Friday, January 15, 2016

They (we) Won!

The 8th grade Habonim video team did it!  They, along with a lot of help and support from peers and teachers, created a fantastic video explaining why Hillel Day School needs a new XCarver for our Innovation Hub.  One school in each state would be granted one of these new tools, and...... Hillel was the school that won in Michigan!  Take a few minutes (it will be worth it, I promise!) to watch the video the team assembled!

Sharks and Coding and Authors, oh my!

What.  A.  Week!  From Monday morning (when I woke up not feeling so hot) through Friday's last bell, the week has been non-stop action-packed learning (at least for me!)

A few highlights....

Innovating in the Hub.
Dressed for the part!
Delivering a pitch.

Sixth Grade Shark Tank.  Yep, you read that correctly.  Sixth graders and Shark Tank.  Like the TV show.  Except it was Hillel's own version and the people pitching inventions, innovations, and ideas were all around 11.  See, for the past, oh, eight weeks or so, Hillel's sixth graders were involved in a multi-faceted project where they designed a new product or innovated a current product kinda like Shark Tank.  Across the curriculum they sketched, prototyped, reworked, sketched some more, wrote news articles, tested products, redesigned - the whole shebang.  The result?  An impressive evening of pitches delivered and deals made that brought the whole community together!

Sharing a story!
A room full of authors!
First time we've published e-books!
The Author's of Fourth Grade.  One of my favorite things to do in school has always been to write.  Unfortunately, many children don't share my enthusiasm for the craft, and often times writing can be a real challenge.  Unless you're a Hillel fourth grader.  If that's the case, the writing these kids can do is pretty sweet.  Like, watermelon sweet.  Each fourth grader wrote what we call a seed story, or a small moment.  This is where they take one part of an event, for example, walking into your classroom on the first day of school instead of writing about the whole first day of school, and elaborate in such detail that the reader is practically in the moment with the author.  What made this project so special is the Book Release Party that was held this past week.  Parents and families were invited to come in and read the debut stories of these incredible authors.  And guess what?  Because the stories were all published as e-books, you can too!  All you have to do is click HERE!

5th graders with their
3rd grade coding with
Kdg and 1st working
Hour(s) of Code.  Hour of Code may have officially been held in December, but due to our schedule, we postponed it to this week.  Every student from the 4 year old's in ECC through 8th grade experienced (or will experience early next week) an hour of coding.  Visiting various websites including and, as well as a variety of apps on the iPads including The Foos, LightBot, BoxIsland, and HopScotch, students engaged in what is being referred to as the "new typing" in the sense that coding is a skill we're all going to need, just like our parents all *needed* typing skills.  Best part of coding, in my opinion, is that it helps children develop directional skills, step by step problem solving skills, and overall, perseverance.  Can't wait for the next Hour of Code!

There was also planning for Martin Luther King, Jr. day, 7th graders designed and pitched a ramp to a community member looking to install one in her house (and the architects from FNI came to the presentations!) celebrating a grant we were awarded, crafting and experimenting with a tsunami tank and volcanic eruptions...... it was another fantastically full week at Hillel Day School!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Picture Day!

First, a little math:

2 - the number of times my school picture was taken this year.
3 - the number of photographers present for picture day this year.
7 - the number of schools where I have had school pictures taken.
14 - the number of school IDs I have that show my school picture.
5 - how old I was when I had my first school picture taken in kindergarten.
37 - how old I was for this year's school picture.
32 - the number of years in a row I've had school pictures taken.

You could say I'm a perpetual student.  I mean, I've been in school continuously since kindergarten.   Public school for 12 years.  College for 6.5 years (don't ask.  That's a whole different post.) And now, 14 years on the other side of the desk in the classroom.  That's a LOT of pictures.

I actually was thinking about this the other day, as this year's school picture was taken this week.  I think it would be really kind of neat if I had copies of every year's school picture.  Lining up all 32 pictures and watching the progression?  Well.... maybe it's not such a great idea!

Pictures capture moments in time.  They provide triggers for memories long forgotten.  They provide smiles, laughter, sadness, and tears.  They make for special mementos of experiences long past.  I'm someone who has spent a lot of time behind the camera.  I got my first camera when I was quite young, maybe 7 or 8 years old.  It was the blue Fisher Price camera that used 110m film and a flash stick.  The pictures never turned out clear, they always had that foggy feature (the one people seem to love on Instagram!)  But seeing the world through a camera lens was always something that I loved.  It gives you a whole different perspective on things.

I spend a LOT of time at school taking pictures.  I always have.  As I figured out more and more strategies to create more community in my classroom, I even had student photographers taking pictures, too.  The kids used these pictures for different projects, from scrapbooks to portfolios.  Every once in a while, I'll find myself revisiting old pictures in moments of nostalgia.

Pictures taken at Hillel capture a whole different perspective of learning, that's for sure!