- When I took my "Creativity in Crisis" course, we were encouraged to do "Morning Pages". The concept is from Julie Cameron's book, The Artist's Way, which I readily admit I have not read. You are supposed to write 3 pages (longhand) every day, whatever comes to your mind. There are websites to encourage the practice, including this one-http://750words.com. You write to free your mind, then get on with your day. The words can be lists, sentences, random, non-linear. I loved the practice, then got busy with school and stopped. Then, just recently, I started to get more active in Google+, even joining a poetry group. Writing that one poem to a prompt released a lot of good vibes for the rest of my day.
- So, my first point I want to share about this year is that nurturing your own creativity has to happen if you want to nurture your students. Most of us do not have the time to make art (although I did co-create alongside my students a lot this past quarter because they were used to classroom routines and working very nicely), but a little poem or doodle each day or just when you are low on creativity can serve as a real boost.
- I still love Pinterest. I am up to a ridiculous amount of pins, all curriculum or idea related. No recipes or favorite make-up tips for me---straight school stuff. I find it relaxing to pin a few things during a boring television show or right before I fall asleep. As we all know, some units run faster than anticipated, or you just pull the plug on them sooner than planned. Having really solid options to grab without further research time is AWESOME. Some people like to park resources on StumbleUpon, Google+, Edmodo, etc. Being visual, I like Pinterest, though I have used the aforementioned. I do due diligence, though, hitting those links to make sure they are good. Often, the "pin" is of a pin, and there is nothing but the image. If that is enough, fine, but often, you need more directions. Plus, if something seems too unwieldy, I don't pin it. I also love to integrate with my classroom teachers, so I can grab resources very quickly. You know how it is---the social studies teacher has a neat idea for an integration and it starts in a week. Pinterest solves that problem nicely.
- Being flexible with scheduling clay units is key! I started clay early, jumping in the deep end of the pool with third graders. They were so creative. Then, I thought it would be cool to knock the fourth grade clay unit out, but noticed a lot of absences right before Thanksgiving, so I held off. Next thing I know, there are a lot of kiddos out, and I am not feeling so hot myself. Thank goodness I was not in the middle of a clay unit, or it would have been a disaster. Instead, wait for it, I went on my Pinterest boards and whipped up a suitable, aligned unit without too much trouble. Whew!
- Running clubs is exhausting, but so rewarding. I think I mentioned earlier that I am the proud advisor of three clubs: Art Club, Newspaper Club, and Broadcast Studio. This year, I kept the numbers manageable (no more 30+ groups without help), and put more responsibility on the students. So far, it is working out fine. I learn a lot about my students in these smaller settings, and get great insights into what they are thinking about school. Plus, I would never have learned so much about Wordpress if I had not been running the Newspaper Club.
- Streamlining my grading hints: I like to grade a project/unit when all the students are done, allowing about a week for absent students to catch up. Then, I pile all of the projects on a cart, and hole up in my art closet to grade early in the morning, while my mind is fresh. I used to sprawl out on a table in my room, but got interrupted a lot. Plus, if I did not finish a class's work before duties or meetings or teaching started, I had to pile up everything and put it someplace else. Lots of wasted time there. I get through things so much faster this way---really! As I grade, I pull out the art I want to display, putting full names and homerooms on the art while it is right in front of me in my Gradebook. So, find a quiet hideaway to store art and grade it when you are well rested and relaxed. Grading is actually a pleasure this way, even with 640 students.
- Updating a classroom website the easy way: Put the app for your website on your phone, shoot the pictures you want to upload with your phone, and dictate the words into your phone (with your app). It took me less than fifteen minutes instead of the usual hour or so. I even figured out that you just have to say the punctuation you want to insert; the same goes for a new paragraph, just say, "new paragraph".
Sunday, December 14, 2014
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