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 my 4th grade gifted and talented class, the students study masterpieces. In addition to masterpieces of visual art, we talk about literary, musical, and even mathematical masterpieces. When I saw the title for Roger Antonsen’s TED Talk, “Math is the Hidden Secret to Understanding the World,” I thought it might fit in well to the mathematical masterpiece section. Little did I expect that it would tie everything together that we had discussed all year.
I should mention that this year’s 4th grade class has some very passionate mathematicians in it. They worship Pi, see Fibonacci in everything, and sit on the edge of their seats whenever I mention that a math activity is imminent. But I wasn’t sure they would find Antonsen’s talk as revolutionary as I do. I was willing to overlook the mathematical examples that were over my head in exchange for appreciating the bigger picture, but would they?
Fortunately, Antonsen’s visualizations managed to maintain their focus, and even their awe at some point, as he gradually brought his audience around to the idea that mathematical equations and representations are actually different perspectives (a few heads raised a bit whenever he said this word, as we regularly talk about multiple perspectives). The “a-ha” moment, however, was when Antonsen said this, “So let’s now take a step back —and that’s actually a metaphor, stepping back —and have a look at what we’re doing.I’m playing around with metaphors.I’m playing around with perspectives and analogies.I’m telling one story in different ways.I’m telling stories.I’m making a narrative; I’m making several narratives.And I think all of these things make understanding possible.I think this actually is the essence of understanding something.I truly believe this.”
There were audible exclamations in my class when the word, “metaphor,” was used. We started the year by learning about figurative language. And the concentration in 4th grade in Texas is on Writing as it is tested at this level for the first time. So, looking at math as a way to tell stories and show different perspectives really captured the attention of my students.
I often tell my students about my childhood struggles with math, how I was often congratulated on my writing skills but made holes in my math assignments due to all of the erasures. It wasn’t until high school that I had a few great teachers who taught me to love math and helped me to see that my only obstacle had been my own fear of the subject.
If I had seen Antonsen’s TED Talk when I was in 4th grade, things could have been different for me far sooner. Instead of feeling like math divides people into those who can and those who can’t, I might have realized that math is actually the language that brings us all together.
“This American Life” is one of my absolute favorite radio programs. Hosted by Ira Flatow, each show is based on a theme. The productions are amazing, top quality collections of real-life stories that will make you laugh, gasp, and cry.
I just found out “This American Life” has a page of Educator Resources. You can look up shows by theme or school level. Educators from all over have contributed ways that they have connected different episodes to their curriculum, and there is a direct link to the episodes to which they refer.
If you’ve never listened to this show, I highly recommend you reward yourself with the “Squirrel Cop” episode on a day when you really need a laugh. You can see what Greg Carsten, a middle school teacher, has to say about a great way to use “Squirrel Cop” in class.
As always, please preview any episode before playing it for your class!
Let’s face it. This week is hard. No one – including you – is feeling very focused on academics right now. To save everyone’s sanity, and to put smiles on all of the faces in the room, try some of these creative ideas:
If your students participated in an Hour of Code last week by doing the Hopscotch tutorial on the iPad, use this extension suggested by @kd0602 – design a Holiday Scene. It’s similar to the idea of making a holiday card in Scratch. However, since Hopscotch offers less commands to use, a bit more creative problem solving is required (such as using the text object to make the letter “o” stand in for eyes and a nose on a snowman).
Welcome back, everyone! In my first post for 2013, I present to you a short animation that has a surprising ending. This would be a great video to present to your students when talking about Multiple Perspectives, one of Sandra Kaplan’s areas of Depth and Complexity. It could also be a fun story starter or creative writing exercise. You might ask the students to think about some of these questions:
What if our world is a BumbleVille? How would we know if it is or isn’t?
Would you want to live in BumbleVille?
How is BumbleVille different than your own community?
How would someone go about leaving BumbleVille?
What would you do if you discovered a BumbleVille?
UPDATE 12/6/17: For an incredible STEAM project that you can use with this lesson, check out the immensely creative Tricia Fuglestad’s post here! Also, here is a writing/augmented reality lesson that we did after watching the video.
This short (less than 3 minutes) TED talk by Derek Sivers would make a nice follow-up to any discussions you may have had recently with your students about Steve Jobs and the Apple “Think Different” campaign. It reminds us to think globally and to try to look at things from other perspectives. Before showing the video, it might be nice to ask your students if they had ever witnessed something they thought was “weird”. After the video, you could revisit the pre-discussion, and see if the students can think of reasonable explanations for those “weird” sights or behaviors. Alternatively, have them develop a list of their own behaviors that others might perceive as “weird”.