Tag Archives: books

What Do You Do With an Idea?

The easy answer to the question is to cook it.

But I should probably back up a bit.

All of the elementary GT teachers in our district received a book before the holidays called, What Do You Do With an Idea?  It’s a beautifully illustrated book that figuratively represents a boy’s idea as he conceives it, nearly abandons it, and then nurtures it until it “spreads its wings.”

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For some reason, I thought this would be a good book to share with my 1st grade GT students.  That was my brilliant idea – and I didn’t ponder it long enough to realize that it was a bad one.

“Have you ever had an idea that you wanted to share, but were afraid other people would make fun of you?” I asked as an introduction to the book.

“Yes!” a 1st grader emphatically confirmed.

“Oh, what was your idea?”

“I wanted to go to my friend’s house,” she said.

So that led to a discussion about what I meant by the word, “idea.”

We finally got to the book.  And, as I started reading it I quickly became uncomfortably aware that I hadn’t looked at the story with 1st grader eyes the first few times I read it.

“Why do you think the illustrator used an egg as the boy’s idea?” I asked.

“I know!  Because he was hungry.”

“It’s not really an egg.  It’s a chicken.  It has feet,” another student pointed out.

Things further deteriorated when I got to the part about the boy “feeding” his idea.  I had apparently chosen the precise time of day to share this story when the distance between breakfast and lunch seemed far too wide to my “starving students.”  Between food and the ambiguity of a walking egg, the conversation wandered quite far from what I had imagined when I put this book in my lesson plans 3 weeks ago.

At home that afternoon, I thought about what had happened to my idea – the great one that I had of sharing this book with my 1st graders, engaging them in a deep, philosophical discussion (as described here), and then asking them to generate a piece of artwork with their own ideas (like these awesome examples).

I forgot to boil my egg.  That was the problem.  I just plucked a raw egg out of the carton and spun it like a top on the table – and it went wildly out of control.

What do you do with an idea?

Boil it in water for 10 minutes.

If it cracks, then you’ll know that it certainly wouldn’t have survived the heat of a room full of 1st graders.

How We Got to Now

I’m going to break one of my blogging rules and write about something that I haven’t actually seen or read yet (I don’t think this is first time I’ve broken that rule, but I could be wrong).  I keep running across articles about it, and I heard an interview with the author on NPR.

One of the Kaplan icons for Depth and Complexity that I talk about with my students is “Change over Time.”  The new book and PBS mini-series, “How We Got to Now” is a fascinating look through this lens at different facets of the world that is familiar to us.

How We Got to Now

Cory Doctorow has an excellent review of the book by Steven Johnson here.  I immediately ordered it from Amazon, and I am eagerly anticipating it!

You can listen to Linda Wertheimer’s interview with Steven Johnson (or read the transcript) here.  I was intrigued by Johnson’s reference to the hummingbird effect as well as his interesting story about how the printing press led to the manipulation of glass in new ways as more people began to read and realized that they needed spectacles!

Not only do the stories covered by Steven Johnson relate “Change Over Time”, but they are examples of the many unintended consequences that result from events and demonstrate the interdependence of the systems in our world.

I am hoping I can use some of the stories with my students, and that they can use them as a model for some of their own research.  Storytelling is always a great way to engage the students and help them to learn about history as they consider the implications for the future.

Try Calling Ishmael – Or at Least Listen to the Voicemails He Gets

I had a completely different post planned for today.  But then I was hip-hopping around the internet, visiting my usual suspects, when I came across this post on It’s Okay to Be Smart.  Joe Hanson rocks.  He always has intriguing entries on his Tumblr, and this one is no exception.

Call Me Ishmael is a website/YouTube Channel that is for people who love books.  “How can that be?” you ask, “Videos are the antithesis of books.”  Well, not if they are videos that celebrate books and the difference they have made in people’s lives.

Call Me Ishmael asks people to call “Ishmael” and leave a voicemail about their favorite book.  Each day, Ishmael takes one of those voicemails, and creates a video with the transcription.

It’s really moving to listen to the impact some of these books have made.  Aside from the implications for classroom use, I just found it inspiring to listen to a few of these, and it made me think deeply about the books that have become a core part of my soul over the years.

Here are a few that I recommend:



A Great Graduation Gift

This is a reblog from a post that I did in November last year.  Now that the school year is quickly nearing its close, I’ve started hearing parents discuss what they can do to make upcoming milestones special.  Here is one idea you may want to consider.

heroes

My daughter was about to “graduate” from elementary school last year, and I started to panic.  I had seen on Pinterest all of the ideas for using the book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, with signatures from past teachers, as a graduation gift.  But I wanted to do something a little different.  After much internet detective work, I found, Heroes for My Daughter, by Brad Meltzer. (He has also written Heroes for My Son.)

Fortunately, I happen to work at my daughter’s school – at least, I did last year, before she went on to middle school.  Also fortunately, all of her past teachers, including her Music and P.E. teachers, still work there.  I took pictures of them, and used a photo editing tool to make the pictures look like the ones in the book.  Then, I asked each of her teaching heroes to write a message to her.

She cried when she opened the gift on her graduation day.  Granted, she had already cried several times that day.  Leaving elementary school was a lot more emotionally taxing than either of us suspected. Nevertheless, she seemed very appreciative of the book.

During the summer, we read one of the short chapters from the book each night before she went to bed.  We both learned a lot about the people in the book, such as Julia Child and the Three Stooges.

When we finished the book, she said, “I think we should read it again.”

If you are looking for a great book to give as a gift to a child, then you should definitely consider Heroes for My Daughter (or Heroes for My Son).  And, if you can, read it along with her or him. Your child will not be the only one who benefits from this gift.  (By the way, both books include role models from both genders.)

Here is my Pinterest Board of Books for Gifted Students.  Previous entries for this year’s “Gifts for the Gifted” post are:  CubeletsSifteo CubesScrabble Flash, and Make-Do.  (You can also find these on the Games and Toys for Gifted Students Pinterest Board.)

Heroes for My Daughter

A wonderful gift
A wonderful gift that you can find here

I’m feeling a bit sentimental with the Thanksgiving holiday this week, so I chose a different kind of product for today’s “Gifts for the Gifted” post.  I actually wrote about this book back in August, but it was part of a larger article.  I think it deserves its own entry.

My daughter was about to “graduate” from elementary school last year, and I started to panic.  I had seen on Pinterest all of the ideas for using the book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, with signatures from past teachers, as a graduation gift.  But I wanted to do something a little different.  After much internet detective work, I found, Heroes for My Daughter, by Brad Meltzer. (He has also written Heroes for My Son.)

Fortunately, I happen to work at my daughter’s school – at least, I did last year, before she went on to middle school.  Also fortunately, all of her past teachers, including her Music and P.E. teachers, still work there.  I took pictures of them, and used a photo editing tool to make the pictures look like the ones in the book.  Then, I asked each of her teaching heroes to write a message to her.

She cried when she opened the gift on her graduation day.  Granted, she had already cried several times that day.  Leaving elementary school was a lot more emotionally taxing than either of us suspected.  Nevertheless, she seemed very appreciative of the book.

During the summer, we read one of the short chapters from the book each night before she went to bed.  We both learned a lot about the people in the book, such as Julia Child and the Three Stooges.

When we finished the book, she said, “I think we should read it again.”

If you are looking for a great book to give as a gift to a child, then you should definitely consider Heroes for My Daughter (or Heroes for My Son).  And, if you can, read it along with her or him. Your child will not be the only one who benefits from this gift.

Here is my Pinterest Board of Books for Gifted Students.  Previous entries for this year’s “Gifts for the Gifted” post are:  Cubelets, Sifteo Cubes, Scrabble Flash, and Make-Do.  (You can also find these on the Games and Toys for Gifted Students Pinterest Board.)

Sorted Book Shelfies

Book "Shelfie" from Joy Kirr's blog
Book “Shelfie” from Joy Kirr’s blog

I absolutely love this idea from Joy Kirr!  (Joy got the idea after seeing this.)  After I saw it, I couldn’t wait to include it in a Phun Phriday post! Instead of “selfies” (pictures of yourself), you are challenged to take “shelfies” (pictures of you with your book collection).  I think it’s great how Joy has made it into a contest with 3 different categories.  And, of course, the prize is a book!  I’m going to build on the idea a bit here, and tie it into another interesting book photo concept.  Artist Nina Katchadourian has a “Sorted Books” project, which is compiled of photographs of certain books together.  Each photograph conveys a certain message with the book titles.

One of my favorite "Sorted Books" photos by artist Nina Katchadourian
One of my favorite “Sorted Books” photos by artist Nina Katchadourian

So, I’m going to challenge my students to do a “Sorted Books Shelfie”.   Check out the example below!

Sorted Books Shelfie
Sorted Books Shelfie: Wayside School is Falling Down/The Sixty-Eight Rooms/Into the Blue/Rats