My Most-Read Posts of 2018

Identifying which posts were most read each year is always an interesting reflective process for me a I look for patterns and why’s. For instance, it’s clear that this year, people were drawn to my most status-quo-questioning posts. Meanwhile, I’m also working on my other annual post in which I share my favorite posts written by other educational bloggers, so stay tuned for that soon!

#8: 7 Ways to Communicate We Care About at-home reading–without Reading Logs

What this post’s popularity tells me: I think many of us are searching for better ways to communicate with families about at-home learning. We worry about practices like reading logs because of how micromanaging they can feel, but we also worry about simply abandoning them because of how important reading is. This post offers specific ideas addressing both concerns.

#7: 7 Ways for Promoting More Choice Within “Compulsory Learning”

What this post’s popularity tells me: It is much easier to throw out the now-common advice, “offer students more choice,” than it is to put it in practice. Especially when it feels like we ourselves are suffocated by mandates upon mandates. The fact that this one was read so often tells me that people welcome explicit ideas of how we might find ways to provide choices even within a compulsory environment.

#6: Inquiry Into Skills: Self-Management

What this post’s popularity tells me: Lack of self-control has historically been a top criticism of youth. But self-management is really a much more universally needed skill.  Resources to help students develop self management skills are thus in high demand.

#5: Strategies to trust students when they seem uninterested

What this post’s popularity tells me: No matter how much teachers supports student agency and choice, there will always be a student who makes them scratch their heads and wonder how best to reach him or her.  

#4: 18 Best Videos to Get to Know Children’s Book Authors & Illustrators

What this post’s popularity tells me: Simply put, we love to get to know our heroes on more of a personal level. 

#3: Student Agency: 5 Steps for Beginners

What this post’s popularity tells me: As agency becomes more commonly discussed across the education world, many are looking for where to start: what it means and how we can take some significant initial steps. 

#2: Inquiry into Being a Writer

What this post’s popularity tells me: So many students feel like writing is only something “real” writers do. They do not self-identify because it seems beyond their reach for one or several reasons. I hope this inquiry has led to more kids starting to think about themselves as real writers, too!

#1: Instead of Keeping them in from Recess, What If

What this post’s popularity tells me: As a teacher who has kept in too many kids from too many recesses myself, we just get to a point where we wonder if that’s really our only choice. I think this one was my most read post published in 2018 because we want to find alternatives that get to the root of the behavior and relationships. 

What were your most-read posts of 2018? Why do you think that was?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into Attitudes: Integrity

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

This is the last post in this series! However, I hope it will continue to grow via comments as readers add their own ideas.

Most students go straight to honesty and moral uprightness when it comes to defining integrity. But I also really like the secondary definition,

“the state of being whole and undivided.”

So much to unpack and explore with this concept, especially for those teachers working to set the stage for a new school year.

Resource #1: Alike by Pepe School 

Resource #2: Bill Watterson: A Cartoonist’s Advice (comic by Zen Pencils featuring a speech by Bill Watterson)

by Zen Pencils, speech from Bill Watterson

Resource #3: Buster Keaton: Art of the Gag via The Kid Should See This (if you’re short on time, just watch 6:30-end)

Resource #4: Dove Real Beauty Sketches (at first I debated including this one, but the more I ponder, the more I think this kind of integrity to self is an essential part of the discussion).

Resource #5: Picture Books! (at first I thought about only including strong “moral of the story” books–and Strega Nona is one example of that–but then I thought about the many options that explore the concept of integrity with a bit more exploration, including with that idea of “being whole & undivided” (Extra Yarn) or even when honesty is a question up for debate (True Story of the 3 Little Pigs & This is Not My Hat).

Provocation Questions:

  • How does having integrity impact the lives of people around you?
  • How does having integrity impact your own life?
  • What are the different perspectives on what integrity means?
  • What responsibility to have integrity do we have for our communities? For ourselves?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into Attitudes: Tolerance

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

Sometimes it seems like our world today is overcome with notions of in-group/out-group. But what if we can help our students find their common ground? This week’s provocation is centered on the PYP attitude of tolerance, which involves “work[ing] towards feeling sensitivity towards differences and diversity in the world and being responsive to the needs of others.”

Resource #1: Us Vs Them: Immigration, Empathy, & Psychology via The Kid Should See This

Resource #2: Charter for Compassion by Ben Kaufman

Resource #3: Day & Night by Pixar

Resource #4: What is Public Life?

Resource #5: Most People by Michael Lennah & Jennifer E. Morris

Provocation Questions: 

  • What does it mean to have tolerance?
  • What is the connection between tolerance and empathy?
  • How does tolerance impact a diverse community? How does tolerance impact a community that seems alike?
  • What is our responsibility to cultivate tolerance?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into Attitudes: Cooperation

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

As with many other character traits, cooperation is one we clearly value, but how well do our students understand it? For them, is it just the absence of fighting? Or is it something more? This week’s provocation is meant to help students investigate it further for themselves.

Resource #1: What Is Sustainable Development? by World’s Largest Lesson (I plan to begin SDGs provocations after I finish the PYP ones!)

#2: Head Up by Film Bilder

#3: This Too Shall Pass Rube Goldberg Machine by OK Go

#4: Simon Senek on Intensity vs Consistency by The RSA

Resource #5: Flora & the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Resource #6: Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

#7: It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni

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Provocation Questions:

  • How does cooperation work?
  • In what ways must we depend on each other in order to cooperate?
  • Why is cooperation sometimes hard? How do we overcome obstacles?
  • How do cooperation and sustainability connect?
  • What is our responsibility to cooperate with one another as families? As communities? As a planet?
  • How is creativity enhanced when we can cooperate?
  • How is productivity enhanced when we cooperate?
  • How is cooperation connected to relationships? To vulnerability & trust?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry Into Learner Profiles: Balanced

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

When we’re asked what makes us feel successful as parents, I’ve noticed that our answers often involve our kids’ choices. But as I reflect, I can’t help but wonder if that is a perilous decision. After all, what if we do everything “right” and our kids still don’t “turn out” as we expected? Or worse still, what if our kids ultimately define success differently than we do? Might we then condemn ourselves to a life of stress and perceived failure?

Because we only truly have control over ourselves, hinging our sense of success within may prove more beneficial. And teaching our children to do so will in turn help them to take more ownership over the course of their lives.

To me, this is all tightly woven with being balanced. My days feel most scattered when I have neglected important roles, and they feel most successful when I have managed to give each the attention necessary. This week’s provocation is intended to help students consider what it means to find balance in their own lives, and to recognize what a lack of balance looks like.

Resource #1: Labeled food plate (story here)

Resource #2: Mobile by Verena Fels

A humorous and more direct connection to “balance.” I like how it addresses how we sometimes take ourselves too seriously in seeking balance.

Resource #3: Nuggets by Filmbilder

This video gets into the heavier topic of how drugs cause dependence. However, its representation can be expanded to anything that causes us to have extreme dependence, causing a lack of balance and self-control in our lives.

Resource #4: Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” by Tiffany Slain & Let it Ripple Studio

The “looking for an info fix” here might add an interesting element to this discussion. I am a huge proponent for teaching kids the potential for good within tech use (rather than just teaching them not to do bad things); however, even with the most positive perspectives, might the result still be negative if balance is not part of the conversation?

Resource #5: Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson & Kevin O’Malley

If you’ve missed this spunky twist on an old tale, it’s worth checking out! Adds a great element of what it means to be well-rounded.

Resource #6: Moon, by Alison Oliver

My 8 year-old was very clearly able to see that Moon’s to-do list was seriously out-of-balance. Investigate with your students what else our to-do lists should include to live balanced lives.

Provocation Questions: 

  • What does it mean to live a balanced life for you?
  • What does it mean to have balance in your family?
  • How does balance impact our quality of life?
  • How does balance impact our societies?
  • What are the consequences of a lack of balance?
  • What role do humor and flexibility play in seeking balance?
  • What changes might I make to achieve greater balance in my life?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

I Am Driven

My friend, Faige Meller, wrote this week on how she is driven. Her words have inspired me to consider what drives me right now!

I am currently about halfway through my “longterm sabbatical” from teaching as I’m home to raise our little ones  until they are at school. I’m amazed how fast the time has whipped by since the day I was put on bed rest, but I know that by the time I return to the classroom, much will have changed in the education world. Blogging and tweeting have been privileges for me to stay involved, but I’m also grateful for this unique phase of my life during which I have more time to take action in my community. For me, these opportunities all blend together to help me grow as a parent, teacher, citizen, and person.

And I, too, am driven.

I am driven to never stop learning.

I am driven toward authenticity.

I am driven to identify practices that put learning in the hands of — learners.

I am driven to learn how to empower kids to become powerful 21st century citizens and healthy self-regulated human beings.

I am driven to learn more about my community so I’m better prepared to serve them when I return to the classroom.

I am driven to model the very kinds of design thinking and action that I hope to see in my students (both my current very small ones and my future classroom ones).

I am driven to stay current with quality children’s literature so I can give timely recommendations and cultivate myself as a reader.

I am driven to share thought-provoking resources to help current classroom teachers inspire wonder and meaning in their students.

I am driven to always be able to say with confidence, “I am a teacher!” AND “I am a learner!”

What drives you?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry Into Learner Profiles: Communicator

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

It’s funny, really, how we sometimes altogether remove our own voice from our communication. We water it down in the attempt to look like everyone else. We apologize needlessly. We shy away from owning our strengths and what makes us unique. So if you use this provocation into what it means to be a communicator, I challenge you to bring voice front and center into the conversation with your students!

Resource #1: Obvious to you. Amazing to others. by Derek Sivers

Resource #2: Ballet Rotoscope

Resource #3: Citius, Altius, Fortius by Felix Deimann (similar to above, but equally thought-provoking!)

Resource #4: Barcode Band by W88N

Resource #5: The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan (lots of fun, but pay attention to the way this savvy girl makes her case)

Provocation Questions:

  • What is the role of voice in being a communicator? Why is your unique voice important as you communicate?
  • What does it mean to be a communicator? What are the different ways in which we communicate?
  • What is the role of communication in our society? How does it impact your family? Community? World?
  • What is our responsibility to be communicators? What is our responsibility to own our voices as communicators?
  • What is difficult about being a communicator? How do we overcome?
  • How is perspective important as we communicate? What is the role of listening?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto