Apps, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, K-12, Philosophy, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Websites, Writing

Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated

First of all, did you know that TED, the fabulous producer of videos with “Ideas Worth Spreading”, now produces ebooks?  If you did, why didn’t you tell me?  Fortunately, I read the San Antonio’s Express News on Sunday, and found out about it when they published a brief review of one of the ebooks you can find at TED, Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated.

Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated is a book of Six-Word Memoirs collected by Larry Smith.  If you have not been introduced to Six-Word Memoirs, yet, I highly recommend that you read my original post on this topic, as it includes some other resources in which you may be interested.

In this new publication, which can be downloaded for Kindle, iBooks, or Nook for $2.99, Mr. Smith collected memoirs from students of all ages (grade school to grad school), and included the pictures that they drew to accompany them.  Some of them, like “Hey, my swimming lessons paid off,” by Charlotte Berkenbile (8) in Keller, Texas, are amusing.  Others, like “My alarm clock killed my dreams,” by Shawn Budlong (13) in Rockford, Illinois, are more thought-provoking.  Some of the illustrations are just as moving as the text.

I highly recommend this very affordable download.  If you are working with younger kids (K-3), you probably won’t want to show them the whole book, but select a few pieces as examples.  For older kids, there are many possible discussion starters in here, and definitely inspiration for them to create their own Six-Word Memoirs.

(By the way, TED Books also offers an app and a subscription.  If you subscribe for $4.99/month, you have immediate access to all of the current ebooks, and will receive a new ebook every two weeks.)


Apps, Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Language Arts, Student Products

Our Wish for the World

“Our Wish for the World” is a creative art idea using the iPad app WordFoto.  Tricia Fuglestad posted about this lesson for third graders on the Pop Art of Robert Indiana.  Her post includes more pictures and links to an Artsonia gallery of images and a handout.   WordFoto is one of my favorite apps for creating, along with TypeDrawing.  Ms. Fuglestad’s lesson could easily be differentiated for different levels; for example using the same idea along with Six-Word Memoirs for older or more advanced students, or having younger students use Word Wall words.

Creative Thinking, K-12, Language Arts, Motivation, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Writing

Six-Word Memoirs

A couple of years ago, a fellow Gifted and Talented teacher, Michelle A., introduced me to these brief biographies by showing me the book Not Quite What I Was Planning.  I was immediately intrigued, and went out to buy my own copy.  There is something deeply moving about the power of six words to tell an entire life story, and I looked for ways to incorporate it into my classroom.  Apparently, Michelle and I weren’t the only ones who saw the potential of this writing technique.  It has taken classrooms by storm.  On this site, a teacher explains how she used the idea with her second graders, and gives instructions for the classroom activities. (Be sure to click on “Expand to Read More”.)  And at Smith Mag, there are lots of examples and ideas – even 6-word questions.  And Daniel Pink has a variation on this idea, as well, with “What’s Your Sentence?”.   I would not recommend that you set younger students loose on any of these resources, as there are some mature topics discussed, but you can gather plenty of appropriate ideas to jumpstart their creativity.