"Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently" - Maya Angelou
Poet, performer, professor, and powerhouse Maya Angelou died today in Wake Forest NC at age 86.
If you would like to honor her today, you can read a poem of hers or ask students to do so.
Here is one that can also be used as a point of discussion on her passing, or the passing of any great person in students' family or society at large:
Discussion questions and activities follow. If you wish, select a few that you'd really like to try. I am a big believer in not asking a question unless you are TRULY curious what the answer will be.
If you don't want to discuss the poem, you can start by asking students if they agree with the lead quotation above.
When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.
"We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike." - Maya Angelou
Discussion Questions and Activities -
Which one of these images is most powerful or disturbing to you? Why?
Need to prep for the test but don't want students locked into their desks one more minute? Try this idea courtesy of Ms. McCarthy and Ms. Lyttle: Hold a scavenger hunt with test prep questions placed around the field, school, or even classroom or hallway. Build a few athletic challenges into the competition and students will be exercising their bodies at the same time as they are exercising their minds! Studies show that exercise is good for the brain and you may just be helping students increase their scores with the game!
Try Personalizing learning with a Tool like BlendSpace next lesson.
Ms. Bailey has been trying out the site Blendspace in her classroom. She uses it through Edmodo, and is getting great results with it as a tool to personalize learning according to her students needs and move them up in skills. She reports also that she can see exactly how they are doing via Bendspace teacher reports. Read on to see photos of how Ms. Bailey uses it and for links to get started if you'd like to try it!
Want to know more about Blendspace ?
Here is a BlendSpace about Blendspaces made by a middle school teacher
If you like the idea of blogging and shared learning, notice that blendspace also posts students work so they can collaborate and share.
In my crystal ball I see the future of education will be makerspaces. Maybe that prediction my own wishful thinking, but I sure hope it's true. A move from content-driven fact regurgitation to studio, and lab-driven workshops can only be a good thing for our students' futures. At the rate of change in todays world, a skills-based, passion-driven, and failure-tolerant exploratory environment is the way to go!
What is a makerspace?
Jake Standish defines a makerspace as any place or process that provides students the opportunity for creative expression and the pride of feeling "I made something cool!" I see it as a way in school to experience what visionary STEAM educator Seymour Pappert terms "hard fun." Makerspaces are a place to both instill and nurture students' interests organically. If you are ONLY looking for quickest test score increases, maker ed will not be for you (and I feel sad for your students.) However, done well the maker method results are INCOMPARABLY more long lasting and far reaching than traditional instruction.
How did the maker movement in education start?
Makerspaces in school grew out of the hackerspace movement as a way of integrating STEM or STEAM back into schools and a response to the oversanitization of education. If you are curious how they look outside of a school stetting, there is a hackerspace near our school. google "Charlotte Hackerspace" to find where and maybe do a field trip. There are also maker faires in many areas.
Do I need to be an engineer, a tech expert or a scientist to run a makerspace with my students?
Not at all. Students can teach each other, learn from videos or instructions, or get help from adult or high school volunteers. Just provide the supplies and let students decide what to do with them.
Makerspaces do not have to include electronics but there are many creative electronic kits out there that are affordable even for a beginning school. Check the resources question below for a few.
" if you know the right end of a soldering iron , adafruot will get you the rest of the way." - Jake Standish of CMS
I can't abide chaos, should I even try this?
Yes, frustration and false starts will be common, valuable, and instructive, but you can minimize the chaos with rubrics and directed projects and minimize the mess with 3D printed and computer based projects. Ideas are on the Pirate STEAMShip page. I also recommend partnering with a chaos-tolerant co-teacher! Put your classes together!
How can I get started?
Rather than worry about who would use it or how, we got started by gathering anything that could be used into one spot and cataloging it:
When Ms. Newburger came back as our media specialist, she created a permanent makerspace home and improved the vision and -while waiting for the funding for her larger vision, immediately re-created the media center. She
Where can my students and I find ideas?
Makerspaces as an Extention of PBL
PBL - project based learning, also called Passion based learning can be student-driven and creation driven.
This kind of PBL - known as Love of learning, 20% time and Genius hour is creating some great results is based on the idea of flipping blooms (see image) while also giving students a voice in what is created.
It rewards intelligences often ignored in traditonal education and is more motivating that a teacher-driven class. It can also be the bait that drives students to grow their skills as they see the need.
At Piedmont we are one of the first CMS schools to create a makerspace.
Our MakerSpace supplies are the perfect compliment to make-ify your lessons and/or nurture the variety of genius in your classroom! In addition to our extensive collection of multiple intelligences apps, Green Screen, Collaboration Board area, MakerSpace workbench and Makerbot Replicator 2 3Dprinter housed in the media center, we have mobile carts of supplies available for checkout to your room.
Check this link for the full list of offerings http://piratesteamship.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/STEAMshipCarts
See Lisa Gurthie or Lisa Newburger for ideas of how to use these in projects or curriculum.
The full information about STEAM integration at Piedmont via the PirateSTEAMship is here
Photo Gallery Piedmont's Middle School Makers in Action
Ok, I don't really get it myself, but I think some of you will take this and run with it, so I am sharing:
Have you heard of design thinking? there is this whole movement in education to teach by using design thinking to solve real problems. the dschool at Stanford is way out in front of how to use design thinking in education.
So you can Google to find out more, but if you think you might want to try teaching by issuing your students a challenge, you can click the image to choose one of dschool's 3 "mixtapes" lesson strategies to:
I really want someone at Piedmont to try with their students to create this milk jug igloo Canadian teacher Ray Hoppins posted on Twitter last night.
. Besides the obvious social skills such as perseverance grit and teamwork- I'll help you brainstorm how this can fit into your content objectives as well - because I selfishly really want to see one in person!
And just imagine, when the lesson is over, you've got an awesome chill spot or reading nook!
I am Lisa Gurthie the PD facilitator at Piedmont IB Middle School. She specializes in tech and arts integration, interdisciplinary, holistic education, and unschooling school to make it more real and relevant. One day I will modernize my "about" page. Check out the other blogs on this site for Lesson Ideas, Celebration of Good Teaching, and Piedmont PD