Tag Archives: passion

Iggy Peck, Architect

I think I just found a new favorite children’s book.

iggy-peck-architect-cover

I was already a big fan of Andrea Beaty’s book, Rosie Revere, Engineer. Because well, girl engineer.  Need I say more?  Okay: growth mindset, adorable story, fabulous illustrations (by David Roberts).

Because Amazon is so wonderful about making recommendations based on previous purchases, I knew Iggy Peck existed and kept planning to check it out.  I don’t know why I waited so long.

My 2nd graders are studying Structures, and are about to transition from natural ones to man-made.  So, I thought Iggy Peck might make a good introduction.

Unlike the What Do You Do with an Idea? fiasco of 2014, I carefully read the book a dozen times to myself before finally unveiling it to the students.

As I predicted, they loved it.

And I love it even more every time I read it.  The rhyming story of a young boy who loves to build anything anywhere and anytime is fun. The students were enthralled with the incredibly detailed pictures.  (One sharp-eyed student noticed Rosie Revere on one of the pages!)

But the most important part of Iggy Peck is the message about pursuing your passion and what happens when teachers stifle that passion.

Fortunately, the teacher in the story evolves.  Otherwise, it would be kind of a bummer of a book 😉

I’m not sure if Iggy Peck makes more of an impact on adults or kids, but I can tell you that it is enjoyable for all ages.

Here are some Iggy Peck resources you may want to view:

What Breaks Your Heart?

My GT classes and our after-school Maker Club are participating in this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge.  Select projects will be chosen to bring to a local party/entertainment center, Main Event.  We will be inviting the community to play the games for a $1, as well as selling wristbands to access the other fun activities at the facility. All of the money we raise will be going to a charity that the students choose.

But, how can I get several classes of students – in addition to the 24 students in the Maker Club – to decide on which charity will receive our donation?  I decided to use an idea from Angela Maiers, who is internationally renowned for her motivational speeches about how we should Choose to Matter.  One of my favorite quotes from her is, “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”

In a blog post last year, Angela described the process for:

  • helping students to determine what matters the most to them
  • determining what “breaks their hearts” about their passions
  • thinking of possible solutions to those problems.
by @Kara Dziobek
by @Kara Dziobek

So far, I’ve walked two of my classes through the first two phases.  It has been very enlightening.  Similar to the activity that Angela describes from teacher Karen MacMillan, I had students mind-map their passions in the middle of a piece of paper.  Then they drew branches from each of those that identified what breaks their hearts regarding those topics.

As an example, I told them that teaching and learning are both passions for me.  What breaks my heart is that there are still children, particularly girls, who are denied the right to an education.

One boy had brainstormed every single sport he could think of as a passion.  When asked what broke his heart about them, he replied, “When I lose a game.”  I had to question him a bit more to get a deeper, less self-centered answer – “when people get injured.”

After we shared the things that break their hearts, we looked for trends or patterns.  Sports-related injuries was a big one with my 3rd graders, as well as cruelty to animals and pollution.  The latter two were also common themes with my 4th graders.  Today, I will get feedback from 5th grade.  Armed with the information from three grade levels, we can then try to find a charity that many of them will find meaningful.

We will also be holding on to these papers to use as jumping-off points for this year’s Genius Hour projects.

I really loved this process for so many reasons.  It tells me about what is important to my students and gives them a voice.  It shows them that they have responsibilities to be contributors as well as consumers.  And, it helps them to understand themselves a little better.

I’ll keep you posted as we continue on this journey 🙂

Tried and True – Genius Hour

Students involved in an "Interactive Genius Hour Presentation"
Students involved in an “Interactive Genius Hour Presentation

On this blog, I tend to post about a lot of ideas that I find, and some readers don’t always get a chance to know if I ever tried them – or if they were complete flops.  This week, I want to feature a few past ideas that I did try and that were successful – and that I definitely want to do again.

Some might call it 20% Time.  Others call it Passion Time.  My first encounter with it was as “Genius Hour,” and so I’ve kept that label.  There are many versions, and many recommended ways to do it.  The crux of the matter, however, is that many educators have found that it is important to allow students to pursue studies in topics that interest them and have relevance to their lives.  I began doing Genius Hour several years ago with my GT 5th graders.  This past year, I expanded it to 3rd and 4th grades.  Every year, and with each grade level, I’ve done things a bit differently.  But I continue to do it because I have definitely seen the value.  I can’t imagine my classroom without Genius Hour – and once I introduce it to a group, they will not stand for it to be taken away from them.  If we ever miss it because of scheduling conflicts, I have a near mutiny on my hands.

You can see my Genius Hour Journey by going to the Genius Hour Resources page (there is a tab at the top of this blog).  I also have downloadables (I highly recommend the Challenge Cards – a big hit with my class this year!), as well as links to other fabulous Genius Hour Resources.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you will see some recommended articles for “newbies” to Genius Hour.

Genius Hour is messy.  It’s loud, and there is absolutely no sitting down on the teacher’s part.  Most of the time, your students are learning about topics in which you have no expertise whatsoever.  It can be frustrating and extremely challenging to your sanity.

But, once you see the impact it has on your students, you will find that it changes your philosophy of teaching.  And, even the moments that are not dedicated to Genius Hour in your classroom will slowly become more student-centered and more meaningful.

 

Why My Daughter Won’t Be a Teacher When She Grows Up

image from: http://tariqmcom.com/beautiful-quotes-on-success-the-success-is-not-key-to-happiness/
image from: http://tariqmcom.com/

My daughter, who is 11, has a pretty standard response prepared for people who ask her what she wants to be when she grows up.

“A teacher – or maybe an engineer,” she says.

I smile inside.  I smile because I think she says, “teacher” for my sake – which means that she: a.) sees how much I love my job and b.) doesn’t think it’s a bad aspiration.

If I really thought she would like to be a teacher some day, I would not discourage her.  Many of my colleagues disagree.  They have told me that they would never allow their own children to become teachers.  I understand their frustration and disillusionment.  It’s not an easy career by a long shot (but, really, what career is easy?) –  and it can be taxing both financially and emotionally.

My own teachers in high school registered disappointment, one by one, when I told them I had decided to pursue a career in education.  Despite the fact they had inspired me, some of them obviously felt themselves to be personal failures for not convincing me to go to medical or law school – or to become a college professor at the very least.

I was undaunted by their discouragement, and I’m sure my own daughter would be, as well.

No, my daughter will not be a teacher.  Not because I will prevent her – but because I suspect she doesn’t really want to be a teacher.  Unlike me, she never spent hours teaching her dolls and stuffed animals when she was in pre-school.  Her patience with children younger than her has never been exceedingly long.  And, she never goes out of her way to explain difficult concepts to others; in fact, she rolled her eyes when I asked her to explain how to play Flappy Bird.

She will not be a teacher because that is not her passion.  She may not see that yet, but that’s okay.

Could teaching become her passion one day?  Possibly.  If it does, I will whole-heartedly support her.  But I will also support her if she decides to become an artist, a rock star, an astronaut, or a stay-at-home mom.  If she is willing to put in the work and sacrifice to follow her dreams, who am I to stop her?

In my post on The Science of Character, I included this quote, “Instead of asking students what they want to be, we should be asking them who they want to be.”

I asked my daughter to look at the Periodic Table of Strengths on the site, and her goals for the future her are: creativity, enthusiasm, kindness, fairness, appreciation of beauty, and optimism.

If she becomes that person – and, truly, I feel she is already well on her way – then I will feel that we have both been successful.

This is Why I Teach

from here
Click here to see a video of these two men discuss what it means to be “visionary and brilliant.”

I know.  I just posted an inspirational video yesterday, and here I go again.  When I saw this article on BrainPickings.org, though, I realized that the two Neils – Gaiman and deGrasse Tyson – verbalized something that I believe wholeheartedly.  If I ever appear to be good at what I do, it’s because I genuinely love my job.

But if I couldn’t be a public school teacher for some reason, I think I would probably want to be Neil deGrasse Tyson 🙂

Arrr Ye Ready to Make This a Great Year, Matey?

mediocrity

You might think this is a post to remind you about Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is scheduled for September 19th.  But that would be a frivolous use of this blog space, right?  I mean, what does that have to do with education?

So, I am not going to try to convince you to talk like a pirate, but I would like to recommend that you Teach Like a Pirate – at least if you can do it the Dave Burgess way.

I first saw a reference to Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess, on Vicki Davis’ blog.  She referred to his Play-Doh activity, and I was immediately curious about what pirates have to do with Play-Do, much less teaching.  So, I downloaded it to the Kindle app on my iPad (because I wanted it immediately and Amazon told me I would have to wait 4-6 weeks).  And I have to say that I like this guy, Dave Burgess.  Apparently, I’ve been kind of trying to advocate for pirate-teaching for awhile without even realizing it.  Who knew?

In Dave’s case, “pirate” is actually an acronym for: passion, immersion, rapport, ask and analyze, transformation, and enthusiasm.  Dave asks two questions about your teaching: “If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?”  and “Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?”

Hmm.  Excellent questions.

Don’t worry.  If you answered, “No,” to both of those questions, Dave has a ton of suggestions for changing things up.  His book includes 30 “Hooks” for engaging minds, including “The Mission Impossible Hook” and the “Reality TV Hook” among others.

I love Dave’s passion and I can’t wait to incorporate some of his ideas this year.  I even found this great video trailer on YouTube for a school that actually hosted a “Teach Like a Pirate” Day, which I would love to see happen at more schools.

Coincidentally, I happened to recently read Kelly Tenkely’s post about “De-Tox Week” at her school, which referenced this Pinterest board of activities that I also think would help me to Teach Like a Pirate.

I am ready to make this a great year, and to make sure my students don’t ever want to “walk the plank” right out of my classroom.  (Sorry, I know that was bad, but I couldn’t resist.)  What about you?

Ignite Education

from:  http://igniteshow.com
from: http://igniteshow.com

After I wrote the post about telling a magical tale, I ran across an Edutopia article called, “Why Teachers Need to Be Great Storytellers.”  The last part of Suzie Boss’ article really resonated with me because I had recently talked with a fellow ISTE attendant who had suggested nearly the same thing:

“Make Ignite talks part of your school’s storytelling tradition this school year. If you’re not familiar with Ignite, visit this site to learn more about the basic format. Each presenter has five minutes and 20 slides to tell a story in front of an audience. The Ignite slogan sums up the challenge: “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” Passion is essential. Humor doesn’t hurt. Good visuals are a must.”

Boss goes on to talk about how Ignite sessions could be used at faculty meetings or school-wide presentations, even in the classroom. My friend and I had talked about how beneficial it might be for our district to host a similar event once a month.

As educators, many of us have stories.  We often don’t take the time to tell these stories because we must move on, confront our next challenge, or struggle to survive.

But think of the value of hearing these stories from others – of learning from our own peers about the amazing work that goes on in their classrooms and beyond.  We might get inspired, feel more motivated, and even daring enough to try something new.

And what about our students using this to share their own passions – for Genius Hour, perhaps?

All it would take would be 5 minutes and 20 slides.

This could be powerful.