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!

#DBCBookBlogs: Make Learning Magical

Several years ago, there was a night of games at a conference. This was the first time I ever spoke to Tisha Richmond. Fast forward to last April and I knew I’d met a new best friend.

She was playing Code Names with her class! That is one of my (and my students’) favorite games to play!

I had no idea who this Tisha Richmond lady was, but I already adored her. Who can resist another tabletop gamer AND her Twitter handle sounded way cool – @tishrich.

So when I found out she was releasing a book with THE Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc I was so excited (as evidenced by the sheer number of exclamation points in the above tweet, ha)!

The day it was available on Amazon, it was purchased, and on Sept 18, it arrived!

Finally – I get to share my thoughts about Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond, book 57 (and the most recent release) in the amazing line of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books.

MLMagical

Stop right now and go get your copy. Seriously. This was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down. It is a book from which I had SO much I wanted to do that I had to wait and get my sleep on before I could make a decision about my implementation plan (Spoiler alert: I still couldn’t make a decision).

There are so many practical ideas within Tisha’s book and every single one seems feasible in any classroom. Tisha was a culinary arts teacher who has now transitioned to a new role as her district’s tech integration specialist. She shares how she gamified her classroom and how she gave her students an authentic audience. In her class it wasn’t just about spending time in the kitchen, it was also about spending time with one another and students putting their own spin on culinary creations.

Her acronym (because, hello… it is a DBC book after all… we know how much we love those acronyms) It’s magical… no, really… it’s MAGICAL.

  • Memorable Beginnings

  • Authenticity and Agency

  • Gamified Experiences

  • Innovation

  • Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity

  • Authentic Audience

  • Legacy

See… MAGICAL.

Memorable Beginnings

Tisha advocates for leaving the syllabus, handbook, rules and procedures until AFTER getting to know our students. I love this! After all, I teach kids. I need to know those kids and they need to know me before any true learning connections can happen. Learning certainly isn’t magical if students don’t feel comfortable in their own environment.

From this section, I choose to implement the decor. She speaks to using all senses to engage students. These include using music to engage the ears, aromas to engage the nose, visually pleasing colors with the psychology of colors to engage the eyes. As I seek to be more magical in my lessons, I will consider what students are seeing, smelling, and hearing.

Authenticity and Agency

This entire section – the whole thing – spoke to me at the core. Having an attitude of gratitude, giving students voice, and sharing our failures are keys to a magical environment. I am implementing the #GratitudeSnaps co-created by Tisha and Tara Martin (author of Be REAL) and sharing one thing I am thankful for each day for the next three weeks.

Gamified Experiences

If you loved Michael Matera‘s eXPlore Like a Pirate, you will certainly love this part of the book! In fact, Michael wrote the foreword for Make Learning Magical! I personally love the mini-games that Tisha shares.

Last spring I was awarded a local mini-grant to purchase tabletop games for use in the classroom. I am so pumped to be using these games in connection to curriculum across grade levels. The game club that I have the pleasure of facilitating is every Friday afternoon and we are enjoying spending time together. I will be implementing these games into classrooms and blogging about them as the implementation for this section (and the main implementation of this book).

*Think of the other implementations as “side quests“.

Innovation

Tisha reminds us of George Couros‘s The Innovator’s Mindset in which George explores the idea of innovating inside our boxes. This means to use what we have and innovate with that.

It is in this section that Tisha shares her biggest mic drop moment (in my opinion). This is where I feel like she’s come off of the book’s pages and is talking to me face-to-face in my living room, and I bet you’ll feel the same way!

“I’ve had moments of irrational fear and doubt when I’ve strongly considered going back to comfortable and easy; however, the fire inside me is too strong. I know that I can never go back to comfortable and easy, because in the discomfort and challenge is where I’ve experienced such growth. In the fear, I’ve discovered things about myself I hadn’t realized and become even more certain of what I believe and hold dear to my heart.”

~Tisha Richmond, Make Learning Magical

Here I am getting goosebumps again just reading that part of Tisha’s heart in word form. This reminds me so much of Shawn Mendes’s song “It Isn’t In My Blood.” We hear this  phrase repeated time and time again – it’s like an anthem.

Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood

Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity

So much is covered in this section that is pure gold! From considering the introvert to giving more opportunities for making in the classroom, from creating buzz for lessons (think Teach Like A Pirate hooks) to sketchnoting and being a connected educator, there is so much in this one short section. Tisha is really bringing the heat, so to speak.

My implementation (which scares the socks off of me) is to be more intentional in sketchnoting. Being a connected educator has given me opportunities to learn from Carrie Baughcum, Sylvia Duckworth, Julie Woodard, Monica Spillman, and more. If you’re not following these rockstars, I’d suggest taking a moment to rectify the situation before moving forward.

Authentic Audience

Giving students an authentic audience is so important. It is well known that students will do bare minimum in most cases when their teachers are the sole audience. They will put in a little more work when their peers become part of the audience. But when we allow students to publish their work to the world, it gets real… really real.

My implementation is to pull in more audiences for the students and teachers I serve.

Legacy

When is the last time you ran into one of your own former teachers? As an educator, did you take the time to speak with your former teacher and share their impact? I hope so. I was in JROTC throughout my entire high school career. For a reason I will never understand, my Sergeant saw leadership potential in me and within just days promoted me to Colorguard Commander. At the first home football game of my freshman year, I carried the American Flag onto the field flanked by two riflemen and the state colors. I was shaking like a leaf, but I did my job. We marched on the field, we presented the colors, we ordered the colors, and we marched back off in perfect unison. Until that moment, I’d never experienced leadership to that degree. He deeply impacted me through that quick decision to give me a promotion and declare that I would command cadets that were much more experienced than I was.

Be sure to thank your former teachers, if at all possible, who impacted you in a positive way. My first year students are now in their early to mid twenties. I am blessed to watch them get married, start families, and begin their careers through social media. The thought of leaving my own legacy in children is both terrifying and empowering. We should never take it lightly.

Tisha’s book is further proof that the DBC, Inc line of educational books is only getting stronger and stronger. Who would have ever thought that 6 years ago at the release of Teach Like A Pirate, some edgy book with a pirate map on the cover self-published from a kitchen table, would have the legacy that it is leaving on education around the globe. It’s powerful, and truly – it’s mind-blowing.

To follow along with Make Learning Magical conversations, follow Tisha Richmond and add the hashtag #MLMagical to your tweetdeck columns. Go spend some time on Tisha’s website and blog found here. You will also see a section for recipes along the top (or click here). <Tisha, I need lessons, ma’am! Just saying… I struggle with boiling water, no lie.> Tisha has also done podcasts and videos! Check out this one with Jeff Utecht of Shifting Our Schools, this one with StoriesInEdu, or this Recap of #MasteryChat! As if all of that isn’t enough, Make Learning Magical comes with its own slice of magic… Ann Brucker of BreakoutEDU created an epic #BreakoutEDU game to partner with the book! Whaaat? I know, right?! So awesome! I want to do a book study, just so I can set the game up for others to play! This is an incredible partnership and I really hope to see more of this in the future!

The flipgrid is available for you to reflect, share your own thoughts and implementations from Make Learning Magical! A special thank you to Andrea Paulakovich for allowing me to co-pilot this incredible global collaboration spaces for all of the DBC books!

The next book to be released is yet to be seen publicly…. ooooh, wait a minute… just double-checked Twitter to see this post…

Allyson Apsey (author of The Path to Serendipity has released the Amazon link to her first picture book (and the second children’s book in the DBC, Inc line) titled The Princes of Serendip! This book will begin shipping soon! Go grab a copy of Make Learning Magical AND The Princes of Serendip now! Book 58 is coming soon!

#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…