I always tell my students, “Everyone loves a mash-up.” It’s basic neuroscience at its best. Our brains pay attention to what is novel, look for patterns, and seek to make connections.
I wanted to help my students get a better understanding of theme. I gave them a choice of two tweets to work with. By mashing the ideas from a short story we read and film we watched with a current news article and video of a living sculpture, the students flexed their thinking about theme in a deeper and broader sense. The discussions were rich and gave me the opportunity to do some on-the-spot reteaching.
When it came time to discuss the themes in Romeo & Juliet, the students made aluminum foil sculptures to symbolize a theme they wanted to explore, and then they explained their work in writing. We followed up with a gallery walk to share ideas.
Which famous scene? Which famous works of art? What are the famous soliloquies from this scene? What are their significance?
The ’tiles’ are students’work from all four core content classes.
During my daily browse through Twitter, I was struck with inspiration. I thought of a way to re-purpose the post-it notes that were being used during my lessons.
I started collecting them, assessing the work, and then putting them on my cupboards without any apparent plan.
Then I waited for the kids to notice. Some started asking questions after a few days, others took a full two weeks to notice! It was fun to listen to them predict and argue about what I was making.
And the days we didn’t use post-its? Well, they gave me an ear full. They loved the novelty and sustained predicting, and they kept on me to assess their work and add it to the picture.
When Pacman was completed, they immediately wanted to know what I was making next. I told them, “We’re doing a contest for student-designed murals.” They can’t wait!
Any ideas of other cool things to do with post-its?
Tara Brown is a must see presenter when attending a conference. Her messages about teaching and reaching middle school students are dead on. For me, one of her most memorable messages is that we need to be Dopamine Dispensers in the classroom.
If you have ever spent any time in a middle school during the last week of the quarter, you’ve noticed that the students’ stress-level is elevated. I’ve decided to consciously plan for dispensing Dopamine this week. Here are a few ways I am combating student-stress:
Music – I start the music before the students enter the room, and I leave it running as they work on their Do Now. (We even snuck in a twenty second dance party during last period.)
Memes – Kids love to laugh. Memes are their language.
Kahoot – We have two quizzes this week. To help students study, we are Kahooting. If you aren’t Kahooting yet, you need to check it out!
Laughing Babies – I played a laughing babies Youtube video while the kids were getting set up for an activity. It didn’t take any extra time, and we were all laughing as we worked.
All of these were easily integrated into my lessons, and the students loved them. They appreciated the chance to relax and be kids. Rather than be distracted by their stress, they were ready to learn.
Here is a link to Tara’s website. Check it out.