Rows of Desks are SO Yesterday

Remember the post I did on adding a Genius Bar to your classroom?  Well, I decided that I must do exactly that.  So, I have been working on re-purposing an old bookshelf to become the countertop of my Genius Bar.  Have I mentioned that I am not very good at DIY projects?  First of all, I often forget to do a “Before” picture, so I only have a “During” one.  Secondly, it’s possible I killed more than one brain cell while I spray-painted this monstrosity – and that’s slightly ironic considering the fact that I am calling it a “Genius Bar.”   However, I cannot wait until the students see the finished product.  Maybe they will be so excited that they won’t notice my diminished capacity…

My Genius Bar in progress!
My Genius Bar in progress!

I am doing my best to re-design my classroom this year to support the type of learning that I plan to facilitate during the next nine months – lots of collaboration and creation.  I just got some great news – I will be able to use the empty classroom next to me, as well!  I am brimming with ideas.  Unfortunately, I am not not brimming with finances for this endeavor.  I am going to see how much I can re-purpose to create my “Learning Studio,” and then work on getting financing for the rest – perhaps through Donors Choose.  I will keep you posted on my progress.

Speaking of Donors Choose, check out the #RemakeClass Photo Sweepstakes sponsored by Edutopia, in which you can possibly win a gift card from Donors Choose!  If you’re like me, and don’t think you can get it together by the August 25th deadline, you might still want to visit the site to take a look at all of the fabulous photos for some inspiration.  If you are interested in entering the contest, here is a link to the F.A.Q.’s. (Also, here is a link to Edutopia’s weekly giveaways, which also includes a Donors Choose gift card this week for $500!)

For more inspiration, here are a couple of other articles that have great ideas for classroom makeovers:  “How to Make Your Classroom a Thinking Space” by Suzie Boss, and “My Top 10 Learning Spaces – A Universal Design in a Gifted Classroom” by Zoe Branigan-Pipe.

Teacher Movies

photo credit: familymwr via photo pin cc

One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one I did in December about my favorite inspirational videos for teachers.  Recently, I saw a post on Edutopia that listed the author’s favorite scenes from “teacher movies” – but they aren’t all inspirational.  I added my favorites to my Pinterest Board, including the ones from Dangerous Minds, Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets’ Society, and Mr. Holland’s Opus.  The post, by Amy Erin Borovoy, also has some links to other collections of teacher movies, which includes The Top Ten Inspirational Teacher Movies, by Beth Accomando.

Watching some of the clips on the Edutopia post made me realize how far we have come, hopefully, in education.  Others worried me, because I think too many people might think that they set the standard for teaching.  In the fight scene from Blackboard Jungle, for example, the teacher, in my estimation, throws gasoline on the fire with his handling of one student’s misbehavior.  Although I certainly don’t condone the student’s actions, I could list at least 5 things that the teacher did to make things worse.

The clip from Mr. Holland’s Opus is a reminder of what this blog is all about – engaging our students and making things relevant to them so they can discover their own passion for learning.

Reteach and Enrich

This video, hosted by Edutopia, offers an interesting model for differentiating for students in mathematics – giving the ones who need extra help the opportunity for more time to learn while the students who have mastered a concept can go deeper.  This is a fascinating alternative to the “Intervention Time” that many schools have been implementing.  With this method, all students have their needs addressed, instead of just the ones who need additional practice.

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