Monday, March 30, 2015

Pure Genius Week 9: Opportunities are Everywhere

Don shared some really great examples of finding opportunities in unexpected places. Do you seek out opportunities to get your studentss some out-of-the-ordinary experiences or encourage them to find those opportunities? After reading this chapter do you have some ideas of untapped resources that you and your students can utilize?

Next week we will read the next chapter, "Student Voices," and learn about student experiences firsthand. 

23 comments:

  1. This chapter is an inspiration to seek and help my students explore. While this is still processing in my mind, I am relieved to read at the end of this chapter that Mr. Wettrick places much of the responsibility on his students to find opportunities. While I mostly have middle school students who need guidance, Wettrick points out that our job is in 'equipping students to find opportunities and own their education'. Further, I am encouraged that Wettrick points out any experience, no matter how small, can lead to a connection to be used later for greater good. With examples such as small service oriented projects, generally being a good citizen, anywhere people are involved, there is potential for resources everywhere.

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  2. We do a "Fun Friday" every other week where the students are in groups they signed up to be in. Those groups range from Military tactics, to cosmotology, cake decorating, mythology, auto mechanics, and others. We have a total of 21 differnt groups for the kids (grades 6-12). Part of the structure of the group is that the teacher is just a facilitator and may not have prior knowledge of the subject area. Together they brainstorm who they can bring in from the outside to help with their quest for understanding of this topic. The students were encouraged to sign up for a group that they wanted to learn more about and did not necessarily have prior knowledge of. So far it has worked ok, we have only been doing it since February. There are some things we need to look at for next year if we continue to do it.

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    1. I like the idea of having your students brainstorm about reaching out to experts. Is it just one class period? How have they done with reaching out to help from the outside? I tried something similar when I co-facilitated a Genius Hour experiment this year and found that the kids (6th grade) needed a fair amount of guidance on communication. Some of them even wanted us to stand beside them as they called organizations. We are trying a second round now and they seem to be more confident; I am just curious how it works in other places.

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    2. I love this idea too! We have an untapped resource with our parent base! It seems like every time I turn around when talking with students, I learn something really awesome about their parents and their hobbies or employment.

      With our current Problem Based Learning Groups, our teachers have been looking for science related experts. That has been really cool to see who comes in! As the adult I find it exciting!

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    3. This is a great idea! I bet the students really get into this! :)

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    4. This is a great idea! I bet the students really look forward to it as well as the teachers! I was wondering the same thing as Carli. Is it just one class period or how long do they have?

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  3. As I was reading the chapter my mind was racing with possible ways students could use technology to help the community. There are quite a few charity groups out there that need help. And many schools have a radio/TV studios. Students could create videos for webpages, TV commercials, or radio commercials. I do volunteer work with a local Humane Society and I hope they will reach out to one of the local high schools to create videos for them.

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    1. I teach with Gail and I am sure that our local Humane Society would love to have some student involvement with creating a video for them. Our district is New Tech. I wonder if our high school does anything like this to reach out to our community?

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  4. I am always making contacts for my work in the library and as a member of several organizations. These can be valuable to my students and colleagues as well. It's important to share information. Hopefully in the future we will be able to begin a Genius Hour. I would love to see what my students can do. They are creative and have so many interesting ideas to explore.

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  5. In our classroom, we are constantly trying to find learning in creative and interesting places. We typically have to guide the students to it as it is a Life Skills class. Being a Life Skills class allows us to explore community resource and places on our weekly outings and field trips.

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  6. This chapter really reinforced my beliefs that social studies should not be as much about dates and dead presidents as it should be about the application of historical patterns and those effects on today's citizens. We can still guide our students through the pertinent information and let them reach out beyond local, state, or national borders to learn more about when democracy or economic powers rule in other places. Learn directly from Tom about shoes, or Bill about internet connectivity in developing regions, or doctors who see ebola first hand. If we could just let go of outdated textbooks and open our access to the world! Our students are already global citizens; we need to encourage, wisely and carefully, their role on the international stage.

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  7. I recently attended a presentation by composer and music educator Jodie Blackshaw. Shortly after joining Twitter, I decided to follow her, which led me to her website. Her movement, “Be the Change”, aims to fully engage students of instrumental music by translating written rhythms to body movements. This gets students out of their seats and even more involved in the music. I have already successfully incorporated one of her techniques, and the videos on her site introduced me to new ones. I am eager to share these out-of-the-ordinary experiences with my own students.

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    1. This sounds very interesting. Blackshaw definitely has the approach we have been discussing here in giving the students a unique experience.

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  8. My thoughts seem parallel to Jean Dowen's. I want to find a group of students to find/create assistive technology techniques to engage with my students. Our class is almost 1;1 ratio of iPads to students. I need creative minds to find alternate methods engaging my students in iPad activities. I know that high school students would have much better ideas and knowledge. Maybe Twitter can help? Anyone interested?

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  9. As a counselor I am always looking for out of the ordinary experiences for our students- whether it be scholarships, unique programs/opportunities in college, job shadowing opportunities, etc. Our school has recently partnered with a local company and students are beginning to do internships and the company is also sponsoring some scholarships. I also get speakers to talk to our students, because I can tell them things, but when they hear it from an "expert", it is now true.

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  10. I have sponsored many service learning projects to assist students in gaining out of the ordinary experiences. I also meet regularly to brainstorm with students regarding how the guidance department may be of more service to them. The focus of these discussions have been the start of many activities that give students experiences that they may have not had the opportunity to participate in. I like these brainstorming sessions because it reinforces for students their responsibility for their learning and promotes advocacy for themselves.

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  11. I work so hard as a reading interventionist to make my class real life specific. As a result, we do a lot of real life reading, writing, and role playing so that the students understand why reading is so important. I've been working really hard to get some guest speakers to come and share with the students why reading is important to their lives, but haven't been successful. While so many of the ideas presented in this chapter were amazing, I don't see them as applicable in many ways to the program that I must teach, which is disappointing.

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  12. As a media specialist and sponsor of our high school book club, one of the things I try to do each year is invite the students on a field trip based on one of the books we have read. We traveled to Chicago after reading Devil in the White City, an overnight trip to West Baden Hotel followed So Cold the River, and a simple evening with dinner and a movie was a nice ending to the Hunger Games trilogy. It is wonderful to see the kids get excited when they recognize a landmark mentioned in the book or visit a place the characters talked about during the story. I feel these trips are opportunities not only for learning but also experiencing life outside of our tiny community.

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  13. In the past, I have had guest speakers come to my classroom to talk to the students about various topics. When I taught a career class, the school resource officer came in to talk about how to get into the profession of law enforcement. I would love to have more "real world" experiences for my students. I have thought about using Skype for some of these experiences. One resource that we do have in our community is Purdue University. That is a potential resource to tap into.

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  14. I have a small group of students who work with me to run the library. We treat this class more like a job rather than a class. I tell the students that the skills they learn from the position are job skills and they can use them on job applications and college resumes. As they learn the skills needed to make the job run smoothly, they gain the confidence to take on more and more responsibilities. By mid-term, I am comfortable enough to leave most of them on their own as I move between buildings and libraries. They become self-starters and take on more and more responsibilities. This may not be the best example of “out-of-the-ordinary experiences”, but I feel that in this time of memorize and “plug and chug” this experience allows my students to have a “grown up” experience that develops a confidence they will need as they move into the adult world.

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  15. This is a chapter that was very fun to read for me. We are a community based program so I take my students into the community 2 times a week. So I am constantly working to find new experiences for them and sometimes run out due to funds or not enough time/space. I am always torn when it is a week that we are going somewhere that I have never taken a whole class of my students to. We almost always get a very strong reaction when my students are someone new as a class. People tend to be very welcoming and open to my students or they tend to send nasty looks and treat them badly. I look at it as a chance for my students and I to learn but also for the community to learn how to interact with my class. That isn't to say it isn't always heart breaking when we get negative reactions.

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  16. This give me ideas in my school's community to encourage my special education students to find opportunities in unexpected places. I am sure there are untapped resources we could utilize. I always wanted to start a group at my middle school that was about forming more friendships between those in the special needs population and those in the general education population--more than just peer helpers. I thought it would be interesting to connect those that had similar interests.

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  17. I struggle with bringing real life projects to my math classroom. The topics I have to cover for Algebra I and ECA testing at the end of the year do not leave much room for fun. However, our high school has many student groups that are community focused. I am advisor for student council and while our group organizes student activities such as homecoming, we also organize several community fund raisers that are amazing. In February we raised about 14 thousand that was used to fund a make a wish for young boy with sickle cell and the rest was given to help a young girl who has a heart defect. So, community work at my high school is best addressed through our student organizations.

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