Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What If? Wednesdays

I was in the middle of a Twitter Chat, I don’t remember which one when Paul Solarz (follow him, he's fantastic!) wrote that he enjoys What If? Wednesday with his students. If I was a more diligent man, I would probably have asked him what that entailed. I’m not. I’m impulsive, novelty driven, and given to puzzle things out to create fantastic experiences with my kids.

So what did I do? I took the name. What If? Wednesday. It’s great! It has potential, and it can be anything. It can be an experience that creates great blogging opportunities, art opportunities, and who knows what else? Service projects? Why not? Or maybe it could lead to silliness. Silliness is beautiful. It creates fantastic community bonds in your classroom.
And silliness was in the offing today. Today’s (inaugural) What If? Wednesday question was, “What if you could choose your name, and it could be anything?” As we went through students’ choices, we got some ridiculous names, and a couple of “I wish this was my name” names.

We laughed so much, and really enjoyed each other, despite all the test stress we’re experiencing with the Florida State Assessment approaching. The kids loved correcting me as I misspoke their new names. Students inevitably asked if they could keep their names. Absolutely.

Before I give you my new class list, I want to endorse silliness in the classroom. You build creativity, you build community, and you help your students build a sense of self. Go be silly!

And now: my new kids –

Fluffy Pink Unicorns, Dancing on Rainbows
Sponge King
Cute VPK Dude
Guinea Pig Lightning
Pretty Pretty Pegasus
Princess Glitter
Fluffy Wuffy
Olaf, King of Cinnamon Buns

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Idea Lab - It's All About Sharing

I'm promising myself that I'm not doing this: "Well, the tests will be over, it'll be time to get down to real teaching!" or "Now that we're done with the test, we can start doing fun stuff!" We joke about that every year, but this year, I've tried to teach in engaging ways that mattered to my students. Some of it has worked better than others. I definitely have a lot to grow on, but I feel like I'm on to good things. When you put creativity in the hands of your students, when you have them respond to the real world and to their learning with writing, art, and creation, I think you're touching what education should be.

All year long, I've been trying to focus my skills and my students' skills on sharing their voice whenever possible. We're going to continue to do that in the final quarter of the year, but we're going to grow it. Not because the test is through, but because as ideas come to me, I want to make them happen. I'm here to help kids have opportunities to find their voice, and to help them put their voices on stage as globally as possible.

So, what are they going to be doing to share their voices? They're going to be logging so many experiences, and growing so many ideas. All along the way, they'll have three (or more?) ways to share what they've done. First, we are going to continue to be doing a lot of blogging. As we get more used to churning out writing, I find that my students' voices are starting to grow. Secondly, students may choose to do a poster, or infographic about their learning. Finally, I'm putting cameras into my students hands. I want to help my students develop their voices by vlogging their ideas, their findings, and their feelings.

And so here we are. This week, I'll be introducing (and updating) the following concepts to my students. As I do, I'll also be sharing our ideas and my thinking here.
100 Acts of Service, brought to my attention by my Twitter pal, @rosy_burke
A book and movie based on the You Matter Manifesto by Angela Maiers. If you haven't seen our short You Matter Video, it's hosted below.
Kicking Maker Club into the creation level - We've taken apart our electronics, it's time to make robots!
A new round of Genius Hour titled the future. Students will still be able to work on projects that touch their souls, but I want them to focus forward.
And last night, @PaulSolarz, author of the upcoming Learn Like a Pirate, shared the idea of What If? Wednesday. I didn't ask him a lot about it (I plan to), but I thought if nothing else, it could be a discussion help us energize about new ideas each week.

As always, keep your eyes out for new blogs from my students at, and keep checking this site to see what's growing inside The Idea Lab!