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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Storytime: My favorite Think-Outside-the-Box lesson

So here's the scene.

I tell the kids to clear off their tables and get out, oh maybe a piece of paper and a perhaps a writing utensil of their choice. "I'm not sure what you'll want."

The vaguenesss causes them to tilt their heads at odd angles as they look at me.

I tell them I want them to read the statement on the board as I write it and then simply do it.
I write it s l o w l y ...
(At the beginning of class, one of their I can statements they write in their conversation calendar is the following: "I can TOTB during a class activity." I don't tell them before we start that thinking outside the box is the goal of the lesson...!)


And here's what the classroom looks and sounds like for the next two - three minutes. #awkward #boring #sleepinducing #soINsidetheboxwiththelidducttapedshut #complaincemode

I let this continue for 2-3 minutes and then I make the comment, "I notice you're all still sitting in your chairs writing your names." That's all it takes for the kids to look up and realize they can BUST outta the duct taped box!

See what happened in my classes. I missed the POPCORN moment--the moment they all exploded out of their seats--but I got my iPhone cued up and recording seconds after that. :)



We looked back at the phrase on the board at the end of class. It hadn't changed....so what had?

We looked at the room. It had changed.
We reflected on their energy and enthusiasm level. It had changed.
We reflected on their creativity. It had changed.

The kids loved this way of thinking and viewing the world. Endless possibilities. Individual expression and creation. Option for teamwork and collaboration. Compliance keeps kids inside the box. We must open the box lid and let kids know we want them to jump outside of it and explore the world....and we must jump with them as lead learners. :)

20 comments:

  1. Wow, I love your out-of-the-box thinking! You certainly taught me some ways to write that I never would have thought of on my own. Together we are smarter! Thanks for making me a more innovative thinker today!

    Sincerely,
    Mrs. Krebs

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    1. Thank you, Denise! Together we are smarter. So true...and technology helps us get 'together' so we can get smarter. Have a great Friday and weekend. :)

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  2. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing this.

    Kimberley
    First in Maine

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    1. You're welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment and connect!

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  3. I love this! What are some of the ways you build on this later in the year?

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    1. I refer back to it throughout the year. A little more backstory.

      The 'before' time period when they were writing their names in compliance mode--I told the kids it was like they were inside the box (our room was a giant box) with the lid closed and duct tape over the top...and they were fine with it. It was as if they never even looked up at the box lid. Robot.

      The minute the 'You're still in your seats writing your names" phrase floated through the room, they looked up at the box lid from inside of it and immediately knew they had to bust through the tape and FLY out of it.

      I'm glad you asked me this. I'm going to have the kids write similes/metaphors for their experience so they can VISUALIZE it in their heads and be more cognizant of their thinking. :)

      Have a great Friday and weekend!

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  4. Energy, creativity, enthusiasm! Love it! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I truly enjoyed writing/creating the videos and post. The kids are incredibly stoked about all this. They couldn't believe the number of hits (over a thousand in 24 hours). They also saw the people that retweeted or tweeted about it...they saw the number of followers those people tweeted to and it blew them away. Showed them activity on my Google Plus post as well. "WE helped other teachers and kids!" It's like a new world....of possibility, creativity, pioneering as kids with no walls to stop their learning.

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  5. This would be a great ice-breaker activity! Any content, any grade level. Fantastic!

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  6. Laura this is AWESOME! I just finished a back-to-school night with 4th and 5th grade parents that I was trying to convince how important this kind of thinking truly is. I can't wait to create a video and share with them what you have shared with me.
    THANK YOU!

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    1. Awesome, Kriscia! Thank you for commenting and connecting with me. Have a great weekend!

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  7. Great video showing the "awakening process". You could also use activities like "create a functional tool" from a bunch of disconnected supplies in an envelop. The conversation connections afterwards was what made this powerful.
    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for sharing and connecting! I love that idea. Have a great weekend!

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  8. Laura, thanks for sharing your out of the box thinking approach to teaching critical thinking skills. This is a great example of what is possible when you put the learner first. It also remind us you can create rich teachable moments with very little use technology.

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    1. Thank you, Anibal! Good point about technology!

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  9. This is absolutely amazing. It made my day! Thank you for sharing :-)

    Bob Sprankle

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  10. Laura , thanks for sharing. That's really amazing!!!!!!!!

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  11. wow i love it i will present it to my team work...
    i love creative ideas so much

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  12. I SOOOO needed this!! I am going to be taking my students on a new adventure in learning next school year and this is the PERFECT way to introduce them to the out of the box learning! Thank you again!!

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