Revising, Rollins, and the Lego Movie?

[I began this post at the end of the 2012-2013 school year and abandoned it until January 2014.  In the energy building up to edcampHOME I shlepped an ending together as a result of some friendly EDUencouragement from  Jo-Ann Fox and Linda Yollis.  Not knowing anything about these ladies I  said something like this to Jo-Ann in the Google+ edcampHOME community:

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 7.44.19 PM

Well, needless to say once I saw Jo-Ann’s post I knew I was way out of my league.  However, I made the challenge and I could not back down.  I posted something similar to the post below–but was never satisfied with it until now. This post loosely covers a time span of June 2013 to March 2014.]  

June 14, 2013

Last night I got stuck on my computer. Because I have a wonderful family getting stuck behind my digital heaven, during waking hours, is a rare treat for me. Anyway, with a brightly lit screen in front of my face and full access to the internet, my husband and kids asleep, I began my Utopian journey on Google. I know, I’m being followed, but who cares? I have nothing to hide. After checking the usual Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, oh, and sending a couple of Snapchats(on my outdated phone), I realized my goal was not to just waste time and creep on people…it was really to work.

Actually, last night was my first night of summer 2013 and all I had on my mind was revising my curriculum. I know, but what about summers off? Frolicking around in the ocean with my kids, not a care in the world, no work ever during the summers, pure non-work euphoria…well, it doesn’t exist for me.  There is no on/off switch even in the summer.  I am always consciously and subconsciously on the look-out for something I can “use” in class.


Of course, I tone it down and take long breaks in between work sessions but ultimately, there is always something that can be done in regards to curriculum creation, thinking, reflecting, and revision.  The truth is there is usually so much to do during the school year, with the students present,  that some of my best revisions come during my “time-off.”

So, that first night of summer 2013 as I searched and discovered, with the intent to revise curriculum, I felt like a kid at Christmas.  “Planning” anything for my classes brings me this weird mix of joy, anticipation, and nervous excitement–actually, maybe that is more like expecting the birth of a child, whatever, the point is this:  I can only guess what gifts the students will bring and only in real time do those gifts get revealed.   I need the students to put the finishing touches on the creation of learning.  It is my job to spark, ignite, or incite that fire.

What was I planning that had me so amped? Well, at the end of the 2013 school year a co-worker handed me this article, “Millennials: The Me, Me, Me GenerationWhy They’ll Save Us All” Love it or hate it, I thought it would be a good way to kick off the 2013-2014 school year.  The article was Eh? But the ideas behind it were leading, controversial, and telling.  I began looking for the perfect video clip to compliment, contradict, or agitate the ideas and opinions in the article.


After hemming and hawing about which direction I wanted to take the ideas in the article (as if I have any control over that once it gets in the hands of my students) I decided to find a motivating video clip that would inspire my millennials.  I mean, it was going to be the beginning of the 2014 school year and I wanted to start it off on a high note.   I needed something that would trigger my millennials to save the world.  (or at least graduate) Lofty goal, I know. So, I thought about who inspired me as a youth.  For some reason, probably because I was googling him, in my web induced bliss, I stumbled upon none other than THE Henry Rollins.  Ahhhh…youth, brains, muscles, big statements, music, poetry…sweat.

Side story: He actually did sweat on me once. Early nineties, City Gardens, Trenton, NJ me and Rollins. I was right in front of the stage and he was sweating…and spitting on me. I didn’t care at that age, I was young and rowdy, much like the students I teach today.

That is when I found the following video.  Henry Rollins addressing the Young People of today’s world and calling on them to find their own “true north” and to have “moral and civic backbone.” Watch the video.  Trust me, it is for all ages and the message has inspired me to encourage my students to go after what they really want, but at the same time become more altruistic.  This has become the common thread that has been woven through all of our units thus far, an underlying theme of everything, so to speak.

I know this post is not tech savvy and doesn’t offer many things to steal, however, throughout my teaching, regardless of the “new things” I incorporate or use, it always comes down to the same thing.  The human connection.  When I connect with my students as humans with dreams, hopes, fears, hurts, and ideas, it changes the dynamics and the learning that happens for us.  We encourage each other and take risks together.  I have failed more this year than any other year only because I have taken more risks to find my own true teaching/learning north.  Finding one’s true north and doing what is morally and civilly right is not always easy for teenagers…or some adults.  If I can model that in some small way for my students, especially if it involves using Rollins, then I consider my revision done…for now.  Because actually, I am already planning next year’s theme right now and it involves the LEGO movie!

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