Friday, January 3, 2014

Every 4 years...

One of the most powerful learning tools is "doing".  As a classroom teacher years ago I had brainstormed an idea that I immediately got excited about.

Every 4 years the World is blessed with Summer and Winter Olympics.  As a kid I loved turning on NBC in the evenings and watching events that I had never seen.  It was a true opportunity to take pride in my country and root for the team, not simply an individual.  As a youngster I remember watching highlight after highlight of the USA Hockey Team defeating Russia. The broadcast still gives me chills.

I also remember the whole Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding saga. And the one that I'll never forget is in 1994 at Lillehammer.  I was rooting so hard for Dan Jansen in the final race.  When he finally won gold I felt like my smile was reaching my ears.  

What I love about the Olympics is the stories.  If you take the time to watch the broadcast you'll hear story after story about Olympians.  As a kid I dreamed about being an Olympian, yet I never really had a signature event, but that's the beauty of being a simply dream!

Years later I became a teacher and I wanted the Olympics to have meaning to my students.  I devised a plan. Each student would learn about a country (not the U.S.), and each student would create a model or diagram of a venue or event. They would research the location and history of the upcoming games and finally cap it off with our very own Winter Olympics!  As I look back it was one of my all-time favorite units as a teacher.  It incorporated geography, narrative writing, geometry/measurement and reading.  We spent several afternoons doing Winter Olympic activities.  Students didn't call it math or science, they just learned by doing.  When the unit finally came to a cultivating conclusion we ventured outdoors.  We had events like speed sledding, snowboarding, snow yo-yo, snow ball throw and snow boot kick.

Looking back, one of my most memorable conversations was a true learning experience. One of my students came in with absolute excitement.  Cassidy ran up to me and said, "Mr. Gilpin, did you see the snowboarder fall near the finish?"  I replied, "Yes. What did you think?"  Cassidy stated, "She should have never tried showing-off, that's what happens when you aren't humble."  All I could do is nod. She was referring to the Lindsey Jacobellis moment.  (Feel free to check it out on Youtube.)  That year I look back with pride.  My students gained knowledge of a bigger picture.  They learned by doing and they enjoyed the process.  My goal was to light a spark in many of them that I had found so many years before.  This year the Winter Olympics are in Sochi and they begin on February 7th.  Sometimes winter can feel repetitive, we can easily get stuck in a rut.  Our students crave to learn by doing.

This week's big question:  What will you do to light their fire?


Monday, January 6th:  Welcome Back!
Tuesday, January 7th:  New Refrigerator being delivered at 4pm
Wednesday, January 8th:  Grades 3-5 assembly with Coach Cottingham & SAU players
Wednesday, January 8th:  TAT at 2:55 teachers will be emailed invitations by end of the day Monday
Thursday, January 9th:  AM Lockdown drill

*  I'd like to have a grade level per week focus on Educational Apps.  We've done this before, but without regularity.  We would begin this week with 5th grade and work our way down.  Please discuss this with your grade level partner, and if you are willing to participate, please inform Deb in the library.

Articles Worth Reading:

Lessons From The Spartans by +Sue Haney @susankhaney

The refrigerator light by @Jonharper70bd

Where Twitter has taken me (literally)... @DrJoeClark

Youth Citizen of the Year: Michael Funkhouser shared +Brad Wilson @dreambition & @Gibbychip

My 3 Words... by @jcordery

Why Every Educator Needs a Visit From a Penguin by +Mr. Abud @MR_ABUD

Let's make formative assessing a top priority by +Justin Tarte @justintarte

Is it time to stop doing Common Assessments? by +Justin Tarte @justintarte

How much freedom should a teacher have? @grantwiggins @TeachThought

What I'm Reading Now by @ShutUpRun

12 Rules for Being Beautifully Human by +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Videos Worth Watching:

Everyday things that effect your mood. (2 min) shared by @smaj40

Amazing 4th down stand by the Spartans! (1 min)

Change History! Love this Ted Talk. (8 min)

What Brought Us Together...2013 (6 min)

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