Friday, May 13, 2011

Our Epic Lip Dub

Today by the numbers…

2 months of planning
1 computer club with 7 rockstars
688 middle school students
72 posters
1 song
2 takes
1 memorable experience 


A few months ago I watched the Magnolia High School lip dub on youtube and was mesmerized by it. I wanted to bring our school together as they had for a common goal. I showed it to the computer club I supervise and they instantly wanted to do it. That was roughly two months ago. Over the past two months we planned and planned and planned for what came to fruition today. It was one of those moments that will live on far after these students leave our school.

I was stressed out to the max planning all the little details of this day, but seeing the final product was totally worth it. Is this the best lip dub out there? Not even close. Could it have been done better? Most certainly, yes. However, if you teach in a middle school you know how hard it is to get a class of 30 kids to do one thing together. This project involved 688 students in grades 6-8. Over 90% of these students were told this morning where they would be and what they would be doing. Again, is the final product perfect? Nope, but I am still incredibly proud of our students and the incredible group of teachers that helped make this day possible.

When all is said and done, this is one of those moments that these kids will remember forever. They will not remember the lesson I gave on Neanderthal men in twenty years, but I am sure they will remember today. It is one of those moments where the school came together as one for a common goal and the result was inspiring if nothing else.




(For the record, I did not post this video on youtube. It was posted by one of the many students that had copies of the video)

Nosy Crow - Three Little Pigs

I have two small boys that terrorize my house on a daily basis. Among the many interests they have, they love reading. This past fall I joined the cult and bought my wife an ipad for her birthday. While she uses it occasionally, my sons use it on a very regular basis and reading is one of their favorite activities. My three year old son loves the book apps that read to him and have great pictures. My five year old son also likes the ones he can “touch” and shows him words that he can read along with.

Recently, I was given a copy of The Three Little Pigs book app from Nosy Crow to try out. Here is a short clip of my three year old son playing around with this book app.


This app is similar to most of the children’s book apps. However, this particular book had a few features that I and my sons especially liked:
  • It has a “read to me” option that will read the book aloud (in a sweet British accent)
  • It has a 3D interface where if you move the ipad it changes the perspective and angle of the images.
  • If you “touch” the characters they jump, move and talk, which my three year old loved.

My son’s truly enjoyed reading this book and is one of their new favorites. I look forward to downloading more of these interactive children’s book to enjoy with my boys. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Social Science Song

Just a quick post to share a recent project a group of my 6th grade girls put together last week. The assignment was to find a way to help the class understand the various roles and responsibilities within the feudal system in Europe during the middle ages. This is what they came up with...


Class Update Seven: My Brother Has Cerebral Palsy

“My brother has Cerebral Palsy”
This was a statement that one of my 6th grade students made to the class today during a presentation. As we near the end of the school year, many students are presenting their “big” research projects to the class. I always like these days because the kids work so hard preparing and practicing for their big day in front. Earlier last week a girl gave one of the most informative presentations I have ever listened to on the topic of octopi. She fielded questions from the class like a tenured professor in marine biology. It really was a site to see.

The kids are choosing what they research and present on as part of my student driven classroom push this spring. So when the female student came to the front of the class today I was not completely sure what she would be presenting. I knew she had researched cerebral palsy, but I had not seen her presentation yet. She is one of those “good” kids that works hard with minimal need of redirection from a teacher.

During the course of her presentation an image can up on the screen of a young boy in a wheel chair. She introduced the boy as her brother and said, “My brother has cerebral palsy.” Those five words touched me in the frank and open manner in which she stated them and then elaborated on them. She went into great detail on how the disease affects people and what is being done to help find a cure. You truly could have heard a pin drop in the classroom. Once she finished her presentation, the other students in the class opened up and asked questions that were both personal and yet appropriate. The student fielded those questions with poise and pride which was a really neat thing to see.

Yes, I know kids all over the world deal with disabilities or family members with disabilities. However, I was happy with this student for not only talking about it but sharing it in a very proud and public manner. She obviously felt safe enough in the class to share what some would not. The reality of a junior high is that kids can be mean. They have been known to make fun of other people for being different and often those associated with them. I tip my hat to this young lady and hope she never loses that pride in her family as well as that feeling of comfort among her peers. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lessons from Little League


A great deal of my free time lately has been consumed with my son’s entry into the world of Little League baseball. He is five years old and is starting in the first level which is a coach-pitch league. I believe that we can learn a few things about schools from Little League.

Everyone plays all positions

Every player gets a chance to play every spot on the diamond from the catcher to left field. This gives all of the kids a chance to try something new and see where they fit with the team. We need to give our students a chance to try anything and everything we can in order for them to find what fits for them. If we tell them to be a first baseman, they may never find out they would be a hall of fame short stop.

Kids root for each other

As I was standing and watching the kids take batting practice it was painfully obvious that many had never picked up a bat before. Rather than getting down on these kids, the rest of the players were cheering these kids on and supporting their efforts. How much do we see this in schools when we often pit kids against each other? I am in favor of some levels of competition, but not at the expense of such positive peer support. How often do we see kids being put down due to athletic, academic, or social inadequacies?

“Good Job!”

If you sit through one single practice you will hear the phrase, “good job” several hundred times. Every time a player tries to make a catch or attempts a throw, a coach is there encouraging every step of the way. Especially at this initial level, the players are expected to not know what they are doing. They are learning and there is no punishment for not doing something perfectly. Again, how can we do this in our classrooms? Are we saying, “good job” enough?

It’s fun

Kids are learning how to play a game and having fun doing it. They are learning new skills such as how to catch a pop fly and how to run the bases. The coaches have done a great job creating games to help the kids learn and remember these skills. While I am not suggesting we turn everything in school into a game, but can we do more to make it enjoyable? Kids and adults alike engage more in activities that are fun and we tend to learn better that way as well.

How can we make school just a bit more like Little League?