Archive for October, 2015

My Story of Innovation and Discomfort

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015 by lschwartz No Comments

Driving home from the pumpkin patch a few Sundays ago, my daughter, Sarah,  announced that she was going to make a vending machine out of cardboard.  My inside voice was thinking, “That’s never going to work.”  My outside voice asked, “Can you tell me more about that, what materials will you need?”

After some discussion about materials, she decided that maybe a game would be more manageable.  At this point, I told her about the video Caine’s Arcade and the cardboard challenge that continues in schools every year.

Sarah spent the rest of that Sunday afternoon creating, not one, but three games out of cardboard and other materials around the house.  Mostly independently, but with a little help from her Dad for the finishing touches.

She created a ball drop game:


Using my kitchen tongs, she created her favourite, “The Claw” game.



Finally she used some plastic cups to create a game where you had to shoot a ping pong ball into a cup and there were point cards in each cups.


Inspired by Caine’s arcade, she created her own play passes and play pass slots and we had to hunt down tickets at our local dollar store.

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You might be wondering why this is on my work blog and not a personal blog.  Yes it is a proud moment for me, but I also made so many work connections to the events of that Sunday afternoon.

1.  One of reasons Sarah felt that this kind of project was possible was because of the possibilities she is being exposed to at school. The importance for students to be given the time and spaceto see what is possible.

2. This is the kind of project that fits in so well with B.C.’s new curriculum documents that many educators are using and playing with this year.  It was cross curricular in nature.  There was literacy, math and those important competencies (communication, thinking and personal/social). I witnessed Sarah being creative in her creation of the games, but also being critical when having to solve problems when certain aspects of her games were not working.

3.  It is not lost on me, that I was very uncomfortable at several times during this whole process.  Discomfort because I wasn’t sure where this was going.  Discomfort because I didn’t know if I knew how to help her. It is the fear of being vulnerable in the face of change.  Even discomfort in writing this for fear people might see me as less than capable.  Working with teachers and the new curriculum on a daily basis, I may not be alone with some of these fears.

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My Story: Nurturing my Love of Reading

Posted on: October 14th, 2015 by lschwartz 3 Comments

For the past few summers, I have started my holiday with a stack of books and a determination to read them all.  Like a New Year’s resolution, I relish in the feeling that I am going to accomplish something.  Two summers ago, I tweeted out my book stack with hopes of it keeping me accountable. But each summer unfolded the same.  I looked at that stack of books and gave myself reasons and deadlines to put off reading them.  In the blink of an eye, it would be the middle of August and I haden’t finished a single professional resource.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.24.01 PMI realized I had lost my love of reading.  Growing up I was a ferocious reader. I read anything I could get my hands on.  I often stayed up late into the night turning pages to a story that I couldn’t put down.  But in the last few years, I had lost that love of reading. Reading started to feel like a job, not a joy.

In June, I came across a blog post by Donalyn Miller about her Book a Day challenge on twitter.  Essentially read a book a day throughout the summer and tweet about it with the hashtag #bookaday.  This was my opportunity to celebrate reading, connect with a community who loved reading and reclaim the joy I had lost.

It was a beautiful summer of reading.  I read YA books and picture books, graphic novels and beginning chapter books and even one professional resource.  There were many nights that I stayed up long after the house was quiet engrossed in a good book.

I spent the summer nurturing reading in myself and in doing so I realized the importance of nurturing reading in our students. While we can not discount  the importance of our students having time in their day to read books at a level that they can read independently to build fluency.  We also must nurture a love and excitement of reading in our classrooms.

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