Tag Archives: education

You Can Only Grow as Big as Your Container

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Our ability to think and work creatively is heavily influenced by our workplace….the size of the container. District size doesn’t matter. What matters is group norms and culture. We can’t always control that in our work environments, but we can expand our container by connecting with expansive thinkers.

Intentionally choosing expansive thinkers as thought partners has been the defining element in my professional life. One way I’ve expanded my container is through work with a global team of educators. We only know what we know, and if we limit ourselves to our own district, we are often just reaffirming what we already think. Our global team was asked to keynote at the recent Global Education Conference.

How big is your container? Mine is as big as the world.

 

The Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project (ChiMOP)

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.

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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.

To see the whole post: Click HERE for more information.

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What’s YOUR Super Hero Power?

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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.

Then…

  • 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?

  1. Brave souls saying ‘yes’ to 10-11 year olds, despite their own fears.
  2. Seeing so many busy people choosing to be with us for those 20 minutes.
  3. Watching the struggle many go through to uncover their super hero power, and then claiming it.
  4. Knowing that those ‘super heroes’ will forever hold that power differently after their visit.
  5. 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.
  6. The gift I’m receiving to be able to witness humanity is such a beautiful way.
  7. Knowing that the 5th graders involved will see the world, and themselves…and their place in our world forever differently….just as I will.

Please check out our website. We are still in the middle of things, so check back!

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Our Monthly Global PLN Chats…#2

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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.

The world we live in is amazing.

Do Not Open Until 2018!

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I came across a secret note in my classroom desk  from a student. She must have hidden it there at some point.  It was the typical style note you see in 5th grade, folded, stapled shut and written in red pen.  On the front it said:

Do Not Open Until May 2018!

Well, I did what any self-respecting adult would do; I opened it immediately. It had one simple line: Dear Mrs. Roman. Thank you. You have truly changed my life.  This got me thinking. Don’t we all change the lives of everyone we encounter? I can look back at seemingly insignificant interactions with people who totally changed the course of my life, sometimes in just a few words. “You’ll never go back to college. Once someone quits, they don’t go back,” from someone I only saw once when I was 19 years old in a group of us eating pizza at Joe’s Italian Foods in South Pasadena. I had quit school at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and moved to Los Angeles, every parent’s nightmare. Another time I recall was in a train station leaving on a trip with my then three-year-old daughter.  I was gripping her tiny hand and we were scurrying along in my usual hurried way when an older, gray-haired woman came up to me and kindly said, “That is an awfully quick pace for those little legs,” as she looked down and smiled at my daughter. As I sat on the 8-hour train ride, my anger at her rudeness in a matter that was none of her business melted away as I sat looking out the window at the blur of passing phone poles.

Scanning through interactions with people in my life that I can recall, some positive, some negative, most neutral, and surely millions gone from memory forever, I get the feeling that each one of those exchanges had the potential to impact my life or someone else’s in some way. Is it really important that we recognize each interaction that affects us or each time we have affected people we encounter? There are thousands of times this kind of thing happens in our weaving in and out of each other’s lives. Was it crucial that the guy in Joe’s know that he angered me enough to propel me back into college? And was it important that the woman in the train station realize that her comment pushed me to shift my way of being in the world in such a way that the quality of not only my life, but also the lives of my children, was significantly improved?

It would be nice to know those things, but in most cases we wont. That thought sure makes me see the every day in a different light.

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Reposted from a year ago.

Blogging for Writing Instruction is Nothing short of Amazing!

Having read the dreaded “I am going to tell you about” 5-paragraph essay until my eyes glaze over and I fall into a comatose state, I have spent years scouring the earth for engaging approaches to writing. My quest has taken me to the promising lands of writing clubs, writer’s notebooks, and writer’s workshops, Four-square, and Six Traits, mystery bags, photo prompts, guided imagery, peer review, passed around team writing, speed writing, personal journals, and Morning Pages. Some were more engaging than others, but nothing too impressive…until….blogging.

So, why is blogging so cool? Here we go!

  • An authentic audience.
  • Revising! Without begging…and sometimes even student initiated.
  • Reading of each other’s writing…ON THEIR OWN! And making positive comments!
  • Full control over what gets published…without tons of paper piles.
  • Interactions between my students and 5 other schools around the world in Australia, Ireland, Taiwan, Canada, New York, Iowa, and The Netherlands
  • Writing…more writing than I could imagine….in every curricular area….long and short, formal and scientific, researched and  opinion, argument, informational, narrative…every single day…WITHOUT COMPLAINTS!
  • Creativity to make it more fun by adding visual appeal with pictures, drawings and designs.
  • Collaboration in all kinds of ways, and in all kinds of projects.
  • Interactions and questions and investigation, not only on their own work, but on other students’ work.
  • Possibilities of meaningful homework (although I haven’t used that much)
  • Even a student initiated, organized, and implemented disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

And I saved the best for last. There is a student that is so quiet…so inside of himself…that I didn’t hear his voice for almost a week after school started. He says almost nothing to anyone all day. When I read his writing the first time, I cried. Even now, months later, to see how perceptive, intelligent, and introspective he is…and to see how the other kids respond to him in writing, and to see how caring he is to other students….well, it is absolutely amazing. This was an opportunity for all us to see him in a different light. His classmates treat him differently now. They actually see him. They include him and invite him…and in response, he has opened up more to them.

That miracle was worth the whole ride itself, but to see the overall transformation of a process that I used to dread and now look forward to with great anticipation….that is amazing.

I use kidblog.org. Here are some step-by-step directions to set up student blogs, as well as some projects to start you out. Blogging in the Classroom

Starting Your Year with Student Blogging

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If you haven’t considered blogging with your students, now’s the time!

I’ve taught fifth grade for the past 14 years, I have never found a more powerful approach to teaching writing than blogging. It creates an authentic audience, and kids actually want to write. I have an easy step by step guide to starting off on a good foot.

 

 

Click the title below for a more detailed explanation with resources.

Overview of Lessons to Begin Blogging

1. Make paper blogs to teach blogging. Here’s the lesson plan:
Paper Blogs: McTeach lesson

2.  7 Random Facts About Me To teach what information can be on a public space, and what can not.

3. Establish Blogging Guidelines.

4. Quality Comments

5. Start with small assignments

6. International Dot Day: How will you make a difference in the world?

7. Include parents

8. Connect with a couple of classrooms

9.Let them explore with color and style to personalize their blog site

10.Don’t grade! At least not at first.

11.Blog at least weekly                                                                                                         

12.Be Patient

Here’s a great article about the State of Blogging:

The State of Educational Blogging 2013

There are more resources linked here.