my firecracker daughter!) and I am thankful for campaigns like this that start to raise awareness of the way we say things. 

In the same way as saying something is “so gay” or “so retarded” is not appropriate, saying you do something “like a girl” should be turned around (as the campaign suggests) to being an expression of strength and downright amazingness.  

How do you use your words to empower your students?