Stained Glass and Snowflakes

Stations. The best unkept secret in education.

Snowflakes are hexagonal… perhaps the best kept secret in advertising.

macro photography of snowflake

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

During #DBC50Summer, I followed every author from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc on Twitter and love being connected to them! One of the funniest authors is easily Denis Sheeran, author of Instant Relevance. His sense of humor pulled me into his book and now I get to enjoy his wit through social media. He created a hashtag to serve as a Public Service Announcement. Snowflakes are hexagons. Really! #Snowflakesarehexagons

The poetry written to the companies along with the photos of his own version of “false advertisement” cracks me up! With those posts, do you know what he did? He made me stop and count the dang sides of every. single. snowflake. in every. single. ad. I see.

Our amazing 8th grade math teachers, Ms. Luce & Mrs. Hawks, and I had already planned to do an extension of a PBL in MinecraftEDU. The students had learned about how linear functions are used to create stained glass windows. They had a guest speaker a few weeks ago who actually showed them how she creates stained glass and students have been creating their own stained glass (by coloring) and figuring out the linear function in slope-intercept form of each line. In MinecraftEDU, students could create a stained glass of their choosing. This could be done by modifying the one they created with linear functions to be “blocky” so it could be built in the game, they could create anything from scratch, or they could look up pixel art and use stained glass blocks or wool to create it.

This gave us two stations in our classes, but we needed a third. I had just discovered that Sprite had six-pointed snowflakes on their product (thanks to Denis’s Twitter PSA) and thought students might have fun discovering which products had “the right snowflakes” on them.

Our third station was a huge hit!

First, students searched for snowflakes in advertising and shared an image they found on a Padlet. Bonus for me: I get to talk about digital citizenship next week and have students determine if this was best practice for using images! (Hint: No, no it was not.)

After finding an image, they read one of the three articles referenced in Denis’s blog post Snowflakes are Hexagons. They were to secretly tell me how many sides every snowflake has and why it has that many sides based on their research.

Upon giving me the correct answer, the students did exactly as Denis suggests in his blog… they created paper snowflakes. There were a lot of octagons, decagons, quadrilaterals, and circles, until finally someone used their resources and googled “How to make a six-sided snowflake.” HA! My principal suggested taking it up a notch further. These paper snowflakes (with the correct number of sides, of course) will be used as decorations for their Winter Dance in December.

Check out a few of their creations that I tweeted out! There are dozens and dozens of hexagonal snowflakes in our media center now!

 

Then, this morning, this kid blew me away!

The MinecraftEDU station turned out pretty fantastic, too! I am currently working to upload the file on my YouTube channel and will embed here when finished, but for now, check out this link to a walkthrough on my Google Drive. (There is no sound.) I was so impressed with what they built in the 25-30 minutes they had available to create. Several came before and after school as well as during their lunch to finish their stained glass pixel art and more have asked to return this week. Students showed one another how to “light up” their windows using glowstone, so when the world turns to night it glows in the most beautiful colors!

I am so proud of the students I serve, and the teachers were blown away by both their stained glass creations and their unique snowflakes. This was one of those times that we got it right. Thank you, Denis for inspiring a way to make learning relevant for our students! This definitely serves as one implementation (I’m sure there will be many more to come) for my #DBC50Summer post on Instant Relevance! I am honored that our 8th grade math teachers trusted me to help create this PBL extension and spur-of-the-moment lesson on snowflakes. I’m looking forward to more lessons like this!

#DBC50Summer 40/50: The EduProtocol Field Guide

When I taught in the classroom, we typically had three days before we jumped into the content. During those three days, we covered handbook, policies, had a whole-school assembly to discuss school expectations through Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS), labeled our folders, notebooks, wrote our names in textbooks, and we learned all of the daily procedures for the classroom. The only thing I did during those first few days that was student-led was allowing them to create their own rules for the classroom. Even then, the rules usually landed in one of four areas, so class rules ended up being the same every year. Be respectful, be responsible, be punctual, and be prepared. After 5 years, I can still rattle them off.

It wasn’t until several years had gone by like this in the classroom that we did any culture building at the beginning of the year. This is when we were introduced to Kagan Cooperative Learning and I instantly loved the Class Builders. From then on, I would do activities where students were stranded on a desert island and had to order their supplies from most important to least important, or students would have to decide which of five patients on a donor list would get the next available heart based on the information given. They would have to advocate for their patient to their peers.

In the elementary media center, I would go over care of books, expectations, and allow students to check out books for the first time and we would discuss how I wanted that done. In the middle school media center, I still do the expectations discussion and allow them to check out books, but we don’t really discuss care of books at length. Last year, I revamped the lesson to include rules & expectations shown through memes. I was super pumped about the lesson, but according to my students’ survey results at the end of the year, 25% of the students didn’t even remember the lesson while another 41% said it was just alright. I listened to the students. I knew I needed to do something new with the opening lesson in the media center so I was super excited to see that book 40 was The EduProtocol Field Guide by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo!

This book had exactly what I was looking for!!! I had read it back in April after purchasing it from Dave Burgess at an event in a nearby county. (I blogged about how inspired I was after that event here.) So I knew that this book held the answer, but I couldn’t remember specific directions to the protocols. I just remembered being excited to implement the protocols this year, as my media time with students was already coming to a close when I discovered the book last year.

One of my very favorite things about this book, (other than the actual protocols, which are on fire) is the banter between Marlena and Jon in the margins! Their personalities totally shine through the pages! I also love that there is plenty of space to write notes in the margins of the page! This is truly a manual to keep fingertips away when creating experiences for students!

In the 100th episode of Kids Deserve It with Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney, Adam asks Dave who is “inspiring him right now”. His answer? See the video below.

It is that very idea of immediately implementing that has me still awake after 2:30 in the morning completing book 40 and writing this post. I’m so excited about the overhaul in my media lesson for this week that I had to blog it instantly. I can’t wait to get feedback from the students to learn their reaction to the changes!

Reviewing media expectations won’t be done with a lecture this year, not even a slide deck with memes! Instead I am creating a review game in Quizizz where students will guess my response to various scenarios. (This game will be linked in the implementation blogs to follow in the coming weeks.) Students will play the game independently, then we will review missed questions and they will immediately play the game again with the same questions (although likely in a different order). This Smart Start is called “Fast and Curious”.

A Smart Start provides a warm-up of sorts for the EduProtocols to follow. It shows students the up-tempo pace (I love this concept of shortening the amount of time given to complete assignments/activities/protocols in order to create a sense of urgency rather than procrastination!) It’s also just fun, and something outside the expected “first day” routines! Jon & Marlena have their acronym game on point in this book! Several examples of well-used acronyms are available in The EduProtocol Field Guide, with one of them being the Smart START guiding principles.

The guiding principles of Smart START are Smile (keep it fun), Teach (finish on time), Activities (developing the culture and practicing tech skills that will be needed), Routines (structured, but fluid), and Target Barriers (students are already learning one another’s names and finding similarities between themselves and their classmates)!

After completing “Fast & Curious”, I will have students put the Book Fair dates in their phone calendars (or planners) as the next media class is Book Fair! Then we will have a discussion about my reading goals this summer. I am so excited to tell the students about #DBC50Summer and highlight some of the posts from authors of books and share the hashtag with them so they can see the insane amount of learning I completed this summer in order to make school better for them! From that conversation, we will transition into their own reading goals. They will complete a Google Form sharing their goal with me and their teachers along with rationale for their goal. Then they will move through three fast-paced stations! Stations will be as follows:

  1. Flipgrid & Five Words Form: Students will share their reading goal (only visible to the student, me, and their ELA teacher) and give themselves a little pep talk (think Kid President style). This video will be revisited in October when I see them to motivate them to continue pushing toward their goal. In November, they will create a video response sharing whether they met their first quarter goal or not. They will then identify a new goal for 2nd quarter and record it. This will happen throughout the year. Also in this station, students will complete a Google Form survey about what five words describes their core classes (math, ELA, social studies, science) and their encore classes (art, band/chorus, pe, computer science discoveries, project lead the way 1 and 2). These results will be compared to the responses from teachers about what they hoped students would say about their experience in their classes.
  2. Book Checkout: Students will be encouraged to check three books out of the media center and reminded that they will return to the media center in two weeks to exchange books. Soap box moment: Students can select ANY book they’d like from our shelves. I don’t care if it’s graphic novels, Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, or Shakespeare. I just want them to get something they are interested in and READ!
  3. Club Information & Sign-Ups: I sponsor multiple clubs at my school, both in the afternoons and in the mornings. I always look forward to having students engage in these clubs and getting to know them in a much more informal manner. I will unveil the 8th grade puzzle and allow 8th graders to sign up to work on it, as well as share information in our Google Classroom about Makerspace Managers, Innovation Engineers, Between the Lines Book Club, Battle of the Books, and Virtual Reality. Students will signify interest in any of the clubs they’d like by signing up on one of the whiteboard around the media center (also giving them time to move and check out any new furniture, books, etc they haven’t yet seen in their space). Those students will have permission forms sent home the following day.

After stations, we would have moved into the “Things That Rock” Smart Start, but the power of Twitter is tremendous! Check this out!

I posted the lesson outline on Twitter.

To which Marlena replied:

I pointed out that I only see them once a month, to which she replied:

Yes… yes I did just collaborate with the author of the book while planning my lessons for the week (my implementation plan). <insert squeal here> I’ve just got to reiterate how incredible the authors of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc are! They are tremendous educators, amazing authors, and most importantly, exceptional humans. So following Marlena’s advice, I am going to move Things That Rock to the end as an additional activity if needed. I will move the What People Think meme creation up as a school-wide collaborative document. Each student will be given a slide and they will reflect on the changes in the library and what they feel they can expect from their time in our media center.

Upon completion, we will complete the Smart Start of “Worst Preso Ever” in which we watch a short video about poorly designed presentations and they intentionally create a slide in a poorly designed presentation of their opinion of their first impressions of the school year.

I am so excited to implement this plan (created with input from Marlena – WOO HOO) for The EduProtocol Field Guide! Truly, I am hoping to eventually use all of the Smart Starts and EduProtocols this year, but for the purpose of #DBC50Summer, my implementation will be these first lessons with every student in the school this week! Follow the incredible conversations surrounding this book on Twitter using the hashtag #EDUProtocols! Marlena and Jon are both very active on Twitter and I highly suggest following them at @mhebern and @jcorippo, respectively. There are many podcasts featuring the authors and/or the book, so I would suggest just using “the power of the Google” to listen to them (or watch them on YouTube). You will definitely want to check out the EduProtocols website! As always, check out the flipgrid and share your favorite of the #EDUProtocols or Smart Starts! Big thank you to Andrea Paulakovich for allowing me to co-pilot this awesome global collaborative space for all DBC, Inc books!

This post wraps up another set of ten DBC, Inc books! Wow! Summer Recap 4 is coming soon, as well as book 41! I wonder if it will Be The One you’re expecting next…

#DBC50Summer Book 11-20 Recap

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In the first recap, #DBC50Summer Book 1-10 Recap, I was hoping I would reach book 20.  Honestly, I look back on the past three weeks and I have no idea how I ended up actually being able to read the first 20 books released from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. The first recap post was made about 5 days post-op from a minor surgery, and I’ve been running all over the state since then. I was fortunate to speak to a few hundred educators throughout the state about NCWiseOwl (a free database of amazing nonfiction resources for North Carolina public school educators), then got to meet 24 more incredible educators from North Carolina at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT). There we discussed how to reach Generation Z through active and digital learning. We covered topics from augmented and virtual reality to gaming in education to social media to the maker movement to coding and so much more. It was insanely awesome to spend three days with these amazing educators! Finally, I was elected to the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Board of Directors as the North Region Representative last Spring and we had our first board meeting to plan for the 2019 conference, held in March. Seeing the curtain pulled back just made it more evident how hard that team works to put on a spectacular conference every year and promote digital learning as great pedagogy and not just shiny new tools! It’s an honor to be part of that group!

With all of that going on, I have no clue how I got to book 20! I have had so many direct messages and tweets on Twitter asking how I’m physically able to get these books read so quickly, reflect, and blog about them. My sincere answer is I have no idea. I am so motivated and inspired by the words in these books that I just can’t stop. As soon as I finish one book, I’ve got a million ideas buzzing around my head and have to get my thoughts written down as quickly as possible. As soon as I get the writing done, I’m eager to move on to the next book. As I write this blog, I’m actually staring at Book 21 (which I started today) and would really rather be reading than blogging, ha! The books within the next set of 10 are incredible & I can’t wait to get started on them!  However, before we can look at where we’re going, we need to take a quick review of where we’ve been in Books 11-20!

#DBC50Summer started as Creative Alchemy, a term Dave Burgess uses within Teach Like A Pirate to describe that A-HA moment when you have multiple problems that need addressing and solve them using a creative…

Wait a minute, I have to tell you what just happened, literally JUST happened, before I can go any further. So I was looking up some kind of definition for Creative Alchemy preferring to use Dave’s definition rather than some jumbled up mess of my own. Upon searching for Creative Alchemy Dave Burgess, I was led to a blog written by the Captain himself in March 2012, which dates it before Teach Like A Pirate was published & the advent of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. In fact, the email address is from the days of “Outrageous Teaching.” Anyhow… I was reading this blog and in it, Dave says,

“I am always trying to convince teachers that the best books to read about teaching are rarely in the education section.  I always have 3 or 4 books on my nightstand, a book in my car, one in my school bag, and several more on my phone. I consider it one of the most important parts of my job to constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources that I need for creative alchemy.” ~Dave Burgess, Creative Alchemy, March 2012

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the irony of that entire quote… “the best books to read about teaching are rarely in the education section”… well, they are NOW thanks to DBC! How incredible to read this knowing that 6 years and a few months later, they would have released their 50th book, many of which have become insanely successful communities of educators supporting, challenging, and growing one another across the nation (and the world).

“always have…books on my nightstand…my car…school bag…more on my phone”… and now, according to #KidsDeserveIt episode 100 their inbox is flooded every week with manuscripts. Sounds to me like they’re reading books EVERYWHERE now!

Finally, the last section speaks to me at such a deep level in light of the #DBC50Summer… “constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources that I need for creative alchemy.”  The amount of truth in these two sentences cannot be overstated.  Reading these 20 books, even if I stopped right now (which I’m most definitely not going to do), I have grown more as a professional, and as a person, than ever before.  Here I am, twelve years into my career, and I am FINALLY starting to shape my educational philosophy.  I am finally starting to figure out who I am as an educator, and these past ten books have really pushed me to reflect on what I believe about learning and education as a whole.

I’m honestly in a bit of shock that Dave wrote that paragraph in his blog (and a similar one in Teach Like A Pirate) over 6 years ago, and it’s just sitting out there, like it was waiting to inspire someone like me all over again. Just… wow.

Moving along, creative alchemy is what brought me here. I wanted to begin blogging more consistently, growing my PLN on Twitter, and I had all these Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books sitting on my bookshelf and had only read a handful of them due to time constraints.  It all clicked as I sat staring at the shelves that #DBC50Summer was the solution to each of my problems. I am so excited to be nearing the halfway point, but there’s so much awesome still to come!  Let’s review Books 11-20.

11 – Your School Rocks by Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe – This book challenges us to tell our school’s story through social media.  Taking us on the journey of two principals sharing their school’s story, we see the relevance behind meeting the public where they are… and in this day and time, that’s social media platforms.

12 – How Much Water Do We Have? by Pete Nunweiler and his wife, Kris – This obscure book in the DBC lineup really isn’t an education book at all.  However, the connections with education are certainly evident in the principles of conquering challenge and thriving during change.

13 – Play Like A Pirate by Quinn Rollins – This is the book that really made me start thinking about what kind of educator I am.  What are my passions? (Thankfully I finally discovered them here) Quinn brings his passions into the classroom and uses comics, toys, and games to make learning fun again!

14 – 140 Twitter Tips for Educators by Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, and Scott Rocco – I’ve recommended this book to so many educators in the past two weeks! This is the perfect book for any educator who is unsure about how Twitter can benefit them and their students!  Check it out, for sure!

15 – The Classroom Chef by John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey – This book was like digging back into Teach Like A Pirate again!  The creative ideas for making math (and any subject really) engaging and exciting for students, as well as the idea that we should be preparing lessons rather than lesson planning, stick out to me from this book!

16 – Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani – A powerful book detailing an incredible design thinking process using the acronym LAUNCH.  The process is written in kid-friendly language, and includes the vital piece of launching the product to the intended audience.  Loved this one!

17 – Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney – Educators should strive to be our best every. single. day. We must not let up on growing ourselves and pushing those around us, because Kids Deserve It.

18 – The Writing on the Classroom Wall by Steve Wyborney – This is another lesser known (at least it was to me, but maybe I’ve been under a rock) DBC book.  I was unaware that it was DBC until I began my #DBC50Summer research.  Steve has a unique way with words and speaks metaphorically.  His quotes throughout the book are thought-provoking and he really makes you question what you think about teaching and learning. This book stretched me, and I know it will do the same for you!  I highly recommend grabbing this one!

19 – 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom by Alice Keeler and Dr. Libbi Miller – This book is an amazing guidebook to how to create a student-centered classroom using a digital tool, Google Classroom.  The tips and tricks within this book are amazing, as if we’d expect any less from this dynamic duo! Definitely look into this book if you want to utilize Google Classroom to its fullest extent!

20 – Instant Relevance by Denis Sheeran – This super short book packs a lot of punch in its only 102 pages.  A quick read that leaves you with lots to ponder. Denis is hilarious and you’ll laugh from start to finish, learning how to make learning relevant to your students through making connections with them.

So there you have it!  The second #DBC50Summer Book Recap, and a little tangent brought to you by a super old blog post from the Captain that I wasn’t expecting to impact me like it did.  Speaking of the Captain, he created two videos upon the release of these books (one for books 11-15 and one for books 16-20) that you can check out here.

Books 11-15

Books 16-20

Are you ready to reach the halfway point and beyond?  The next ten books are stellar (according to their Twitter fame & Amazon reviews)!!!  Many of them have been on my MUST READ list for a while and I’m so excited to finally get to crack the spine on them!  One of the most influential books of my career is also coming up in this set of ten!  Any guesses as to which that might be?  Oooooh I can’t wait!  Book 21 blog is coming soon!  Stay Tuned for the reveal of the next ten books in the order they were released!

*Interested in joining in on the #DBC50Summer fun? Don’t feel as though you have to read them all and you don’t even have to read in order! Choose a few that you’ve been wanting to dive into! Share your reflections with the world; maybe it’s #BookSnaps, maybe it’s #Sketchnotes, maybe it’s #blogging or #vlogging… the idea is basically just to share your learning from DBC books in any format, so others can learn with you! Here’s the thing though… we can all read these books. That’s fabulous, really! But what are you going to DO with the information you gain from reading it? How will it impact your teaching practice and/or your students? That’s the biggest piece of #DBC50Summer for me… creating the ONE (or two, or three) thing I want to implement in the 2018-2019 school year. You can see the updated spreadsheet with titles/authors, Flipgrid links, blog post links, and implementation plans here! If you aren’t sure where to start, check out each blog post above and click on the Flipgrid information! You can start there! (Shoutout to Andrea Paulakovich – genius extraordinaire!) Just tag #DBC50Summer in your tweets and join in on the fun!  Several are hopping on board & I’d love to have you join in, too! Reach out to me on Twitter if you have any questions! I’d love to connect with you! Thanks for sticking with me!

Alicia Ray

@iluveducating