9 April 2012
Art and Design, Teaching
Book mark recto
Originally uploaded by anselm23
I think it’s interesting that the crop
of the book mark
has played havoc with the format of
A colleague of mine has been mentoring me in the fine art of teaching world languages. Her basic philosophy is simple:
- Read It
- Write It
- Say It
- Hear It
She drills kids incessantly, making them repeat words aloud and recite paradigms, sing hip hop songs with verb conjugations, and more. Her main subject of study is Spanish, and I made this bookmark for her because I’ve learned a lot from her as a colleague and mentor. The quotation is from Don Miguel de Cervantes, the great Spanish author of Don Quixote.
The patterns in the bookmark, of course, come from the patterns of Zentangle, which have not taken me too long to learn, although I tend to deploy them in spaces which are too tight to do me much good. All the same, I’ve learned a lot from doing the work this way. It’s akin to working from a grimoire — one learns a pattern, or a way of doing things, and then gradually one develops new ways of working with that pattern, or playing with it.
This is one of the critical things about design thinking, though: one has to have a certain facility with graphic design, or project management, or the technical skills related to the thing you’re building – whether it be an electronics device or a roller coaster. At some level, one needs a set of skills at a deep enough level that one can play. I said as much, or tried to, in an article I wrote for the CAIS CPD blog today.
9 April 2012
backward planning, learning, organization, planning, Teaching
The mother of one of my students is a Civil War buff. She’s more than a buff — she’s a pro historian, who’s been working on a book about Connecticut soldiers and nurses in the Civil War. Accordingly, she’s been collecting photocopies of diaries and reminisces for a while, and assembling packets about individual soldiers and families. And now she’s opening her research to my students.
On Wednesday, we’re handing out those packets to the seventh grade. Each seventh grader is getting a packet of data on one soldier or nurse, their regiment, their family. Each packet contains letters, journals, reminisces, transcripts of oral histories, and more. The student’s job is to put together a history of that person within the larger history of the Civil War: who they were, what they did, what their attitude towards slavery and the Union was, and so on. It’ll be very exciting.
But I’ve had to do a fair bit of Backwards Planning for this project. One whole week of school is lost to Spring Break for the seventh grade (not that I begrudge them the time off — I need it too). One week is their class trip to DC — which may be useful for their history project, but maybe not. One week, nearly, is academic testing. And one week at the end is their oral presentations.
I’m not ever as good as I’d like to be about planning my classes ahead of time. But it’s kind of cool to realize that it’s the first Monday in April, and I’ve planned my two American history classes through the end of the school year.
9 April 2012
awake, gtd, tai chi, taiji
At some point, not today, it will be possible for me to describe tai chi practice daily as a habit. Today the alarm went off, and three minutes later I was doing five golden coins. A few minutes later I was doing the form. But it’s not always that easy. Some days it’s really hard.
Twyla Tharp in her book the creative habit said that the getting out of bed, and the going downstairs to catch a taxi at 5am to the gym was much more important than the gym routine itself. The habit of getting up did more to prepare her for the rigor of working out than the workout.
I guess that’s how I feel about the tai chi. It’s only been a little over a month. New habits are made on the basis of routine. This isn’t yet routine.
But it’s getting there.