I have been uplifted by the many videos that have been shared on social media lately showing how people are making their own joy with others despite our physical distances. I wanted to share a few today.
This first one was brought to my attention in a blog post by @LarryFerlazzo:
For a dose of absolutely adorable cuteness, you should listen to “Virus in a Tree.”
My daughters (Fenn 4, Bess 6) made a virus related song today. It’s called ‘Virus in The Tree’. It’s written from the perspective of the virus. They’re trying their best to process it all. 🌳 pic.twitter.com/27RuYeWkOo
And finally, for those of us looking for some humor, watch this clever and talented family perform the pandemic version of “One Day More” from Les Miserables. (Thanks to @jtrayers for sharing this on FB.)
“Old people shouldn’t be forced to learn chess, but if they want to learn chess surely they can! They’re allowed to,” a young girl assures the interviewer in The Magic of Chess.
“Even though they could be doing something else – like playing Legos,” the young boy next to her adds.
This adorable short film featured on Vimeo will inspire any young student (and maybe some old people) to try the game of chess. The filmmaker, Jenny Schweitzer Bell, captured the many positive aspects of playing chess by interviewing boys and girls at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championship. The children tout the problem solving skills they have learned, and growth mindset is a constant theme. Their passion for the game is truly inspiring!
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! For this year’s suggestions so far, click here.
I adore the work of Gavin Aung Than. His Zen Pencils site features illustrations of inspiring quotes, and he has published several books. This year, he added Creative Struggle: Illustrated Advice from Masters of Creativity to his long list of accomplishments. I enjoyed seeing lesser know quotes in the collection, and felt particularly moved by the “Creative Pep Talk #1” entry. It illustrates the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti, and supports my philosophy that we should focus more on the process than the product in education. “Our present education is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing. The result has become more important than the action.” He criticizes our desire for fame and lauds anyone who “is a creative human being living anonymously.”
This book would be appropriate for teens and up, or for teachers to use in the classroom with any age. As I try to convince my students to venture outside of their comfort zones and get frustrated with my own creative attempts and failures, the words of Brene Brown, so well depicted in Than’s book, keep me going:
“The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.”
My 5th graders spend the last semester examining their own beliefs, developing manifestos, and researching a Dream Team of people who exemplify what they stand for. We use some of the “This I Believe” curriculum to help them identify their values. Yesterday, my students and I listened to one of the short radio essays archived on the website for the podcast. It is called, “30 Things I Believe.” In this particular episode, a first grader, Tarak McLain, reflects on his Kindergarten 100th Day Project. While most students bring collections of 100 objects, Tarak brought in 100 things he believes. For the podcast, Tarak shares 30 of those beliefs. My students and I enjoyed listening to his earnestly read list, and talked about what they agreed/disagreed with. We also discussed which of Tarak’s beliefs might change as he grows up.
Tarak would be about 16 years old now. I wonder what his thoughts are on the manifesto created by his 7-year-old self.
It’s the season of graduations, and Jason Mraz just released the perfect song to accompany every single one of them. I played it yesterday as my 4th graders were working on mandalas, and they left the classroom singing the chorus in unison on the way to lunch.
The song, “Have it All,” is one of those catchy tunes that you don’t have to be a music producer to predict will be an instant hit. It will lift your heart even more when you watch the video. Students from Binford Middle School in Richmond, VA, (where Mraz has mentored since last year) appear in segments of this uplifting short film. The custodian gets a starring role, too!
Jason Mraz is a master of lyrics, and your students may enjoy analyzing such lines as, “May you be as fascinating as the slap bracelet.” My favorite is the one I used to title this blog post.
Apple made some announcements yesterday regarding additional support for educators with new products and management tools. You can read about it here. As part of its “Everyone Can Create” campaign, the company released a new video, “One Person Can Change the World.” Of course, its ultimate purpose is to sell Apple products, but listening to the children narrating may make you ready to go out and do something incredible. A couple of great quotes from the short video are:
As I watched the video on YouTube, I noticed another Apple video from 2014 that I don’t remember seeing before today. This second video is called, “Perspective,” and I can’t wait to show it to my students. As Apple states in the video description, “Here’s to those who have always seen things differently.”
In that creepy way that Amazon has of knowing all about you, it recommended Mockupsto me when I was searching for another brainstorming game someone had recommended on Twitter. The original game was not available, so I thought I would give Mockups a try instead.
Mockups is a good game to practice Design Thinking. It includes cards of three different colors. Pick a card of each color, and you suddenly have a Design Thinking Challenge. A white card tells you the person you are designing for, the gray card tells you what to design, and the black card will give you a constraint for that design.
As an example, I just randomly selected: Adventurous Preschoolers, A Way to Keep Their Hands Warm, Absorbent. There are suggested “games” to play using the card, such as giving the challenge to teams to come up with the best answer or making groups work silently on creating a solution. Of course, you can use the cards however you want.
This can be a fun way to encourage creativity, and students can learn empathy and new vocabulary as they design. The suggested ages, according to Amazon, are 6+. I took out the card, “bartenders,” but didn’t see any others that were objectionable.