Wednesday, October 9, 2019

@iamkidpresident visits Selma in new episode of Are We There Yet

I'm excited to see another episode live on YouTube from my buddy Brad and Kid President. In this episode they are visiting Selma, AL to see some kids doing awesome things in their community and to chat with Joanne Bland. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and was arrested 3 times by the age of 11 when she marched to Montgomery with Dr. King.

I think this video is important to show students because there is this belief that you need to be an adult to make change in the world and we are seeing that is not true today with Greta Thunberg, but child activists have a long history and I love that Brad and Robby are recognizing someone that many people never learned about in History classes.

Check out this video and consider sharing with your students.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

No Grades and The World Did Not End #MakerEd

I started a new class this year in the middle school. It is a design and innovation class that is supposed to help students explore problem solving and critical thinking skills. One of the things that I wanted to really explore was a class free of grades. I was nervous about how this might look because I have never done this before and I was scared about how students and parents would react, but I was surprised to find that the world did not end.

We have completed two projects in the class and are starting our third project this week. The main reason I wanted to avoid grades was because they can be a hinderance to students who are afraid of trying something new or risky because it could hurt their grade. Even though I assured kids no grades would be coming, some were still very hesitant to "go for it" on the first project. Using Design Thinking to create a home for a friend in Minecraft was something I hoped would ease students into the process of designing and building with a sense of freedom. Some students pushed themselves and others took the path of least resistance. I was worried that these students would always just do what they had to and try to get by with minimal effort. I decided to use the 2nd project to really push those students on their design and builds.

Students were asked to design a shoe using 4 pieces of newspaper, 1 foot of duct tape, and 1 foot of yarn. Once it was designed, they needed to create an ad for their creation. Some students really went for it and created some amazing, functional footwear, while others settled on a slip on shoe for their first design. I could have let it go, but I really wanted to push them to think bigger. I let those groups have a chance to redesign their entire shoe with new supplies if they wanted. I told them to just go for it because they are not getting a grade on this project or for the class overall. Every single one of them chose to go at it again instead of just sitting and "being done". It was awesome.

I could see that students have started to become more comfortable in trying new things and are not letting the idea of grade impact their choices. The next project students are going to design elements from Ray Bradbury's short story "There Will Come Soft Rains". I think I have built the capacity to try the tough things and learn without the fear of failing grades. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Science Fiction, ELA, and #MakerEd #NCTEVilliage

I'm super excited about the next project in my Design class. I will always be an ELA teacher at heart and really wanted to find a way to incorporate reading fiction into my class. I believe that all teachers are teachers of reading and writing, so I wanted to make sure I have reading and writing elements in my new class. I think I found an awesome project to accomplish this task.

Students will be reading the short story "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury. After a close reading as a class, we will discuss the different futuristic items written about by Bradbury and students will be challenged to create a prototype of one of the items from the story. Students will be following an Engineering Design Model. I created my own template in Adobe Illustrator for students to follow based on the one found on Link Engineering.


Students will spend the next few weeks researching, designing, and building their prototype. They will need to use the text as a guide to their build and focus on what is described in the text and infer what other parts are needed for their design based on the context surrounding the description. Once students create their prototypes, they will need to write a paragraph explaining what they based their build on in the story. 

I chose "There Will Come Soft Rains" because it is a favorite of mine that has lots of great examples to pull from, but I look forward to exploring and finding more diverse texts that can be used to accomplish the same task. Eventually, I hope to get comfortable with the process to allow students to choose their texts for the project. 

I'd love to hear any suggestions on how you might approach the project. Feel free to leave a message in the comments or send me a message. Until then, here is Leonard Nimoy reading "There Will Come Soft Rains".




Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Attention! @iamkidpresident is back on @Soulpancake!

Adults might not realize it, but we need Kid President more than ever and I could not be happier to have him back. Brad and Robby are back in a new series of videos entitled Are We There Yet. They are going to travel the country in Brad's minivan and visit kids doing amazing things. I have always appreciated the honest and compassionate approach of Brad and Robby as they travelled the world sharing their awesomeness and shining a light on the awesomeness of others.

Children of all ages are demanding change. Many of decided they are not going to wait until they grow up to act. The time is now and I love that Brad and Robby are going to showcase the stories of others that are making a difference in their communities.

I was lucky to meet Robby and Brad when they visited my former school and connected with my students. They shared some amazing stories and had lunch with my anonymous guerrilla kindness group, Project Smile. (Not so anonymous any more, but they have long graduated.)

Kid President with Project Smile


Kid President and Brad Montague with my American Literature Class

Just a little 2v2 after speaking to our elementary school.
I can't wait to see all of the amazing stories that Robby and Brad are going to share and I know that they are going to inspire another generation of children to do good, and most importantly, be awesome. Here is the first video. Enjoy!