Science concepts and Inspirational quotes on the board.
Posters on floor/counter out for classification purposes: effective vs ineffectiveRead More
The story begins:
So our daughter calls us from college (she is a freshman) at the end of her first week of classes, right before she returns home for Labor Day weekend. She was super excited about college but also suddenly super STRESSED. The familiar freshman story unfolded before us. You may remember it like I do and it went something like this: "Mom, I have like 4 chapters to read in 3 classes each and there is so much to do and I don't know what's important and what's not. I took 11 pages of outline notes from psychology (*front and back she did LOL!*) but I can't remember much of anything. How am I going to get good grades and be happy?"
You have to be a PRO-LEARNER to do well in college.
Issue: K-12 is not about teaching kids to be ACTIVE learners or INTERACTIVE learners who attack texts for fun and revel in debating the ideas they read about. How can they be when high-stakes testing and DATA determine district money, rank, teacher salaries, and much more? Fear runs our schools and fear does not a good culture create. The very people that are the heart of schools (students, educators, parents, community) make none of the major decisions about what we do in schools and why we do it. It's predetermined by non-educators and companies/big businesses far away from our schools and districts. These people and the system as it exists *right now* have defined learning and schools as distribution centers--dispensing knowledge TO kids. Boring and sad. Test-centered clinical culture.Read More
Imagine that a GIANT UMBRELLA is over our classroom right now. You decide what it looks like! That umbrella is the Golden Rule. If we all follow the GR and treat others the way we want to be treated, the UMBRELLA protects us and we can all learn, share, grow, laugh, explore and more.
Draw that GIANT Golden Rule umbrella with all of us underneath it. Now draw/explain what happens TO THE UMBRELLA when one of us doesn't treat another the way he/she would want to be treated? What happens to the umbrella if the 'hurt' person responds back with kindness? With anger?
So here's the scene. I tell the kids to clear off their tables and get out, oh maybe a piece of paper and a perhaps a writing utensil of their choice. "I'm not sure what you'll want."
The vaguenesss causes them to tilt their heads at odd angles as they look at me.
I tell them I want them to read the statement on the board as I write it and then simply do it. I write it s l o w l y ... (At the beginning of class, one of their I can statements they write in their conversation calendar is the following: "I can TOTB during a class activity." I don't tell them before we start that thinking outside the box is the goal of the lesson...!)
And here's what the classroom looks and sounds like for the next two - three minutes. #awkward #boring #sleepinducing #soINsidetheboxwiththelidducttapedshut #complaincemode
See what happened in my classes. I missed the POPCORN moment--the moment they all exploded out of their seats--but I got my iPhone cued up and recording seconds after that. :)
We looked back at the phrase on the board at the end of class. It hadn't changed....so what had?
We looked at the room. It had changed. We reflected on their energy and enthusiasm level. It had changed. We reflected on their creativity. It had changed.
The kids loved this way of thinking and viewing the world. Endless possibilities. Individual expression and creation. Option for teamwork and collaboration. Compliance keeps kids inside the box. We must open the box lid and let kids know we want them to jump outside of it and explore the world....and we must jump with them as lead learners. :)
I can pull in science and more. Have you ever felt like hiding behind something?
Why? Why would hawks hide? A picture with text opens up more than showing just the picture itself.
Good luck and I hope to see you and learn with you on Flickr AND on Twitter!
The reality of the typical school experience for our kids is hands-off, with sterile curricula, worksheets, books, and tests that encourage passive learning and judgment by others rather than active learning, creating, and problem-solving within THEIR world and community. The kids have adapted to it and are comfortable in it....because that's just the WAY IT IS. It's time to Wreck that.
I started the SMASHbook last year by showing my 6th graders the video below. (I smash the two words together, by the way.) They were mesmerized by it, seriously. They LOVED IT and embraced the Smashbook idea. We spent time in class with TONS of supplies out like hot glue guns (oh how 6th graders love those things) and just every little thing I could find.
I did not use the SMASHbooks consistently last year. Wish I had. 2012-13 was a year of new use and exploration of IdeaPaint Tables and iPads and the start of Workshop Model. Consistent use of the SMASHbook fell by the wayside.
Found Keri Smith and her many interactive and fun books thanks to Twitter, of course, and +Brain Pickings. Keri's books encourage learners to take control of their world by manipulating it in off-the-wall ways. Watch the video below of a girl's experience with her Wreck this Journal. (Here is an earlier blogpost inspired by Keri Smith.)
This plays perfectly into the Workshop Model idea of kids marking the text and being intentional about their learning.
How can I blast kids out of a PASSIVE learning MODE into an ACTIVE one to where they are interacting readily and feverishly with ideas and patterns they see in text, video, the outdoors, the world?
*The idea of INTERACTING physically and mentally with your world is the heart of real learning. Learning is personal and that's where I'm intentionally taking the kids next year, all year through active SMASHbook journals. My wish is they take this mentality with them into the rest of their days...