I was looking for something and one click led to another, led to this TEDx talk by co-founder of Life Is Good, Bert Jacobs:
Bert’s message is simple:
do what you like
like what you do
be grateful for everything
live life with optimism
If you check out the Life is Good website, you will see a section called “Good Vibes” which is a curated mish-mash of inspiration and “a breath of fresh air” for those who also believe that Life is Good.
In trademarking three words, LIFE IS GOOD, Bert and his brother turned $78 into over $3 million dollars. Ten percent of net profits go to charities supporting children, so you are not just buying cute socks or a travel mug, but you are buying hope and possibility for children. Where does the money go? In part, toward Playmakers:
The Playmakers are the people doing the work to make childhood a more playful place for at-risk and underserved children for whom life is not always that good. The emphasis is on play and using play to bring out positive change in children.
The website has loads of resources including:
Redefining Playfulness – A paper on how play can revolutionize the health, well-being and education of children.
We Got Game – Three fun games to bring out the playfulness in your kids
The website also led me to this video on the Power of Playfulness which contains the important message that we, as teachers, shouldn’t just get through each day, we should be happy and joyful and promote that amongst and within our students too.
More than a cute t-shirt store, Life Is Good is a great resource to remind us all to play more, love more, and be more joyful.
I had previously heard the analogy of the fish and the water but I had not connected it to this speech. This animated version of the graduation address is a piece of art in itself, in addition to the message it conveys.
There is real freedom in education, in deciding how you will think, in choosing to look at things from a different perspective from that which you are used to.
Obvious To You. Amazing To Others.
I think this is something that our kids think of a lot. Are you holding back something that seems too obvious to share? This animated short may be that thing that someone needs to watch to give them that push to go further, dig deeper, or share more often.
Opal School Children on Play and Learning
This is an AWESOME video from the mouths of students of the Opal School in Portland, Oregon. They are asked to speak on ‘the wonder of learning’ and what comes through is the profound connection between play and learning and how, when we get it right, it should be hard to tell the two apart.
On my drive home today, I noticed a sign like the one above as I approached an intersection. I have some bulletin board boarders in my classroom that say “Caution! Kids at Work”. I got them because I thought they were cute. I am now thinking of replacing them with a big sign like this on my door. Why? As a reminder to myself as I begin the new year to make room for play.
I have posted on enabling creativity, the power of play, and the idea that there is no purpose without play. I believe that play is positive, play promotes creativity, play unleashes ideas, curiosity, wonder and excitement – and isn’t that what school is for? So the sign will more than likely go up in some form or another. But a sign in itself is not enough. I want my actions to reflect my beliefs.
We have had two days of school so far. Teacher days. No kids. But they are always on my mind. The actual logistics are still in the making but here are some of the things I want to do in the first day/week of school:
SPOILER ALERT! *If you are a parent of a child in my class and can promise you won’t share the following with your kids, you may keep reading – but don’t share! 🙂
The Marshmallow Challenge
The Marshmallow Challenge. This is cool. It is a TED talk, a challenge, a blog and just a fun, dynamic way to kick things off. It has been done by CEO’s to Kindergartener’s and soon, by my fifth graders. Why do it? In the words of its creator, Tom Wujec:
The marshmallow challenge provides teams with a shared felt experience, a common language and a solid stance to find the right prototypes to build their real projects successfully, to avoid the oh-oh moments and have real ta-dah moments.
Exactly what I want this year: sharing, commonalities, inquiry, and aha moments. I don’t actually mind if there are oh-oh moments. They work for me too. But honestly, what better way to kick off the year than with some spagetti and marshmallows?
Introductions via Voki
I was that kid who sat there, petrified that I was going to have to speak in front of the class. I loathed it. I don’t know if any of my new kids dislike speaking in front of the class. I do know that there are some options for getting around that – at least on the first day. Cue Voki. This is a fun, online tool that allows you to make an avatar and record a voice for it – your own, or a text-to-speech voice from the US, UK or Australia. The challenge will be for kids to choose to either recreate themselves as closely as possible (with their own voice) or to create an alter ego avatar and have us guess who they are. Here is my Voki that took me about six minutes to make:
Voki has a classroom account for a fee. I am going to start my free trial of the educator account and see after the two weeks if the kids and I think this is a useful tool to add to our belts.
The one assignment that I gave my incoming group of fifth graders was to read Wonder by RJ Palacio. This book has launched the “Choose Kind” movement. I want to ask my kids what they are going to choose for themselves this year. If they have a choice between right and popular, hard and easy, challenge and status quo – what would they choose? These words will become our targets: the things we aim for throughout the year. I want to incorporate these words into a large piece of group art: something beautiful and meaningful for the children to collaborate on together and make their mark as fifth graders.
I want to share this quote with my class to help them think about the word they will choose.
I am looking forward to combining their words with their images to make something magnificent for our wall. I am toying with the idea of also sharing one of my favorite poems, “Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. I love it. Love it. I think that also will have to be shared – it’s themes of bravery, dreams, hope, strength and courage are all traits I want to build in my kids this year.
I don’t even know if we have any lego at school – but we should! I just read a really cool article about a 23 year old from Illinois who has become the fourth Lego Master Model Builder in the United States. He now works at LegoLand. Here is the video application he sent out to Legoland in order to be considered for the job. In the video, listen to him describe all the ways lego can be used to foster and strengthen imagination, creativity, passion, innovation and ideas:
I love it! I have done a quick look and in some places, universities and colleges will loan out kits of lego for schools for a 3 to 4 week time period with a refundable security deposit. I don’t know if we have something like that in Boise, but I want to find out!
Ultimately, my goal is to start the first day and first week off the way I mean to continue: with challenge, collaboration, technology, innovation, thinking, creating, connecting and playing. Lots and lots of playing.
This great cartoon just arrived in my inbox from GapingVoid. Here is the text that accompanied the image. It is worth reading through – and clicking through the links. Really interesting stuff to help you answer the question, “Are you having fun yet?”
“Purpose” is a big deal in business these days. Finding and having a strong sense of purpose is an important part of having a strong company culture. The blogosphere is utterly awash with it.
With the Olympic GAMES upon us, I was thinking about the idea of “play” in the world of work… (What my favorite future-shocker, Pat Kane calls “The PlayEthic”)…. and how The Play Ethic is so necessary for said “purpose”.
In my experience, the big ideas come from play, not from pressure. Any half-decent artist, hacker, inventor or scientist will tell you the same.
Playing is how we learn to hack, how we learn to invent, how we teach ourselves to create.
How we teach ourselves to SURVIVE.
So as wonderful as the Olympic athletes are to watch, I think maybe it’s time to rethink The Games, not in terms of “achievement,” “excellence,” “competition,” “glory,” but a celebration of PLAY itself.
Just an idea.
It would seem Nike are on a similar train of thought. Their non-Olympic, Olympic commercial, showcases “all the little leaguers, backyard champions, and living room gymnasts doing what they do for the love of sport with no expectations of being exalted on high and showered with accolades in the form of lucrative endorsements.” (KC Ifeanyi) They are playing. With guts and spirit and determination. But ultimately, for the love of play.
So, how do we embrace this culture as educators at school? I think it has to be a conscious decision. We need to choose play. We need to make sure we are looking for ways to learn through play – and this is not breaking news! There will be achievement, excellent, competition and glory. There will also be failure, mistakes, recalculations and second-tries. There will also be a whole lot of learning.
I had an interesting conversation recently about “Global Day of _______” type events. Does having a one-off event hold meaning for a school that is supposed to provide an integrated, student-led, inquiry-based curriculum? Some would argue that days of fun that support a cause are good fun, a good idea and as teachers, we should be exposing kids to what is ‘out there’. Totally agree. But I think we need to go deeper. If it is good enough for one day, why not all days? If we are prepared to forgo “normal” school for a day of play, we must think it is important. If it is important, why not include it every day? I love the idea of a Global Day of Play. I just hope it doesn’t start – or stop – there. I plan on introducing the value of play from the get-go. It is something I have been looking into and reading about all summer and something I feel passionate about incorporating into my classroom – on the Global Day and Every Day. A new daily question in my classroom: