Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Genius Hour Rocks #SOL

 The bell rang.  The students milled toward and out the door with “Byes” and “Thank yous.”  

One student lagged behind, chatting with his friend.  He is quiet and rarely has much to say, so I cleaned up and started to pack up for rehearsal.  I did not think he was hanging back to talk to me.  

A few seconds later, I looked up, and he was standing alone at my table patiently waiting for my attention.  A smile crept across my face.

“What can I do for you?  Do you have a question?”  I asked.

“Well, I have three things I could do…,” he went on to explain three ideas he had for his Genius Hour project.  Mind you, I did not understand most of what he was talking about because they all had to do with technology, coding, and computers.  I am most definitely ignorant in those areas.  

However, that did not matter.  Usually, this student is silent, slow to begin work, and hesitant to write.  Today, he was animated and excited about his work.  This student was hooked by Genius Hour.  

Other students want two pursue two passions.  They couldn’t decide on one topic and would be willing to work at home to do two.  Work at home at the end of the year?  

I first saw this idea in Betsy Potash’s Spark Creativity newsletter, and I decided this was the year to give it a try.  Let’s end the year by spending time learning and doing something about our passions:  bearded dragons, lashing, collages, voice acting, musical instruments from around the world, origami, chess moves, coding, coping strategies, and many more.  

I hit the jackpot on day one:  a student came out of his shell and others wanted to do extra.  Genius Hour rocks!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Leaving Our Mark #SOL

 Our school returned to full in-person learning on April 26th, the day after our April break.  Our principal asked us to think about what our "first day" back would look like and what we could do to build a new community of learners in our classrooms.  

I planned some engaging activities to bring our two cohorts together, but I knew I wanted to do something different to commemorate our year and learning and growing together for the first time - if even for a short while.  

My niece is a student at Mass College of Art.  I have watched her learn and grow into an amazing artist.  In March, she was working on a "graffiti" project for school.  She shared her project and idea with me, and right then, I knew I had found a way for us to leave our mark on this year.

Original project

Simple, meaningful, and fun.  As each student entered our classroom, I had them sanitize, press their finger on the ink pad, and leave their mark on a tree.  98% of the students thought it was cool and thoughtfully found their place on the branches.  One reluctant student came back out when he saw the enthusiasm of the other students.  

Now, they want to sign the back of the board.  Eventually, we will find its more permanent home.

For now, it greets me at the door.  Its green thumbprint leaves are a symbol of the seventy-five students that come in and out of that classroom door and have left a mark on this tree and my heart this year.  

This pandemic year has been memorialized on that tree, and each print is a reminder of the strength and community of readers and writers that learned and grew together during an unprecedented year.

NOTE:  I will upload a photo of our class tree tomorrow.  I forgot to take a picture.

I plan to put the quote "We can do hard things" at the top.    We have reminded ourselves of this all year.  

Friday, May 7, 2021

Joining Spring

 For some reason, I feel like I have been hiding inside, missing out on the changing of seasons, on the emergence of spring.  

Well, Spring, here I come.  I plan to step outside each day, rain or shine, to enjoy your beauty.  

I also decided to join in on the Poetry Friday fun for the first time, too.

Birds frolic amidst
branches, causing showers of
pink flower petals.

Buzzing in the white
flower canopy above,
bees at work

Under the Blankets #SOL

 I could be under the blankets watching my favorite Netflix show, but instead I am sitting on Zoom experiencing one of my favorite slices of...