In early May, Leigh Pourciau, a Mississippi middle school teacher and Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, met up with Nirvan and Caine at Learnzillion's Teachfest. In the weeks since, Pourciau has been thoughtfully populating the blogosphere with a series of posts entitled 'What Teachers Can Learn from Caine's Arcade - about her recent experiments in the classroom.
Leigh Pourciau with Nirvan, Caine and Fun Pass at Learnzillion's Teachfest.
Part 1 was about giving kids space. Part 2 challenged teachers to think like entrepreneurs. Both are must-reads for parents, teachers - anyone who is passionate about children and learning. But the third installment -Take advice from your students - may be a personal favorite. After showing her students 'Caine's Arcade,' Pourciau asked them to think about what Caine could "teach teachers." Their answers are priceless.
Kenley (13) wrote, “Children just need something to love or to invest their time and energy into…we need space to try to learn for ourselves. Sometimes that’s the answer for problems.
Melaan (14) wrote, “I’ve kind of got imagination and no use for it…I would rather be able to solve things on my own and be creative about it than be taught in a dull classroom with barely any room to grow creatively.
Hailey (14), “I think teachers hold our hands from the beginning and have a hard time letting go, when actually they never had to hold on anyway...I mean, look at Caine! His brilliance is showing because he was given the proper tools and then provided with space to make something of them. If teachers could take this idea and fit it into our learning system at school, we’d be way better off than we are now.
Tyler (13), “Caine can show teachers to teach kids about what they enjoy, not what you want them to enjoy.
Clark (13), “I don’t know what we can do, but the structure of school needs to change.
Andrew (13), “I think Caine can help teachers understand that students want to not be seen as a student but an explorer or adventurer looking for a new, fun, creative way to do things...Realize with every great thought you must go on a journey to think of it and really dig deep to go and find those emotions that make you who you are and who you want to be. Don’t let people say no. People who say no make fun of other ideas, yet they don’t have one…Even the silliest ideas can change the world as we know it.
Alex (14), “When something fascinates you, you can be extremely smart.
Carter (13), “If teachers don’t figure out how to help kids like Caine, we won’t ever have flying cars.
Molly (14), “This kid shows teachers that a kid can be smart doing something they love.
Haley (14), “Not all intelligence comes from school subjects. Schools should be less strict on what they consider intellect. There should be more activities where there aren’t many guidelines, where the kids are able to let their imaginations run free.
Grace (14), “Caine found out his way of learning by stretching out, by reaching out into the corners of his brain, to the places where he knew what he was sure of, and pulling out utter creativity.
Brooke (13), “All kids are geniuses…they just need a shove in the right direction.
Dra (14), “Without our imaginations, would we have any fun at all? Look at Walt Disney. His imagination became our vacation.
Ben (13), “Learning is not reading textbooks. Learning is the experience of trying new things and enjoying the things you love most.
Keionta (14), “I think Caine can teach teachers to have more range of possibilities in their work. Not to hold kids back from what they think is good or destroying their intellect. See what a kid can come up with and their possibilities before crushing them and telling them that’s not good enough.
Color us completely inspired. Thank you Leigh and your students for the wise advice - can we join your class now?
A 5-day Design Process Project in Bogota, Colombia
Last month, 9th graders at Colegio Nueva Granada created cardboard arcade games for other classes in the school, as part of a 5-day design process project, proving that you don't have to be a designer at IDEO or Apple or a student at Stanford d.school to start thinking like one. Their teacher Shawntel Eggers Allen shares some notes and curriculum below.
Photo credit: Shawntel Eggers Allen.
“HI! This was a design process project. Students brainstormed and researched 1 day (=80 minutes), sketched and prototyped 1 day, tested and got feedback on prototypes 1 day, built final products and delivered 1 day, returned for feedback and then evaluated their process 1 day. Each group chose a "target group"...any grade from K-12 and made their game for that classroom (teachers offered to "host" the games in their rooms). In all, 57 games were made and delivered. All were played for at least 2 weeks in the classroom...some are still there because kids enjoyed them so much.
Hope this helps! The students had a blast...but also realized that it's harder than it looks!!”
“I think that this would be adaptable and do-able with grades 4-HS. I've taught all those grades and I would totally do it with any of them.
My students finished and then wanted to start the process again because they had ideas on how to improve their games or make new ones. The light really "clicked" on because of following all the steps in the design process. Plus they became really invested in people "liking" their game. They would even go hang out in the classroom that housed their game during breaks and lunches and play with the other kids and the game (mostly younger). It was a community building activity...and that was not an intended consequences. =)”
The goal of the summit? To imagine a version of 21st Century education that recognizes that learning really is "happening everywhere" and explores innovative ways to: "Develop learning experiences that better connect in- and out-of-school learning; better connect all students to their passions, peers, communities and career; redesign our nation’s high schools to prepare our students for a connected world."
10-year-old Caine joined NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, NBA All-Star Chris Paul, and other youth in the segment, "Youth: When Passion Leads to Learning." When asked by Mitchell what had had the biggest influence on him, Caine responded "My dad because he gave me space."
This week's summit has sparked more than one set of unlikely collaborators. Musician/producer Pharrell Williams and MacArthur Foundation's Connie Yowell came together to co-author a piece on the summit, articulating their hopes for the future of education and the belief that "Our future is brilliant."
"Each day, across this great nation, teachers, parents, mentors and community institutions are winning -- they are igniting students' passions, challenging their minds and illuminating their paths to success. The days of unequal access to high quality educators, schools in crisis and communities feeling powerless to support them are soon coming to an end.
Working together we can continue to support teachers, students, school administrators and other leaders who want our children to have the best possible opportunities for success. We are excited that within the currently brewing positive perfect storm, in whatever small way we can, we are forwarding a conversation to help our nation's youth learn in an increasingly connected world.
But maybe it's best articulated in President Obama's statement, "I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people... that encourage them to create and build and invent -- to be makers of things, not just consumers of things."
We're with Pharrell and Connie and Obama. Let's create, build, and invent our way to a future that's brilliant.
Musician Pitbull was given $10,000 by ACM Lifting Lives (the charitable arm of the Academy of Country Music) to donate to his favorite charity, and Pitbull chose the Imagination Foundation! Thank you Pitbull and ACM for helping us foster creativity in kids everywhere. We are super grateful and inspired by the support!
Pitbull performed as part of Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night, a star- (and charity-) studded concert featuring Tim McGraw, John Fogerty, Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift, Ne-Yo, Nelly, and more.
How did Pitbull end up at country music concert? What can you tell from a handshake? Find out below:
Mr. Auslander's 5th graders have figured out a way to make state test prep a little more exciting. The class lobbied their teacher to let them build their own cardboard arcade and decided to create games that were not just fun but also helped them to review everything they'd learned in math over the school year. How'd they do it? Read Mr. A's notes and watch their video below!
Photo credit: Steven Auslander.
"My name is Steve Auslander. I teach fifth grade in Indianapolis. After watching Caine's Arcade, the video, for homework, my students campaigned to create their own arcade. I was all for it!
I decided to tie it to our state test, ISTEP. Students in my class created ISTEP math review questions and found the answers. Then, after building, we invited a fellow fifth grade class to play our arcade. Instead of using tokens (or fun passes), students needed to solve ISTEP questions in order to play various arcade games."
"...I broke the kids into groups of two. Each group tackled a chapter from the math textbook. They were to select problems from the book and write them (or ones similar) onto index cards. Then, they showed their work on scratch paper, agreed on answers, and put answer keys on the backs of the index cards.
That afternoon, students designed their arcade games (but they were thinking about them for a while). Over the weekend they gathered materials (although cardboard had been slowly streaming in for 10 days) and after the weekend they built. I gave them all Tuesday and part of Wednesday to build. Wednesday during Math we passed question cards around to check that the answer keys were correct.
Finally, we opened for business and invited Mr. B's class to play. Tomorrow afternoon we are going to take turns playing and running our games at the end of the day."
Watch their VIDEO here:
(Author's note: I had the pleasure of Skype with Mr. Auslander's 5th graders last week - an amazingly bright group who were already plotting all the projects they were going to work on this summer -- including a cardboard hovercraft and an electric lemonade stand!)