0

The Creative Curriculum

You may see below, in older posts (I can’t believe I haven’t written anything in more than a year), that I enjoyed tremendously the book from Sir Ken Robinson “The Element” which then led me to his other two books.  Thanks to those books, I now deeply believe that creativity takes a major role in a person’s life and that teachers must take responsibility into fostering creativity in children but it has been extremely difficult, for me, to be creative enough in order to develop a small curriculum which would promote creation in students.

So here you are, the general scope of what can be implemented inside any classroom barely designed by me. In later posts I will explain more explicitly each step and how it will be implemented. I hope you may send feedback!

Phase 1: Make Students Think

I love Tim Burton’s work, it is just amazing, and what he has created reflects how incredible his mind produces astounding images that then their host turns into real magic. If you have watched any of Tim Burton’s movies you cannot question he is truly a creative mind. Some years ago he turned Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” into a great movie and he showed us that you may have your own vision and understanding of things.

There are two great things that this movie can teach teachers and students alike, and both of them are at the beginning of the movie. One of those is that all the best people are completely mad, bunkers and off their heads. What a great lifesaver. The second one is that you can think impossible things, and if they are six before breakfast then that is even better.

Can you imagine 20-ish kids running to your class eager to share their six unique ideas?

Phase 2: Motivation

I am an English teacher and for a person to learn a new language, which is not easily accessible outside the classroom, he must be motivated. I always make emphasis wherever I am as an English teacher that English class does not mean to embrace new knowledge but to change the knowledge in your mind to see the world in a different way. Therefore, learning a new language is a cognitive process and to accept a change inside of your mind takes a lot of motivation.

Most of you would agree that students taking decisions and making choices in their learning process is the best way to increase motivation levels but how would this be without having 20-ish different syllabus for each student’s personal interest? Or without increasing the teacher’s amount of work in designing and grading?

The best solution to these problems is quite simple: challenge your students instead of giving homework.

Phase 3: Creation into Practice

I hope students are already highly motivated and may brainstorm with ease at this phase because this will require so much from them in a short time span.

Through the correct guidance and leadership students must analyze their school, their class, their everyday little school moments and find the one which may be improved, the one that needs to be more fun, the one that is going to be… gamify.

 

This small project based “curriculum” will be put into practice this school year under my supervision in secondary school. This means teenagers will be quite busy and the teacher a just a bit more. As I already mentioned, each step will be covered in depth in following posts and if everything turns fine (fingers crossed) I will be posting reflection as each phase finishes.

Let me know what you think, have you done something similar? How did it go? Have you thought of the same?

GAME Epic Season of Gaming PreRoll – THE DROP from Finger Industries on Vimeo.

0

Reasons for Not Maturing 2

Have you ever realized how the word childish is so undermined? and, have you ever seen how it seems that in adulthood the word “childish” is treated as a means to undervalue adults and their actions alike?

Sometimes, I feel like I can see people waiting for the right moment in order to point out how childish any adult is behaving in a certain context. They are like childish-like-behavior patrol, and it seems like this kind of behavior is very offensive for these people. Playing on the ground, touching, creating, solving, getting your hands full of dirt, and laughing in the meantime are activities that must be avoided by all means when in among adults.

I completely agree that there are situations, ceremonies, rituals and positions where a specific type of behavior is expected from any person. And it is the best practice because this behavior is a social contract accepted by everyone within their culture, hence the Pope is expected to perform in a specific way, the president is expected to address with such correctness that no one would behold otherwise, brides and grooms are expected to develop their love for each other in rituals only people in love may understand and so on. A teacher is expected to perform and conduct their duties in ways to favor children’s learning. Besides, teachers also have the duty to protect their students and keep them out of danger and because teachers are adults, students expect all that and maybe more from them, even though nobody has ever told anything about this to a child. However, none of these examples have anything to do with the “fact” that an adult must not be childish at all times.

Have you ever been a teacher in a kindergarten? -If you are a parent, it works too. I’m not one though- But I am the coordinator of many things in the school I work, and part of my duties is to oversee my peers, so I have to go to kindergarten classrooms many times and it must be mentioned that I absolutely love it. This is the best place to watch childish actions happening; it always amazes me how a child explores any little thing that appeals to her or him and the awe phase children always experience with that new little thing is what I cherish the most. Once I read that in order to continue learning throughout life is to never stop being in awe; to be amazed by new knowledge is what will make that new information remain stored in our heads, just like a child.

Another childish action that I love is the lack of fear of being wrong, a child will continue on doing or undoing until he or she gets what he or she wants, or the child may speak out his/her mind trying to answer the teacher’s inquiries no matter what. As people get older, people start to think before speaking and that is perfect; I do not like people participating with arguments not worth sharing. But what people must not forget is their capacity to being wrong, and that being wrong is not wrong at all, and that no matter what, people have to explore every possibility in order to be right. As teacher, I sometimes need to teach children that being wrong is right an that it is only an opportunity to learn a little bit more about that fact and about ourselves.

Because a child likes to explore, a child needs to move around and because I am childish I like to move too… a lot. A different responsibility of mine is to give a “lecture” from time to time, so I have to hand the books/copies/booklets out to the rest of the staff and to settle a date and time for the feedback. I always try to make the meetings interesting, motivating and not boring, as a result I move the participants around, change teams, find out more about the others and small activities that would make them to be in awe. Unfortunately, this does not appeal to some and they feel threatened and maybe even disgusted by the idea of moving because they already are “mature” teachers.

I embed an animation that I enjoyed tremendously and the first time I watched it I could not stop laughing. It is an excellent reminder of not getting mature. Enjoy.

 

The Chase from Philippe Gamer on Vimeo.

0

A Book I Read: The Element

Just last week I finished reading the book “The Element” by Sir Ken Robinson and this is one of those books that you really need to write what you learned from it, the amount of new ideas you got, the concepts and perceptions that opened a different world and the sentiments that you felt while reading a wonderful text.

 

I first “met” Sir Ken Robinson when I watched his famous video from a TED conference “Schools Kill Creativity” -video below- and I remember I thought if it was possible that a single man was trying to change education paradigms which were around for centuries. As any other youngster I was trying to make my own path and in my field I was expecting to change what I didn’t feel comfortable with or didn’t like but I did not have any idea of how to do it. Now, I do.

I think it is fantastic to read about those great men and women who are trying to change little by little the way education is performed at schools. It is quite interesting to see how these people face problems that many of us would never be able to solve; how, no matter what, they fight with anyone in order to show that we can really change things to make them better. After what I have read I just want to change everything, I know this is impossible but I have found the path to reach it.

The end of the school year is four months away but today I am trying to move the pieces of the puzzle to do something new. Let us wait and see what comes out.

P.S. I am excted, are you?

 

0

Attacking Tardiness

This week I asked the principal office permission to hand out some articles about teaching students to arrive on time, or even early, to appointments we have to attend to. Without hesitation the principal agreed and asked me to immediately invite my coworkers to apply some strategies found on such articles.

Unpunctuality among students is not one of my direct responsibilities, but I deeply thought I had to do something to decrease this unfortunate situation of some alumni. Fortunately, it is not a grave problem and the great majority of the students arrive on time. Unfortunately, the students who do have this problem tend to repeat it several times a week. Besides, today March 2nd the winter schedule is over and everybody has to come to school something before 8 a.m. Therefore, something had to be done; this week.

I had been searching for these type of articles since last December as well as translating them, and although one always has a vision of what is right, they were very enlightening and made me understand the principles and consequences of being late. I do hope some teachers may find them as good as I did.

Here you have the links to the articles used in the compendium (in English) :

  1. Forefront Families
  2. The Best Solutions fo the Latest Students
  3. How to Teach Punctuality to Children
  4. Lesson Plan on the Importance of Punctuality
  5. Punctuality Tips and Strategies

Below you can read what was delivered to the teachers. (In Spanish)

Promoviendo Puntualidad

0

Lo Más de 2010

Lo sé, este post tiene un mes y medio de retraso; pero como dice el dicho: mejor tarde que nunca. No lo pude hacer antes por todas las razones que ustedes puedan pensar, pero yo me quedo con el síndrome del escritor bloqueado.

Hace un año escribí una entrada parecida a esta la cual acabo de leer para inspirarme un poco, pensar sobre aquellas categorías pero ahora del 2010, si era necesario escribir una nueva o quitar otra. Deben de tener en mente que estas categorías y la entrada en general no necesariamente tienen que ver con mi ámbito profesional, sino también envuelve situaciones familiares o personal que hayan hecho un cambio en mi ser, pensar, sentir o idear.

De igual manera debes de tener en mente que estas categorías abarcan desde enero hasta diciembre del 2010 y que por lo tanto hay dos ciclos escolares en final de 2009 -2010 y el inicio del 2010 – 2011; ambos con alumnos diferentes y muy posiblemente con grados igualmente diferentes.

Sin más preámbulo, aquí están los momentos “más”:

1. Momento más feliz: cuando decidí que era tiempo de cerrar una puerta y una ventana se abrió. Me sentí feliz porque me di cuenta que era lo que yo quería, anhelaba y necesitaba en ese momento; simple y llanamente la vida que llevaba en ese entonces me hacía infeliz y se tenía que terminar de tajo. Desde que me inculcaron en un curso que en una vida profesional atraviesas por tres pasos, siempre he tratado de aplicarlos. El paso uno es conocer tu empresa y que ella te conozca a ti. El siguiente paso es que en tu área puedas ver si estás en acuerdo con las normas, reglas o puntos de vista; si estás en desacuerdo, ver si lo puedes cambiar o innovar. Y el último paso es entender si aquello es para ti, si lo aceptas como está o si lo puedes cambiar; o entender que es mejor irte. Yo decidí: Gracias, pero no gracias.

2. Momento más triste: aquellas personas que deje detrás, aquellas que me apoyaron incondicionalmente, me divertían, me hacían la vida más fácil día con día, se preocupaban por mí y lo más importante, me querían. Gracias por todo.

3. Momento de mayor satisfacción: ver todo lo que se hizo dentro del salón y de los grupos de secundaria. Debo admitir que hubo momentos muy difíciles (los adolescentes son algo especial) pero al final entendimos que aprendimos de ambas partes y se lo reconocimos. Fue la primera vez que aplique el blog como herramienta de publicación de trabajos, y fue la primera vez que mis alumnos se enorgullecieron por lo que sabían hacer con el inglés.

4. Momento de mayor orgullo: Los dos reconocimientos que mis alumnos de secundaria me dieron; me reconocían lo bueno y lo malo, pero por ello mismo, son los reconocimientos que más aprecio. Es cierto, dentro de la escuela es una actividad obligatoria pero no es obligatorio dárselos a todos los maestros, ni es obligatorio que te lo enmarquen.

5. Momento de mayor sorpresa: En agosto regresé a una gran escuela con grandes alumnos, la sorpresa fue ver que con aquellos no se había perdido la amistad, el cariño y familiaridad que ya habíamos construido durante dos años de clases juntos. Ellos me conocían muy bien, yo los conocía mejor, ¿cómo nos llevamos?, de maravilla.

2

¿Y ahora qué?

Ante la situación de  “ya cuento con un blog, pero no sé qué escribir” tal vez es necesario un poco de inspiración. Mira afuera de tu ventana, escribe sobre tu niñez, expresa tus ideas y creencias… ¡mira dentro de ti!

Ah, pero qué fácil es escribir todo eso; aún asi es muy difí­cil decidir qué es lo que quieres compartir y sobre todo entender el por qué.

Piensa que ya tienes el primer… bueno, el segundo gran paso en tu vida de blogger: ¡sabes sobre qué vas a escribir! Tienes un blog profesional y por lo tanto compartirás tus momentos como maestro dentro de un aula, o fuera de ella. ¿cómo ves? -para los que no supieron cuál era el primer paso: crear un blog.

Si tú escribes sobre tu vida profesional cuenta con que sabrás entender el entorno en el que te encuentras, y reflexionarás sobre tus prospectos y metas. Lo único que hace falta es que quieras hacerlo.

Te dejo con una pequeña presentación en la que espero puedas ver de una manera general qué puedes hacer en tu blog profesional

 

 Espero que mis compañeros de formula puedan crecer profesionalmente; un saludo para: Alejandra, Iside, Alicia, Elizabeth, Rosario, Cookies&Cream, Karla, Jackie, Ceci, Paco, Janett, Angelica, Genoveva, Norma, Ada, Delia, Susana, Lorena y Rosalinda. Y un abrazo especial a alguien quien parece ha hecho un gran esfuerzo por hacer de su blog un medio de comunicación con los padres. Muchas Felicidades aMary.

El concepto de Red Personal de Aprendizaje fue tomado de Break Down the Walls, Build Up a Community.

4

Best/Worst Teacher Ever

Have you ever wondered what makes you the best or worst teacher ever?

I know this is a stupid question for teachers, as we are used to question our work every day in every class; but, what makes the difference? how is it possible that the same teacher is the best during one school year and the worst the next year?

Teachers must know that in order to answer those questions they have to take into account all the variables possible, which most of the times are endless lists of what could go right or wrong. During their time in university teacher trainees should have discussed endless debates of those lists and no one could have reached a final resolution, has anyone?

I’m the Best Teacher Ever! 🙂

Have you ever felt the excitement of having fantastic-to-work-with sponge students?

I know, this is also an stupid question for teachers, as every class is full with students eager to learn -at least that has been my case- but what I want you to think about and feel  is when you’re doing what you’re supposed, and magically all around your class works out perfectly; the students are learning, the parents are grateful, the school praises and the teacher is not working.

I’m the Worst Teacher Ever! 🙁

Have you ever felt the necessity of turning everything around, upside down, over and any other preposition you may think of?

Yes, it is indeed another stupid question for teachers, as we work in the educational context; teachers want to change every single thing they may think should work better in a different way. Nevertheless, teachers cannot change all; even though they know what is affecting their environment and they know how to solve it, teachers most of the times have to cope with huge pink elephants which are impossible to move. The students are not learning, the parents complain, the school pushes and the teacher works.

Viewpoint

The endless list I mentioned before is naworred to four main aspects: students, parents, school and the teacher. However,  the term “school” will be changed to “syllabus” because that is truly the issue. And again, this is MY very personal point of view based on MY very personal experience.

Syllabus

Have you ever felt happy or unhappy with your class contents?

Eureka! That’s not a stupid question; well, I have felt both and both have gave me sorrow and pain, but also gratification and something to write about. 😛

This has been the biggest issue when it comes to perform an excellent job in my teaching years. It appears that when there is a main objective at the top and better yet, there is a method to achieve it: all the variables come together thriving. If a teacher studied to be a teacher, (s)he knows what (s)he is doing in front of the classroom and acknowledges the problems which are arising within the class, therefore the teacher must propose a solution. If the syllabus accepts the solution it is almost certain that the people involved will be satisfied.

If it is considered that the teacher knows how to teach, then it is supposed that (s)he uses the correct techniques and activities to teach what the syllabus asks to teachers and students. Here it is where the problem shows up, under the statement that the teacher will do all possible to achieve the objectives of the syllabus, there should be no problem in any way. But, what if there isn’t any general objective and the syllabus is not intended for the particular social and cultural background of the class? Of course all sorts of problems will  show up throughout the school year, and because students are not able to complete such syllabus, frustrations will grow on the people involved: teachers, parents and worst, students.

As people in Mexico say: “hay de dos moles” -you’ve got two flavors-  whether the teacher follows the syllabus or (him)herself; ok… maybe more than only two.

Students, Parents and Teachers

If there is a general objective, a well established syllabus which is intended for the level, culture and society of the class, besides a trained teacher who likes what (s)he does; I do not think there should be any problem.

Have you ever experienced something like this? -not another stupid question.

0

Un año más

Así es, ha pasado un año escolar más y ahora depende de todos entender de que nos ha servido; en lugar de que pensemos que hemos gastado un año, hay que darnos la oportunidad de entender que hemos ganado un año.

De los Maestros

Ya hay varios que en estos momentos se encuentran preocupados debido a la falta de tiempo para terminar los libros, llenar cuadritos, líneas y circulitos con tal de quedar bien con la dirección, la supervisión además de, con los papás.

Hay otros que en estos momentos se encuentran ocupados con lo que piensan realizar el siguiente año escolar, basándose en una autocrítica, evaluación de iguales o de sus alumnos. Pero, ¿cuántos maestros realmente pueden decir esto? Maestros ocupados en entender el nuevo material o en conocer las nuevas técnicas para la realización de actividades; realizando evaluaciones de los libros ocupados y tareas hechas.

Hace poco leí una entrada (una disculpa por no tener la liga en este momento) en dónde la coordinadora de la integración de las tecnología de la información y la comunicación, en una escuela primaria, expresaba su satisfacción de haber podido crear, desarrollar así como finalizar varios y diversos proyectos en diferentes grados escolares. Había descrito la maravillosa experiencia que habían tenido los alumnos y la gran satisfacción que los maestros sintieron. Aún así, mi asombro no fueron los recursos tecnológicos que utilizaron, sino, que la coordinadora ya estaba en la preparación de los nuevos proyectos en conjunto con los maestros, y por supuesto que lo qué no haya dado resultado se cambiaba.

¿Se dan cuenta de la gran idea “revolucionaría” descrita arriba? -sin mencionar lo “peligrosa” de la situación.

Y es que no es posible conocer en cuántas escuelas de nuestra comunidad los maestros en conjunto con los directivos realmente se preocupan por diseñar lo novedoso del año siguiente como una sola comunidad. ¿Cuántos maestros tendrán una continuidad en su trabajo? ¿Cuántos maestros se interesan por esa continuidad? ¿Cuántos directivos se centran en esa continuidad de su personal?

Desafortunadamente, muchos maestros se centran en la continuidad del empleo y en la contraparte en la continuidad del empleado.

Una situación excelente sería que en lo más temprano posible los maestros se enterarán de su situación futura, el grado que impartirá, su compañeros de fórmula (auxiliar, maestro extracurricular) y desde ese momento empezar con la planeación del año siguiente. Varios maestros se sienten traicionados debido a que en algunas escuelas particulares no pagan los meses de vacaciones de verano, entonces por qué no proveer una situación en que los maestros necesiten ir a trabajar en esas fechas y, por lo consiguiente merecer una retribución por el trabajo realizado. ¿Porqué salir el último día de junio y regresar una semana antes de clases? ¿Cómo se puede preparar un año entero en tan pocos días?

Como maestro, yo sí creo que los maestros merecemos irnos de vacaciones unos días de verano; pero, no creo que irme y perderme por dos meses sea lo mejor para mi práctica profesional.