31 January 2014

A MHSS TED Ed Club recap

Several things have happened for the Middletown HS South TED Ed Club over the past month that I wanted to share with everyone.

1.  We are an OFFICIAL TED Ed Club!!  I sent in the application at the beginning of the month and received an email from TED congratulating us on our upgraded status.

2.  I happened to be on Twitter and I come across the announcement from TED Ed about the Official TED Ed Clubs.  I click the link to the blog and I find a picture of my students standing in my classroom!  Right before winter break, several of my club members and myself were interviewed by one of the TED Ed Club organizers about the work we have been doing.  I had no idea this was coming out and we were blown away by the blog post.

3.  On Sunday, I check my school email and find my principal forwarded me a message.  Then I read the following:
Hello Patrick!
My name is Drew Dudley, and a friend of mine forwarded me the following link about a project your TED-ED club undertook in response to my TED talk on everyday leadership:

Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled to hear that my short talk inspired a project like that, and I wanted to let Marc and the entire club know that I’m so impressed and honoured by their initiative!  It truly means the world to me to see anyone, particularly students, run with the “lollipop moment” idea like they did!

I’m fly in and out of Newark pretty regularly, and see you’re only about 35 miles away.  Any chance on my next trip to the area I could pop by and say thanks to the club in person?
Wishing all of you at Middletown South the very best!

I had no words.  The man who gave the TED Talk that inspired us to create our Thank You Walls was impressed by our work.  I replied to Drew's email and he plans on visiting us before the school year is out.  What an honor it will be to have him come and visit with us.

I am so very proud of the our club and things we have accomplished this year.  I know the next 5 months will bring amazing things for us, the school and the community.

30 January 2014

It's the little things

Every day, I put a random holiday of the day on my agenda.  There are some really weird holidays out there.  On Friday, it was National Compliment Day.  Suddenly I was struck with inspiration.  There was about 15 minutes until 1st block started so I jumped on Google and typed "Free Compliments" and found this:

It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it gave me inspiration to design a quick publication in Publisher.  I printed out a couple sheets and quick ran down the hall to hang them up around school.

Then I basically forgot about them.  I do random things like this all the time and do it with the hopes that someone benefits, but I don't want any recognition for what I do.  So I don't dwell on things, I push them out of my mind.

At the end of the day, I was having a TED Ed Club meeting.  One of the seniors walks in and says "I just got a compliment in the hallway about my outfit."  We all look at her and she holds up one of the tear off sheets from the flyer I hung up early.  Then she said that when she saw the flyer it made her feel so much better about her day.

Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference in someone's day.

25 January 2014

It's Official!!!

I am sorry to be slow in updating this blog, but I wanted to formally write that we are an Official TED Ed Club!!!  It has been an amazing journey so far and it is only going to get better from here.

So now that I talk about what we are doing without putting the word "PILOT" in front, what does that really mean for the club?  Actually, not much is going to change.  We are still going to be a Community Impact Club (I think I need to copyright that phrase), but rather than having meetings centered around discussions, the students need to start putting their ideas into action.  The discussion format is being dropped by TED Ed so we are shifting to a presentation format--basically the students are required for creating their own TED Ed Talks.  My club is composed, primarily, of students who don't really talk much in class--great workers, just not stand-up/take control types--so I am particularly interested to see how this all develops.

We are also taking on a more formal training method to our meetings to get the students ready to give 10 minutes talks about what they are passionate about.  I have made modifications to the Idea Book that was given to all advisors so that it would work better to our club and my methods as an advisor.

Because we have grown so much over the past few months (7 students at our first meeting, 40 today) I decided to mix things up.  Each student was assigned a seat and given an index card with their name on it.  On the back they were to "Draw a picture of something they are passionate about."  We then discussed within our small groups what we drew and then a few members shared with the group as a whole.  Here are some of my groups' passions:

Some members have approached me in the last couple of weeks about projects they wanted to start so we shared their ideas and the videos that inspired them.  In the planning stages, we have:

1.  Gangster Garden--We are going to build a community garden for the purposes of not only feeding the community, but also improve the quality of the food provided by the school.  We also talked about using the food as a fundraiser for some of the other projects and reinvesting in the garden (possible greenhouse).  I think our biggest step was that everyone agreed to plant seeds and take them home to germinate as a way to get the garden going before spring arrives.

2.  Dumpster Diving for the Homeless--one student saw a talk on YouTube about a man who was collecting non-expired food from dumpsters behind supermarkets and was living completely off of this food.  After doing some research he found that supermarkets actually have a policy of throwing out the food rather than donating it to shelters simply for the ease of disposal.  He also found that clothing stores will shred clothing rather than donating them because they can't thrown them away if they aren't damaged.  We are not dumpster diving, but it will include trying to convince a lot of stores (supermarkets, bakeries, bagel shops) to change their policies to help those less fortunate.

3.  Look Up More--The first video we saw as a club was by Charlie Todd.  One of his projects was called "Look Up More" which basically focused on getting people out of their own head and to take a look around.  So, inspired by this photo
we are going to hang a variety of objects that catch the sunlight (cocktail drink umbrellas, small prisms, tissue paper flowers, etc) from the ceiling in the atrium outside of our media center.  The ceiling in that area is about 30 feet above the students and has large windows with a fantastic amount of sunlight streaming through.  On the floor we are going to put LOOK UP MORE in the hopes that student stop walking through the halls in a trance.

I will update again after our next meeting.

Small Update:  I forgot to post the pictures of our tentative plans for the projects.  We identified what we needed, who needed to be contacted, and where we wanted to do the project.  These pictures were taken with Google Glass.

24 January 2014

My New Year's Resolution

I stopped making resolutions a few years ago.  They were always the typical stupid ones like lose weight, eat out less, blah, blah, blah, but they never got finished.  In the end I never felt better or felt like I accomplished much.  When I changed my focus last year and made my goal not about me, but about doing something for someone else, it increased my motivation.  I worked harder, found people to help me accomplish my goal, and found much greater satisfaction at the end of the year when it was done.  Something else unexpected happened as well: I forgot about my resolution.  The work I was doing completely consumed my focus that I forgot why I was doing it and just concentrated on making it a success.

So, for 2014, here is what I am proposing:
  1. Something audacious.  It will not be related to Relay as that was my goal from last year.  I don't know what it is, but it will probably have to do with TED Ed and Google Glass.  I will let it develop more.
  2. Get people recognized.  There are so many amazing things that are happening in my school and by my colleagues, and we don't publicize it.  I think NCLB, standardized testing increases, and the general attack on the education profession has turned teachers into turtles.  We hide in our classrooms and don't stick our heads out for the fear of what will happen to us.  That needs to end.  I work with teachers that have done Fulbright programs, day long PD at farms learning about nutrition and sustainability, completing PhD programs; and no one knows about it!!  That is going to change.  I am also expanding this to get students recognized.  There should be pictures of students working on projects popping up all over the Internet.  When you search for my school, you should see nothing but excellence on every link.
The thing about these goals is they are nothing that fantastic; they are things that we should be doing anyway.  So let's git-r-done!!

02 January 2014

Make Today Count

One year ago, I came across the following video on Twitter:
I LOVED IT!!  Right after seeing this (I think it was the next day) I saw someone make a tweet and tagged it with #maketodaycount.  I decided my students needed more inspiration on a daily basis.  Next to my door, I decided to mount one of the personal whiteboards from class, wrote an inspirational quote with #maketodaycount underneath it, and took a picture of it with Instagram.  I then posted the picture to Facebook, Twitter and Flikr with the comment "Today's Words of Awesome. #maketodaycount"
I didn't know the impact this board would have.  A security guard told me he made sure that my hallway was the first one he came through in the morning so he could text his wife what the day's quote was; I accidentally repeated one quote (it was a really good one!) and a teacher flipped out on me; a former student created a Pinterest page of my quotes; another former student told me that when she gets up for work she looks for my #maketodaycount quote to get her started; students I don't even have follow me on Instagram so they can keep up on the quotes.  

I wanted to share the slideshow of all of the #maketodaycount quotes from my Flickr account.  Enjoy!