Get your students to WRECK their LEARNING using SMASH Book and Wreck This Journal mentality.

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?

  • Active Journaling/writing is the KEY but kids must learn HOW to BE active learners, investigators, thinkers, and writers.
  • I'll use the spirit of the Smash Book and Keri's Wreck this Journal to KICK-OFF their active Science and SS Journal experiences. They'll do crazy things to their journals; perhaps I'll make a list of 'ideas' and choices/options for them to do in their journals to get MESSY and GET USED TO physically and then MENTALLY interacting with their world. THIS IS VITAL. If I can get them into this mode full-bore from the 1st week of school, I'll have them out of their institutionalized learning shells and ready to run and grow...and experience the magic of self-directed learning and thinking. Add the community experience of an entire classroom or team or school on the same type of journey and there is more magic, growth, and enjoyment. We'll work in rigor and ways of thinking/analyzing as the year goes on.
  •  If I had the money to purchase the Wreck this Journal books for all my kids this year I would do it. It would be a great activity to do with a big chunk of time, perhaps as an entire grade level or team. I envision free time, lots of supplies out for use, snacks, and time to launch into their Wreck this Journal book with all their creativity and zeal and enthusiasm. Then we'd share in small groups, large groups, and class. iMovie to showcase. Hmmm, I shall talk to my art and music teachers as well for inspiration and invite them into the fun.
  • Once the kids have the Wreck this Journal mentality in place for jumping into the world around them, we'll delve into ways of thinking/manipulating/organizing thoughts. 
    • I'll encourage the same thing on the IPADS. With the class set of iPads, what tools can kids use to approach iPad journaling with the same interactive rules? I welcome feedback, suggestions, tips from the peanut gallery. :)

    *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... 

    Have you ever watched snowflakes MELT?

    I had never watched snow melt from start to end.

    I did on Feb. 25. 

    I opened the back door and inserted my black sweater into the swirling mass of snowflakes for about 10 seconds. Winter storm #2 was upon us and I wanted to use the opportunity to let my mind wander and wonder. I pulled the sweater back inside and smoothed it out on the counter. With my iPhone 4s and trusty Olloclip macro lens attachment at hand, I began recording the story of one particular clump of snowflakes in a 70 degree room.

    I was happily surprised by what I observed. 

    Never sphere, I think you will enjoy this as well.


    This is something you can show the kids at home or at school. Ask them to brainstorm a list of questions that arise in their minds as a result of this 'snowflake story.' What could they do to explore water's properties to find out questions and observe patterns?

    Cool Story about using Creative Commons Flickr Photos.

    I found this photo on Flickr.

    Flakes 2
    photo credit: NedraI via photopin cc

    I wanted to use it. On the lower right of the Flickr photo page it was licensed for use...
    Attribution, Non-commercial, Share-alike.

    I asked for NedraI's permission anyway in the comment section under the picture. What a nice interaction and a new connection and friend.

    Please click on the picture above to see my question to her and her response.

    Here is a previous blogpost about why I use Flickr as a Learner, Educator, and Photographer.

    Sound, Salt, and May the (mechanical) Force be with you!


    Okay 6th graders, what is sound anyway? They brainstormed. They took a pretest. (They will laugh SO HARD when I show them their pretest answers/drawings/reasonings at the end of the unit. Ha!)

    They know that sound and light are forms of energy.

    We gather around the CART of SCIENCE.

    Question 1: Kids, what will happen to this salt when I shine light energy on it? They predict, then I shine the light. Hmmm. Nothing happened. Light is energy, though, so what's it doing??? Hmmm.

    Question 2: What will happen to this salt if I send sound energy towards it? They predict. I pull out my big megaphone and position it near the salt. I push the button and send a high pitched and loud sound at the salt....and the salt goes crazy. The kids eyes are about THIS big. Next I scream/sing into the megaphone "DANCE SALT DANCE, AHHHHH."  The kids take turns doing the same. 6th hour piped up and suggested the ENTIRE class scream/sing at the salt at the same time. They wondered what would happen. Here is the result. (1 min. 10 seconds)