Celebrate: Reminders and Other Essentials

I need reminders.

This week I went to the Right Question Institute’s seminar and was reminded of the power of the Question Formulation Technique that teaches kids to make, revise and prioritize questions around any subject matter. I discovered this work a few years ago and used in my classroom. Read about it here and here and here. Watch a few videos with students using the technique here.

Last year I did not use it. Not because last year’s group of students didn’t need it. Not because it took too much time. But because I was overwhelmed with the next new thing. The new (that was good) took over and drove a lot of good out of the class. My fault.

This week I was reminded by Dan Rothstein, Luz Santana and a room full of educators of the power and process of questioning.  My students need this work every year to reflect on ideas. This week I was reminded of something I knew but forgot: to blend new practices with older powerful practices.

This week I was fortunate (thank you #g2great Voxer) to be amongst a group of teachers treated to learning with Trevor Bryan. He took us through the Art of Comprehension Access Lenses. For a look-see at the possibilities of his work check out this link.

I hope, for the sake of students and teachers, his approach to teaching comprehension through artwork is published and shared widely. His tools allow students to “read” artwork with lenses that can be used to read a text and can be used to drive student writing.

Trevor’s access lenses teach students the skill of reading a mood in a painting and finding evidence for that mood by breaking down what appears in the artwork into patterns. Think color, facial expression, spatial relationships. And I’m just scratching the surface of this new tool I will add to my tool box of reading and writing strategies.

The Question Formulation Technique and the Art of Comprehension Access Lenses will bring my students to new understandings. This week I celebrate the brilliance and dedication behind that work.

This week I celebrate the necessity of reminders and working with others. Collaboration is the ingredient that emulsifies the work,

This week I celebrate passionate educators who step up to learn and support each other with energy and enthusiasm. It grows our practice that blooms in our classrooms, every year.

Celebrate: 140 Characters

celebrate link up Thank you Ruth Aryes for starting this weekly link up to celebrate our week. Read more celebrations here.

This week’s celebrations are all due to 140 characters. What it means to be “connected” through the virtual world of Twitter often connects in very tangible ways. This week I’m celebrating a lot of face-to-face work that was an outgrowth of Twitter. The richness of this work makes us better educators and better people.

One: My colleagues Dayna Wells @daywells and Cathy Skubik @cskubik became full fledged participants in the #TCRWP chat. They have been lurking around Twitter for a while, even tweeting on occasion, but neither had really participated in a chat. This week I tweeted alongside them; just offering a few explanations and a little encouragement. I’m sure I helped a little, but what really got both of them going was the welcoming conversation they joined. The #TCRWP tweeps took them in responding, favoriting, and retweeting. I was struck by this. It is not hyperbole when I say that I love that Wednesday chat.  I celebrate the wonderful educators who moderate the chats weekly and those that show up and offer up so much every week!  The after effects of the chats are quite stunning.

 

Two. This week, leaders from the Right Question Institute @RQI presented their work to teacher leaders in my district. The wonderful Dan Rothstein and Lavada Berger @LavadRQI had us work through the process of teaching students to question. This paradigm shift is powerful. Getting students to create questions around a focused topic puts power in the their hands and allows them to direct their own learning. While this is the beginning of this work in our district, it started because of a tweet. That tweet referenced this post,. Soon that book found its way around my school. The ideas filtered into our classrooms and then out into the district. That one tweet was the shirtless guy in the “one nut” video. I’m proud to say our school was the first follower.

 

Three: Speaking of followers, I have to celebrate my 1,000th follower. WHOO HOO!

Which really leads me to why Victoria followed me. See 4 a and 4 b.

Four (a)  Tuesday through Thursday I attended my first CUERockstar Conference. I signed up to learn more about digital literacy, but what I got was so much more. When you are surrounded by passion, respect and possibility, learning is  exhilarating. These fabulous teachers who led the sessions were committed to the participants; they met our needs, listened intently, and encouraged our work. Just being a learner with these folks was a gift. What follows are a few highlights.

I was introduced to  Storybird  in Moss Pike’s @MossPike session on day two of the conference. Storybird is a free web-based tool that presents a beautiful gallery of pictures for storytelling. As the websites states, “Storybird reverses visual storytelling by starting with the image and ‘unlocking’ the story inside.”

I love this idea of “unlocking” a story. As I created my book, I thought about story structure, the real struggle for the characters; which led to understanding the characters. The expressions on the character’s faces gave me clues to their emotions and where the story might go.  This experience was unlike any writing experience I have had before. I had an idea of where the story might go, but I wasn’t exactly sure. The characters took over the story. This experience makes me wonder about the power of visuals and the ability to visualize when we tell story. 

Four (b)  In another session we worked on Design Thinking for Educators.based on work from The Center for Deep Thinking in Mount Vernon. We chose a “sticky problem,” a problem that has many points where you could get “stuck,” and worked through the process that embraces problem solving through empathy and visual thinking. I worked with Filisa Iskason @fiskason and Karen Lagola @kklagola on the problem of not enough time for students and professional development. As we talked, jotted and then asked ourselves, “how might we” approach these issues. One idea that stayed with me was to focus on creating “rich time” avoiding experiences  that create an attitude of just “passing time” for our students and our colleagues.

2014-07-31 11.24.48

 

Five: In response to Carol Varsalona’s  @cvarsalona call for photos and poems that fit the more relaxed mood of summer. I tweeted her a picture I took at sunset as well as a found poem. Within minutes, Carol Direct Messaged me. As the summer is not over yet check out Carole’s Summertime Serenity link up here.

JGpMJwvZ

 

 

And all of this because of this:

imgres