Nearing the end of the fast paced, often crazed, multi-layers of multitasking…planning and grading, teaching and re-teaching…what is it that kids remember of their school year with you? What do they find meaningful and lasting from your time together?
It’s worth stopping to see, because it’s the glue that holds all the rest together.
I had that opportunity when Mrs. Patterson, a retired teacher, took over my 5th grade class when I went to a meeting. She had my students write me a thank you/memory letter. And just what is it that really made an impact after our nine months together? The hours spent putting together that cool project? Those math lessons taught three different ways until they all got it? No…my black boots with the blue zippers!
Here is one comment pulled from each letter.
I like when you freak out when something good happens.
You are not grumpy, like if someone says a word to you, you won’t shout “GET BACK TO YOUR SEAT!!!”
I still remember the bunch of times you said, “I can’t follow you around your whole life.”
You played a huge role in teaching us how to be good human beings and the ways that we can do that.
I truly didn’t even know what a web 2.0 tool was before this year.
You aren’t so quiet and boring. You are kind of loud actually.
I think that you are funny, and I love that about you.
I let my brain run free and have a say!
You know how to keep people going, and you don’t give up on yourself. I never gave up because of you.
You always make it seem like we are a team
I loved watching Carl on CNN Student News.
You always like to swing at recess.
I love being able to do stuff that my sister, brother, dad, and mom can’t do on the computer!
You are very funny, but in a good way. Thanks for making us laugh.
Our classroom feels like home to me.
I love blogging, can we still do it over the summer too?
You have great taste of style! I love your black boots with the blue zippers.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of some of the places in the world that we worked with or skyped.
Even though you won’t be there personally, you will always be with me.
Well, I only have a minute to gather my life and get to the bus so…THANK YOU!
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
Does knowing this help me with all of the work ahead for next year? No…but it sure puts things in perspective. You may want to give it a try before they’re gone for the year.
What an honor to be chosen as the Featured Teacher for Classroom 2.0 LIVE! If you are interested in Project-based Learning or 21st Century Learning, here is the recording. Here’s the Livebinder link to all of the projects and resources mentioned in the presentation.
Make sure you visit the Classroom 2.0 LIVE site and check the calendar for upcoming events and archives. They are always a great resource for cutting edge education ideas and resources.
In our Hero in the Mirror project, 5th grade classes are hearing from every day heroes as we search for our own “Hero in the Mirror”. We’ve had people from all walks of life tell us their very human qualities such as inspiration, compassion, niceness, connecting, listening, encouragement, helping and others…and we listen to them speak about how they use their qualities to make their corner of the world a better place.
As we do this, we’re trying to look inside ourselves for our own heroic qualities…and that isn’t as easy as it seems.
I had an idea. How about asking each student to write down a super hero power quality that they see in each classmate? I had a shoe-box with slips of paper. All done anonymously. This is generally a pretty self-focused age, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The box filled quickly…almost too quickly. Did they give this thought? Did they just write the same couple things for everyone? Was this a bad idea? Would I have to fudge for the kids that weren’t popular?
As I sit here in my empty classroom, I am struck by the wisdom of 10 year olds. Most were spot on. Here’s a few about kids I generally keep an eye on. They are usually alone on the playground…not included in groups…pretty quiet and reserved. Here’s what their peers had to say about them:
When something is real, you can feel it. I hope that these kids can read these comments and feel that as well.
Music is good for the soul. Share the love. Donating the cost of one lesson that we may pay for our own kids goes along way for these kids.
The Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project (ChiMOP) is a community youth orchestra program dedicated to affecting positive social change in young students with limited access to the arts by providing a safe and fun environment for them to make music in pursuit of artistic excellence together with peers and role models.
Currently, ChiMOP has two programs. The Summer Orchestra Camp, launched in May 2013, and a school partnership program with Mary Lyon Elementary School, launched September 2013, that provides daily group lessons, string orchestra, wind ensemble, symphony orchestra, bucket band, and choir as well as opportunities to perform and attend concerts around the city throughout the year for more than 100 young students in the Belmont Cragin community. All program costs are completely free to all students.
Every once in a while I find myself in the middle of something magical. It starts out like any other thing, but somehow all of the pieces click…and it’s a convergence that could never have been expected. I’m in the middle of one of those now.
Hero in the Mirror started as a research and writing project. My 5th graders were going to choose a hero, investigate her/his life and accomplishments and then write an informational piece. Of course that was too stale and inauthentic for me, so I added a twist…and a few hand-springs, and a cart-wheel.
Starting with the premise: Every person has Super Hero Power potential.
I invite ‘every day heroes’ into our classroom to talk about their work and life.
Have 5th graders interview, film, organize the visits.
To end the visit, interviewers ask each guest, “What is your super hero power?”
Kids reflect on that and connect how the guest uses that power In their work and in their life.
They put their reflections in writing and post them on their blogs.
The project is still evolving as I follow the kids in their discoveries, but in the end…I will be asking each 5th grader to find their own ‘Hero in the Mirror’ and claim their super hero power.
So what’s so magical you ask?
Brave souls saying ‘yes’ to 10-11 year olds, despite their own fears.
Seeing so many busy people choosing to be with us for those 20 minutes.
Watching the struggle many go through to uncover their super hero power, and then claiming it.
Knowing that those ‘super heroes’ will forever hold that power differently after their visit.
Watching my class hold each guest and each super hero power in equal esteem…coming from a college student, a parent, a famous director, a fast food worker…they hold them in equal light.
The gift I’m receiving to be able to witness humanity is such a beautiful way.
Knowing that the 5th graders involved will see the world, and themselves…and their place in our world forever differently….just as I will.
As happens frequently, I started a moderately small project called My Hero through iEARN, an organization that I love. As I crafted it into my flavor of Project-based Learning unit, I wanted to end with my learners seeing how they themselves are heroes, and that who they are in this world really matters. So, of course that reminded me of my lovely friend, Joan Steffend, who is the founder of peace begins with me (a small BIG peace project). And so it begins.
Other classes in my district jumped on, and everyday heroes started coming out of the woodwork to talk to our classes about their ‘inner hero’. Our website for the project includes a VoiceThread on the homepage that allows anyone to stop by and record their voice and tell us what their super hero power is. Joan describes, “I’d love if you’d go to this website and record your thoughts on what you are passionate about…what you do every day…why being a caring, thoughtful person is important to the world, why it’s important for kids to believe in the power of their own actions and thoughts…why hero is a word we may have to add a new definition for…how what we do in our individual lives matters, you get the idea! You don’t have to answer all of those, I’m just priming your pump to get you started! If you’d start with your name, location, and maybe what you do for a living, that’d be great! Much love!”
I have no idea where we will end up, but so far I know that the kids involved will be the very lucky recipients of some amazing heroes among us. Watch for updates!
Guest Post: Donna Román about Starting out School Year
Donna Adams Román is a 5th grade teacher at Mill Creek School in Geneva, Illinois, blogger, trainer, and presenter committed to providing rich learning opportunities for her learners and professional learning network. She is a recent recipient of ISTE’s first place SIGOL Online Learning Award. Donna is active in Professional Development online and in her district, CoSN, ISTE, Flat Classroom®, and iEARN (International Education Resource Network). We met Donna at ISTE 2013 with Lisa Parisi, a 5th grade teacher in Long Island, New York.
Welcome Donna! Her first guest post with us is a cross-post of the September 20th post from her blog “Map without Borders” about starting out this school year.
Sunday morning…8:00 am in Illinois, 9:00 am in New York and Massachusetts, 2:00 pm in Ireland, 9:00 pm in Taiwan and Malaysia…
Teachers meeting around the world, on one of the few times and days of the week that work for everyone because no one is teaching or sleeping at the time: Sundays. We meet to share ideas, projects and stories. We meet in our homes or in our classrooms. We compare curriculum and obstacles. We share resources and support.