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Category Archives: Understanding and Responding to Societal Context

“Home”made?

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6800 kilometres east of Edmonton, Alberta sits a small community in England. West Sussex is a county in the southern portion of England and it is known for a colony of bizarre houseboats.

Using spare parts from old buses, missiles, and planes, each boat has its own unique look and feel. Among the residents of the community is Hamish Mckenzie. An imaginative houseboat renovator, he’s incorporated his wacky and creative personality to create a truly spectacular home. From a microwave as a mailbox to the nose of a jumbo jet as a window, Hamish infuses new life into discarded objects.

Check out this brief video clip:

 

STEAM lesson: Build Your Own Houseboat

Overall time required: 2-4 45 minute periods

Engineering Teamwork and Planning

You are a team of marine engineers given the challenge of designing a houseboat with sails using everyday materials that can hold a set weight, have an original look and move 4 feet along a classroom waterway harnessing wind energy from a fan.

Planning and Design Phase

Each team has been provided with a set of materials (recyclables). Review these as a group and draw your plan for a houseboat design in the box below. Think about how the weight your boat must carry should be distributed in the boat for stability during motion. Also think about what your sail material will be and how it will be attached to the boat securely.

Construction Phase

As a team, build your boat, and then complete the questions below (via Flipgrid video, Padlet or even Google Doc/Slide):

1. How similar was your design to the actual houseboat you built.

2. If you found you needed to make changes during the construction phase, describe why you made revisions.

Testing Phase

Your teacher has created a waterway for testing your watercraft. Test your boat! If you find your sail or houseboat design doesn’t work the first time, you’ll have an opportunity to redesign your houseboat and try again. Don’t worry if it fails the first time. Part of engineering is testing and designing products until the optimal design is achieved.

Evaluation Phase

Answer the following questions to summarize your experience with this activity. Work in teams to come up with group opinions. (Via Flipgrid video, Padlet or even Google Doc/Slide).

1. Were you able to create a houseboat that could hold weight, catch the wind, and travel one metre?

2. Do you think your design could scale upward and work as a full-size houseboat? Why or why not?

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Using a Growth Mindset During Tragedy

This past weekend has been an especially hard one emotionally for me. I am speaking of the Humboldt Bronco’s bus tragedy whereby 15 people were killed as they made their way to a playoff hockey game in Saskatchewan. Both my children are in sports and we often travel to games whether by motorcoach or car. We also indirectly know some of the hockey players and two of them attended schools in the school division that I work in.

Image from Silvia Pecota Studio

This post sheds the use of a growth mindset in the face of tragedy. I find that Jack Canfield succinctly shares ways in which we can deal with disasters. This can easily be used in any environment to help anyone.

How to deal with overwhelming emotions (via Jack Canfield):

  • take a deep brief and that whatever you are experiencing this too shall pass
  • be patient with yourself
  • be patient with others
  • forgive yourself
  • use ETF tapping (video below)
  • practice gratitude

Homework

  • to make it easy for myself, I created a Google Keep note and started to type down things that I’m Grateful For… I used Canva to create the .png image. I find I like Google Keep since it is available on my smartphone, on my laptops so that if something pops up, I can quickly add via voice or text the already created note.

Now check out the ETF Tapping Therapy video below:

The ETF tapping therapy looks like something that I could possibly use more in the work that I do to support teachers who support students.

 

 

 

(Dis)Connected, Distracted or Addicted? Understanding the Smartphone Generation

I had the extreme pleasure to attend both the Public Evening Lecture and the Research Colloquium on this highly important topic. Please view the STORIFY of the tweets and materials for the 2018 event.

Important points from both the evening and day events:

  • we all need SLEEP, 8-10 hours depending on age
  • step away from the turned on screens one hour before bedtime
  • middle years and high school students are going out less, doing less with friends
  • society needs to reconnect with nature – go for walks, hiking, playing ball/frisbee, sit around a campfire
  • all media is educational! It’s just as important to feed the brain as it is the body. It’s the quality of the media that matters.
  • try a weekly digital sabbath with everyone in your family
 

The Power of Yet

First grade reading - small group breakoutPhoto: Flickr by woodleywonderworks

As a fan of Carol Dweck, especially her research and books on Growth Mindset, I really enjoyed getting know who C.J. Luckey was via an e-newsletter. (Love his last name!) What a great experience to have a hip-hop artist and teacher (C.J.’s wife) combine their perspectives on growth mindsets and develop a down to earth musical extravaganza as way to reach students (and even teachers).

I had never heard of C.J., but to read about his experiences (see Mindset Works’ blog) just drew me in to his new E.P. entitled C.A.P.S. (Celebrating All Persevering Students).

The growth mindset has been a blessing to me. In many ways it has inspired me to change my perspective in life. The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice. Learning is a choice I want to be intentional about making every day. 

~ C.J. Luckey

Using his gift of music, C.J. is teaching students some powerful growth mindset concepts in the learning environment. I especially like the simplicity of the message in the first song – The Power of Yet.

 

What do you think of C.J.’s message? How do you think students would react to this video? Do you think that they could come up with a multimedia message themselves (audio, video, poster, GSlide presentation, dance, meme, etc.) to share what they know about a growth mindset?

 

Design Thinking into Biohacking?

I just recently read Brian Aspinall’s (@mraspinall) blog post on Coding: Developing Rigorous Thinkers where he discusses the reason why students should learn to code – to think, problem solve, take risks, modify their work through trial and error, etc. All the competencies (specifics from Alberta Education) we want them to engage and grow as learner and it reminded me of an amazing TED Talk from Andrew Pelling where he “grows” human ears from other objects that you would never suspect.

He also recently founded pHacktory which is an independent research lab founded on extreme play, curiosity, undertaking audacious projects, taking risks and learning from failure.

I wonder how we could take Andrew’s zest for engaging in dramatic and disruptive learning and put it into our learning environments?

 

 

 

Give Every Child a Voice

This is such a powerful and emotion story! Grab some tissues, sit down for 17 minutes and take time to watch this video. As you do so, think about:

  • How can we design learning opportunities for students to experience a variety of different technologies so that they can communicate, create, and connect?
  • What does independence mean to you?
  • What is your definition of an Inclusive Classroom? How can you create one? Who can support you along this journey?
 

Make Yourself Open to Opportunity

Kare Anderson is a super story teller and brings us into her world where everyone can make a difference. Not only are we all “smart” at something, we also can connect with each other and also connect others so they can network and learn. If our stories, our ideas and/or our products/services are presented by people who are startling (grab your emotion), compelling (show you there is a way) and credible (some experience), then change can and will happen.

It’s a great video to watch yourself, but even a better one to watch as a group!

Ask yourself/group – How are we using our collective talents to create a better society? Are there others (outside organizations/people) that we should tap into to help with our cause(s)?