Godzilla Gazette, 31

Week of April 11, 2016


  • From Grace
  • The Reflective Practitioner
  • Weekly Team Planning Link
  • Weekly Events
  • For Your Information

From Grace

Aloha, everyone! I been torn these last few weeks between what I know is important for our students and their education and the very real pressure to ensure that the district and outside community continue to see us as the academically strong campus that we are, which unfortunately, is only conveyed through test scores. I fee frustrated when I talk with one of our kinder parents who loves our school but is so concerned about the state of the accountability system that she is considering homeschooling and wonders if there is a way to stay connected to Mathews. Or when I talk with our upper grades families who are worried about the toll the tests have taken on their children and wonder about the loss of joy for learning that comes with it.

Because of this, I was excited to find the post shared in this week's Reflective Practitioner and found it inspired me to continue to forge ahead and look for ways to both meet the requirements of the accountability system and to provide rich, creative, authentic learning experiences for our kids. As we push through the final weeks of school and work diligently to make sure all our students are learning and thriving, I want to encourage all of us to look at what it means to embrace Making in schools. Not only what it means for our students, but for ourselves as well. When you craft a lesson, you are Making, when you look for ways to include PBL and creativity in the classroom, you are Making, when you design a garden or create a way for your students to have digital portfolios of their work, you are Making.

Let's keep Making together. Find inspiration from each other, both in school and in online communities. Continue to look for solutions and be creative as we finish out the year. To help us recharge our own creative endeavors, Maker Ready will be back with us at our staff meeting on Thursday to provide opportunity for our own learning and ideas to incorporate into our curriculum.

Happy week, all. Have fun, be solutions-focused, work together, and Make!

The Reflective Pracitioner

Go Make Something

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When you see a problem in education, you can complain. That's not a bad thing. People need to know about problems in the system. We need strong advocates who will show us what is broken. However, it can sometimes be more helpful to offer a solution. So, you hate standardized tests? How about portfolios, conferencing, or rubrics instead? You're not a fan of homework? Think of some alternatives.

Lately, though, I've been more intrigued by a third option. Instead of just advocating for a solution, go out and make it happen. I love the fact thatKelly Tenkely and Michelle Baldwin aren't just advocating for choice-driven personalized learning. They're making it happen at an actual school. They are actively developing and testing the model. And I love the way Chris Lehmann has not only collaboratively designed a great model of PBL, inquiry and social justice at SLA but also empowered the teachers he leads to help share what works. I love the fact that he is now working to spread this vision to other places, in tangible, practical ways.

I love the fact that, faced with a lack of diversity in the connected educator circle, educators like Jose Vilson, Melinda Anderson and Rafranz Daviscreated an entire #educolor movement, where they have not only advocated, but also organized and made a difference. I love the fact that instead of just talking about global collaboration, Pernille Ripp created theGlobal Read Aloud, connecting thousands of students to novels around the world. I love the fact that AJ Juliani saw a need for design thinking in his district and helped lead the design of the xLab at their high school. And I love the fact that Brad Wilson had such a passion for engaging reluctant writers that he developed an app to meet the need.

Over the last year and a half, I been intentionally responding to every complaint I make about education with the following questions:

What have I made that helps solve this problem?

If not . . .

Who do I know that is solving this problem? How can I promote that solution?

I don't always have the answers and I don't have the time or the knowledge or the capacity to create solutions. But even that, in itself, is a step in the right direction. Sometimes admitting that you don't know the answer is a part of the solution.

The Risks of Being a Maker

When I think about this third option of actually making things to make a difference, I am struck by the fact that there are some very real risks involved in making things. I never want to gloss over these risks because they are absolutely real and sometimes they really suck.

  • You expose your idea to the potential of failure. What you advocate might not work. Once you actually commit to making something, you face the very real risk that it might tank entirely.
  • You expose yourself to scrutiny. When you move from talking about ideas to making something tangible, you suddenly face a barrage of criticism. Some of it is meant to be helpful. Meanwhile, others criticize out of a sense of jealousy. Regardless, you will be criticized and it will hurt.
  • You feel exhausted. It takes time and effort and energy to make things. It's exhausting to see a project from an idea into a reality. It isn't always fun. It isn't always easy. The more you care about what you are making, the more likely you are to break into tears when it just isn't working right.
  • You upset people. It can be disruptive to the status quo. When this happens, you might make enemies.
  • You face your limitations. Creative work requires vulnerability. I've learned that just about every creative work requires a certain humility. I have to admit what I don't know. I have to ask for help. I can't fake my way through creative work because the end result is ultimately the proof of concept.

The Benefits of Being a Maker

So, if being a maker isn't easy or fun, why bother? My first thought is that there is a drive in every person to go make something and that fear and discomfort are often what push us away. But this drive, this creative impulse, is part of what makes us human. And I think ignoring that drive ultimately robs the world of something unique that you can make while also denying this human need to make things.

In the realm of education, I think there are a few benefits to being a teacher-maker:

  • You get to test what works and doesn't work in education. When you make something, you get a chance to learn in a way that you can't when you are simply hashing out ideas.
  • It's often fun. I know, I know, I mentioned the fact that you'll be criticized and it'll be tough and you have to be vulnerable. After all, haters gonna hate, hate, hate. (Yeah, I just quoted Taylor Swift) And yet . . . sometimes it's an absolute blast. It's fun to make stuff. There's a certain playful element when you're in the zone and it feels like magic.
  • You get to serve others. When you make something that works, you get to make a difference. When I visit Kent Innovation High, I am struck by the fact that lives are being changed. And when I look at Write About and I see kids falling in love with writing, I experience the same kind of satisfaction.
  • You learn what you don't know. I thought I knew code pretty well until I started trying to make things that were more challenging. Now I see that I have a ton to learn. I think that's a great place to be both as a learner and as a teacher.

Our Students Need Makers

I am convinced that teachers are the ones who know what is best for students. Yes, parents, too. Yes, students as well. I get it. But in terms of stakeholders, teachers are the professionals who often have the best ideas for what works in education. When they are the ones who develop platforms or find solutions or build movements, it is empowering for their students.

Moreover, when teachers are makers (whether they are solving problems in education or writing a novel or painting a picture or building furniture for fun) they remember what it is like to create things. They can empathize with the successes and the frustrations of students. They can model and talk about the growth mindset. They can remember how hard it is to do things that require you to learn and entirely new skill.

Ultimately, when teachers are makers, they are more likely to create the maker spaces that kids need -- not from a theoretical idea but from a very real, everyday knowledge of what it means to hone a craft. That's a pretty cool gift to give to a class.

So, go make something. Start a movement. Build a platform. Craft a product. Design a system. Solve a complex problem. Invent. Create. Ask. Build. Learn.

Be a maker.

Looking for More on the Creative Process in Education?

If you enjoyed this post and your curious about this topic, feel free to consider the following:

Weekly Team Planning Template Link

Weekly Events - Librarian Appreciation Week!

Monday, April 11, 2016 - C Day

  • EOY TPRI/DRA Window Opens - Kinder-2nd Grade
  • AP Interview Follow-ups - 8:00-9:30 am - Office/Classrooms - Grace
  • School Tour - 9:00 am - School-wide - Maria
  • 504 Meeting - 10:15 am - Office - Robin, Sicily, Grace
  • 6th Grade Meeting - 11:30 am - Office - Kellie, Julie, Kristen, Grace
  • 504 Meeting - 12:20 pm - Office - Robin, Chad, Diana, Grace
  • 4th Grade Meeting - 1:50 pm - Office - Vivien, Kirstie, Katherine, Grace

Tuesday,April 12, 2016 - A Day - Book Fair!

  • Fun with Chemistry Presentation - 8:30 am - Cafeteria - PreK-2nd Grades
  • Fun with Chemistry Presentation - 9:30 am - Cafeteria - 34d-6th Grades
  • 5th Grade Meeting - 12;20 pm - Office - Chad, Diana, Grace
  • 3rd Grade Meeting - 1:10 pm - Office - Claudia, Lauren, Stefanie, Grace
  • 1st Grade Parent Meeting - 3:00 pm - Alma's Room - Alma, Sharon, Suzie
  • 100th Birthday Celebration Planning Meeting - 3:15 pm - Library - Amy, Chad, Ruthann, Corinda, Grace - All invited
  • Mentor Meeting - 3:00 pm - TBD - Lauren, Monica, Becky, Nicole, Angela

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - B Day

  • Elementary Principal Meeting - 8:00 am - Delco Center - Grace
  • Where the Wild Things Are Trip - 10:15 am - Long Center - Angela, Monica, Sicily
  • LPAC Training - 12:45 pm - Baker Center - Grace
  • CST Meeting - 3:00 pm - Office - Elise, Sharon

Thursday, April 14, 1016 - C Day

  • CST Meeting - 1:10 pm - Office - Lauren, Elise, Kara, Grace
  • CST Meeting - 2:00 pm - Office - Kirstie, Elise, Kara, Grace
  • Staff Meeting - 3:00 pm - Library - Maker Ready - All

Friday, April 15, 2016 - A Day

  • School-wide Assembly - 7:45 am - Gym - Garden Award
  • 4th Grade Field Trip - 7:30 am - San Antonio - Katherine, Kirstie, Vivien
  • Elementary 6th Grade Dance - 6:30 pm - Cafeteria/Gym - GCorinda, Kellie, Grace

For Your Information


  • If you need something, ask.
  • If you haven't already, make sure to take the Educator's Ethics Course through AISD's HCP.
  • Make sure to utilize reading/writing workshop and small group instruction during core.
  • Remember to take attendance daily on TEAMS.
  • Arrive and pick up your class from special areas on time - respect each other's time.
  • Ensure 504, IEP, ELL, and Gifted Accommodations are being followed
  • Actively supervise your students - Spread out at recess to monitor each area.
  • Check our calendar for important events
  • Try something new and have fun!

Kudos: Do you know of something good? Share it with Grace to be included here or write it in the comments below!

  • To Julie for a successful first Kinder Round up and to Maria for all her help!
  • To Becky, Nicole, and Paula for opening their rooms to next year's Kinder students and their families during Kinder Roundup!
  • To Corinda for thoughtful advice on assistant principals and next year!
  • To Stefanie, Diana McG., Cindy S., and Diana McM. for working on the Innovation Grant for our campus and classrooms!
  • To everyone who contributed thoughts to the Construction Wish List!
  • To Steve, Amy, and Jennifer for coordinating and teaching inspired and beautiful dances to all our students and making it possible to have International Festival!
  • To everyone who danced the evening away and celebrated our students, families, and unique heritage on Friday!
  • To Lina and Jennifer for working late to ensure clean-up on Friday!

Upcoming Events:

  • 1st Grade Swim Lessons - week of April 18-28
  • Early Grades Math Training - April 18
  • Fire Drill - April 18
  • 4th Parent Maker Movement - Week of April 19
  • Staff Meeting - Universal Screener - April 21
  • Barber of Seville Opera - April 21
  • Track and Field Day - April 22
  • Author Visit - 3rd-6th Grades - April 27
  • CAC Meeting - April 28
  • 3rd Grade Nature Field Trip - April 29
  • Best Eco Action Team Award - April 30

Website to Explore:

https://www.biblionasium.com/#tab/content-spring-mix- I just discovered this site and it looks fantastic! Kids can get book recommendations from others, connect with their teacher through reading logs, and have fun. From ChildrensMD site: ...this website will convince even the most reluctant reader to love reading. Founder Margan Ghara describes BiblioNasium as, “Part kids social network, part parent’s guide, part teacher’s tool.” BiblioNasium blends technology with personal connection to create a supportive, engaging space for reading success. Enjoy exploring!