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Posted by on in Student Engagement

Gamification1

Recently, I read a quote from Hyman Rickover.  Rickover was an admiral in the United States Navy.  A Russian immigrant, he is the father of nuclear propulsion.  Admiral Rickover was known as a workaholic.  He never considered himself smart, only those around him dumb.  Looking forward, the United States education system worried him a great deal as he thought about the country being left to our descendants.  He thought it in disrepair, failing our students. Admiral Rickover wrote extensively about the issues facing our students and the failing nature of our education system.  One such quote jumped from the page:

“The student must be made to work hard, and nothing can really make it fun.”  -Admiral Hyman Rickover

I wanted to give this quote plenty of space to let it sink in a bit.  He believed student and social issues were a waste of time. Curriculum should be taught to students until they reached capacity.  The age old lecture and learn scenario. Industrialized education at its finest.  Rows upon rows of desks, strictly arranged one after the other.  Students dutifully sitting behind their desk, writing careful notes from the content specialist, nay, content genius, wanting to emulate this individual with all of their knowledge-filled hearts.

This is the image I wrestled with as I transitioned my classroom to gamification.  How can this be beneficial to my students?  We are essentially playing.  Would some type of curriculum police show up at my door and demand to see proof of desks in rows and a lecture podium?  This dilemma caused a great deal of anxiety.  The idea, however, that my students were not getting what they needed from me and the fact that they were not engaged, in the least bit, was far more stressful than the changes happening in my room. I gathered the courage and decided it was better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

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Posted by on in Student Engagement

creativity

Check out Part 2 of my previous post, "Prompts to Pump Up Creativity and Imagination." The upcoming "sparks," all crucial areas in education, don't get enough time in our classrooms. They can be used in various ways: a "wake-up call" in the morning to get students thinking and feeling. The prompt can be written on the board or said orally to students. Give them a minute to understand what the statement, question, or "equation" means. Add another minute for reflection-and-thinking about their interpretation. Follow up with a class discussion about the prompt and all its associations, connections, meanings, and practical applications in everyday life.

You might want to add writing to this mini-lesson. Instead of just discussing the prompt with students orally, ask them to write a short paragraph response to it. Follow up with kids reading their responses to classmates and discussion. They would think about and reflect on the prompt's meanings, associations, connections, as well as their practical applications in everyday life, and write out their answers. It all culminates with students' oral readings and a class discussion.

Note: The mini-lesson should not exceed 30 minutes. Scan the different prompts and see which ones would be suitable for your students. This would work for upper elementary/middle school to high school students. 

CREATIVITY PROMPTS 

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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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