A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
This year, I have decided to do my annual “Gifts for the Gifted” posts all in one week. This should give anyone who likes to shop ahead of time a good start!
I originally reviewed Disruptus in February of this year. At the time, I was teaching K-5 elementary students in a pull-out gifted and talented program. I am happy to say, now that I have been teaching middle and high school students as well, that this game seems to appeal to players of all ages. Be forewarned, though. In general, the older the player, the more time he or she will need to warm up. Years of being trained to give one right answer has a tendency to discourage wild thinking. But you will notice a subtle shift if you play long enough – as crazy ideas that might have never been voiced begin to appear in the responses.
In a world where we are finally realizing the value of creativity, Disruptus is an excellent way to encourage unique ideas. Whether being played in the classroom or at the family table, Disruptus emboldens participants to turn off their filters of practicality. Players must develop innovative ideas based on the cards that are drawn and the instruction on the cube, and “safe” answers rarely win.
As seasoned readers may know, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of math. (See here, here, or here for some examples.) Now that my job title is S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher, I have been looking even more for ideas on how to integrate math and art.
Math Craft is a great place to start. From mathematical knitting to Sierpinski Christmas trees, there is no shortage of inspiration on this site (though it is a bit heavy on polyhedrons). Not every post gives you instructions, as some of them feature work by professional artists – but you could always pose the question to your students, “How do you think they made this?” They may end up making something completely different, but equally as beautiful, along the way.
If you really want to take your feedback, reflections, critiques, etc… to a whole new level, you should consider using these IDEO Lifeline Cards. I haven’t used them with my students yet, but just asking myself the questions made me think about my own work differently. The cards are free (and quite beautiful), so download them while you can. Even if the questions are a bit too high level for your particular student age group, applying them to your own life is an intriguing exercise and may give you some insight you have never considered.
Colleen Graves (@gravescolleen) shared some pictures on Twitter a few days ago that showed prototypes she was making of a library data tracker and a classroom exit ticket tracker. Both use the Makey Makey along with some minimal Scratch programming. I begged for some more details, and she has released the instructions here. (That sentence makes it sound like she only published the directions because I asked, but I’m pretty sure the two events just happened in chronological order because Colleen planned it that way – not because I have the power to demand anyone to explain things in detail just so I can copy their ideas.)
Could the fact that I just noticed the title of this NBC show is a double entendre be in any way related to the fact that I now spend my days teaching teenagers?
It could just be that Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler hosting a show about amazing makers distracted me from any other interpretation of the title other than crafting incredible stuff.
If you are a STEMer, STEAMer, or STREAMer, you should definitely take a peek at this weekly show to get some inspiration. Though it is not directly related to education, you will get some ideas of what is possible with a little bit of imagination and a lot of glitter and balsa wood.
You can stream the episodes here if you don’t have NBC or Hulu. So far, my favorite has been Episode 2, in which the makers were challenged to design forts and corresponding toys for children. The versatility and creativity of each entry blew me away. I am really glad I’m not one of the judges.
If you love watching people rip each other apart or run naked through the woods, then this show might not be your cup of tea. But if you enjoy seeing people who appear to be genuinely nice and sometimes a little bit goofy produce amazing works of art with unusual tools and supplies, “Making It” should be your goal for tonight.
Okay, that didn’t quite come out the way I meant it. But you can take it any way you want. I’m not in charge of your personal life. Most of the time I’m not even in charge of mine.
The Global Student Voice Film Festival is a competition for students ages 5-18. Hosted by the Student Voice Organization, of which Jennie Magiera is president, this contest is in its second year. Last year’s theme was, “In Another’s Shoes,” and I highly encourage you to view the winners. For the 2018-2019 contest, students will create 60 second films with the theme of, “Activating Change.” You can access the rules here. Of particular note is the optional Dec. 17th deadline. Entries received by that date will receive feedback from the judges, and be given the opportunity to revise their films to be turned by April 9th. Participants who don’t meet the December deadline have a hard deadline of February 18th.
The goal of this contest is to amplify student voices, but it is also to reinforce respect for intellectual properties, so any use of images, video, or music in the film that are not created by the contestants are subject to strict copyright guidelines.
If you have students who are passionate about film production and/or making a difference, the Global Student Voice Film Festival would be a great project for them.
For her Genius Hour project, one of my 5th grade students questioned what the world would be like without creativity. Since she used Scratch for last year’s project (on Sleepwalking), I told her that she needed to present her information in a different way, but that she could still use Scratch for part of her project. Whereas she used Scratch to give her information about her topic last year, she decided to use Animaker this year. However, she chose to use Scratch for the “interactive” portion of her presentation (I always insist that there be a part that involves the audience), and blew me away with the complexity of her game. She designed “Creativity Land,” which includes five interactive games that help students learn the information she gave in her videos. This. Was. Not. For. A. Grade. She did this purely out of her love for learning and creating. English is her second language – maybe third, because imagination is certainly her first.
If you don’t do Genius Hour with your students, you are missing out on something amazing. And so are your students.