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!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name?

My family and I just returned from a week of luxury aboard the Disney Fantasy, a cruise ship with the Disney Cruise Line. We were thrilled to be able to spend time as a family, completely removed from work, social media, and the stress of day-to-day life.

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Disney Fantasy in port in Cozumel, Mexico

From the moment we stepped off the airplane and into the Disney transportation portion of Orlando International Airport, we were treated to the Disney experience. Because it’s just the way I am, I couldn’t ignore the connections between the Disney experience and the experience I try to give students at school each day.

Of course, the customer service was superb and the amenities were outstanding. Disney pulled out all the stops; they went all out to ensure that our experience made our family feel special and made us want to come back. Our schools should be like Disney for our students. Every child, yes, even those children, should feel special, cared for, and like we want them to come back.

What stood out the most to me was the relationships formed while on the ship. In just seven nights, we formed bonds with other families that will last a lifetime. My children were devastated to leave the characters and the fun, but they were also sad to leave our stateroom host and servers! How does Disney form these relationships so quickly?! Two big things stood out to me!

§- The Power of A Name -§

It started from the moment we embarked on the ship. We were greeted instantly and were asked our family name. Upon entering the ship’s atrium for the first time, we were introduced to the cast members and crew of the Disney Fantasy and were met with applause. A crew member took us to the side and gave us a quick rundown of logistical information and invited us to the Sail Away Party later that afternoon. After asking if we had any questions (we did not), she encouraged us to explore the ship and shared where to go if questions should arise later. What a greeting!

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Our amazing stateroom host, Narciso

If you ever doubt the power of learning names, let me share this short story…

Narciso was our stateroom host. Every time we ran into him in the hallway, our conversation went something like this:

Narciso: Good morning, Alicia! How did you sleep?

Alicia: Great, thank you! How was your evening?

N: It was good! Are you planning to visit the island today?

A: We’re hoping to. We didn’t plan an excursion but we hope to check out the shops nearby.

N: Sounds great! I hope you and your family have a great day. Is there anything I can do to make your stay more comfortable?

A: No, thank you.

N: Will Bailey or Sophie be on the top bunk tonight? (He placed the stuffed animals they sleep with on the bed when he turned them down each night.)

And the conversation would continue. He was exceptional! On a ship full of strangers, it felt like home because someone knew our name, and greeted us by name. It had a calming effect that I wasn’t expecting. I realize that if I feel more comfortable in a space upon hearing my name, our students likely do as well.

§- Likes and Dislikes -§

At our first dinner our server and assistant server introduced themselves and called us by name, asking what we preferred to be called. They already knew our names because they had taken the time to view our information before we joined them. Our servers had between 24-30 people to attend to throughout the cruise during our seating, with another 24-30 at the other dinner seating. They had our names memorized and quickly learned what we liked and disliked in meal preferences.

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Danijel (server), the Faulkners, the Rays, and Clifton (assistant server)

Now I don’t, for even a second, believe Clifton just remembered that my oldest daughter wanted Sprite and my youngest daughter wanted water with extra ice nor do I believe that Danijel remembered that I like my sirloin cooked medium and my husband is an adventurous eater. They took the time to write it down, jotting a note in their record so they could refer to it the next night. How often do we do that with our students? If you are a classroom teacher, I encourage you to make a list of your students and write as much as you can about each one from memory, and add to it as the year progresses. Because I fully believe Dave Burgess‘s quote “Inspiration without implementation is a waste,” I will use a <large> notebook (I serve approximately 400 students and 30 educators) and create a page for each one, adding notes about their likes and dislikes as our relationships continue to form. Is that going to take time? Of course! Will it be worth it? I believe so.

Why do I think it’ll be worth it? I just experienced 7 nights with people I’ve never met before who took the time to pay attention to the little things and get to know me as a person. I never felt like just another family on vacation. I never want my students to feel as if they’re “just another student.” I want each one to feel special. That starts with knowing their name, pronouncing it correctly, and taking the time to learn their likes and dislikes to make a genuine connection as quickly as possible.

 

#DBCBookBlogs: The Princes of Serendip

Do you remember your first car? I remember mine, clearly.

Two-toned – dark blue and gray. 1990. Lexus ES250. Power windows. Sunroof. Decent sound system. While this may sound like luxury to some, looking back I can assure you it was not. I went to school with kids from very wealthy families. There were brand new sports cars, new Jeeps, BMWs, Explorers, etc. in our the spaces of our senior parking lot. My car could be heard from miles away, and the rust was showing and paint was chipping off. The fabric of the interior was hanging from the roof of the car. But to this 16 year old, the windows, sunroof, and sound system worked and it had the “L” on the front grill, so it was better than walking.

Why do I start this blog talking about my first car? Because my mom bought the car for me to drive and made me pay every cent of the car back to her. I remember being so angry. She made me pay for the car and pay for the gas to drive it. (She did pay the insurance.) Very few of my friends were made to pay for their car; their parents paid for it and gifted it to them. Not me. Nope. I got a job at a clothing chain and worked to pay for the car and my gas. Mom always told me that I would appreciate the car more if I worked to pay for it.

Allyson Apsey brings us the 58th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line of awesome. (At this point, can we really call it anything other than that? I mean, really?) If you’ll remember correctly, Allyson also brought us book 46 as well, The Path to Serendipity. Her newest book, just released a couple of days ago, shares a powerful message in picture book format. Yep – DBC now has TWO children’s books! The Princes of Serendip joins the family and shows us the importance of pride, kindness, and gratitude. The illustrations are absolutely stunning! The illustrator for this book is Molly Blaisdell, and she did a terrific job with the artistry of the princes and their lessons learned.

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Allyson newest book is her own version of the 16th century Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip. In the original tale (as much as my limited research could bring up), the King questions his three sons about their readiness to take over the role of king and is proud of their answers. He decides they have completed their formal education and sends them out into the village to discover what life is like there to polish their education through real world experiences. The three princes decide to tell the emperor that they saw a camel on the road based on clues from their trip along the road, even though they did not. They are accused to stealing the camel and are sent to jail. Someone finds the camel, and they are released. When questioned about how they knew about the camel so well without ever seeing it, they share their keen observation skills and the emperor is so impressed that he asks them to stay at his guests.

There are several variations of the story as it has been passed down through generations. Find more information here and here. These could easily be adapted to be more appropriate for younger students, if desired.

Allyson’s tale is about the princes discovery of pride, kindness, and gratitude. It is heartwarming and the perfect social-emotional learning book for any home, classroom, or school! Much like with Dolphins in Trees by Aaron Polansky, I immediately started thinking of ways to use this book in a classroom setting. It opens up so many conversation possibilities as a read aloud option!

  • Why do you believe the King was disgusted with his sons?
  • How would you feel as the King?
  • Why do you believe the author chose those three virtues for the princes to discover?
  • Which of these virtues do you believe is the most important?
  • What other virtue would you have them discover?
  • Create a parable (short story) that teaches the princes about the virtue you chose.
  • How would this story be different if it was set in today’s time?

Some terrific opportunities present themselves to create authentic learning and self-reflection from this children’s book as well.

  • Think of someone (or a people, charity, etc) less fortunate than you. Research the day-to-day problems they must overcome, and create a way to help solve their problems.
  • What unfamiliar words do you see? How can we use the context around them to infer their meaning?
  • Serendipity is defined in this book – why do you believe the author shares the origin of the word?
  • What did formal education look like for princes and/or princesses of the medieval times? Compare this to the story.
  • Compare the original tale (or a modified version of the original for younger students, if desired) to Allyson’s story.
  • How do the pictures enhance the story?
  • Illustrate your version of a modern-day Princes of Serendip.
  • Writing prompt: Do you believe Americans are spoiled? (Reference the USA Today article on the Ryder Cup in Paris, Oct 2, 2018)
  • Do you believe you are like the princes? Why or why not?
  • How do the princes change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story?

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. I am certain you have many amazing ideas for incorporating this story into your classroom, home, or school! Please share those awesome ideas on the flipgrid that Andrea Paulakovich and I co-pilot.

Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #PrincesOfSerendip. The most precious video can be found on Facebook and YouTube of Allyson opening the Amazon package of her book for the first time. It is moving to see an author touch a book they have worked so hard to create, and see and hear the pride as they hold the finished product in their hands. Check out the video below (or click here if you have problems viewing)!

This is the perfect book to purchase your child’s teacher and/or librarian in this holiday season! Here is the Amazon link to purchase The Princes of Serendip.

My girls’ reactions after asking me to read it for a second time, scooting closer and closer as I read each page:

My 5 year old: “My favorite part of the book was when the kids worked hard to cheer up their dad when he was sad. Kindness is my favorite and it means to be really nice to another human. It was really sad that the girl got burned. I don’t like fire.”

My 9 year old: “My favorite part of the book was the whole entire thing. I loved it. Kindness is my favorite because there is kindness inside of us and we can be kind to others. I like that they stop ordering their servants around at the end. I love the illustrations.”

So how will I implement this book? The problem of the Princes of Serendip is that everything was handed to them. They were spoiled. I will allow my students to fail and experience defeat. I will encourage them to get back up and try again every single time. It is only through reflecting on our failures that we learn life lessons. When the students I serve are working through a tough BreakoutEDU game, I watch the frustration on their faces. I see them get agitated as they work through the problems; I see them put down a clue, and eventually pick it back up again. I smile at them as they whine and complain that it’s too hard. Then, we celebrate together as they unlock the locks one by one. The pride in themselves is so evident as I hear squealing and laughter throughout the media center. This is part of my why. Allowing students to fail in a controlled, safe environment and encouraging them to persevere and get back up again, determined to succeed, gives them the resilience to get back up again when the stakes are higher.

I’m so excited to see where the DBC, Inc line goes next! Definitely go to the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc website and sign up for their newsletter, if you’ve not already! From the November eNewsletter, it appears that 2/3 of the Start. Right. Now. crew is coming out with a second book titled Stop. Right. Now. I’m intrigued by what Jimmy Casas and Jeff Zoul have in story for us and can’t wait for it to come out! Several books are being transformed into audiobooks in the near future, so watch for those! If you’ve subscribed to their newsletter, you will also receive #SundaySeven which is super cool!

Finally, my mom was right. I do appreciate things more if I work hard for them. (Don’t tell her I said that though.)