Voices as Stories from the Heart

Ever hang out with people who dream up things that make your head spin? While lots of people come up with over-the-top ideas, it’s rare that these come to fruition with powerful lasting impacts. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of a listening circle to see this one unfold. Imagine the months of work in fine tuning the idea to match the goals, engaging in heartfelt conversations and inviting participation at many levels. Finally the day arrives and something unexpected happens. Social media takes over and amplifies the story in such a way that the world notices.

Inspired by Canadian heroes Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip,  Sheila Gourlay (Parkcrest Elementary, Burnaby, BC) and Carlene Montgomery (Chaffey-Burke Elementary, Burnaby, BC) launched a project that encompassed 3 goals: honour Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, raise money for cancer research and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Two schools, 700+ students, one song (Ahead By A Century) and hours of rehearsals, their voices unite across cyberspace. This one video (below and on the sidebar) says it all. You can also find their story on A Kids’ Guide to Canada celebrating Canada 150.
What did the students learn? “Even though they’re young, they  can aim towards something bigger than themselves and make a difference.”

The story doesn’t end here. Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip have just been named to the Order of Canada.

 

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Technologies Amplifies and Changes the Way We Create

Is it “technologies amplifies our ideas and changes the way we create”? Or is it the other way around or both in tandem?

Last week our district came together for Pro-D. Aptly named “District Day”,

maker centers

it’s a day dedicated to learning and exploring together – meeting and connecting with friends and colleagues from other schools. Certainly it’s a day of “connectedness” where the buzz of excitement is palpable, exploration and new ideas are plentiful and teachers sharing their passions are the norm. While I must admit that this is an exhausting day but one of the most extremely worthwhile days ever! I always come away rejuvenated and filled with possibilities. It’s a sparkly time.

Continue reading “Technologies Amplifies and Changes the Way We Create”

Voices Need Words

Have you ever had “heart to heart” chats with students and you know they have a story to tell but got stuck on trying to get it out? Sometimes I feel that students don’t have the vocabulary or aren’t exposed to the vocabulary of emotions to be able to clearly tell their story. Recently, quite accidentally I fell upon the project, RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, Regulating Emotions) by Marc Brackett at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Here is an overview of the “Mood Meter” that they developed to help identify the various quadrants of moods and related vocabulary.

So I wondered as some of our classes are using this approach, what if we were able to gage an audience’s mood and create a real-time visual. We could use it to have conversations. This process might also work well with literature circles. I ended up using Google Forms to create the survey so it could be available for easy access on a class blog or website. Here are the results. Give it a try.

What I like about it is the list of terms to expand possible ways to share feelings. (Aren’t you tired of the same “I’m mad, sad, glad” routine.) By selecting the graphing mode you gain a visual representation of a whole group mood right away. I can imagine the rich discussions this would offer to a group.

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Please leave a comment.
If you would like your own copy, I’ve created an open folder, which you can make a copy (you need to have a google account first).

Learning on the Edge

We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the northvikingbandatmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own marching Viking band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…Comfort Zone Quote
  • New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
  • Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is usually difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
  • Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support themmyquote_changethelens
  • When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back

Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms or offices? That’s where the magic happens.