Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy New Year

I always feel that, for those of us tied to the academic school year, September is really the start of the new year not January. Being on a university campus everything ramps up, you can almost see the air vibrate with energy as students arrive and settle in.

So Happy New Year, everyone.  I wish you the best for the upcoming season.

My season started last week with a day spent with teachers at a local school taking us through a thinking process called Design Thinking.  It’s likely you will begin to hear more and more about this type of learning. I’m not going into details here but encourage you to check out my colleague’s blog, Doucette Ed Tech, that will outline more of the specifics plus a great, short 2 minute video that will enlighten you.  Suffice to say that the PD session was very worthwhile setting my brain to thinking about how I could use it in my own teaching.

So, being the eve of a new year and new thinking processes to work through my opening book recommendation for the 2015/16 academic school year is….[drum roll, please]….

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.

It’s a terrific picture book that captures the creative process of a girl and her assistant (pet dog) as they devise ‘the most magnificent thing’.  But this isn’t as ‘easy peasy’ as she first thinks.  There’s a lot of failed attempts along the way – or so it seems.  Growing increasingly frustrated and finally exploding after pinching her finger -- she quits!  Her assistant takes her for a walk where she is able to calm down. Reviewing all her rejects she discovers that each of them have a little something right about them.  They’re not all bad. One more attempt brings a more successful end result.  Happy days.

I love the illustrations.   The contrast between the little girl’s bright red tunic and the predominately white backgrounds with occasional pastel coloured objects holds our attention as we eagerly await the unveiling of the masterpiece. There’s not a lot of clutter to distract from the action and the antics of the assistant and a neighbour dog are fun, too.

This book has great classroom potential too for any building unit at the elementary level.  The trial and error process is the predominate storyline. There really aren’t any failures here as even her rejects are scooped up by neighbours who can see how the cast-offs will solve a problem for them. We’re able to understand that the thinking never stops; starting over doesn’t mean failure but a step towards deeper understanding; success can be redefined as the process unfolds; stepping away from a problem to reevaluate is a good strategy; perseverance pays off; cute dogs make the best assistants.

Endless possibilities for this book. Just like for this shiny, new school year.


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