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.
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!