This is a sweet video from FableVision that tells the story of two friends who choose different career paths based on their personalities rather than what culture dictates they “should do.” The message that you can be happy and successful in more than one way is one that I hope that I communicate to my own students and child.
The mission at DreamWakers.org is to connect students in 4th-12th grades who attend high-risk schools with professionals from various industries through video conferencing. In this way, low-income students can learn about career opportunities they might never conceive due to lack of exposure. They can also speak with role models who give practical advice on how to achieve their goals. You can learn more about applying for a “flashchat” through DreamWakers here.
DreamWakers recently made one of their popular resources available to all educators. Designed in collaboration with The Institute of Play, DreamBingo reinforces themes that DreamWakers identified as the “life skills” needed to navigate the challenges of pursuing desired careers. (Some examples are: learn to network, stay organized, and be an informed citizen.) After going over the glossary of these “DreamThemes,” a teacher can then use the Google Slides presentation included in the free materials to lead student pairs through playing Bingo as they try to identify the skills shown in video clips during the presentation. Students respond on printable Score Cards after each round of the game, giving them a chance to reflect on how the themes are used by the speakers as well as how they can connect them to their own lives and those of their peers.
DreamBingo can be a a great way to engage and inspire your students. By highlighting the “DreamThemes” referred to by these diverse role models, teachers can bring relevance to the classroom and open up the minds of their students to new possibilities.
I have a few friends who don’t like their jobs. I mean REALLY. DON’T. LIKE. It seems like it would be really depressing to wake up in the morning and think, “Only 10 more years. I hope I can make it.”
Don’t get me wrong. When I get up in the morning, I think, “Only 10 more minutes. I’m sure I can still make it – maybe if I don’t eat breakfast.” But then I get up and go to work. Usually when my husband starts grumbling about me hitting the snooze button too many times. And some days it’s pretty great, and most days it’s good, and those days usually add up to enough to make me feel like I chose a pretty good career, thank goodness, because teaching stuffed animals wasn’t going to get me as far as I thought when I was five years old.
I read an article the other day about how to fall in love with a job you don’t like. At first I felt guilty. “Why am I reading this?” I thought. “I love my job already – don’t I?” And then I remembered that I do. (It’s totally normal to have to remind yourself of this every once in awhile. Trust me.) But I decided to keep reading so I could see if the advice might help my I. REALLY. DON’T. LIKE. MY. JOB. friends.
And then I had a revelation.
Guess who else gets up every morning and thinks, “Only 10 more years. I hope I can make it.” (If you are a grammar/punctuation Nazi, then perhaps you can tell me if I was supposed to put a question mark somewhere in there. And if so, where would it go?) Kids who hate school. For many kids, school is their job, and they REALLY. DON’T. LIKE.IT.
I scanned David G. Allan’s article again, this time with the perspective of a teacher who has a student who hates school. And I thought, “I. AM. A. GENIUS!” Because every suggestion in the article would probably really help a kid who hates school but has a teacher who wants to help him stop hating school. It’s all about reframing things. And, let’s face it – teachers are good at that.
Powerball tickets can’t be printed fast enough right now. Everyone has hopes of winning that big prize, of suddenly being in the enviable position of never having to worry about how to pay the bills again.
Many people like to dream about what they would do if they woke up one day to learn they have unlimited wealth. How would their lives be different?
I feel like I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do – maybe not with all of the freedom I imagined, but teaching has always been instinctive and fulfilling for me. It surprises me when people say they never really knew how they wanted to spend their lives and kind of aimlessly went through the motions until they landed in a career. But I find that is really the majority, and I am more fortunate than I ever would have guessed to be able to identify and live out my passion.
In this video from National Geographic, Alan Watts, a famous philosopher, strongly argues for doing what you love. It’s not necessarily a video I would show to elementary students, but I wish that all high school freshmen could see it. And I wish that we modeled and supported this whole-heartedly in our educational system…
As I left the dressing room of a retail clothing store a couple of days ago, a sales associate stopped me.
“I keep looking at you, and thinking I know you,” she said.
“Really? From where?”
“I don’t know.” She thought for a moment. “What do you do?”
“I’m a teacher.”
She started to look excited. “Really? What’s your last name?”
“Eichholz. But it used to be Smith.”
“MISS SMITH!!!!!” she yelled, and ran over to hug me.
She had been my student over 20 years ago, and was thrilled to find out that I am still teaching.
If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would still be teaching now, I would have said, “No!” Even though I loved teaching (and still do), I always thought I would eventually do something else – something that might make people look at me with admiration instead of pity, something that parents might envision for their children as a potential career instead of telling them that it might be a good “backup” just in case they get injured playing football.
This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. This post originally appeared on my blog almost 3 years ago, and remains one of the top viewed posts.
One way to engage students in school is to make their learning relevant to them. And, one way to do this is to let them start thinking about possible careers and how their learning can be useful in those careers. Paws in Jobland is a great site for younger students to learn about many of the possibilities that await them once they finish school. A simple animated dog guides them through the different choices (accompanied by text and the choice of sound, great UDL site!)- from a Job Finder to an Alphabetical Search. The Job Finder asks brief questions about the student’s interests, and then suggests some possible fields for which he or she might be suited. Within each field is a list of careers, and the student can click on each one to find out more.
I know that a lot of classrooms work on goal-setting, and this would be a fun activity that would expose the kids to many areas that might not have been considered by their young minds yet. Paws in Jobland may not encompass every single career, but it is a great introduction to the “real world”.
Across from the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City, Texas, a mill that was built in 1880 closed its doors after one hundred years. It was briefly revived as entertainment complex, but then fell into disuse again for another 20 years.
Once again, however, the mill has been reincarnated. With the vision and determination of a unique team of scientist/educators, the mill has gained a new life as a venue for students to learn about and participate in science. While maintaining the integrity of the old building, including outfitting the original silos as exhibit spaces, the mill has now become a different kind of food provider. Instead of the flour and grain it once produced for the local community, the mill is now a source of food for curious and eager young minds.
The Hill Country Science Mill opened its doors in February of 2015. My 3rd-5th GT classes were fortunate to visit the complex in April. After spending a school day at the Mill, they were all eager for even more time to explore its many interactive exhibits and amazing BioLab.
A couple of weeks after our trip, the 5th graders got the chance to Skype with one of the founders of the Hill Country Science Mill, Dr. Bonnie Baskin. She graciously answered their questions, and gave them insight into the design and carefully-selected exhibits.
One student asked Dr. Baskin about the motivation behind the digital avatars each visitor can personalize when he or she arrives. (Using a “Passport” with a QR code, patrons can scan the code and create their own avatar at the entrance on one of the many iPad mini’s. Once the avatar is created, there are many opportunities throughout the Mill to scan your passport, and you can learn from your avatar the science behind particular exhibits. You can also “favorite” exhibits and follow up on your visit using the QR code once you get home.)
When asked why the staff chose to include the avatars in the experience, Dr. Baskin replied that they really wanted to appeal to an older group of students. Many interactive museums are aimed at the toddler/pre-school set, but the Mill targets middle and high-school students. This is not to say younger ones won’t appreciate the experience, but that there is a great interest on the part of the staff to keep the attention of older students.
My students were fascinated with one of the silo exhibits – the Fractalarium (designed by two San Antonio artists), and asked Dr. Baskin about this inclusion of an artistic work. She confirmed what my 4th and 5th graders had already observed, that math, art, and science often converge in amazing ways. This piece of scientific art, based on the design of the broccoli, is a perfect example.
Many of the students told Dr. Baskin that the BioLab was their favorite room. Dr. Baskin agreed that this exhibit has a special place in heart due to a background in biology, and told the students they specifically designed this room with its zebrafish, mud battery, and microscopes, to resemble a real research lab.
Another field trip favorite was the Augmented Reality Sandbox. The sandbox has a projector above it that shows the contour lines of the “mountains” and “valleys” in the box. It also simulates rain when you hold your hands over the sand. Dr. Baskin shared that this is one of the harder exhibits to keep in working order because so many students enjoy it that the calibration gets off on the projector. However, she said that, like all of the exhibits, the staff finds that the maintenance is well worth it to provide so many interactive experiences for visitors.
The only complaint that I heard from my students about this trip was that there wasn’t enough time to do everything. That’s a good problem!
Many of my students said that the field trip to the Hill Country Science Mill inspired them to seriously consider a career in one of the STEM fields, and most of them definitely intend to return to the Mill for a visit.
You can see a gallery of some of the other pictures my students took below. Of course, if you are planning a visit to the Hill Country Science Mill, you should definitely get more information from their website.
Congrats to Tom Kilgore, winner of the Family 4-Pack to the Hill Country Science Mill! He and his family headed for an awesome experience!