Traveling is the best education

Traveling is the best education. This summer, I went with two friends to visit Munich Germany, Italy, and Madrid Spain. A few years before, I visited Mozambique and Israel. Some things I learned while abroad:

1. Each culture has its own idea of diet

Munich, Germany: While traveling, I noticed that Munich, Germany mainly served pretzels, sausage, and baked potatoes. Waiters did not get tipped and were not expected to provide quick service. Since we stayed in a hotel during our visit, we did have the option of a very typical American breakfast with some German specialties.

Italy: Italians tend to enjoy a very light breakfast such as nutella and bread, a croissant, and/or a cappuccino. Most Italians do not think it is healthy to go out with wet hair or to drink milk past noon. When I told some friends I met while traveling that I ate two eggs every morning, they could not believe it! Protein is not as highly valued as it is here in the states. Italians value very fresh ingredients with little preservatives.

Madrid, Spain: Spain is known for its tapas (open-faced sandwiches), churros and chocolate, and coffee with milk. Small plates are frequently ordered.

Israel: Hummus, cucumbers, and lots of veggies are a normal breakfast where we stayed in Jerusalem. I realized I did not take many pictures of the typical food in Israel, but took pictures of the foods I was surprised to find. Fun fact: Starbucks did not succeed in Israel. People there seem to value local sit-down places where they can chat with friends.

Mozambique: While I can not speak of their typical breakfast, lunches and dinners mostly contain of rice and beans, fish, and special types of stew.

2. Art connects a lot of European countries and explains historic events and beliefs 

***I am hesitant to post pictures of these famous paintings since they look so much nicer in person, but I think they are worth viewing even if it is through a camera lens.

 

 

Ideas Transform Education and Individuals

One of my reflections from my Arts in the City Class: 

Ideas transform human beings. We must question if our education system and society create spaces for new ideas to be fostered, and if Western culture truly values the creativity of another human being. Do we encourage people to incorporate using their imagination, reason, and conscious when problem solving? Do we give time for people to actually think issues out? Instead of engaging these 3 receptors of goodness, beauty and truth, decisions are made on a whim since Corporate American and government generally move too fast to consider careful reflection and analysis.

When we realize that ideas have consequences and shape the way one views themselves and their relation to the world, we start to care about the ideas that are being taught to our students. I feel our education system and society does not do the best job in creating communities that foster ideas since most people get stuck doing the same job or task over and over, and are not given the time to create and be. In the sake of “being practical”, ideas that don’t directly relate to the problem or situation before us are largely discarded. It seems we are too busy as a culture to simply sit, be, and create. Instead of focusing on quality ideas, we generally settle for quantity since Western cultures holds onto the idea that more is better.

When the speaker brought up the story of Helen Keller in the Recovering Goodness, Beauty, and Truth lecture, I was struck with how the gift of symbols opened up Keller’s world and awakened something within her soul. Although Keller could only experience the world through 2 senses, touch and smell; she was alive to the beauty of the world. We read her sensations and experiences throughout her books as Keller revels in the beauty found around her and appreciates the wonder of the world. What she has is truly a gift since she was able to see the beauty in the world, despite her inability to see or hear.

Since humans are constantly trying to understand the meaning of life, we have the potential to create a world as we imagine it. Many times, people do not put enough emphasize on their personal responsibility of contributing to society since they do not see the world as interconnected. When one starts to takes ownership of one’s life and future, internal freedom is experienced, although external freedom may be limited by the choices of others. Consequently, we may find ourselves disappointed when we see a gap between the ideal and the point at which we find ourselves. How we handle this dissatisfaction will determine how we live our lives and what we take away from our experiences. By being careful not to be lost in the general, we take care of our human nature by exerting our free will within the limits of our imagination. We have control to see the world as we wish, and live out our ideal beliefs through art, action, and discussions with others.

Thanksgiving Bulletin Board

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A great example of an interactive bulletin board that allows the students to write what they are thankful for. The background of this board is special paper that allows for chalk writing. I love how this teacher used the #hashtag movement as part of her board. To me, this is an excellent example of bringing current social movements into the classroom.

Incorporating Art into Curriculum

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A lot of times, teachers struggle incorporating art into curriculum. One way to engage students is by having students tour their city, town, and surrounding area for public displays of art. By having students take pictures of public displays of art, students can then describe the piece and explain how the art affects the community and space. After, the teacher can lead the students in creating a class scrapbook with the written descriptions on the side. Here is one picture our class found this afternoon.

What We Need: Innovation, Creativity, and Art

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In my arts in the city class, we had the opportunity to visit Arts for Humanity, an after school program for students to explore the arts. Focused on changing culture in under resourced areas, Arts for Humanity allows students to gain art training and experience, as well as money for pieces that sells. This was one of my favorite quotes from the building. What if we pushed these concepts in our schools? How could our thinking change about art, collaboration, and community?

Clay Models of Landforms

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Clay Models of Landforms (30 minutes) : Students are at seats

  1. Students will be at their desks and materials will be passed out/available in the back.
  2. Students will be given direction on how to set up their paper. (I will have a sheet upfront and model my directions as I go.)
  3. The students will fold their paper in sixth and write a landform definition in each section.  (Definitions will be made available up front.)
    • As students are folding, I will make a connection to math and ask the students “ What is sixths?”. I will model how to fold the paper upfront.
  4. Once the students complete the directions, I will then give them a stick of clay.
    • I will cut the stick in sixths so students will be able to make a model of all six landforms.

**If students finish early, students can color each section of the landforms. For example, color blue around the barrier island, green around the plain. This will help students reinforce and make connections of where these landforms are found. Students may need to wait for clay to dry before they color.

In additions, students should be allowed to work in pairs. I will be circulating the room and engaging students by asking them to explain the steep sides they created for mountains, or why they flattened their clay out for the valleys, or why their mountains were taller than their hills.

To view the full lesson, please see the blogpost: Landforms are Everywhere:4th Grade Lesson Plan Idea!

Landforms are Everywhere!

Essential Understanding: 

Landforms are all around us and are the natural features of Earth’s surface.

MA Framework Standard(s): 

 1. Earth and Space Science: Grade 3-5 (12): Give examples of how the surface of the earth changes due to slow processes such as erosion and weathering, and rapid processes such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.2. Physical Science: Grade 3-5 (1): Differentiate between properties of objects (e.g., size, shape, weight) and properties of materials (e.g., color, texture, hardness).

Student Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to identify the different types of landforms by responding with the physical hand motions that corresponds to the particular landform and picture. Students will be able to construct various clay models of the different landforms: mountains, hills, lakes, sand dunes, glaciers, and valleys that will visually represent the important features of each.

Interdisciplinary content area(s):  Math, Reading, Writing, Social Studies

Materials necessary for today’s lesson:

For Students For Teacher
Writing Notebooks, Clay, Poster Board (18 x 12) Pictures of landforms and definitions (6), Clay

Academic Vocabulary: 

-Landforms: Are all around us and are natural features of Earth’ surface-Valley: A low area surrounded by high land, such as hills or mountains

-Sand dunes: A hill of sand that is moved by wind

-Glacier: A large mass of ice that moves across land

-Hill: A raised area or mound of land

-Lake: A large body of water surrounded by land on all sides

-Mountains: An area of land that rises very high above the land around it. It is higher than a hill and sometimes has pointed tops

THE LEARNING ACTIVITY

Motivational and Review Procedures (the “hook”):

Today we have a very special activity that will allow us to take the information we learn today and transform it into our own version of clay models. We need to pay close attention since we will be building our own version of mountains, valleys, and lakes by using clay. I know we are very excited about this, but we must pay close attention since details matter! Before we work with clay, we first need to be sure we can differentiate the different type of landforms.Personal Story: Once Ms. Serao climbed a mountain (show picture). Has anyone else climbed a mountain? Have you ever swam in a lake? Do you know that mountains and lakes are landforms! Today, we are going to learn about landforms. (This is the first time ever teaching about landforms. The students may have some prior knowledge from third grade.)

Procedures to Accomplish Objectives:

 1. Direct Instruction: (20-25 minutes):  Today we are going to learn about landforms. Landforms are all around us and are Earth’s natural features of Earth’s surface. (Hold up landform definition) A landform is a natural feature of Earth’s surface. (look at word: land, form—shape)

  1. The first landform we are going to talk about are mountains. Mountains are steep, tall, and sometimes have pointy tops. Mountains are all over the United States and the world. One of the biggest mountains is called Mt. Everst.  Things that make a mountain special is the height and the pointy or non-pointy top. Did you know that you could climb a mountain? Ms. Serao climbed a mountain with her friends just last week!  To help us remember what a mountain is, I want you to copy (mirror) Ms. Serao. Repeat: a mountain is very high and sometimes has a pointed top. (Do hand gesture as speaking) Tell the students, whenever Ms. Serao says “mountain” I want you to respond by putting your hands over your head. Lets practice! Good!
  2. Second, lake: a large body of water surrounded by land on all sides. What is a lake like? Can you think of some lakes you are familiar with? I remember your do-now from last week asked you to find lakes using a map of the United States.  (extra info: the Great Lakes in the United States include the following: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie; lakes in Massachusetts: Lake Chaubunagungamaug). Show hand movement and have students repeat.
  3. Third hill: a raised area or mound of land.
  4. Fourth, valley: a low area surrounded by high land, such as hills or mountains. It is described as either being in a U shape or V shape. Valleys are all over the United States. There are usually next to mountains and hills. (extra info: five valleys in Massachusetts, one called Blackstone valley). Whenever Ms. Serao says valley, I want us to do this hand gesture (model). So repeat after me:  A valley is a low area surrounded by high land.
  5. Fifth, glacier: a large mass of ice that moves across land
  6. Sixth, sand dune: A hill of sand that is moved by wind

Depending on how students are responding and behaving, I will hand out pictures to some members of the class. To review, I will have students raise their picture card as other members in the class perform the action associated with the picture.

To review:

Students will be participating in total physical response (tpr) as each landform is being discussed on the rug in the back.

  1. Mountains: steep sides, tall, sometimes pointy tops are tall and pointed. “Class can you mirror Ms. Serao” Have students stand up and say mountains peaks are tall and pointed when putting their hands above their heads.
  2. Lake: a large body of water surrounded by land on all sides  (TPR: hands circled near body)
  3. Hill: a raised area or mound of land   (TPR: hands together in a dome shape)
  4. Sand Dune: a hill of sand that is moved by wind (TPR: wave of the hand)
  5. Valley: a low area surrounded by high land, such as hills and mountains (TPR: upside down V)
  6. Glacier: a large mass of ice that moves across land (TPR: hands put together as blocks that move)

I will then ask students to transition back to their seat. Once students are at their seats, I will start to explain the next activity. Materials will be ready to go on the table near the side.  Posters will be hung up on the whiteboard in the front of the class

2. Clay Models of Landforms (30 minutes): 

Students will be at their desks and materials will be passed out/available in the back. Students will be given direction on how to set up their paper. I will have a sheet upfront and model my directions as I go. The students will fold their paper in sixth and write a landform definition in each section.  Definitions will be made available up front. As students are folding, I will make a connection to math and ask the students “ What is sixths?” I will model how to fold the paper upfront.

Once the students complete the directions, I will then give them a stick of clay. I will cut the stick in sixths so students will be able to make a model of all six landforms. If students finish early, students can color each section of the landforms. For example, color blue around the barrier island, green around the plain. This will help students make the connection of where these landforms are found. Students may need to wait for clay to dry before they color.

Students will be allowed to work with their partner when creating the clay models.  I will be circulating the room and engaging students by asking them to explain the steep sides they created for mountains or why they flattened their clay out for the valleys or why their mountains were taller than their hills.

I expect students to at least write the six definitions in the proper place by the end of the lesson. Ideally, I want every student to complete at least 3 visual representations before the lesson ends. 

Clean up Materials: (3-4 minutes)

 Closing Procedures:

If time, I will have students repeat the hand gestures we learned at the beginning of class. Also, depending on class dynamic, I will showcase some students’ work.Questions for review:

  • What is a landform?
  • What are some properties (thing we can observe) about a mountain?
  • What are some properties we can observe about a hill/sand dune/lake/glacier?
  • How is a mountain different than a hill?
  • How is a lake different than a glacier? (See if students can make the connection to states of matter, which was a previous lesson taught)
  • How is a sand dune similar to a hill?
  • Have you ever climbed a hill?
  • Have you gone swimming in a lake?
  • Have you seen a mountain?

Summary Statement:  Wrap Up

Class, today we learned about landforms and talked about different types of landforms such as mountains, sand dunes, lakes, glaciers, and hills. We discussed the basic properties of each and are starting to understand that landforms are truly all around us. We were then able to apply the knowledge we learned to make clay models, which reinforced some of the observable differences among the examples we used. Next time, we will finish our clay models and discuss the four forces that cause landforms to change shape. I am proud of the way we were attentive during our activity and the way we behaved when dealing with clay. I am also impressed with how we cleaned up and treated our partners with respect! Great work!

Teaching Techniques:

Direct Instruction: The form of instruction that is displayed when orally explaining something. Teacher will explicitly state the definition of a landform as well as the six different types of landforms. Teacher will explicitly review the distinct properties of each.Indirect Instruction: The form of instruction that is displayed when the teacher becomes the supporter rather than the facilitator. This teaching technique is implemented when the students are working on their individual clay models and when the teacher is engaged in classroom discussion.

Experimental: Students will be using clay and will be able to answer questions with the class or a partner.

Interactive: Students will work with clay to visually represent the six different types of landforms. Students will also be asked to make real-world connections as well as interact with other classmates.

Learning Considerations:

Improving access to learning for all students(Hint: Consider UDL Principles) Associated Accommodations(s)/Modification(s)(Supports and Challenges)
Multiple Means of RepresentationVisual: Visual aids, such as pictures of landforms are used through out the lesson.

Auditory: Teacher will engage the class in classroom discussion

Kinesthetic: Teacher will use hand gestures/movements when teaching different types of landforms. For example, the teacher will raise her hands when talking about a mountain and then lower them when teaching about a valley.

Multiple Means of Expression

Visual: Students will express knowledge of landforms by building their own representation out of clay. Students will have poster labeled with the correct names and definitions.

Auditory: Students will be able to answer teacher discussions. Students will be able to talk with a partner. Students will participate in classroom discussion.

Kinesthetic: Students will work with clay to build their own visual representation of landforms.

Multiple Means of Engagement

  • Students will follow teacher in total physical response when learning about landforms
  • Students are working with clay and are able to create their own visual representation of landforms
  • Students will be able to work with a partner
  • Students will be able to execute choice in determining what landform to make first
  • Students will participate from different parts of the room
  • Students will not be sitting the entire time, instead students will be asked to move around
For students who need additional support:

  • Pictures and definitions will be made available on the board.
  • Students will be allowed to work with partners
  • Instructions will be modeled
  • Instructions will be repeated individually if necessary

For students who need to be challenged:

  • Students can add to the definition of each landform given by the teacher by noticing additional features of the landform and by making real-world connections (such as where this landform exists, mountains have a tip shaped point)

If extra time:

  • Students can do a quick write on their experience if they have visited any of the landforms we learned in class. I would encourage students to use the sensory words we have been reviewing in class. (What did you see, how did it smell, what did your hear etc).

EVALUATION

Assessment Plan:

I will assess student understanding….
Formative  During the lesson plan by:

  • What is a landform?
  • What are some properties (thing we can observe) about a mountain?
  • What are some properties we can observe about a hill/sand dune/lake/glacier?
  • How is a mountain different than a hill?
  • How is a lake different than a glacier? (See if students can make the connection to states of matter, which was a previous lesson taught)
  • How is a sand dune similar to a hill?
  • Have you ever climbed a mountain? How did you know it was a mountain?
  • Total Physical Response: Do students respond? Did students create their own hand motion? Does it accurately portray the features of the landform?
Summative  At the end of the learning opportunity by an exit ticket that asks any of the following questions:

  • What is a landform?
  • What are some properties (thing we can observe) about a mountain?
  • What are some properties we can observe about a hill/sand dune/lake/glacier?
  • How is a mountain different than a hill?
  • How is a lake different than a glacier? (See if students can make the connection to states of matter, which was a previous lesson taught
  • How is a sand dune similar to a hill?
  • What state of matter is ice? (previous lesson)
  • Where have you seen these landforms?
  • Do you know of any mountains, lakes, or hills in Massachusetts?

Means:

  • Clay models can also been used as a summative

Record Keeping Plan:

  • Keep a personal written record that will then be transferred into excel.

View a picture of the clay activity here: Clay Models of Landforms

From Art to Advocacy: The Accessible Icon Project

Here is the paper I submitted to the University of Pittsburgh’s The Disability Experience: State of the Arts in Research, Scholarship and the Arts. I will be presenting on the Accessible Icon Project at this conference on October 31st-Nov 1st.

Background:

Given the ability for image to influence perception, it is necessary to critically analyze how symbols shape the way one thinks about individuals in society. Through societal norms, people have grown accustomed to accept images without using the same analytical process to pick apart images in the way they do text. Therefore, one needs to be very intentional about examining what symbols are teaching society and what ideas are being reflected through symbols people see every day.

When applied to the typical blue and white handicapped symbol, one can see that this current symbol leads to thoughts of passivity and inability. The stagnant, robotic and lifeless structure of the current symbol reinforces the misconceptions that ability advocates are steering away from, yet no one has changed the symbol since 1968. One critical step for changing the stigma about people with disabilities is to alter public perceptions by changing the International Symbol of Access.

Methods:

The Accessible Icon Project is an international movement that has changed the handicapped sign into an image that is active and engaged. In 2009, Sara Hendren and Brian Glenney started a street art campaign in Boston to highlight the shortcomings of the current International Symbol of Access. After this was noticed by a writer in the Boston Globe, a new design was created in response to the feedback they received, and the team took on the new task of permanently changing the accessibility symbol. Since 2010, the project has grown from a grassroots campaign to a larger social design effort, now housed and run by Triangle. The icon has evolved from its first creation and now abides by ISO DOT 50 standards, a universally accepted icon set that determines the look of figures commonly seen on bathroom signage, and complies with ADA regulations.

Instead of having a symbol that looks lifeless and robotic, the Accessible Icon chooses to focus its design around movement. For example, the head is positioned forward to indicate the person as a decision maker of her/his mobility. The arm is pointing backward to suggest the dynamic mobility of a chair user, and the wheels are seen as being in motion to indicate the forward thinking of people with disabilities. The person in the wheelchair does not seem passive or robotic, but alive and determined. Compared to the stagnant figure constrained to the restraints of a wheelchair, the new symbol reinforces themes of life, energy, and determination.

People wishing to change their signs can easily do so with the help of the Accessible Icon team. Stencils and stickers are available online as well as connections to sign companies who produce metal signage with the new symbol. Direction toward buying proper paint and instructions for spray painting can be given by email or mail. Once an institution gains permission and agrees to switch the new sign, institutions generally plan an event around the painting. Members from the community join in discussion and painting, and lots of pictures are taken. At times, news services may opt to cover the story and ask community members questions about the project. The community should be prepared to answer why the Accessible Icon is important and why it makes a difference to people in the community.

Results:

Currently, the project is fortunate to have a number of partners who not only use the Icon in their buildings, but are also creating a stronger relationship with people with disabilities. For example, Partners like Clarks USA, Building Restoration Services, and BRS Cares are not only strong philanthropic supporters of Triangle but have chosen to increase their hiring of people with disabilities. Currently, multiple cities, businesses, hospitals, schools, and colleges in places such as Massachusetts, Washington, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, France, India, and the UK are engaged in a slow phasing in of the symbol. The symbol is being used when old signs need to be replaced or fixed and when institutions want to switch their parking signs for public support. The project is expanding across the United States and around the world.

Discussion:

The new symbol is part of a general attempt to bring about a public re-conception of what it means to have a disability. At the center of its design, the Accessible Icon was created to highlight movement. The artists intended the new symbol to raise awareness about cultural perceptions of disability and social inclusion in the US. Since people with disabilities are active and engaged in the community, the Accessible Icon Project believed it was necessary to represent people as such in pictorial form. Describing the new image with words such as: active, abled, engaged, ready-for-action, determined and motivated, the new symbol helps provoke discussion on how we view disabilities and people with disabilities in society. The symbol does not per se “represent” people with disabilities since not everyone is in a wheelchair, but instead represents that all people with disabilities can be active and engaged in the world.

Ultimately, the Accessible Icon Project wants the new symbol to spark conversation as well as illustrate the active and engaged role people with disabilities play in society. The new symbol should support disabilities advocates and help push for a more inclusive world. Changing the symbol is part of changing the universally accepted mindset about people with disabilities. Now people all over the world use the symbol to signal their wishes for more inclusive institutions, economies, and workplaces everywhere.

Art is a behavior, a process, a way of life.

Art is a fundamental part of being human. After reading Conversations Before the End of Time by Suzi Gablik, I realized most classrooms (and myself) were guilty of holding a modern western mindset about art—a mindset that viewed art as a luxury rather than a way of life.

When I first read that art was a biological need for humans, I wasn’t sure if I fully agreed. I started thinking of what I have been taught about art in school and what little time we spent in art class. I realized I had a limited understanding of art since I viewed art as something specific: such as painting, coloring, or drawing. I saw art as more of a masterpiece or something hung on the wall, rather than a behavior, mindset, and lifestyle. Although I believed art had the power to transform, change, and hold meaning to human beings; I underestimated the importance of art since I did not see it as fundamental to existence. However, I realized this was because I bought into the idea that art was a thing—rather than a life style. When we start to view art as a behavior, then we start to see art as universally important. Since art is about creating, reflecting, and doing, art is part of reflecting and living a well-lived life.

In your classrooms, do you equivalent art to being human? What ideas about art do you hold and share with your students?

With much love,

-Teachertalk4all