Sunday, October 22, 2017

Remixing Relevance


Last week our #tlap chat focused on remixing lessons. How do we take bits and pieces of lessons and change them to become relevant for our students now? As a technology integrator, I'm always looking for ways to make a good lesson great and I'll be the first to tell you that it's not about the tool itself, but how you use the tool that makes the most impact on learning.

I'm often inspired by the amazing educators I connect with on Twitter. The sharing of ideas and resources is endless! I especially love how one comment on someone's post can lead to a side conversation that takes shape and form into something new for your instruction.

I was chatting with Barbara Gruener when she asked a question that would transform my kindness lesson for the week:

"Have you seen our Jet Stream Jax video yet?"

It was a simple question from one educator to another, but became the spark of remix inspiration from Texas to Virginia.

Jet Stream Jax is making a difference in the world and my students needed to see him in action.

I couldn't wait for the students to arrive. Since our Innovation Lab has flexible seating, I removed the tables and chairs to provide room for students to scatter on the floor. We opened our lesson by reading Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts then discussed different aspects of the book, from not being able to purchase items we wanted to the kindness shared through generosity. This sparked a deeper conversation as we explored the meaning of compassion and empathy.


Students opened their Kindness Journals and shared acts of kindness they had seen and done since our last lesson together. We also gave shout-outs as sparks of gratitude for "Thankful Thursday."

Kindness Journals from Mrs. Madison's class
Kindness Journals from Mrs. Cross' class



Mrs. Cross' Thankful Thursday List

Mrs. Madison's Thankful Thursday List

Then we remixed relevance by introducing Jet Stream Jax.

"Last class we watched a video from Kid President encouraging us to make a difference in the world. Today I want to introduce you to an eight-year-old student named Jackson, who lives in Texas. He likes to be called 'Jet Stream Jax' because of his passion for reporting about weather. He and his friends were right in the path of Hurricane Harvey back in August."

Before I could say another word, the room was buzzing with questions.

"Did he lose his house?"

"Does he still have a school?"

"How can we help him?"

Students were making connections by sharing stories of other people they knew that were impacted by the hurricanes this fall. It was a teachable moment that students led by discussion, pondering the impacts of severe weather and the domino effect of damaging winds, power loss, and flooding.

My heart overflowed with their instant concern and desire to make things better for others. Little did they know, Jet Stream Jax wasn't trying to help himself, but his local and global community impacted by the hurricane destruction.


Our students watched the video, completely engaged, as they saw a real person - younger than them - using technology to make a difference in this world. Their questions became exclamatory statements as they reflected on all Jackson had shared:

"Hey! He's a real kid like us!"

"I bet recess is really boring for them now. I wish we could build them a playground!"

"I love weather, too! Maybe I'll make a video like he did!"

"That's really cool that he's had so many views on YouTube. I hope they get a LOT of coins!"



We learned about the the Kind Coins for Hurricane Relief campaign, sponsored by The Great Kindness Challenge and made our own collection jar to spread kindness to others, helping to rebuild playgrounds in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.


In Social LEADia, author Jennifer Casa-Todd asks a vital question about technology use in and out of the classroom:
"How are we showing students that they can use technology & social media to make a positive difference in someone's life TODAY?"
We empower them to find creative ways to show kindness to others, then encourage them to share their story with the world.

Because of Jackson's video, our students now want to make their own videos. They want to gather support for a kindness cause. They want their voice heard around the world. They want others to see that their ideas matter.

They want to be a leader like Jet Stream Jax.

Two weeks ago, we had a very different lesson about compassion and empathy sketched out for our students. Sometimes, however, we need to remix for relevance. I'm so thankful Barbara was willing to share her student's video with us, so we could see first-hand how one student is doing his part to make this world a better place.

I can't wait to see how our students show kindness to others this year!




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