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Friday, June 7, 2013

Get your students to WRECK their LEARNING using SMASH Book and Wreck This Journal mentality.

The reality of the typical school experience for our kids is hands-off, with sterile curricula, worksheets, books, and tests that encourage passive learning and judgment by others rather than active learning, creating, and problem-solving within THEIR world and community. The kids have adapted to it and are comfortable in it....because that's just the WAY IT IS. It's time to Wreck that.

I started the SMASHbook last year by showing my 6th graders the video below. (I smash the two words together, by the way.) They were mesmerized by it, seriously. They LOVED IT and embraced the Smashbook idea. We spent time in class with TONS of supplies out like hot glue guns (oh how 6th graders love those things) and just every little thing I could find.

I did not use the SMASHbooks consistently last year. Wish I had. 2012-13 was a year of new use and exploration of IdeaPaint Tables and iPads and the start of Workshop Model. Consistent use of the SMASHbook fell by the wayside.

Found Keri Smith and her many interactive and fun books thanks to Twitter, of course, and +Brain Pickings. Keri's books encourage learners to take control of their world by manipulating it in off-the-wall ways. Watch the video below of a girl's experience with her Wreck this Journal. (Here is an earlier blogpost inspired by Keri Smith.)


This plays perfectly into the Workshop Model idea of kids marking the text and being intentional about their learning.

How can I blast kids out of a PASSIVE learning MODE into an ACTIVE one to where they are interacting readily and feverishly with ideas and patterns they see in text, video, the outdoors, the world?
  • Active Journaling/writing is the KEY but kids must learn HOW to BE active learners, investigators, thinkers, and writers.
  • I'll use the spirit of the Smash Book and Keri's Wreck this Journal to KICK-OFF their active Science and SS Journal experiences. They'll do crazy things to their journals; perhaps I'll make a list of 'ideas' and choices/options for them to do in their journals to get MESSY and GET USED TO physically and then MENTALLY interacting with their world. THIS IS VITAL. If I can get them into this mode full-bore from the 1st week of school, I'll have them out of their institutionalized learning shells and ready to run and grow...and experience the magic of self-directed learning and thinking. Add the community experience of an entire classroom or team or school on the same type of journey and there is more magic, growth, and enjoyment. We'll work in rigor and ways of thinking/analyzing as the year goes on.
    •  If I had the money to purchase the Wreck this Journal books for all my kids this year I would do it. It would be a great activity to do with a big chunk of time, perhaps as an entire grade level or team. I envision free time, lots of supplies out for use, snacks, and time to launch into their Wreck this Journal book with all their creativity and zeal and enthusiasm. Then we'd share in small groups, large groups, and class. iMovie to showcase. Hmmm, I shall talk to my art and music teachers as well for inspiration and invite them into the fun.
  • Once the kids have the Wreck this Journal mentality in place for jumping into the world around them, we'll delve into ways of thinking/manipulating/organizing thoughts. 
    • I'll encourage the same thing on the IPADS. With the class set of iPads, what tools can kids use to approach iPad journaling with the same interactive rules? I welcome feedback, suggestions, tips from the peanut gallery. :)

*The idea of INTERACTING physically and mentally with your world is the heart of real learning. Learning is personal and that's where I'm intentionally taking the kids next year, all year through active SMASHbook journals. My wish is they take this mentality with them into the rest of their days... 


  1. Laura...I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea....what better way to show parents, administrators and students what they've actually learned over the course of the year!!! I am so doing this next year...even if I have to buy all my students notebooks...I'm ALL IN!!! Thank you....

    1. Love this idea! Several of us are going to try this next year. I bought Wreck this Journal for my daughter and I and she was so excited to get started she woke up at 6:30 in the morning!-Shauna Oldham

  2. Thank you my fellow NKCS colleagues, Ken and Shauna, for the comments and excitement. I can't wait to do this next year and share the journey with you! I'm excited to......wait for it.... WRECK my teaching. :)

  3. Too funny! I googled this because I just bought my first smash book, loved it, and had this exact same idea... I guess I'm a bit behind you ;) But I love how you put it together, and if you have details about how it goes I would LOVE to hear them!

  4. We are in a tech class at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, KS discussing the ideas you presented here. We love the idea of a Smashbook and Wreck It Journal for students!! We are also discussing how to incorporate tech into this. Students can use pic collage and a whiteboard app to collect thoughts/pics/ideas and then have students collect them all in a camera roll. Canva, Glogster and Modiv are other great apps that could be used alongside this idea. Of course, there is the Wreck This App. We also thought about having each student create their own page for a Class Wreck It Journal. They can do it on the iPad or computer, as well as simply doing it on paper and then taking a pic of it or scanning it to the teacher. The teacher will then collect all the pages and create a complete book for each student to use during "free time" throughout the year. At the end of the year, the students could share their journals. Other tools we thought of could be a cork board type app like padlet.