b22238Thanks to @btcostello05 on Twitter who pointed out to me that that this is the last year any k-8 students would have been born before 9/11. His school event and the members of his Voxer group also inspired this post. And thanks to@artlaflamme for suggesting the documentary.
The following lesson was created after reading the children's book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein.
It tells the true story (nonfiction alert for your Common Core needs!) of Mr. Phillipe Petit walking the wires between the Twin Towers when the World Trade Center was first built.
Documentary footage here
The stunt embodies beautiful messages of hope in humanity and of optimism and creativity.
It should inspire some good conversations if you read it and discuss with your class.
It can be an accompaniment to a more traditional memorial lesson or a good note to end on that may help heal hurts.
5 Steps Lesson :
Introduce the purpose. "Today is 9/11 and on this day in history we memorialize those who died in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City among other locations.
The Twin towers were the tallest towers in the world - a quarter of a mile high. One little-known fact about them is that when they were first built, a high rope walker actually walked on a wire between them! He snuck up to their roof, shot an arrow with a wire on it across to his friends on the other tower and then performed for amazed onlookers for more than an hour in the sky!
That daredevil's name is Phillipe Petit and he has some inspiring words for you about how to follow your dreams and achieve the impossible.
2- Read storybook and/or show one of the following video clips, depending on the ages or interests of your students:
3- Discussion Questions and larger lesson tie ins:
"He looked not at the towers but at the space between them"
Issue: Thinking "outside the box" and an artist temperament:
Have you ever seen something totally differently than most people would? Do you see yourself as an artist in how you see things? Why or why not?
"Of course he knew that ...the police and the owners of the towers would never allow it. You must be crazy! they would say. You'd fall for sure"
Issue: Positive Deviance:
Was he wrong to break the law? What is the role of public and private safety versus an artistic dream...
Issue: How far should you go for a friend? for your job?:
Would you have helped Phillipe carry the 440 lb reel of cable up 180 stairs to the roof if he was your friend?
Would you have walked on the wire to stop him if you'd been a cop then?
"Bad luck" thought Phillipe but he did not quit.
Would you have quit trying amidst his setbacks? Should he have? How do you motivate yourself past your strings of 'bad luck?' do you believe in bad luck? good luck?
"Though during his performance some boys playing on his wire jerked it and Phillipe fell...but caught himself"
Have you ever done something accidental or on purpose that messed up someone else? How did you react?
Have you ever "caught yourself" and fixed a problem that was about to be big?
"He could feel the towers breathing.
He was not afraid.
He felt alone and happy and absolutely free"
Issue: Figurative language: Why does the author say 'he could feel the towers breathing" when we all know towers don't breathe?
He was not afraid Have you ever felt unafraid when others would be scared?
When have you felt absolutely free?
Issue: metacognition and taking another's point of view: Why do you think I read this book with you today? Why did we spend this time discussing it? How would you commemorate 9/11 if you were a teacher?
4- Physical activities:
Did you get a feel for Phillipe's bravery (see the added talks below for more on that) doing all that up in the air so high! Would you try high wire walking? What physical feats are you proud of/impressed by?
5- Conclusion and/ Links to Further Exploration:
Let's all try to honor the victims of 9/11 today by not giving up when things seem hard and by believing in ourselves and our dreams.
To learn more about what Mr. Petit can teach us,
Click below To view Mr.Petit speaking (some adult language- please preview and show clips as needed) TED Talk-style on the highly educational topics of:
Social Media and Digital Literacy for Online Consumers
Part 1- Getting Your Feet Wet (your Digital Footprint)
Online your digital footprint is like a footprint in cement, not like water or sand!
People WILL stalk your digital footprint and what you do never goes away.
future sports teams
parents of potential bofirends and girlfriends
avoid negative and accentuate the positive
better to not make the mess than to try to have to clean it up.-nothing is ever truly deleted (wayback machine, cache, screenshots, stolen passwords etc)
Make sure that you are following digital citizenship guidelines so you can show off your best work as part of your digital footprint without a billl or a letter from a lawyer. Google image search, royalty free music etc.
More in the Olympic section below
Part 1 Finding your own Classroom Management System
Some people use the term "classroom management" as code for "controlling students." I try to run my class without coercion; to control the environment not the people. Because I have refined my rules over the 20+ years I've been a teacher I DO NOT let my students make the rules. I am an expert in how I want the class to run. They do not know yet how well things can go with my method, so I don't invite them making the rules until we've lived by my rules for a while.
For teachers who are looking for a system, my advice would be to pick and choose from methods of teachers you observe. Here are mine.
If you wish to add your own ideas please share them in the comments section because I know my method won't work for everyone. Creating climate is highly personal and there are many ways to create a positive one for learning. Teachers should use others ideas to cobble together a method that will work for them, their students, and their climate goals.
My most effective classroom management strategy is a paper"Activity Wheel" hung where every student can see it. The activity wheel is an oval bright yellow handmade poster with the name of each main type of instructional strategies we use. In the center is a red arrow that spins around the wedges. I actually move a paper arrow around the wheel to point to the activity title as we begin it. I might also read aloud the rules again as a reminder. I may do this several times a class because I always had a lot going on.
When I did have problems, I usually could nip it with a discussion and by showing true caring. Sometimes when things went south for the whole class, I had a lot of luck going in the next day and saying to the child, to the group, "I am still thinking about last class and I am coming in today ready to do what I can to fix what went wrong." Then I could either say "here's what I will do and what I needed to see from you" or invite a discussion " What did you see that was out of line? What can we do to fix it? What if that doesn't work."
OK today's a fresh start.
The best thing to work was showing that I really cared about them and about making sure everyone could learn and be respected. One thing that always worked is never letting a putdown slide, but that was because it was like nails on a chalkboard to me so easy for me to care about and stop right away.
Below are embedded google docs my presentation slides when I teach the concept of respect and the activity wheel to my students. You can download to your google docs and personalize it according to the procedures you want to see.
Relate the animal school story to Multiple Intelligences (helps you and the students understand each other and minimize your differences while working to your strengths)
Sample Rubric - for Class Discussions without Raising Hands
Sample First Day Setting the Climate and Explaining Procedures lesson- A Visual Scavenger Hunt:
"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?
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
Lesson resource- Common Core non-fiction to examine issues of Character in honor of School Counseling Week
This amazing acceptance speech is can become an interesting document for social studies primary source examination or any common core non-fiction reading. Students will be interested in discussing this. Besides close reading and tier 2 vocab analysis, here are a few connection questions? Would they do it? Do they agree with the move these famous women made back in 1974? How does it relate to what they know of awards in the news recently? (note: it is NOT prohibiited for students to share of their lives and thoughts in lessons despite what some have feared with Common Core). Further connections could include feminism historically and today, poetry, the value of awards and competition and when it creates community versus shutting it down. http://www.nationalbook.org/graphics/2011_nba_poetry/1974/rich_accept_speech_74.pdf
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