Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21st: The Supercool Factor

What an interesting day it turned out to be. My morning began with an amazing conversation with my seventh graders about identity. I posed the question, "What is an identity?" It didn't take them too long to come up with "it tells who you are," "it explains how you're different from others," and "it's who you are to everyone else."

Colleen added, "It's something to be recognized or remembered by or something that's associated with you."

Dominic offered, "You can change your name, but your identity remains." He gave the example of Chad Ocho-Cinco, which made quite a few students, and the teacher, groan.

And that led to an amazing debate!! They had so many thoughts on this subject, and I kept throwing more questions at them to spur them on. Quite a few people disagreed with Dominic, saying "If you change your name, you DO change your identity," or "You can't change your identity, but you can add to it." But Devin is the one who gave us our new seventh grade mantra:

"Identity is like a pizza. You can change the toppings or add more to it, but you're still a pizza."


I love how these kids debate an issue! If they disagree with a classmate, they'll raise their hand and begin with, "I have to disagree with..." Then, of course, the person they're disagreeing with will usually raise their hand and say, "Rebuttal!" They are also very polite when they agree with a classmate. "Going along with what so-and-so said..." or "adding onto what that dude said..." It's pretty darn cool!

Two more quotes from our conversation about identity:

Nick: "Your identity changes when you change."

Matthew: "It's difficult to be someone you want to be, but it's easy to be yourself."

Can you imagine?! I get to have conversations like this every day!!

The supercoolness continued in eighth grade later in the morning. I re-introduced Diigo to the class, which was a lot of fun for me. I saw a few faces light up with that "Oh, I can so totally use this!" look. They've already started bookmarking sites for their research.

After we were done with the Diigo introduction, I set them to their next task. They will be working in pairs to summarize the events before, during, and after the French and Indian War. I'm trying to encourage more multiple intelligences work with my students, giving them more varied options for completing a project. Some students are making posters that basically list the events, a couple are making maps with key events on them, and there will be a few (hopefully non-painful) powerpoints. I was happy that they at least let me talk them into using Google presentations for this. Knowing they could work on it at the same time from different places was a big selling point.

But the coolest thing...absolutely beyond supercool...that happened was when Jacob and Nick came up to me, hesitantly I might add, and asked if I would consider letting them use Google Wave to summarize the events of the War. I practically started yelling, "OHMYGOSH!!!! YES!!!!" Seriously, I think they both took a step backward! I must have told them a dozen times in the span of about ten minutes, "I just CAN'T WAIT to see what you come up with!!!" How cool is this going to be!!!!

Ok, one other quick supercool moment from today. About ten minutes after Jacob and Nick asked me about Google Wave, I was getting ready to take my seventh graders up to the gym to pick up their lunches. I looked outside to discover that it was POURING! But through the rain I could see something large and white on big lawn (where kids play soccer or football or baseball). At first I thought it was a crane! But later in the day I did some research, and now I'm thinking it's probably an egret! Whatever it was, it was taking advantage of our swamp-like field for a few minutes, perhaps waiting for the rain to stop.

It was a wonderful moment to just stop and think what a marvel nature is, always ready with a gift to share with us...if we'll only open our eyes.


  1. Nice! When they have finished the debate on Google Wave they should create a little tutorial for those of us still trying to figure it out. I'm sure they have found all kinds of cool features that would take us an eternity to unearth.

  2. I got a preview of their Google Wave presentation today. It looks so very cool!! I wonder if there's some way to save it so we can share it out, without having to invite people to join the wave.

    I'm so impressed with what they've created!!!