Monday Musing: Happy Holidays

Dec 19, 2016 by

Happy Holidays!

It’s hard to believe how quickly 2016 has flown by! This year has been very rewarding. As I look back on the number of amazing teachers that I have been privileged to work with in eleven different countries, one thing that has been confirmed over and over throughout my travels is how many amazing individuals have dedicated their lives to teaching and supporting young people without regard to race, gender, religion, poverty, or need. I thank you and so do your students and their families.

We wish you the very best in 2017.

Please enjoy the top posts of 2016 this week. Last Backpack will be taking a short holiday break and will resume regular posts on January 9, 2017.

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Monday Musing: Finish with a Bang!

Dec 12, 2016 by

We are rapidly approaching the end of 2016!  I hope that as you look back on the last 345 days, you can smile a little, a lot, laugh out loud and celebrate the many joys of teaching.  I have one more challenge for you before the year ends.  

Try One New Thing!

I know that there are tools, ideas, and strategies that you have heard about this year and you have made a mental note to do that “one day.”  The day is here!  In the next couple of weeks, take a chance and try a new technology like Socrative using your students’ mobile devices. . .host a Tweetchat in your classroom. . . or start student blogs. This is the perfect time of year to try something new because if it doesn’t work out quite right, you can revise and try again in 2017!

I would love to hear how you finished your year with a Bang!

Share your story with us!

 

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Creativity and the Brain-Reflection # 3

Dec 5, 2016 by

I spent time recently in South Africa attending a colloquium entitled, “Why the Brain Matters”.  There were twelve of us invited to discuss the brain, neuroscience, and learning specifically regarding creativity.  The participants include neuroscientists, artists, authors, and… well, me.  I am an educator concerned with how the brain works, how it impacts education, and how we can better teach children using principles of the brain.  As a special educator, specifically, I am always interested in how we can meet the needs of learners who learn differently.   During the two weeks in Johannesburg, we met every morning to hear one person’s presentation and then we discussed the content critically and the creative process- how it can be fostered, what the science says so far, and how we can better understand differences in individuals.  We had colleagues from Uganda, Barbados, Holland, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, and others so it was a very diverse group.  I will be sharing some of my musings from these fascinating talks the next three weeks.  This is my third reflection. See Reflection # 1 and Reflection # 2 here.

The third takeaway is that perhaps creativity is not that unique at all.  The majority of people do not allow for the time and “emptiness” our mind needs to create.  Since research shows that people cannot define creativity but agree when they see it, it becomes clear that creativity cannot be studied or analyzed in a traditional scientific method.  Creativity may be too simple to define- perhaps creativity is only the manifestation of thoughts, actions, and products that are not traditional.  Creativity may present itself in painting, novels, or music.  It may also present itself in a new way of teaching, a new computer program, or the applying scientific principles to solve a new problem.  The critical component is to allow individuals the freedom and the time to activate the mid-line structures while also teaching and celebrating the discipline and the persistence it takes to develop the product of those initial creative thoughts.  This is a valuable lesson for teachers and parents to consider as we raise children in hopes that they will continue to be creative.

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Creativity and the Brain-Reflection #2

Nov 28, 2016 by

I spent time recently in South Africa attending a colloquium entitled, “Why the Brain Matters”.  There were twelve of us invited to discuss the brain, neuroscience, and learning specifically regarding creativity.  The participants include neuroscientists, artists, authors, and… well, me.  I am an educator concerned with how the brain works, how it impacts education, and how we can better teach children using principles of the brain.  As a special educator, specifically, I am always interested in how we can meet the needs of learners who learn differently.   During the two weeks in Johannesburg, we met every morning to hear one person’s presentation and then we discussed the content critically and the creative process- how it can be fostered, what the science says so far, and how we can better understand differences in individuals.  We had colleagues from Uganda, Barbados, Holland, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, and others so it was a very diverse group.  I will be sharing some of my musings from these fascinating talks the next three weeks.  This is my second reflection. See Reflection #1 here.

The second take away is the idea that creativity is innate- everyone has it- but it manifests itself in those that allow their mid-line structures to explore it.  However, schooling, and often, parenting is built around the idea that children should stay within the lines and stay rational, usual, ordinary.  Being creative often starts as irrational or unusual but can become extraordinary if that creativity is allowed and then built upon and nourished.  There is a discipline, persistence, and resilience needed for extraordinary creativity to happen but. . . it can happen if we allow it.  Unfortunately, as children grow into young adults and adults, the irrational and unusual is discouraged or maybe even, not allowed.  This diminishes and, in some cases, extinguishes creativity in people.

As we often discuss in professional development sessions that I have with teachers, “Genius does not fit on a rubric.”  Well, creativity does not fit within most rubrics either… it is important that we try to value creativity as much as we value staying within the lines.

How can you allow your students to be creative?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2016 by

Here at Last Backpack we are extremely thankful for all of you who give your time, your skills, your expertise, and your heart to your students and colleagues!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Creativity and the Brain-Reflection #1

Nov 14, 2016 by

I spent time recently in South Africa attending a colloquium entitled, “Why the Brain Matters”.  There were twelve of us invited to discuss the brain, neuroscience, and learning specifically regarding creativity.  The participants included neuroscientists, artists, authors, and… well, me.  I am an educator concerned with how the brain works, how it impacts education, and how we can better teach children using principles of the brain.  As a special educator, specifically, I am always interested in how we can meet the needs of learners who learn differently.  During the two weeks in Johannesburg, we met every morning to hear one person’s presentation and then we discussed the content critically and along with the creative process– how it can be fostered, what the science says so far, and how we can better understand differences in individuals.  We had colleagues from Uganda, Barbados, Holland, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, and others so it was a very diverse group.  I will be sharing some of my musings from these fascinating talks over the next three weeks.  This is my first reflection.

The first take away is the idea that what we know about creativity starts in the mid-line structures where “daydreaming” and unconscious thought take place as well as in the frontal regions of the brain where the actual “work” is done.  The mid-line allows creative ideas to surface.  The frontal regions provide the discipline and mechanics to allow those creative thoughts to be realized in visual art, music, fictional writing, etc. as well as in creative solutions to problems found in the hard sciences.  Understanding that the brain’s mid-line structures and frontal regions are equally important to the mind (and the process of thinking, managing, processing) is important and is beneficial.  We need to make sure we are providing class time for our students to engage their mid-line… allowing them to daydream, to become “unconscious” about problems so that they can come up with solutions.

What can you do to allow your students time to just sit and ponder?

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