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Posted by on in Student Engagement

elf on the shelf

There I was at 7:00 AM, bleeding, blood all over my hands, kneeling over our family's beloved Elf on the Shelf, Oliver, in the dining room, and my six-year-old daughter waking up and coming down the steps. It was my worst case scenario. My little girl was going to come downstairs and see me covered in blood with our Elf on the Shelf laying on the floor and think that I did something terrible to Oliver. 

Why was I covered in blood and bleeding at 7:00 AM in the dining room with Oliver laying on the floor next me? Because I was trying to make the Elf on the Shelf experience better for my daughters. The night before, I moved Oliver to a spot in our house that was just okay. I knew it was just okay at the time, but I thought it would do. The next morning I woke up, and decided I could do a better job with my placement of our elf. As I was moving him around in the dining room, so he would be hanging upside down like Batman, (much cooler than my first placement), I bumped a glass that fell to floor. I knelt down trying to catch the glass, but since I am well out of my 20's, my quickness just wasn't there, and I ended up kneeling onto a shard of glass and getting a 3 cm gash right by my knee. Four stitches later, and a bunch of Elf on the Shelf pictures put up all around my classroom by my colleagues, I was as good as new. 

As word at school spread about my near holiday massacre, a few people asked me why did I move the elf a second time. Good question, but if you have young children, you know why. Every morning, since the arrival of our elf, that is the first thing my six-year-old and three-year-old look for. Then when they find him, they have to show everyone in the house. They talk about Oliver all day, and I find them quietly talking to Oliver when they think no one is watching. They draw him pictures, and write him little notes. To see that every day from my daughters is worth more effort from me in my placement of him. And as I thought about the answer to the question, "Why did I move the elf a second time?" I couldn't help but relate that to my classroom. 

So here are my Elf on the Shelf Lessons:

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

Einstein imagination quote

Check out a few prompts about creativity and imagination. Use these "sparks" to trigger that "self-amusement park" of the mind to see where they all lead. As you read the prompts, use brainstorming, "picture-storming" (visualize one image-after-another), and "word-storming" (crank out one word-after-another) to get into my original statements, "equations," and quoatations about two vital learning and life processes/skills. Apply the storming processes to conjure up thoughts, ideas, meanings, feelings, mind-pictures (images), words, and connected real-life experiences in your head. Enjoy some fun and creative self-entertainment with these "pumper-uppers," first, with yourself to see what they produce, and then use with your students to motivate discussion.

                                                                                     CREATIVITY 

1. "CREATIVITY = NO FEAR"

2. "EXPERIMENTING = THE CREATIVE LIFE"

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

 Starbucks cupI love this time of year.  The fall season feels like an extended holiday season regardless of the holidays each person celebrates:  Halloween and Thanksgiving followed by the Winter Break holidays. Students, administration, teachers, and parents love giving and receiving  gifts.  With the recent reveal of the 2016 Starbucks Holiday Cups, it is a time to embrace the current season and the holidays to come.

Starbucks has become commonplace to represent coffee around the U.S and the world. Students at all levels are able to identify with the company, logo, and the coffee it serves. In many cities, rural and urban, students have indulged themselves with frappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate, and steamed milk. Teachers frequent Starbucks this time of year with Peppermint Mochas and Egg Nog Lattes. Admin. teams  and PTA groups often donate carafes of coffee to the teachers' lounge. Parents and students enjoy peppering teachers with Starbucks gift cards which teachers graciously accept adding to their holiday cheer.

Adding gimmicks to a lesson provides creativity, engages the mind, and increases student motivation. Gimmicks also help students connect interests to content. Utilizing physical movement along with gimmicks adds more intrigue and fosters increased brain activity encouraging synaptic connections.

For this activity, Starbucks, movement, and reading have been combined to provide a stimulating experience.

Items You Will Need:

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

whs-centurylinkgrant-web1_0.jpg

The picture you see above is of my students and myself after I received a technology grant, which I used to purchase Chromebooks so that my students can learn using 21st century technology.

I already have 21st century technology. Now, I am on a mission to bring a 21st century learning space to my chemistry classroom. Traditional High School classrooms are gray, gloomy, boring, and most strikingly outdated.

About 3 months ago, I started a movement "Starbucks My Classroom," which quickly caught on social media and many educators in the US and abroad are now transforming their classrooms.

I believe that sitting in one place for close to an hour at a time is detrimental to student learning and health. Getting rid of the traditional seating you see in the picture above and creating a flexible seating space will allow for more movement, which research says is not only healthier, but also more conducive to learning. Student attention span peaks around 8-10 minutes, so allowing and promoting movement provides the necessary short brain breaks that lead to better focus and comprehension.

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

colored pencils

Warning: Reading this post may leave you feeling compelled to talk to people around you about what you just learned. This tip in the Tools of Imagination Series is about the great power of mental imagery for learning and for making all concepts meaningful and memorable to students.

As you well know, mental imagery has indisputable cultural and historical significance. The great cultural stories handed down by our ancestors created emotionally charged images in the minds of the listeners. The more emotionally charged the image, the more memorable the content of the story. Vivid images help us understand and remember content by leaving us emotionally and imaginatively engaged.

Just to be clear: I am not suggesting you show more images to your students. We live in a digital age; we are constantly bombarded in the media with powerful images. While showing students really cool pictures as part of teaching is useful to some degree, it is the mental images we can create for students in their minds with words that most effectively make knowledge meaningful and memorable.

The Massive & The Miniscule

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