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 Book 31-40 Recap

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 3.54.07 AM

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! Here we are – entering the final stretch for #DBC50Summer with books 41-50. The official end of summer is on September 22 at 9:54 pm EST. Are you thinking there’s no way I can do it? Are you thinking that this lady has less than 14 days to read, develop an implementation, and blog 10 more books? I have a secret! You’ll have to check out the next ten blog posts to find out my secret(s)!

This journey was born out of creative alchemy. I had probably half of the books published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc on a shelf and came home with five more after meeting Dave in April. I thought my husband would flip his lid when I came home with five more books to essentially fill space on a shelf. I’d wanted to read them, but never had the opportunity. There was always something else to do. I also wanted to get back into blogging. I remembered the growth I experienced the summer that I did the EdTechSummer series on my blog. It reframed my mindset and provided an opportunity to be intentional about viewing “outside” technology as tools for use “inside” of education. Sharing it allowed me to expand my PLN that summer as well. Finally, I desperately wanted new ideas for the new school year. After my students shared their hearts in a survey at the end of the year, I realized that I wasn’t doing all I could to make school the very best experience they could ask for. New ideas would motivate, inspire, and excite me as I prepared for 2018-2019 with them. Put those three things in a cauldron and stir it up… you have the ambitious plan for #DBC50Summer – reading, choosing at least one thing to implement, and blogging reflections about each book. See Summer Recap 1 on books 1-10 here and Summer Recap 2 on books 11-20 by clicking here. Summer Recap 3 on books 21-30 can be found here.

Since I’ve been back at work several have asked why I did this journey with #DBC50Summer. I’ve been given “the alien look” from Kids Deserve It. They want to know why I put so much time into it? “What’s in it for you,” they’d ask.

Seriously? What’s in it for me? It just sounds so selfish. Yes, #DBC50Summer was my idea (an insanely crazy one, but mine nonetheless). But it’s not about me. This has never been about me! This has been about my students, my staff, my school by making myself the best educator I can for them! It’s been about knowing there’s a lifeline out there and grabbing hold with all my might. It’s been about relationships. It’s been about bettering teaching practices. It’s been about inspiration and motivation. It’s been about making 2018-2019 the very best school year I possibly can for those around me. It’s not about me. It’s about them. Dave Burgess has his six words that drive him crazy… I guess I have my own version now… five little words.

What’s

In

It

For

Me?

Well… if you really want to know – here’s what was in it “for me” as they say.

*#DBC50Summer is in order of release dates according to authors, blogs, and tweets. This was intentional so I didn’t just grab the books I was interested in reading first and neglect the others. There have been so many books that surprised me – books I probably wouldn’t have read due to content that was seemingly irrelevant to my current position. Now I can look back on the past 40 books and say that they were all relevant.*

31 – Ditch That Homework by Matt Miller & Alice Keeler: Giving students an authentic audience pulls them deeper into the learning. Homework isn’t a bad thing if it’s relevant to the student. It’s not about the philosophy of homework, but the type of homework given. If my homework after reading these books was to fill out a worksheet sharing the title, author, theme, conflict, setting, etc, I would have never even started. I have an authentic audience and am making the content relevant to my world.

32 – The Four O’Clock Faculty by Rich Czyz: Giving teachers opportunity to have choice and voice in their professional development makes a world of difference in attitude and experience for adults, just as giving students choice and voice does the same. Reflecting on the best professional development I’ve had, it’s been voluntary, collaborative, relevant, and has had some sort of follow-up. This book gives oodles of examples to make PD better for educators by taking charge of your own learning.

33 – Culturize by Jimmy Casas: This entire book was an eye-opener. It tore me apart, then put me back together. It’s a must-read for every educator. It makes us take responsibility on the individual level for the culture of our schools. Rather than complaining about our culture, if we start with the “(wo)man in the mirror,” we can make effective change toward a positive environment for students and staff alike.

34 – Code Breaker by Brian Aspinall: I am fortunate to be able to provide my students and teachers with incredible opportunities to develop coding skills through robotics, computer science discoveries, and MinecraftEdu. We have evolved way beyond “Hour of Code” and are starting to work toward coding being about the critical thinking and problem solving. This book gave me multiple ideas for lessons as I work with teachers to create cross-curricular project-based learning opportunities for students.

35 – The Wild Card by Wade and Hope King: Every student has been dealt a different hand in the cards of life. How can we be that wild card for them to make their hand better, not worse? How can we give them the extra boost to get to the next round? There are no excuses for mediocrity. I should want to go all out for my students, doing everything I can to make middle school the best years they’ve ever had. What advantage can I give each student and teacher I work with?

36 – Stories from Webb by Todd Nesloney: So I’m going to write a book. This book is about my epic fails in teaching – from fails with parents, other teachers, administrators, and my students. We all know that hIndsight is 20/20, but what should I do differently next time? What could other teachers learn from my failures? What could they identify with and realize someone else has done something similar? Todd and his teachers, parents, wife, and other stakeholders inspired me with their stories, and I look forward to writing mine. It may never see the light of day in its entirety, only living on my Google Drive. Some of it will likely work its way into a new blog series though! Stay tuned!

37 – The Principled Principal by Jeff Zoul and Anthony McConnell: I have to be the calming voice of reason when others are in a frenzy. When people talk to me when they feel as though they are in a hurricane, I should be the eye of the storm, calm and peaceful. Hopefully I can help with whatever is on their mind, but if not, I certainly don’t need to add to the wind and rain, but be their few moments of sunshine. This was one of the unexpected gems of DBC for me. With no desire to be an administrator, I expected to get nothing from this one. Instead, I identified with almost every single chapter in the book! Don’t let “Principal” scare you; it’s about leadership, and if you’re an educator, you’re a leader.

38 – Google Apps for Littles by Christine Pinto and Alice Keeler: If you get nothing more than logistically managing devices from this book, that’s enough! Christine blows my mind with all that her transitional kindergarten students (four and five year olds) can do! This book is about believing in kids. Give them the opportunities to prove they can do something rather than shutting the technological door as they walk up to it. So many excellent strategies and tools in this book, no matter the age of the student!

39 – The Limitless School by Abe Hege and Adam Dovico: These North Carolina boys brought the house down with their book. Removing limitations by breaking down barriers is what Abe and Adam do. They show you how to do it, too! Another must-read for all who want to improve the culture of their school for your students and staff – and let’s face it. We should all want to improve.

40 – The EduProtocol Field Guide by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo: I loved my second trip into this book! Listening to my students’ feedback, I knew I needed to revamp some of my media lessons and I’m thrilled to have read this the weekend before having my first media lessons of the year. Overhauling this week’s lessons, with the help of Marlena herself, to include Smart Starts and fast-paced mini-lessons has me enthusiastic about heading back to work tomorrow! It’s a fresh start and an immediate look into things to come for students and staff from my #DBC50Summer journey.

Well… isn’t that interesting? Every single one of those books gave me something to change, do, or continue doing for my students and teachers. What’s in it for me looks pretty good if you’re a teacher or student that I have the privilege of serving, doesn’t it?

If you want to see what’s in it for you by hopping on the #DBC50Summer journey with me, do it! You don’t have to commit to reading the first 50 books published by DBC! You can read just one! Just one book and implement something you learned. Share your reflections, your implementation plan, and then reflect on it upon completion. It’s that easy!

That leads me to two things I need your help with!

A) The flipgrid that Andrea Paulakovich and I are copiloting is silent. When Andrea mentioned this digital space for global collaboration for all DBC books, I was blown away by her creativity! Still am! Would love to have your thoughts added to the flipgrids. We will release the link to the grid itself once we are finished with the books and blogs. (We’ve also got a couple of awesome things in the works so stay tuned for that, too!) For now, you can use my implementation plan which includes the links to individual topics within the flipgrid!

B) Summer is over in less than 2 weeks. I will finish the final 10 books in the first 50 books published by DBC. I have no plans to stop reading, reflecting, and implementing something from DBC books after book 50. There are incredible books waiting to be read and shared after book 50! So how do we rebrand #DBC50Summer? Help me think! Tweet out your ideas for a new hashtag that can remain relevant no matter the season or book number, or add your ideas in the comments below.

When I started this journey in June, I had no idea what it would look like. I figured no one would ever read these posts, and that it would essentially become a notebook of reflections that I could refer back to as needed when supporting teachers and students. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined my summer would turn out the way it has. My PLN is incredible. Absolutely, mind-blowingly (not a word, I know), insanely spectacular! I am beyond thankful for each person who has read even one word, tolerated my incessant tweets (and e-mails for those who are subscribed to receive emails for each new blog), encouraged me, and supported me. You have inspired so much growth through your conversations and kind words and I can never thank you enough. But it’s not time to get sappy yet. This isn’t the acceptance speech, because we’re not finished yet.

Just as the first 40 were, these last 10 are for my students and staff. What’s in it for them?

Ten books, less than 14 days… and I’ve got a secret. Let’s go!

#DBC50Summer 38/50: Google Apps for Littles

Where in the world was this book when I was still in an elementary setting? Oh my word! The sheer amount of times I have heard in my career that our littlest learners can’t do something… it’s innumerable! Sad truth is, we aren’t giving them an opportunity to show us that they can do so many of the things our older students are doing. As a teacher, I will be recommending book 38 to every PreK-2nd grade teacher I come in contact with; as a parent, I will be using so many of these ideas for my own 5 year old! I actually just bought an additional copy to gift to her kindergarten teacher (shhhh)!

I’ve been trying to do #DBC50Summer in order of release date, and we are entering a period of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc where books are released back-to-back-to-back! It’s interesting to note that Teach Like A Pirate was released in 2012 and the second book, Pure Genius wasn’t released until 2014. Beginning in 2015 and continuing through Summer of 2016, DBC was releasing a book a month on average. Then in 2017, DBC, Inc really started to take off, releasing twelve books in just over 8 months and 2 more to round out the calendar year. This year Dave and Shelley have published 22 books between January and the end of July! We were treated to three and four books a month this summer! It seemed like each week another one was coming out!

Because of that, the remaining books in #DBC50Summer were typically released within days of one another and I’ve done all I can to be sure the book numbers are correct. I reached out to DBC when I first began this process. Using the information from DBC, I did some research using author blogs, tweets, and sending direct messages to the authors asking if they remembered the official release date of their book(s). (I’m a fan of triangulating data… I blame my MLS classes, ha!) Definitively, book 39 (more on that in a minute) was released on February 19, 2018. Checking blogs and tweets, Google Apps for Littles by Christine Pinto and Alice Keeler was already out and doing amazing things on the Amazon best new release list, which would make it book 38!

Like all other books from DBC, Inc that have Alice Keeler’s name on the cover, this book is extraordinary! Each of the books about the Google line are in full color and are absolutely stunning! Check out this page from one of the #BookSnaps I tweeted today. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I love that Christine Pinto put pictures of her students and shared their work in this book! Seeing the excitement on their faces and photos of her organization really brought the book to life! The handprints with Google logos on the front of the book are a perfect addition and definitely make the cover memorable!

From the very beginning, I was captivated by this book! Even the foreword (written by Michelle Baldwin) was incredible! I have been guilty of logging into computers for my littlest students and then having them just leave the lab while I would run around and log every student off after they left. I love the authors’ idea of making a challenge for students to log on and off the Chromebook or Google Chrome account, putting a sticker on an incentive chart for each time it is done correctly. I’m telling you what’s the truth… there’s not a whole lot that the Littles (probably just go ahead and read that as middle schoolers, too) wouldn’t do for a sticker. Bonus cred if you get the smelly stickers. I’m just going to go ahead and say that smelly stickers saved my classroom management plan on multiple occasions. I especially love the “Meaningful Tech Integration” section of the Introduction in which Christine and Alice point out, “Replacing those activities [manipulatives, blocks, toys, etc] with computer tasks does not make learning better.” They go on to point out that allowing students, even the Littles, to use technology gives them an opportunity to learn, practice, collaborate, share, and connect.

The authors do an amazing job sharing the logistics of using Chromebooks, iPads (or other tablet), and/or Google Chrome on desktops in the PreK-2nd grade classroom. I love the log-in cards and color coding the keyboard and log-in cards to assist students in finding the letters and numbers to match.

One of the key themes in this book is having our students learn by exploration. Alice and Christine encourage us to allow students to click and explore as they learn about icons.

“Sometimes people struggle with technology because they are afraid to click on things. We do not want our kids to have to ask for permission to click on something or be afraid. Encourage them to explore and ask the kids what the icons do instead of telling them what they do…Let them explore, click, and learn!” ~Pinto & Keeler

As is true with many DBC books, there are links to template after template that allows you to take this back to your classroom tomorrow! I love the pixel art and appreciate the link in the book! My students love to create pixel art in Minecraft, but we only have 8 computers in our Minecraft Lab, so using Google Sheets with conditional formatting is an excellent way to incorporate this art form in class! I can totally see using this as a BreakoutEDU clue in the near future!

Searching for images with word families is definitely an activity I will do multiple times with Sophie, my daughter who just started kindergarten. She would love finding her own images on the internet. And the “explore” feature creating the best layout on the slide is just plain genius! I will definitely be using the color coded slides to assign slides to groups from this point forward! What a simple way to visually assign slides! There are so many things I can implement, even though I don’t teach the Littles anymore! Just as Teaching Math with Google Apps had a math focus, but could be used by any teacher because the information contained was just that good, Google Apps for Littles is focused on our youngest students, but certainly has relatable information for teachers of all grade levels! Don’t be fooled by those cute little handprints on the cover! Even if you’re a high school teacher, you will want get something out of this one!

I am the faculty sponsor for multiple clubs at my school. Makerspace Managers (which will also function as Innovation Engineers, thanks to Pure Genius by Don Wettrick), Game Club, Between the Lines Book Club, and now I will have students coming to the media center for an open invitation genius hour opportunity. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to manage that time without grading and formalizing the process. I want the students to want to be there and not feel as if it’s another assignment being dumped on them.  The Template Tab information from this book is exactly what i was looking for! Using this template, each student will have their own tab in one Google spreadsheet and they can reflect on their progress, communicate with me about wants and needs, and have a running journal of their genius hour journey to use if they choose to blog their story on the school’s new student-led blog (which is the implementation plan for Shift This by Joy Kirr and Ditch that Homework by Matt Miller and Alice Keeler.) I love when multiple implementation plans come together because it is making #DBC50Summer more cohesive and intentional. It’s also helping me think through the actual implementation and what will and may not work.

I also loved Kasey Bell‘s Magnetic Poetry Template! You can find more about magnetic poetry on Kasey’s blog at shakeuplearning.com/magneticpoetry (you’ll hear more about her very soon)! I look forward to sharing that with my middle school students next week, just as a fun activity. Then they can screenshot it using Alice’s extension and add it to a school-wide collaborative Google Slides. Now that revision history has been improved, I’m not as worried about a student deleting slides or adding anything inappropriate.

There are so many additional ideas for encouraging our Littles and providing them the same opportunities as our older students that can be found on Twitter! You can find these using the hashtag #GAfE4Littles! Christine has a beautiful website that can be found here. I would definitely recommend checking out the #InnovatingPlay and #SlowFlipChat sections of her site! (May also want to create a column in your Tweetdeck for those as well!) Remember the rabbit hole that is Alice’s website? It can be found here. The Google Teacher Tribe podcast (Kasey Bell and Matt Miller) interviewed Christine! You can listen to that here! Vicki (@coolcatteacher) Davis also hosted Christine on her 10-Minute Teacher podcast here. I would also highly recommend subscribing to both Christine’s and Alice’s YouTube channels!

If you’ve been following this journey for any length of time, you likely know what comes next. The flipgrid is available, thanks to the brilliant idea of my friend, Andrea Paulakovich! She kindly asked me if I’d like to co-pilot this global collaborative space available for all DBC books; of course I said yes! Please feel free to share your thoughts there and bring some friends along!

I am so excited to get to read book 39! It’s by two principals from my home state of North Carolina! In fact, they are located about an hour from my school! (Quick story) When I met Dave Burgess in April, we had a discussion about this book. In fact, it was through this conversation that I knew he (and his company) was legit. I mean, I had my doubts… I wondered if it was all a show. (I can be fairly cynical – we’ve covered this in another blog. I’m working on it.) You see, he brings a selection of books to his speaking engagements that he sells at a discounted price and will sign and personalize Teach Like A Pirate and/or P is for Pirate for you. What got me was that he could tell anyone who approached his table about each of the books he had published (not only the ones that he brought with him). He knew all 65 authors by name, and knew where they were from. The company is growing exponentially, but somehow he and Shelley have still managed to make it feel like a family. Book 39 caught my eye because of its beautiful cover; he let me know that the authors were from North Carolina and shared a story about the book with me. I knew then that I had to get it! So one of the five books I bought that day was The Limitless School by Abe Hege and Adam Dovico. I am pumped to finally be able to read book 39 after owning it for nearly 5 months! Hoping to blog about it tomorrow! Only twelve books left and 15 days until Fall begins! I can totally do this!