#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 16/50: Launch

When you open a book and literally start nodding in agreement with the very first sentence, you know you’re in for a wild ride.  That’s exactly what Book 16 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up did!  Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani could not have come at a more perfect time this summer!  Big things are in store after reading this one!

launch

This book is everything I want my daughters experiencing in their education.  It describes everything I want the media center to be for students… really, everything I want SCHOOL to be for students.  I’ve never really gotten into any of the “design thinking” protocols because they are so wordy… everything-“tion”… ideation, creation, reflection – my students needed a translaTION to understand half of it.  None of the ones I had seen really fit for middle school students; they were either too elementary or too difficult to understand.  Our school has been trying to find a new engineering/design process to implement and immediately upon seeing the LAUNCH cycle as described by John & AJ, I texted my principal.

The plan of implementation for this book will be school-wide!  The School Improvement Team (SIT) met last week; on the agenda was reviewing and selecting a design process as our current process is 10 steps long and just too much for our students. They didn’t see anything they were married tom so they began creating a mash-up of a few of the processes they saw, but it’s not been finalized!  With that in mind, I hope to have the opportunity to present the LAUNCH cycle to our SIT team as an option for our school’s design process.  I immediately fell in love with the process and the ease in which it can be implemented, and I believe our staff will too.

L – Look, Listen, Learn

A – Ask Tons of Questions

U – Understand the Process or Problem

N – Navigate Ideas

C – Create a Prototype

H – Highlight and Fix

LAUNCH to an audience.

At the end of last year, my principal requested that we begin thinking about a way to bring a focus of research skills back to our school.  When I saw that the U in LAUNCH relates directly to various types of research I all but squealed with joy!  The research methods discussed by John and AJ are exactly what I want my students to walk away knowing.  Research isn’t always about looking online or looking in a printed article or book.  Research is about learning.  It can happen in the form of an interview, watching multimedia, even action research with observation or through a hands-on experiment and collecting data.  This book came at the absolute perfect time, and I am so excited to share all I learned with my school!  The resources that John & AJ have made available are incredible!  Check out the website for their book here, as well as the individual websites of the authors – John’s is here and AJ’s can be found here!  I could spend hours just looking at the websites!

In the off-chance that my school does not choose to implement the LAUNCH cycle, I have a backup implementation plan (because that’s just how I roll; I’ve got a backup for the backup, but no need to share that one just yet).  As a backup plan (and likely implemented regardless of LAUNCH cycle implementation), I will pursue a Global Day of Design in May using the information given here.  This is an incredible opportunity for students to use their knowledge and unlock creativity in exciting ways.  I believe that being part of something much larger than our school will engage our students in meaningful ways.  Last year we held our first official Maker Faire event.  It was a terrific event, but I believe the Global Day of Design will bring about more creative products with a bigger purpose behind their creations than just the event in question.  I love that the LAUNCH cycle “ends” (we all know design thinking never really ends, but you understand, yes?) with launching to an authentic audience.  This is more than just a presentation, but actually seeing the design in action!  I believe this is a spectacular way for students to have real meaning behind their design, rather than the hypotheticals they are usually presented with.  I know my blogs being read by many of you has forced me to put much more thought into them.  Imagine how much harder our students will work when they know someone, other than their teacher and peers, are using their products.

Finally, Launch speaks multiple times about the power of challenges, risk-taking, and failure.

  • “…design thinking isn’t about abandoning the standards.  It’s about raising the standards and challenging students to think at a deeper level.”
  • “You will fail. It’s going to happen… failure is a part of the process for innovative teachers.  Each mistake is simply another iteration on the journey toward success…the only way you blaze a trail is by taking risks and failing forward.”
  • “Design thinking encourages creative risk-taking with the goal of eventual mastery.”
  • “It was the first time I had heard students talk about ‘failure’ in a positive light; they realized that creating big goals gave them the opportunity to fail forward.”
  • “…we want kids to embrace mistakes as part of the learning process… each mistake is a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  When students have the permission to make mistakes, they define success as growth and learning.  They recognize that failure isn’t really failure at all”

Each of these quotes stood out to me.  Creating a safe culture where it is okay to fail is of utmost importance when implementing design thinking.  It is what I hope our media center has become in the two years that I’ve been there.

I want students to know that it’s okay to mess up, that it’s great to make a mistake, that failure isn’t final.

Launch was such a powerful book to me!  I created multiple BookSnaps and posted them on Twitter, check them out!

 

 

 

 

Be sure to join the #LaunchBook community on Twitter as they discuss Design Thinking, creativity, and bringing out the maker in every student.  Follow both John & AJ on Twitter, at @spencerideas and @ajjuliani, respectively.  The Flipgrid is available, as always, as a space for global collaboration in reflection and implementation of the book!  In this Flipgrid, tell about a time you failed in the classroom!  What did you learn from it? How have you improved your teaching practice because of it?  It’s a safe space, so share, share, share!  We can learn from one another here!  The password is DBCSummer, as usual.

Andrea Paulakovich, a dear friend and vital member of my PLN, joined in the #DBC50Summer and suggested the spectacular idea of adding Flipgrid as a way to share ideas!  She’s super awesome – you should follow her at @apaulakovichIRT & her #DBC50Summer journey here!

Launch inspired another book by John Spencer and AJ Juliani titled Empower.  This book is part of the publishing company IMpress.  You can read more about IMpress here.  So why don’t you head on over to Amazon and purchase your own copies of both of these awesome books Launch AND Empower?!?!  I was blown away by Launch and look forward to rereading with my peers at work as we, hopefully, implement the LAUNCH cycle in design thinking.  I will certainly be reading and blogging about Empower once I complete the DBC books.

*Side Note: Within this book is a step-by-step process to uncover your passions… seriously, I’m not making that up!  This is another thing I fell in love with, as I plan to go through it to see if I can discover my educational passions (see Play Like A Pirate post).  How incredible would it be for our students to go through this process, too?!

The 17th book (my favorite number, coincidentally) is none other than Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney.  This book… well, wow… no words. Just go get it, while I reread it and try to form the words needed to describe it in the blog. Not sure it can be done. Grab your copy and settle in! You will quickly remember your WHY while you read that one!

Media Makeover

There’s a saying “form follows function”.  I’m sure you’ve also heard “if you build it, they will come”.  Basically, my media center needed to reflect the changes that we hoped the pilot would bring to the culture of the school and the vision for media centers throughout the district.  The media space at my school was perfect for the school when it opened in 2000.  Based on new trends in education, and push for Future Ready schools, the use of the space was no longer adequate.  The physical space desperately needed to be updated and the collection needed to be heavily weeded.

Makerspace

We started with a good-sized classroom off the media center.  It previously functioned as the technician’s workspace, but I immediately envisioned a makerspace there.  It already had a sink, tile floors, a solid wall, and lots of storage.  I was also trying to break the habit of sending broken chromebooks to the media center, so I felt that having the technician in that space was counter-intuitive.  The technician at our school graciously moved to another space in the school, and a fresh coat of paint, in some pretty cool colors was the beginning of a makerspace.

IMG_4841

Before

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Before

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After: painted and ready for materials

Virtual Reality Room

The next room on the list was the periodical storage room.  This room was full of classroom book sets, old magazines, manipulatives, old textbooks, and so much more.  I found that teachers didn’t even know what all they had at the school as it was all stored in the media center.  So many teachers were excited to come pick out what matched their curriculum and take it back to their classrooms.  As a teacher, unless I saw it in my classroom, I would forget it was available to me.  I think many of these teachers operated the same way.  Now the manipulatives and many of the book sets are in classrooms.  Textbooks were sent back to the district warehouse.  Old magazines were placed in the makerspace for projects and teachers were directed to the online content.  What teachers did not want, or no longer matched with the curriculum, the students took home.  We transformed this room into the Virtual Reality room (more information on that in a later post).

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Storage

I won’t add images of the storage space as this space was used as a storage space for the school it seems.  There were so many pieces of outdated or broken technology that I asked our central office to sort through the materials and properly remove anything that could be removed.  My assistant superintendent was also kind enough to help me sort through the professional collection to focus on our district initiatives and provide our staff with the most current literature from well-respected educators.  There is an ancient white computer that has become a discussion piece as we still use it to power the poster maker!  My students love to glance in the storage room at the “dinosaur” and I have used the floppy disks that accompany the computer as talking points in several lessons.  Otherwise, most of the space was cleared out and now that all Chromebooks have been turned in for the summer, the once empty shelves are full of Chromebooks waiting for school to start again.

My Office

I really struggled with what to do with my office.  I’ve never been the type to sit in an office to work; I’d rather be visible in the media center.  I considered turning this space into another student space, a quiet study room or a space for reading.  The more I considered the space, I decided to keep it as my office for now.  All of the equipment to repair books, prepare books for circulation, and any files that needed to be kept are housed in my office.  I also keep the professional books I have purchased here so that they are separate from school-funded books.  Any materials that are not ready to be placed in the makerspace and my breakout boxes that I loan to teachers are also housed here.  Finally, I house my more expensive equipment here, behind the locked door to prevent theft or accidental breaking.  This space may eventually evolve into another space for students, but for now it remains my office.

Media Space

This space deserves an entire blog post in and of itself.  For now, the quick version is that after weeding due to age, condition, and circulation, and after adding another shelf to each case to eliminate unused space, I was able to remove 2 12-foot long bookcases, 1 9-foot long bookcase, and 24 feet of bookcases on the walls.  The corners of the media center were dark and everything felt so cluttered.  Now it is open and airy and there are so many exciting places for students to sit and read, work on projects, collaborate, and have class.  Look for a post in the near future about specific changes in the media space.  For now, enjoy some pictures of the space from my first day at work to phase one of the media space changes.

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What comes next?  This year I am installing a Minecraft lab of 10 computers.  These computers will likely run an eSports league as well.  I’m excited to build a large Lego wall and extend the makerspace with the help of my Makerspace Mentors.  I am also looking to begin the transition to having all my furniture on wheels.  Because my school is located near the center of our district, the media center is frequently used for large meetings.  Furniture on wheels would make things so much easier!  I’m also eager to put in a comfortable reading area in one of the alcoves near the interior windows.  There will be more “comfy chairs” (students’ words, not mine) available in the media center as well.  Finally, on the big screen TV, I will have announcements of happenings around the school, as well as a showcase of awesome work from students and teachers.  Stay tuned!