Tag Archives: creativity

Tech Spark: Holiday Poetry Greeting Cards

15 Dec

Need an educational, yet fun, elementary or middle school activity to get you through the last days of school before the holidays? Try making greeting cards with original student poetry inside.

Students can create folded cards by hand, drawing images or adding pictures cut from magazines or holiday newspaper ads. For a technological spin, use the templates in Microsoft Publisher or Microsoft Word, allowing students to add their own personal message and customizing clip art.

Once you have the basic greeting card, it’s time to add the original poem. In this case, I recommend a Diamante poem. They are simple to create and enable a great review of parts of speech during a creative activity. Since the students are able to choose their own topics, it is easy to diversify this activity for students who celebrate various winter holidays, or even for those that do not celebrate holidays. Some topics that have worked well for our students are: Snow, Christmas, Santa, Family, and Love.

To instruct the students in composing their Diamante, use one of the following technology resources while students are synchronously composing their own pieces:


–       Use the Diamante interactive poetry creator at readwritethink.org, projecting the live composition of a collaborative poem.

–       Use your Document Camera to project a live collaborative composition, systematically working through each line. This method can be enhanced by using a different color to represent each unique part of speech represented in the poem (as shown in the picture to the right). Additionally, encourage students to use prediction to guess what type of line should follow to complete the diamond.

Here are a few samples, created by third graders at McKeel Elementary Academy.
















NAESP 2011 – Thoughts and Faves from Day 1

9 Apr

Sir Ken Robinson and Nancye Blair at NAESP 2011Today was the first of three days I will be spending at the National Association of Elementary School Principals Annual Convention. It was eye-opening. Surrounded by thousands of educational leaders ready to grow and brave bringing ideas of change and innovation back to their schools, I was inspired by the clear messages of reform potential in the sessions I attended and the conversations I had with principals from across the country. Here were some of my favorite comments, quotes, and moments of the day:

General Session with Sir Ken Robinson:
“The only things necessary for education are the learner and the teacher. You could take away everything else.”
“All high performing education systems have 1 thing in common – highly respected teaching status.”
Finland with no drop-out rate, in response to hearing of the US 30% drop-out rate, replies, “Why wold you drop out?”
“Each of us is a unique moment in history.”
“Anyone who credits their organization had a teacher who looked into their eyes to see who they were.”
When speaking about ed reform – “Children can’t put their lives on hold while other people figure it out.”
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anias Nin
……..I could probably continue this list all day….
More about this session at: Education Needs Different Principles—Not Different Principals http://tinyurl.com/3myogu2 via @NAESP
or stay inspired by following @SirKenRobinson on Twitter.

Robert Marzano Session – Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Assessment
This session was informative and moving. Impossible to leave unchanged!
These quotes do not do the whole session justice, and yet they were some of my favorite uses of words today.
“You can never rely on a single assessment.”
“We must avoid labeling students with a number.” (ex: Little Bobby is an 80 student.)
“This is not the extreme, because it is the logical conclusion.”
“You can never rely on a single assessment.”
“…let me paraphrase, but not exaggerate…” <<– I hope he doesn’t mind if I adopt this phrase!
“If I sounds passionate about it, I am.”
“You can never rely on a single assessment.”
You can find out more about Robert Marzano at MarzanoResearch.com
or follow him on Twitter @robertjmarzano or @marzanoresearch.

Another moment of note:
A Washington DC ed leader in learning about the success of Charter Schools in Polk County: “Why aren’t people talking about this?! My wife works in Florida and doesn’t even know about this. Why isn’t this being published everywhere? People need to hear about these things.” <<— Good question. Perhaps we need to speak up!!

Looking forward to another inspiring day tomorrow… and then sharing in my own session about Transforming Technology Curriculum for 21st Century Learners on Sunday. Keep looking for posts and updates on here and on twitter @engagingedu or #NAESP11. Going to be a great weekend!

The 5 Fave: Time Management Tools for the Creative Mind

20 Feb

Time Management – The linear organization of all things.

The Creative Mind – The sprawling, tangled web of all things.

Perhaps you can imagine the problem of aligning the two?  Perhaps even have the problem?  I certainly do.  And if you’re anything like me, you may appreciate these 5 Fave tools that help get me through the day.

#5 – Google Calendar

What’s great about the Google Calendar is that it can be collaborative and accessible from anywhere.  I set up a Google Calendar a couple years ago to manage the use of the computer lab at school.  By sharing the log-in and a common calendar, teachers can easily see when the lab is available and sign up for their desired time in the lab.  The best part for me is that I use Google Calendar Sync, which automatically sends an event to my Outlook calendar.  Plus, you can even set it to e-mail you with reminders!

#4 – Outlook Calendar and Reminders

I love having a calendar attached to my e-mail management.  Every date and event that is sent to me by administrators, teachers, parents, and students can quickly be added (of course, with strategic reminders to keep me on track).  You probably use a calendar in this way, too.  But have you considered creating events and reminders for regularly occurring activities as well?  This has been so helpful.

For example, I set up a reminder for my elementary staff and me to send in our lunch counts and orders each morning.  You would think I would remember to eat, but as any teacher knows, once a morning gets rolling, it’s like a semi-truck heading down a mountain.  Without something disrupting the momentum, we’re heading to the cafeteria before we  know it.

Perhaps the most embarrassing to share (and yet powerful) reminder I’ve set is one that pops up each morning telling me, “You make a difference in kids’ lives!  Be amazing today!”  This chance to remember why I do what I do and to focus on what’s important is a great way to start my days. (I’m not the only one who gets this reminder at my school, by the way.)  🙂

#3 – The Peaceful Progression Wake-Up Clock

Yes, an alarm clock makes the list.  My creative mind loves working at night, staying up late, sleeping in, and waking up to sunshine. Even living in Florida, that is not the reality of my teacher’s schedule.  This clock is a life-saver.  Beginning thirty minutes before the alarm time, the clock simulates the sunrise. Fifteen minutes before the alarm, you have the option of adding nature sounds (I prefer the birds).  Within a few days, your body’s natural alarm clock will wake up on its own before the traditional buzzing alarm even begins.  (As an added bonus, if you’re anything like me and you still snooze it after this miracle and need the back-up of tool #2, you’ll at least get to wake up to soft light instead of the darkness of early morning.)

#2 – Cell Phone Alarm

I use this not only in the morning, but for reminders throughout the day – what I need at the grocery store, what I need to bring to school for tomorrow’s new project, etc.  The one tip I have to is find something soothing to wake up to.  My favorite is the first 30 seconds of “Hearing Damage” by Thom Yorke.  It’s like waking up to white noise.

#1 – The Non-Planner Datebook

I have never had much success with calendars and planners.  Prior to getting this datebook, I had barely made it a month before losing or discarding the dozens of them I’d tried.  But this datebook by Keri Smith is perfect for the creative mind.  Not only does it have monthly calendar pages, but it also has attractive spaces for lists, doodling, journaling, or writing any of the ideas you have that go with the events on your calendar.  For the first time in my life, I’ve kept a planner for seven months straight.

These five things keep my days in order.  You may not need them or need them all, but for those of us who struggle to straighten the tangled web, they may be just what the doctor ordered.

Use other ideas or tools that you’d recommend?  Share them with us!