About Me

After 23 years as a high school social studies teacher, I have taken a leap into library media.
This blog chronicles my experiences making this transition and my learning in that process.

Friday, March 16, 2018

An off-Broadway lesson on personalization: the selfie project

Back in December I saw “In and Of Itself,” the one-man show by Derek Delgaudio off-Broadway in New York City. I was utterly awed by this show, both the concept and the performance. Perhaps you have seen, on social media, images of Neil Patrick Harris, the show’s producer, holding a small card that proclaims “I AM an individual.” The whole show, all of the stories and the magic, evolve from and respond to the individuals in the audience. All audience members, as they enter the theater, select a card that they decide defines them. My chosen card said “I AM an innovator” because I had recently returned from the Google Innovator Academy in Stockholm, Sweden. At the end of the show, Delgaudio jokes that some people may have snarkily chosen their card seeking to be something funny, like a ninja, while others may have chosen a card that is something they aspire to be, and still others a card that proclaims who or what they are. Regardless, he reminds us, each member of the audience selected a card for personal reasons that the rest of us would never know.

You might be wondering what does this has to do with libraries or school or teaching. My answer is: Everything. If Delgaudio can personalize a 75-minute long show in response to an audience of 200 or so strangers (give or take for the smattering of celebrities who attend the shows), then we can personalize our instruction for the 25 or so students in our classes whom we see daily and know by name. Whose data we review and analyze. Who spend more waking hours of their day in shared space with us than with anyone else close to them in their lives. At the end of the day, we want them to have conversations like this:

LEE: Hi!!! It’s been awhile! How are you? I just wanted to text you to see your thoughts on Derek Delgaudio’s show! As you may remember I’m a magician, and Derek is actually a friend of mine, he was my counselor for years at camp. I’m seeing his show again next week.

ME: Get out of town! I thought the show was amazing. We talked about it all night and for days
afterwards. It still comes up periodically in conversation and certainly resonates with me with things I read as you can see from my posts on Facebook. What a privilege for you to study with him! And of course I remember you are a magician, I could never forget!

LEE: Haha I’m so happy to hear you love it, I think it was a phenomenal show magic wise and theater wise. The ending was beyond beautiful, and I think the last moment of the show is jaw dropping. It’s so cool how the show extends out of itself too, with the brick leaving the theater, and having someone come to the next show, that’s just genius

ME: Yes, on all counts! I just love that I am constantly reminded in my daily interactions from having seen that show that everybody I encounter is more and different than what I think they are upon first glance or even if I have known them for a very long time.

LEE: I love that you got that out of the show, magicians just can’t normally give an audience a good message besides “haha I fooled you”....

LEE: What “I am” card did you choose?

ME: I chose innovator. I don't know if you know, but I was accepted into the Google innovator Academy and went to Stockholm to study this past October. And then when he asked people to stand if what they chose is how they see themselves, I stayed in my seat because I decided that being a Google innovator is a label someone else has given me and I am still aspiring to deserve it…. When you see him can you tell him that an aspiring innovator who is also a high school librarian in Connecticut is still thinking about the messages of his show and will for quite some time into the future.

LEE: Of course I heard! Congratulations! And I’m rly interested in that way of thinking. Of course I’ll tell him for you! ...

This is the transcript of a Facebook messenger chat I had with a former student who saw my social media post about seeing the show. Parts of the chat have been removed to prevent show spoilers, but the spirit of the chat is in tact. I have included this chat, with Lee’s permission, because it shows a teacher-student relationship outside of the classroom and because the interaction was made possible by a social media connection. Lee and I first shared a classroom, classmates, and a curriculum. Now we safely and respectfully share a digital space.

This dialogue with Lee helped me articulate for myself the ironically simple lessons I have taken from Delgaudio’s performance and translate those lessons into teaching and librarianship. What follows is an exploration of a way I am collaborating with a teacher of AP English to apply these lessons to the students’ examination of Transcendentalism. First, the lessons (in no particular order):

Lesson 1: Be authentic. Share stories from your life so that your collaborators (students and teachers) understand your backstory. It is impossible to develop empathy otherwise.

Lesson 2: Acknowledge, then disregard, your preconceptions. We all have them and they limit how well we can understand each other.

Lesson 3: Magic inspires awe. Embrace wonderment. It leads to questioning, theorizing, teamwork, and problem solving. It may not lead to “right” answers, and it doesn’t have to.

Lesson 4: Timing is everything! Capitalize on the moment. Know where the students are and meet them there. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

My co-teacher in this exercise is a highly-regarded veteran educator. Her background in the pop culture publishing world helps her bring an edge to her curriculum application that students appreciate. We have only known each other for six months. While she has invited me to teach lessons in one of her classes, we have just begun to transition from me as guest teacher to us as co-teachers. And this is the first time she has opened her high stakes, AP class to working with me. Transcendentalism is perfect content fodder for applying the four lessons.

The students will read and unpack Emerson and Thoreau’s consideration of self. The students are discussing the musings of two men who, more than 150 years ago, dedicated themselves to understanding the nature of intellect, the connections between humans, and what it means to be self-actualized. Needless to say, this is a stretch for 17 year olds. Thoreau, at least, disconnected himself from organized society to get in touch with himself and the natural world. Disconnect is not something digital teens do often or willingly. But portrayals of self are something they do constantly. So selfies and snapchats are our authentic route by which to bring transcendental thinking to the digital teen.

With fidelity to the TPACK model of educator collaboration, the English teacher will guide the students through a viewing of Into the Wild and an application of Emerson and Thoreau to Chris McCandless. They will also be reading the article from the May 21, 2009 New York Times called “The Case for Working with Your Hands”. As colleague says, working with your hands is “a very Thoreauvian thing to do.” This means the students are coming to work in the makerspace!

We are starting with a consideration of the art of portraiture and these guiding questions:
How do artists and photographers capture the essence of a person?
Has the artist captured not the person but whom we want the person to be?
Or, do we not matter and the artist portrays the subject as the artist wants the subject to be seen?
Students will apply these questions to various portraits and self-portraits including Arnold Newman’s iconic photograph of Alfried Krupp, Annie Liebowitz photographs of Patti Smith and both a Frida Kahlo self-portrait and a still from the movie starring Selma Hayek in which the painting of that self-portrait is portrayed. Artists have been making selfies for centuries; these are the ones we selected because the content of each will likely resonate with our students (Lessons 1 and 4).

Now we will turn the students to examine different conscious and unconscious ways they are portrayed and in the interest of time, the introspection and artifact collection that must occur in preparation for the final project will be facilitated through a series of shortscreen casts, thus flipping the classroom and allowing for private reflection on the nature of self. For each type of portrayal we will both share a piece of our own story (Lesson 1). We will start with student data. Between Naviance, PowerSchool, and College Board, there is lots of data that is compiled to tell a story of each of these students -- both as individuals and as part of an aggregate. They will collate their data and decide, “If all we know about you is your data… who are you?” (Lesson 2)

Next we will turn to their playlists and ask them to consider what do their video and music preferences say about them? “If all we know about you is your playlists… who are you?” Related to their playlists is the constructed reality of their social media self-portraits. After they review what they think are their important posts on a variety of platforms, they will decide: “When you post on social media, what narrative of your life or yourself are you creating?” (Lesson 4)

Next, we will turn to the tangible. Students will inventory their bedrooms making a list of what they find there and respond to this question: “If all we know about you is the contents of this space… who lives there?” Finally, we want them to collect their school pictures, arrange them from youngest to oldest, and when they see them in sequence consider what story they tell (Lesson 1).

Have you noticed an absence of Lesson 3? Here it comes!

Now the students are ready to get Thoreauvian. It is time for them to unpack themselves. Using all the information about themselves that they have curated: their data, their playlists, their social media, the artifacts in their rooms, and their school pictures, they are going to answer these questions:

What do you:
Hope? Fear? Believe? Desire? Wonder? Deny? Aspire? Want? Plan? Anticipate? Avoid? Regret?

Each response must include evidence from their curated information and artifacts.

And now it is time to create! The class will visit the makerspace to create a selfie, a tangible representation of all that it means to be them. They can use light and sound, texture, mixed media, positive and negative space, and all the possibilities of their imagination (Lesson 3). They might compose and shoot their own photographic portrait, or create a mixed media representation of themselves, or build a sculpture, or something else we can’t anticipate. In other words, your self, in tangible relief. It will be magical and they will appreciate that there is so much more to them and each other than can possibly fit on one card.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Hacking Assessments with Augmented Reality

In my new role I am overseeing the students enrolled in our help desk course. I am in the process of invigorating a program that has been languishing. To do this, the I returned to the core of what the program is supposed to be or supposed to accomplish: independent learning by students and service to the community. Each student has identified a problem, of sorts, that they want to solve, they are working through design thinking protocols to develop and prototype solutions as well as identifying areas of new learning for themselves in order to implement the solution.

Two students have partnered to help revamp our freshmen orientation and new student transition programs by creating a 3D virtual tour of our school.

One student is investigating high levels of stress in shelter animals and plans to use our makerspace to create toys and other tools for donating to local shelters.

Another student is responding to teacher frustrations with our current program for reporting grades by building a grade book as a Google add-on.

Yet another student is hacking assessment.

He decided that the problem he experiences impacts his classmates as well, and that is, lack of choice in assessments. From his perspective, students are assigned to do the same thing in all of their classes. No variety and little choice. So he is learning augmented reality tools to systematically hack assessments that are assigned to him. His goal is to apply an AR hack to one assessment in each discipline over the course of the semester.

He has started by using Metaverse to create a guide to solving a complex math problem. He is anticipating all of the errors a student could make while solving the problem and using his AR tour to provide hints and redirection. This is the student explain his progress so far, obstacles he has encountered, and how he is getting around them.

He is still doing all of the work that is assigned to him. He is using the one period each day during which he is assigned to help desk, to show the same learning his teachers expect in a different (and personalized) way. When he is done, he will share both products with his teacher: the assigned one, and the hack. Once he has completed two or three of them, we plan to offer an "Appy Hour" seminar for faculty to learn from him about his projects and what he is learning along the way.

To that end, he is regularly sharing with me his metacognitive moments along the way. Here he is sharing his reflection about learning while working on his math problem:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Why Merge Cubes are only $1 at Walmart

Back in October educators in different communities to which I belong were posting about Merge Cubes and how cool they are. And they were cheap - only $15. If you bought the headset then they pushing the $85 range, but you could have a cool augmented reality (AR) experience without it. And I kept thinking about getting one, even thought about giving them as gifts at the holidays, but for some reason I didn't.

Then, Tuesday morning my Facebook feed was full of people saying "Merge Cubes at Walmart for $1!" And by lunch time I had ten of them. Today I brought two of them to the library and played with one for a bit only to find that my Samsung phone is not entirely compatible with it. So I handed the Cube to a student who is in my help desk course and asked him to play with it for a bit.

First, a bit about the student. His semester-long project is focused on practicing and modeling project-based assessment techniques, particularly ones that involve technological applications, that could be used across the disciplines. He is hoping to model for both his teachers and his peers ways in which students can demonstrate learning and growth in ways that aren't commonly used at the school. In short, and closer to his words, he wants to make doing projects fun and interesting while convincing people he has learned something. And, he is starting with AR.

Back to the Cube. He played with it for about 30 minutes, said "Thanks! That was fun." and went to his next class. A couple of hours later he came back and brought a friend. He said, "I was hoping I could show him that Cube." I handed them two cubes and got out of the way.

In the span of 45 minutes here is what happened:

1) The two students were joined by four more. And this was a group of average students, a little bit techy, into games, fairly studious, athletic, well-liked and respected.

2) They installed a dozen games on their phones (mostly iPhones).

3) They played and laughed a lot and loudly.

4) They figured out how to share a game code and play together.

5) They didn't care when I brought teachers over to watch them play. And they didn't care when the teachers were a bit disinterested and walked away.

6) One of them took a picture of one of the triggers and turned his phone to another student. That student scanned the image of the trigger and launched a game. And they all stopped playing.

7) They gathered around the table and took pictures of all the sides of the cube. They loaded the pictures into a Google doc, printed it, and folded the sides into a paper cube.

8) They scanned it and it worked.

9) They rejoiced.

10) They hypothesized.

11) They went back to the Google doc, enlarged one of the triggers, printed it, scanned it and launched a game. Their hypothesis was proven true: the larger trigger rendered a larger AR experience.

12) They planned: "If we take one trigger, cut it into smaller pieces, enlarge all the pieces on the copier, and reassemble it, then we can lay it on the floor and take a tablet to the second floor and scan it from there for a massive display!"

Who knows if that will work. But, the last comment one of them made was:

13) Let's make our own game.

I sent them home to learn Metaverse.

A side note: I hesitated writing this blog post because these students entirely hacked a commercial product. They exploited it for its full potential and then owned it. And there may be some copyright violation in there somewhere. But I decided to write this anyway, because OMG: they exploited it for its full potential and then owned it, in forty-five minutes. And it was so cool to watch. And if you notice in the numbered steps above: they played, collaborated, planned, inquired, theorized, tested, reassessed, prototyped, and had fun while doing it. It was a great way to end the day!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Media Literacy, Emotional Intelligence, and a Slumber Party

At the Google Innovator Academy we were presented with a rocket ship metaphor: as the academy was ending we each had a rocket ship on a launch pad. How would we fuel it? When might it take off? Into what uncharted areas would we navigate and explore? For a little while now, I have been feeling as though my rocket ship is fueled up and ready for ignition but ground control is waiting on favorable weather conditions to authorize a launch. And the weather has been inclement for way too long. Houston, we have a problem.

To address the problem I have had irons in many fires lately. Or, perhaps a better (still fire-related) metaphor is that I have been striking lots of matches to see which burst into flame.
  • I offered an "Appy Hour" at my school for teachers to learn about my Innovator project and join if they were interested. One colleague met with me and invited me to pitch my "social media think tanks" to his Humanities class: 55 ninth graders. 
  • My town library is preparing a series of adult seminars on media literacy and a colleague referred them to me as a presenter. I have been working with one of the other participants to prepare a workshop for this event.
  • As a result of that public library's interest in the topic of media literacy with adults as the audience, I have contacted other are libraries and will be meeting more adult programming coordinators in discuss workshops for the adults raising digitally engaged teens. The focus will be on media literacy and digital citizenship.
  • And the book is heading to print! With my friend and former colleague, Michelle Luhtala (@mluhtala) I wrote a book on media literacy full of lessons and strategies for library media specialists and classroom teachers to use with their students.
Despite these cool opportunities, I am still feeling less effective than I want to be. Media literacy is such an important skill but so little direct attention is paid to it. Content is still King and the content is still being delivered in traditional text forms and digital media (not too mention social media) in the classroom is rare. As schools undertake 1:1 and BYOD initiatives, there are movements in my area to ban cell phones in schools. So I am left looking for small pockets of opportunity and my rocketship feels like it is turning into a package of mentos and a diet coke bottle.

Once again, I am returning to the powerful "How might we..." question stem that Les McBeth (@lesmcbeth) of the Future Design School, used in our design thinking work at the Google Academy. How might we:
  • amp up the good? (One teacher is letting me pitch my idea to his class!)
  • remove the bad? (Create an optional non-tech school within the school)
  • explore the opposite? (Teaching media literacy to adults as well as teens.)
  • question an assumption? (Let's teach class virtually through social media!)
  • go after adjectives? (Online spaces can be safe and educational.)
  • find unexpected resources? (Public libraries!)
  • play against the challenge? (Encourage more teachers to engage in social media for learning)
  • create an analogy from need or context? (Make school spaces and interaction like social media)
  • change the status quo? (Make digital media reliable information for learning and being informed)
  • break point of view into pieces? (Address teachers by discipline or by grade level)
And all of this got me thinking about emotional intelligence. If that seems like a stretch, stick with me. Back in December, I attended at Digital Citizenship conference hosted by Connor Regan (@ConnorRegan), a program manager for Google for Education and Be Internet Awesome, where one of the presenters, Kerry Gallagher (@KerryHawk02) from ConnectSafely spoke about the connection between Emotional Intelligence and media literacy when it comes to recognizing and unpacking sensational material and good habits of digital citizenship. Her message resonated with me because increasing mindfulness was an underlying principle of the digital citizenship lessons we created for our ninth graders this year.

How can increased emotional intelligence help us (adults) understand how we respond to student cell phone use? And understand why students are using their phones with the frequency or in the manner that they are? How can learning about emotional intelligence help students understand their digital interactions better? AND, how can increased emotional intelligence help all of us navigate digital media?

To begin finding answers to these questions I am attending the RULER parent training offered by Marc Brackett (@marcbrackett) and his team at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. This morning I took advantage of having a gaggle of high school seniors hanging at my house after a slumber party to have an informal conversation with them about social media, school, and friends. What they said about Facebook didn't surprise me, and they were nuanced and insightful in their explanations. What they said about SnapChat did surprise me as did the fact that some of them are on Twitter.

Here are some of the highlights regarding Facebook:
  • "I didn't join Facebook until I had to set it up for school."
  • "You can't do anything at school without Facebook. Sports are there, clubs, and everything. We set up groups for our classes and that is really helpful. We can ask each other questions about assignments and deadlines or just vent about the class."
  • "Facebook isn't obsolete because it has a purpose like business. There's no room to be creative. If you post pictures they just get lost in the stream."
  • "Who has 60 friends? I don't."
  • "Parent presence is there."
  • "My nana likes everything that is posted that I’m tagged in."

And about SnapChat:
  • "I hate streaks."
  • "I never have streaks."
  • "Streaks feel like a chore."
  • "Sending a Snap is more personal than a text."
  • "I use it to actually talk to someone one."
Then I explained that I don't think most teens are addicted to their phones. Rather, I think most teens have an emotional need to be connected to their friends and from the outside that looks like an obsession with their device when in reality the device is the means of friend connection. In response to that they said:
  • "People who are always on their phones, it's the whole FOMO thing."
  • "That’s what I don’t like about it. I don’t want to know if I wasn’t invited somewhere."
  • "People will post just so that people know they are doing something."
  • "They just want certain people to know what they are up to."
Admittedly there was nothing scientific about my collection of these perceptions and insights. And I'm not sure yet how I will proceed with this information, but I think there is a lot of room for a Google Innovator in the social media and emotional intelligence spaces.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Tempest, Character Boxes, and Students in the Garage

The Shakespeare class has returned to the Garage to begin assembling their character boxes as the final assessment for their study of The Tempest. The students were given three options which I wrote about in a previous post. All of them chose the independent box project. Here are the guiding questions and criteria:

What kind of box or container best fits this character? (could be a steamer trunk, magical cabinet, barrel, burlap sack, coffin, etc.) Why? And how will you show this?

Does this box ground this character to a place or allow (force?) this character to move? Why? And how will you show this?
What does this character:
    • Hope?
    • Fear?
    • Believe?
    • Desire?
    • Wonder?
    • Deny?
    • Aspire?
    • Want?
    • Plan?
As a result of the attributes above, what would s/he put in the box? Find or make those things to add to your box, at least one item per attribute. Justify each selection with an excerpt from the play.

As a result of the attributes above, what else would be in the box whether or not s/he wants it there? Add it to the box and justify it with an excerpt from the play.

Design the outside of the box to resemble how the world sees the character; design the inside of the box to represent how the character understands him/herself.

Some students found the container or box they want to use and are letting the form of the box dictate how their other choices evolve. Other students are building their box out of a particular material because of what the material will say about their chosen character. Still others are beginning with the form or shape they want their box to be and then coating, layering, and transforming the shapes of the inside and outside of the form to become the appropriate container for their character.

Similarly some students are starting with the outside of the box and working their way to the inside and then to the contents. Other students are starting with the contents and developing a box that will be able to contain them.

Here is how one student described her thought process:

This kinesthetic, multimedia project has gotten their creative juices flowing and the students are requesting lots of materials. Some (but not all) of the materials or items I can bring to them from my garage at home. I sent an email to the faculty and staff which said:

WHS Learning Community,

The Garage (formerly the LLC makerspace) is in need of some materials for student projects that are currently underway. If you happen to have, and are about to discard:
    • crates from clementines or other produce,
    • drawstring (or other style) sacks of any material,
    • perler beads, or
    • fake flora: flowers, leaves, etc.
students are requesting these materials for a project they are doing.

We will gratefully accept donations of any materials you are looking to dispose that can be up-cycled, recycled, and re-purposed in student projects. Scraps of fabric, old baskets and crates, random hardware, etc. If you aren't sure if we can use it, shoot me a quick email -- the answer will probably be YES!

Thank you!

Many people have responded offering all sorts of materials from the items on the list to all sorts of other materials. We will soon be flush with new resources! And many people are offering to deliver their donations which will increase traffic through the space and hopefully result in more teachers bringing their classes to work in the Garage!

Later this week, the class will return to the LLC and present their boxes to each other. When the teacher asked if they would rather conduct presentations in the classroom or in the library, they unanimously chose the library!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Shakespeare in the Garage

Students enrolled in the English department elective, Shakespeare, will be the first class to work in The Garage (our re-branded makerspace). Before the winter break the class visited for an orientation to the space and their project. Next week they will begin creation now that they have had time for project ideas to gestate and to collect materials they may want to use or contribute to their classmates.

I consulted with the classroom teacher to understand his learning objectives, assessment needs, and concerns about embarking on this type of project before designing options for the students. Primarily the teacher was concerned that the level of rigor to which he was accustomed when he assigned papers to students be maintained in this approach. In addition, if there was to be a collaborative component to the project, he wanted to be sure that each student contributed fairly and purposefully to the group product.

In the past, the teacher had consulted the resources and suggestions from the Folger Library when planning for this Shakespeare class so when I developed three options for the students, I began by adapting an idea he had seen there knowing that he recognizes their resource credibility. Here are the ideas I proposed:

Idea 1: Character in a Box (individual project)

What kind of box or container best fits this character? (could be a steamer trunk, magical cabinet, barrel, burlap sack, coffin, etc.) Why? And how will you show this?

Does this box ground this character to a place or allow (force?) this character to move? Why? And how will you show this?
What does this character:
  • Hope?
  • Fear?
  • Believe?
  • Desire?
  • Wonder?
  • Deny?
  • Aspire?
  • Want?
  • Plan?
As a result of the attributes above, what would s/he put in the box? Find or make those things to add to your box, at least one item per attribute. Justify each selection with an excerpt from the play.

As a result of the attributes above, what else would be in the box whether or not s/he wants it there? Add it to the box and justify it with an excerpt from the play.

Design the outside of the box to resemble how the world sees the character; design the inside of the box to represent how the character understands him/herself.

Idea 2: Wandering Journal (group project with individual components)

You will work in a group of four; each student assumes the role of one of the main characters in the play: Prospero, Caliban, Ariel, or Antonio.

Create an entry in your journal, in character, in response to the following words by Miranda:

“Oh wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!  O, brave, new world
That has such people in ‘t! (5.1.215-218)

Then, trade journals with another group member, and, still in character, create a journal entry in response to the original one.

You will continue to trade journals until your original journal is returned to you.

Identify journaling techniques that will work for each play element to be explored; each group member must use at least the techniques in bold and at least two additional techniques:
  • Using the actual text page(s) as canvas
  • Using the same passage (Act V, Scene 1) from the text for a found poem
  • Image creation and annotation with lines from the play
  • Found image collage and annotation with lines from the play
  • Color vs. monochromatic - purposefully use color as a symbol or motif
  • Storyboard: segments vs. whole page
  • Multiple drawings of same concept or object (POV) incorporating color and media as it pertains to each POV
  • Media/material variation
This cycle will be repeated with a new prompt of the group’s choice or a new set of characters.  Your complete journal will have a total of eight character entries (two from each student in the group), artwork, and additional creative writing elements.

After you review the different entries, you will then make an entry in your own voice (not in character) in which you respond to and comment on what you learned from the collection of entries. 

You might consider:
  • Origins of conflict and obstacles to resolution
  • Gaps in understanding rooted in differing cultures
  • What it means to be, or to consider someone else to be, the “other”
  • At least one way in which these themes of the play resonate in contemporary society
Also, you will design an appropriate cover for your journal. 

Students must write a Shakespearean sonnet as a closing exercise and document the sonnet in their journal.  Use this checklist. (provided by the classroom teacher)

Idea 3: Personal Journal (individual project)

Students work independently to create a journal that explores all of these elements of the play:
  • Setting
  • Characterization
  • Culture and conflict
  • Family
  • Intersection of tragedy and comedy
As well as these themes:
  • Origins of conflict and obstacles to resolution
  • Gaps in understanding rooted in differing cultures
  • What it means to be, or to consider someone else to be, the “other”
  • At least one way in which these themes of the play resonate in contemporary society
Identify journaling techniques that will work for each play element to be explored; you must use the techniques indicated in bold and at least two additional techniques:
  • Using the actual text page(s) as canvas
  • Using a text passage for a found poem
  • Image creation and annotation with lines from the play
  • Found image collage and annotation with lines from the play
  • Color vs. monochromatic - purposefully use color as a symbol or motif
  • Storyboard: segments vs. whole page
  • Multiple drawings of same concept or object (POV) incorporating color and media as it pertains to each POV
  • Media/material variation
Design a cover for your journal and create at least eight, full-page entries in your journal, at least one entry for each element of the play and at least one for each theme. Each page should incorporate relevant lines from the play.

Students must write a Shakespearean sonnet as a closing exercise and document the sonnet in their journal. Use this checklist. (provided by the classroom teacher)

These materials are available in the Garage for students to use:

3D printer
Basic circuitry, LED lights, sound cards
Colored pencils
Chalk pastel
Oil pastel
Poster & watercolor paints
Duct tape, various patterns & colors
Glue: sticks, hot, tacky
Embroidery floss
Ribbon, Fabric & Yarn: various widths, lengths, patterns & colors
Sewing supplies
Construction paper
Wrapping paper
Cardboard tubes, varying sizes
Recycled: plastic containers, magazines, plastic netting, 3D printer shapes
LED finger lights
Mason and other shaped jars
Pom Poms
Popsicle sticks
Pipe cleaners
Bottle caps
Clothes Pins

I developed this rubric for the students to use in planning their projects and for assessing their final products. To learn how the rubric works, students practiced by applying the rubric to the work of Lynda Barry which is available to them in print form in the Library Learning Commons collection as well as personal copies I let them borrow.


The Way You Do the Things You Do *
The Temptations
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Take your Pick
Unchained Melody
The Righteous Brothers
What's Goin On?
Marvin Gaye
Strong aesthetic appeal, not cluttered, graphics enhance content;

image selection is appropriate; makes you want to continue interacting;

enhancements enrich the viewing and learning experience and significantly contribute to conveying the content and meaning, content-relevant visuals establish a clear visual pattern that aids audience understanding
Multimedia elements adequately contribute to conveying the content and meaning;

most graphics used appropriately to enrich the experience; although purpose may not be readily evident;

main points are evident and expanded through presentation; good, relevant visuals
Lacking attention to aesthetic design.

Graphics are random or insufficient and do not enhance content;

too much text, needs to be condensed
Graphics interfere with or distract from content and communication of ideas;

inappropriate or no use images; an essay on a poster
The presentation of ideas is thoughtful, insightful, clear and focused. You approach the topic from an unusual perspective, use your unique experiences or view of the world as a basis for communicating; you make interesting connections between ideas. It is implicit that this exploration matters.

Explores the complexity of the issues; in-depth analysis; confrontation and discussion of conflicting information, motivations and ideas; critical thought & research evident; interprets principles in accurate and insightful ways.

Thoroughly researched; all points substantiated by evidence; no assumptions; sophisticated understanding of details, nuances and subtleties of the content; sufficient information to make the presentation worth reading or viewing; information is conveyed; content effectively achieves its intended purpose; historical information is accurate and relevant.

Makes frequent, meaningful and rich cross-discipline and/or real-life connections
You attempt to develop all ideas; although some ideas may be developed more thoroughly and specifically than others; the overall development reflects some depth of thought, enabling the viewer to generally understand and appreciate your ideas.

Analysis accurate but lacking depth of understanding; may not demonstrate clear understanding of audience motivation; may lack thoroughness in addressing purpose.

Considerable evidence contributes to message development but lacks depth; assumptions cloud facts, some ideas are ambiguous.

Makes relevant cross-discipline and real-life connections
Limited by superficial generalizations; unclear or simplistic; may be simply an account of a single incident instead of articulating a purpose; therefore the viewer cannot sustain interest in the ideas

More descriptive than analytic; relies on summary of information and events rather than application of information to audience opinion; makes errors in interpreting research; ineffectively synthesizes the information.

Exhibits only sketchy or insufficient evidence; may have errors; some understanding of details, nuances and subtleties of the content; most subject knowledge is literal and does not enhance message development.

Attempts some cross-discipline and real-life connections that demonstrate partial understanding
Confusing and hard to follow; disorganized; develops no connections among ideas; statements are convoluted and viewer is left questioning the work itself and not the ideas presented in the work

Inadequate or inaccurate understanding of the information, events or audience; attempts at analysis or insight are confused or inappropriate; major errors in understanding.

Almost no use of evidence; attempts are confused or inappropriate; major errors; complete misunderstanding or no effort to understand the details, nuances and subtleties of the content.

Learns primarily without cross-discipline or real-life connections

Shows sophisticated sense of audience; uses language artfully and articulately; meaningfully organizes; uses media/materials effectively
Shows clear sense of audience; uses language effectively; clearly organizes; uses media/materials appropriately
Shows some sense of audience; uses language somewhat effectively; somewhat organized; somewhat appropriate use of media/ materials
Shows little sense of audience; uses language ineffectively; weak organization interferes with meaning; ineffective use of media/materials
* a note on the use of song titles in rubrics
It has long been my practice not to designate point values in rubrics. I use song titles, movie titles or other pop culture references as category headings. I want students to focus on the descriptions of their process, habits of mind, and choices rather than point values. Students frequently debate whether certain category headings are appropriately assigned which is an indicator that they are considering the characteristics and qualities of each section of the rubric.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Garage: Rebranding a makerspace and a help desk


Innovation Lab

Genius Bar

Student Help Desk

Perhaps as educators we are jazzed by these terms. Their connotations are infused with creative possibility and agency. But I have spent a few months watching both an area dedicated to making and a student help desk in our library learning commons just languish. Coincidentally, an area not far from the entrance to the LLC is set aside as a space dedicated to seniors, called "The Jungle." And it is vibrant and thriving with both social and academic activity. In fact, so much so, that we have very recently dedicated resources to adding power and connectivity to that space!

Maybe it was because I was collaborating with the teacher of our Shakespeare course that I started thinking about what is in a name. What a space is called can impact how it is perceived and used. And so I started to think about spaces where I create:

My dining room table (much to the chagrin of my family at meal time!)

My desk

and then it hit me... MY GARAGE!

In my garage I paint. I deconstruct pallets.

I build shelves and birdhouses.

I disassemble and reassemble the components of my Jeep.

I accumulate and store the raw materials of future projects.

And, of course, Google was born in a garage.

So our maker space is now called The Garage. Unfortunately we are no longer in flea market or tag sale season, but in the spring I will be in the market for a peg board and tools and the various accouterments of a high-tech and low-tech garage to complement our other creation materials. I plan to commission a student artist to render a garage door on one of the walls. I am excited to have the students watch as a mural created by one of their peers emerges on The Garage wall!

This re-branding effort has also enabled a rejuvenation of our student help desk program. I don't know if they will choose to call themselves grease monkeys, garage attendants or technicians or some other term I haven't imagined (I am leaving that up to the students enrolled in the program), but what ever they are called, they will be our models of innovation in the The Garage. The working slogan for The Garage is: "where ideas meet the tools of innovation" so our student techies will work publicly in The Garage on independent, problem-based projects. They will study design thinking and problem solving in order to acquire the insight and skills necessary to make their solution a reality. They will plan, iterate, and fail forward in a collaborative work space and become models of self-directed (personalized) learning. Rolled into their work is participation in a closed Facebook group dedicated to the program so they can share ideas, get and offer feedback, and recommend resources to each other. This will be important since they are each assigned to the space during a different period of the day.

The slides below outline the first couple of weeks of the program and draw heavily on my experiences at the Google Innovator #SWE17 Academy:

Periodic updates will appear once their program starts at the end of January!

The first class to visit The Garage will be a Shakespeare class and they will be making character boxes or wandering journals (student choice). They are scheduled to visit early in the new year so more on how they respond to our re-branding in a future post.