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Webspiration Wednesday

Today I instituted Webspiration Wednesday at my school.  I have noticed over the years that second semester seems to be lacking motivation and morale January through March.  Maybe it is because winter is STILL dragging on, maybe it is because it feels like a long stretch before spring break, or maybe it is because the complaints of the year are really settling in.  I have noticed this phenomenon in all the schools I have been in.  During last weeks #edchat on Twitter, I learned that low morale is a common problem that most schools face.  As we talked about ways to boost morale, I thought about the ways that my amazing PLN boosts my morale every day.  They encourage me, give me new ideas, and reignite my passion with the great links they share.  I wanted to bring some of that to my school.  I wanted teachers to have a chance to laugh together, and enjoy each others company, and get away from the teachers lounge which can end up being a place to gripe about everything that has gone wrong that morning. Last night, in a moment of divine inspiration, I decided that it was high time for Webspiration Wednesday.  So, this morning I sent out invitations to the entire staff to join me for Webspiration Wednesday lunch in the library.   Teachers trickled into the library, lunches in toe, and we sat down and watched a TED Talk together.  I chose “Sir Ken Robinson Says That Schools Kill Creativity”.  It was a great Ted Talk to start Webspiration Wednesday with, not only is Sir Ken Robinson inspiring, he also has a great sense of humor.  He had us laughing together (which as it turns out is a great stress reliever) and thinking about school and our students in new ways.  After the video had ended a spontaneous and lively discussion ensued about those kids that we have in our classrooms that we are stifling.  We offered each other ideas for giving them room to be creative.  It was fantastic.  We all left are short 25 min. lunch feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day.  I wonder if the students noticed a difference in teacher attitudes after lunch?  I plan to hold Webspiration Wednesday every week and have asked my PLN on Twitter to join in using the hash tag #webspirationwednesday if they come across inspiring articles, videos, lessons, stories, etc. Now a disclaimer, I did not ask permission to start Webspiration Wednesday.  I just did it.   Sometimes I think it is better to ask forgiveness (if need be) than to ask permission.  In our #edchat discussion, we talked about who should have the responsibility to boost morale in a school.  My answer was everyone has that responsibility.  I decided to take my own challenge and be the one who tried something new, something different.  Will you be that person at your school?  What boosts your morale? What have you seen work well in the school setting? Below is the TED Talk that we watched together, I believe you will find it inspiring. I have said it before, and I will say it again, my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter has been a great source of joy, encouragement, and friendship.  I have never met 98% of my PLN in person, and yet they are always there for me, cheering me on and offering suggestions when  I fail.  If you haven’t made the leap into the world of Twitter, I highly recommend it.  If you are looking for a top notch group of educators to follow, may I suggest the Edublogger Alliance group?  Once you are on Twitter, be sure to join in on #edchat.  There are two #edchat conversations that take place every Tuesday.  I can feel myself getting smarter as I learn from the BEST educators in the world every Tuesday.  Just follow the hash tag #edchat and be sure to add it to the end of your Twitter messages to participate.  I can promise that you won’t be disappointed. If I am speaking Greek to you, take a look at @shellterrell’s posts about #edchat and PLN’s.  She will have you joining in the conversation and fun in no time!

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How We Got to Now: a student created mini museum

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, History, Inquiry, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 04-02-2015

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In November, I wrote a post about the book/PBS documentary series “How We Got to Now” by Steven Johnson. If you haven’t read this book or watched the series, it is a must! Truly, this is one of those books that has stayed with me. I’m not the only one. Students from 1st-8th grade at Anastasis have become fascinated with Steven Johnson’s journey through the six innovations that made the modern world. The way that Steven weaves the story is remarkable. It reminds us just how interconnected the world is and that innovation doesn’t happen in isolation, but as a result of connection. This book, perhaps more than any we’ve read as a school, has reminded us of the beauty of inquiry. What happens when hunches collide and people pursue those hunches.

I love the way that Johnson explores innovation through these 6 lenses. Instead of offering up the typical “heroes” of invention, Johnson introduces students to concepts that span hundreds of years of invention and many of the unsung heroes. The six innovations include: glass, time, clean, light, sound, and cold. I’m telling you, the way that Johnson helps kids see connections in innovation and invention is brilliant! So much the way that inquiry works. :)

In my first post, I wrote about how our students had imagined these innovations as a series of dominoes. Each new discovery leads to the next. Much like dominoes creating a chain reaction. The students have spent the last months exploring each of the 6 innovations in-depth. In addition to the PBS series, they’ve spent time really digging into each innovation that led to the next.

How we got to now-Anastasis Academy

@dweissmo really took on this project with her students. The process wasn’t without it’s frustrations (for teacher and students) but the end result was absolutely incredible! Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined a better outcome than what I saw today when Deb’s class unveiled their mini museum. Before I get to that, let me lead you through the process of how this project came together.

First, Deb’s class watched each of the How We Got to Now @PBS documentary series. The students took notes (in Evernote, through sketchnotes, etc.) about each innovation. The class would also debrief after each video and talk about what surprised them, encouraged them about the invention process, the key players, and the timeline. @dweissmo is a master at leading these conversations. Her enthusiasm is infectious and the students caught her passion. Steven Johnson also has a way of presenting the unfolding of each innovation in a way that hooks your interests and keeps you marveling and making connections long after the video is over. After watching the documentary series, Deb put each of the six innovations up on her wall and asked students to write their names on a sticky note and choose which innovation that they were most excited to learn more about.

Students chose which innovation they wanted to do a more in-depth study of and would, ultimately, create dominoes based on.

For the dominoes, we snagged a bunch of the flat-rate shipping boxes from USPS. The students painted them different colors according to the innovation they were studying (a different color for each innovation). Next they took all of their notes and research and started creating their “dominoes” with information about that innovation. They quickly realized that there was SO much to say about each innovation, that it didn’t fit on their domino. The kids decided to create websites where they could add a little more in-depth information about the innovation. To make it easier for the museum audience, they connected the websites and webpages they built to QR codes for each domino. You guys, these are 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students!!! I’m so proud of them I could burst. They built their websites using Wix (a wonderful and amazing WYSIWYG editor). The QR codes were built using Google’s URL shortener which also happens to include a QR code. On the back of each domino, the kids affixed their QR codes. Some of the kids also created videos that were included on their website. (If you are interested in seeing these websites, all are linked here.)  All of this was done over the course of a few months as the kids continued on their inquiry journey of How We Express Ourselves, and How the World Works.

Then came the full moon. Any teacher will tell you that the full moon does something to children. Perfectly wonderful, reasonable children are suddenly unrecognizable and cannot make a decision or work together to save their lives. This is a real thing! This full moon coincided with class decisions about how to set up their museum. And much chaos ensued. Despite the full moon, the kids were able to come to a decision about how they would set up their museum for the rest of Team Anastasis and families to enjoy. For all of the trouble they had coming to a decision, they did a remarkable job in the end! They created a sort of maze/labyrinth to walk through with dominoes along the journey. They decided to organize the dominoes not by innovation, but instead as a timeline so that you could see the interconnectedness of innovation. They had a station set up with clips from the How We Got to Now PBS series, a station where kids/parents could download a QR code scanner and learn how to use it before going through the museum, the actual domino mini-museum, and a place to reflect on the museum afterward. It was incredible!!

What was truly inspiring was watching the other classes (and parents) journey through the museum. Kids of all ages were SO engaged and impressed with what Team Weissman had put on. They spent time sitting at each domino and learning more about the innovations. They asked questions. They told Team Weissman what a neat website they had built. They connected with each other and learned together. Seriously, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better scenario. As the 1st-3rd grade class was leaving, they stopped and asked some of Team Weissman, “could you show us how to do QR codes and websites for our Body Tracings?” This is what learning looks like!

After all their hard work, the kids sat down and reflected on what could have gone better. What they would like to do differently for their next museum. They congratulated each other for a job well done. They talked about how hard the project felt at times and how very proud of themselves they were when they persevered through the hard parts. They made plans for the next opportunity to share it.

And now for our next trick, Team Weissman is creating their own inventions…How We Get to Next! These are so brilliant, I can’t wait to share them!

If you are joining us for the 5sigma Education Conference (and I hope you are!!), you will get a first hand look at the How We Got to Now mini domino museum and hear from the students who created it.

 

 

 

Comments (7)

What an amazing and impressive project! So inspiring to see what these students are doing-thank you for sharing. As our school moves to more 1-1 classrooms and project based learning, I am hoping we can do something like this.

What a cool idea!! Love this!

Your commentary about students inventing and producing
projects was so interesting. I always enjoy reading about
people being creative and inventing incredible stuff. It’s so
important to motivate our kids and keep sending the right
message about knowledge and the learning process. We
never want to stifle them or hold them back in any way.
One day we may have the privilege of teaching a very famous scientist, doctor or lawyer. To be apart of something
like that would just be so incredible!

I so enjoyed reading your account of this very cool project! I love how the dominoes represent one innovation leading into another–connections and transitions are such an important part of the educational process, but they can be hard to convey. Looks like this project did it brilliantly, in a way that fully engaged the kids. Bravo to all!

Thanks Jen, it was a truly incredible project!

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