Last week, I was honored to participate in my 4th Art of Writing Conference. It is a truly amazing experience where young authors (and artists) from across the state meet at the Milwaukee Art Museum for a day of exploration and writing.
We begin the day by breaking up into small groups (I get the 7th and 8th graders, sweet!) and tour the MAM. We are allotted an hour to wander and reflect on the art. I usually have a group of about 10 students, so I let each student take a turn being the ‘leader,’ the lucky duck who gets to choose the piece of art we discuss next. They love leading us all over the museum. Our goal is to discuss the artist’s message while also looking for a way to connect personally to the piece. This is definitely my favorite part of the day. You would not believe what these young, promising students ‘see’ in the art. They have very profound and touching things to say. I never get tired of the museum tour because each group of students sees something different – even if it’s the same piece I’ve viewed with hundreds of students before them, I always hear something new. It makes me very hopeful for the future.
Later in the afternoon (after our favorite mid-morning donut break and pizza lunch) my young authors gather for a silent hour of writing. There are also young artists present at the conference who attempt to capture the art and magic of the day through sketches. The authors generate a first draft of their writing piece, which is a 500 word personal narrative inspired by a piece of artwork we viewed in the morning. We sit at a table in the middle of the gallery – what a gift to be able to write surrounded by world treasures! After another short break, we engage in peer revision, editing, and writing a final copy. Then, voila, their work is published in a few short months! I am very grateful for this opportunity to be inspired by the art, authors, and artists. I only wish that all of my students could partake in this experience!
Fingerprint Poetry was an awesome way to start the year. It was an icebreaker, get-to-know-you activity, and a great transition back into writing after the summer off. Plus students get to write about their own favorite topic – themselves!
I was inspired with this idea when I noticed how my students never liked to write on straight lines. They love being artsy and letting their words flow like water. And what better way to personalize your writing than by making it on your own special fingerprint?
I first had them choose a finger and inspect it carefully. Were they a whorl? arch? loop? A lot of them had never really looked at their fingerprints up close, so they enjoyed this. .Then, they picked the fingerprint poetry template that best matched their own fingerprint.
I gave them 16 different options of what to write about, but ultimately tried to steer them towards a more ‘stream of consciousness’ type of writing or a ‘brain dump’ in which they fill the spaces with anything and everything they are thinking. It’s a very free flowing activity.
Next, I asked them to think about how they could use color, textures, and pictures to bring their fingerprint to life. They always impress me with their creativity! As you can see, the results were fantastic.
If you want to purchase this activity, which includes writing instructions and 3 fingerprint templates, click here and enjoy! Thanks!
In the fall, each and every student in our middle school will be receiving an iPad as our school becomes ‘One-To-One.’ I am very excited about this endeavor!
Nevertheless, we are venturing into unchartered territory. The students and I will learn a lot, and I also anticipate some ‘growing pains.’
I recently learned that you can lock an iPad so that the user can only use one app – they cannot leave that app without a password. A lot of my friends who are parents of young children were TOO excited about this news, because it meant that their wee one could play a game and Mom/Dad didn’t have to worry about them accidentally quitting the game, going on the Internet, deleting contacts, or sending emails (Yep, based on true stories. It’s amazing what 2 and 3-year-olds can accidentally accomplish when given an iPhone for a few minutes!).
So how do you ‘lock’ your iPad/iPhone onto an app? First, let’s set up the locking password:
1. Go to settings
2. Go to General
3. Go to Guided Access
4. Click ‘On’
5. Set a passcode. Obviously you will not want to share this with the child/student.
Now you have set the password. How can you ‘lock in’ on an app?
1. Open up the app you want your child/student to use.
2. Hit the Home button 3 times.
3. A blue ‘Start’ button will appear in the top right corner. Press.
Now your child/student cannot leave that app without entering the password you set.
I was thrilled to learn about Guided Access, which will have many benefits in my classroom. For the most part, 99.999% of my students will never even need it, but I’m glad it’s there for the rare occasion when a student needs help making wise decisions.
AND, when all else fails, I decided to create a ‘Tech Time Out.’ Yes, it is a jail for technology. I can keep phones, iPads, earbuds, etc. nice and safely within sight but out of reach.
Creating the ‘Tech Time Out’ cost about $15 and took me about 45 minutes (but that’s only because I’m a prefectionst. perfectionis. dangit.)
1 2.5 gallon fish tank (approximately $11)
1/2 roll vinyl electrical tape (approximately $4)
Scrapbook Sticker Letters
Please leave a comment below if you tried this out in your life/classroom, and how well it worked for you! I’m always looking for new tricks and ways to innovate.