Video of the Week: "Beauty & the Beast as Told by Emoji"

In my YouTubing this morning I've found myself a new mentor "text" playlist: "as Told by Emoji." I'm loving all of the creative ways that Disney is playing off of the devices in our hands, like in this example of Beauty and the Beast.

I already have so many ideas about how this is going to fit into my short story unit plan in the fall. (I think I might even just try it out this week.) Here are a few of the things I'm thinking about: 

  • What sound effects are present in this film?
  • How do the creators effectively create characters? 
  • What part of the video did you feel was the most creative telling of the story? 
  • Can you create a story just with emojis? 

Give 'Em a Microphone!

"Middle school students are the most underestimated people in the world. I love that technology can amplify their voices." If you've heard me speak, you've probably heard me say this, but I believe it more every day. This week, my students gave TED-style speeches, and I was once again reminded how we need to give our students microphones and get out of the way. 

Our journey started by reading I Am Malala, and learning how the world isn't just our little San Jose bubble. We discussed religion and education and women's rights and terrorism and so many more big, heavy things. But in the midst of it all, we saw a girl who stood up for what she believed in, empowered by those around her. And when she was given a microphone, she just kept going. One day, in the midst of Malala and her friends' frustration with the Taliban, Malala's teacher and father helped them compose speeches and essays about their feelings on the issue. Soon, she was given a microphone. She writes, 

"And I knew in that instant that it wasn't me, Malala, speaking; my voice was the voice of so many others who wanted to speak but couldn't. Microphones made me feel as if I were speaking to the whole world" (71).

I want that for my students. I want them to be a voice for the voiceless. To stand up and speak to the world confidently about what they believe to be true. So we started on a journey. 

We began by watching Nancy Duarte's video on the secret behind great talks. She argues that all of the world's great speeches alternate back and forth between a "what is" and a "what could be." How perfect for standing up for the voiceless. 

My students chose topics that they were passionate about. We created sexy slides (thanks, Unsplash!), and we practiced. We said our speeches pacing back and forth on stage. We practiced with our shoes tied together. We shared with each other. We said it to the air. 

But then we took it to the stage. Under the lights, with a microphone, using a clicker. And their voices brought power. 

"Be strong in your opinion, but do it with wisdom, not foolishness, and do it with respect to those who have lost their lives fighting for the opportunity for you to speak out."

"Disregard everything, and run after what you love."

"How can you stop stereotypes and judging others?"

"I've never have had to worry about working or staying at home to cook or clean. All I've ever had to do is show up and learn."

"Instead of indulging in our own negative emotions and then affecting the people around us, we should learn how to release our emotions in another way."

"There are more than 63 million orphans around the world."

"Shoot for the stars, and never give up, living your worth, your voice, and your dreams."

I could go on and on and on. These students blew my mind with their poise and passion as they took the stage, the opportunity and the microphone empowering them to make a difference. 

Our students just need a chance to be heard. To share their passions. To ask their questions. To make a difference. Let's give them a microphone! 

Video of the Week: "How to Speak so that People Want to Listen"

"In case you hadn't realized, it's suddenly become uncool to know what you're talking about?" Both teens and adults alike struggle to stand in front of an audience and speak confidently about a topic. In addition, we often don't use our voices' positive powers, choosing instead to be negative. Take a listen: 

  • Which of these traps do you fall into most often: gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, lying, dogmatism? 
  • Why do you do that thing? Do you have any desire to stop it? 
  • Who do you know that consistently speaks with honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love? How do they make you feel? 
  • How can you use your voice to make a difference? 

Video of the Week: "Brené Brown on Empathy"

Whenever tragedy strikes, it's hard to know what to say. How to comfort. How to love. I find that I'm always trying to make it better. In this video, Brené Brown does a great job of explaining empathy and how we might enter in it. 

Here are a few things I'm thinking after watching this video: 

  • How can I take on the perspective of those around me, especially my students? 
  • How can we work to stop judging people and the way they feel? 
  • What are some of the "at leasts" you use? 
  • "Rarely, can a response make something better. What makes' something better is connection."

Video of the Week: "Heineken | Worlds Apart"

This video was all over the internet this past week. One of the things I'm most fascinated by is that a company is making a four and a half minute commercial that doesn't even introduce their product until almost three minutes in. This is clearly a shift for me in moving advertising online (and a confidence in hooking your viewer). 

Here are some of the questions I'm thinking about: 

  • How do we remain authentic and open-minded at the same time? 
  • How are beliefs formed?
  • What five adjectives would you use to describe you?
  • What's the effect of naming commonalities? 
  • Would you sit down an have a conversation?