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.

21st Century, Creativity, Inspiration, PYP

Gearing up for Passion!

In a few weeks, we will kick off our fifth grade Exhibition unit: The Passion Project. It was our first year doing this last year and over the summer, I put a lot of work into the Passion Project – it was (and is) my passion. In addition to pulling out the ‘tried and true’ of last year, I have been looking for ways to connect this project with my new class of students.  They are different to my kids last year and I am different to how I was last year and the world as we know it is different to last year – so it only makes sense that the Passion Project be different too.

We are keeping our Passion Tour – a day trip around our city in which we meet people who love what they do and love how what they do, connects them to their community. Here are some other resources that we will be taking a look at:

The Future Project: Playbook

The Playbook

This became known to me this week (yesterday!) and I love it.  The playbook is designed to be used over a couple of months which is perfect for our project.  Every kid will have one and I will encourage them to take one for their family members as well – the more the merrier! What I like about the Playbook is that it is a way to inspire thinking about yourself, your passions, your possibilities.  It looks at things from a different perspective and gives you multiple ways of tapping into what makes you uniquely you.  Download the 60 page Playbook.   Follow The Future Project on Twitter or check out their website for more information.

Inspirational Videos – Inspire My Kids

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is priceless.  If you are looking for really great videos that show awesome kids doing awesome things, you really can’t go past the amazing website, Inspire My Kids.  I can’t say enough about this site.  Over the years I have seen it expand its content and the teaching materials/ideas/question starters that they offer are great. It is inspiring, well organized, current and uplifting.  I was reminded of this website when a friend sent me the following video which I had first seen through Inspire My Kids.  This website is packed with videos like this one that are perfect for showing kids what kids can do.

Short and Powerful

Another great resource is the Zen Habits Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion.  It is great.  Last year, I found it about two weeks after we started and I wished I had found it sooner.  This guide won’t be comprehensive, and it won’t find your passion for you. But it will help you in your journey to find it. It does so by asking 10 questions. Read the full post to have these ten points explained:

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What excites you?
  3. What do you read about?
  4. What have you secretly dreamed of?
  5. Learn, Ask, Take Notes.
  6. Experiment, Try.
  7. Narrow things down.
  8. Banish your fears.
  9. Find the time.
  10. How to make a living doing it.

Oflow – App

Oflow is a combination Playbook and Zen Guide – it offers over 120 tips for having more ideas and being more creative. From creating a mind map and drawing in the dark, to re-organizing your thinking and utilizing help from strangers, Oflow has enough creative methods to make sure you’ll be thinking like a creative genius. When you first open the app you’re presented with a random idea – a new random idea every time you open the app. From there you can browse the other creative methods, bookmark your favorites to use again later, email any of the creative methods to yourself or anyone in your address book, and create a note to store ideas or random thoughts. The app is created by Tanner Christensen, a creativity expert, entrepreneur, and author. He currently writes for the  creative inspiration blog, Creative Something, and founded the creative ebook publishing house Aspindle. You can follow him on Twitter @tannerc or learn more about him and his work by visiting TannerChristensen.com

A quick browse of Creative Something, led me to this gem, “What Makes A Genius?”

What Makes a Genius

There is a lot more buzzing inside my head with regard to what is arguably my favorite part of the year.  I will endeavor to keep posting as we move forward! Until then, one final gem:

Rules of a Creator's Life

21st Century, Creativity, Inspiration

Inspire My Kids…and yours, and theirs….

On my old blog (sorry blog, I still love you and promise I will visit soon!) I posted about this great website called Inspire My Kids.  Inspire My Kids is a website where you can find real life stories to inspire the kids in your life. The site is organized under four headings:

 

Values
– such as goodness, perserverance, responsibility and sportsmanship

 

Topics
– such as leadership, charity, environment, sports and music

 

Age Range
– 5+, 8+, 12+, 18+ and All

 

Format
– article, podcast, reference or video

 

 

According to the website itself, here are ten reasons teachers should be using Inspire My Kids in their classrooms:

 

1) It’s good for the world and your kids.

2) The site makes it fun for kids to see the pillars and traits of character education in action.

3) Get ideas and inspiration for Service learning projects.

4) Students love it. Really.

5) It’s free and you can use it today.

6) You and your class can help us shape the site.

7) inspiremykids is being used successfully in classes today.

8) The content might even inspire you! You will likely be amazed (and probably brought to tears) by the amazing stories we feature here.

9) Did we say that students love it?

10) You likely started your career to help inspire children and make the world a better place. We’re here to help you do this.

 

This website is perfect for everyone but especially those doing the PYP Exhibition.  We want kids to take meaningful action?  What better way to get them motivated to do so than by searching through some of the content on this website?  What I really like is that not only can you get inspired, you can offer inspiration to others and share your kids stories in order for them to continue to share the love with other kids.

 

Inspire My Kids turned 1 in November last year.  In recognition of this, they published the 11 posts they felt had made the most impact.  What I also like (I will say this a lot – there is nothing to ‘dislike’ about this site!) is that at the end of each post, they don’t just leave the reader hanging.  They offer some follow-up prompts to encourage further thought and discussion on the ‘inspiration’ piece.   Here are the top eleven followed by the three question sets you will find at the end of each post:  Topics for discussion, Take Action, and Teacher Features.

 
11.  Eric Thomas – The “Hip Hop Preacher”

10.  High School Track Star Crawls Her Way to the Finish Line

9.  Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

8.  Wesley Autrey – The “Subway Superman”

7.  The Panyee Football Club – A Near-Impossible Dream Realized

6.  A Brilliant Idea – A Special Soccer Ball That Provides Energy to Developing Countries

5.  Rory (Craig) Koonce – Making the Impossible Possible!

4.  The Ultimate Act of Sportsmanship

3.  Nadin Khoury – From Bullying Victim to Brave Spokesperson

2.  The Incredible Story Behind the Star-Spangled Banner

1.  Friends at First Sight – Suryia the Orangutan and Roscoe the Dog

 

Topics for Discussion:

  • Which Inspire My Kids post is your favorite? Why?
  • Which Inspire My Kids posts have inspired you to make changes in your life?

Take Action:

  • As you read through the top ten posts, look at the Take Action sections and see which ones you can participate in today!
  • Set a goal to take positive action in your life, just as the people (and animals) in these posts have done. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the subject of one of our future posts!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.

 

I am looking forward to seeing how this website will help inspire my kids as they start to think about taking authentic action as part of the Exhibition – and their lives. I am looking forward to seeing how they do at putting themselves ‘out there’ and sharing their thoughts and actions with others.

 

 

SIDE NOTE: With the idea of ‘putting themselves out there’ fresh in my mind, I just read an article written by someone who does ‘put themselves out there’ and in doing so, subjects herself to the possibility of criticism.  I think this is a really interesting point worth talking about and in many ways, links back to creating a positive digital footprint.  I was surprised when I googled my name that high up on the list was a link to a comment I had posted on a friend’s website.  I was writing ‘to him’ but clearly I was also writing to the whole world.  To me, this reinforces the comment made by Marina that digital citizenship is really just ‘citizenship’.  What makes you a ‘good person’ in real life also applies to your digital life.  If you disagree with someone’s ideas in real life you don’t go up to them and call them ‘ugly’ or ‘stupid’ but it is ok to respectfully share your different opinion.  When it stoops to name calling – inappropriate.  Take a leaf out of the Inspire My Kids book and use your words for good.