Tag Archives: campus Calgary

The weight of decisions

Well,

All of the coordinators have been so busy at all the Campus Calgary Open Minds sites these past few weeks pouring over your applications, letters, and all the interesting material you sent us.

This is always the most difficult part of our year, because we never want to say no to any of you, or your wonderful students. We send many emails, meet in classrooms and coffee shops, send notes, and develop elaborate systems to help us fairly evaluate.

But it’s so hard.

We wish we could have all the classes who apply come to their site of choice; but we know, whether you come or not, Calgary students are lucky to have so many wonderful and creative teachers who will make their 2017-2018 year amazing.

May 1st is decision day. If by chance your proposal isn’t accepted this year, keep applying, keep developing inquiry in your programs, and keep being the wonderful teachers we know you are!

Journaling Technique: Found Poetry

Hope everyone is off to a great New Year!

Every week we get tons of comments on our blog posts! Unfortunately, pretty much all of them are from spam bots.

I’ve been meaning to clean out the comments, (New Year, new me right? Cleaning and all that stuff), because they back up in system; we approve them before they’re posted so you folks don’t get bothered by them & only the real comments get shared.

But as I was going through, I started to notice a pattern, and I thought I would use the opportunity to share an example of one of the journaling techniques that I like: Found Poetry.

The Calgary Campus Open Minds journaling book (which I’ve written about before), describes found poetry as a collection of words or phrases that can be picked from other types of communication. They suggest that it’s an ideal way for adults to participate in activities, and that recalling found poetry helps students remember their experiences and explorations. When I go to a classroom to do an outreach session I often suggest that parents or adults in the room use a journal to take notes or write some found poetry.

A found poem can take any structure, the only guideline is that the text comes from your source (say, for example, the students, an advertisement, a museum info panel etc.), and the arrangement of that text comes from you (the writer)

To demonstrate, I’ve made some found poetry from our spam collection.

For some reason, the Bots seem to occasionally pick up page titles and incorporate them into their comments. For reasons unclear to me, they seem to be particularly attracted to one of our incredible Blackfoot Educators Adrian Wolfleg (also previously featured on this blog). I think Adrian is fantastic, and apparently so do some bots, so here is a poem:

 

I decided to leave a message here on your Adrian Wolfleg

They too want to know what all the hype is

and why all those people are following you

 

I discovered your Adrian Wolfleg

Is this really what you want?

Your hard work could earn you more

 

I have been browsing your Adrian Wolfleg

Fascinating stories

Improve your readership now

 

I really like your Adrian Wolfleg

It’s so easy

Please tell me what you think of mine

 

I’d appreciate some help for the title, any bots (or people, I guess… ) out there wanna take a stab at it?

 

Perspective & Productivity

Last week the Open Minds school teachers and coordinators met for a little professional development and a lot of new ideas. The theme for the evening was to look at our environments a bit more closely, and watch out for the things that we often miss. This was a great tie in to some of the more general themes of CCOM

The facilitators, those lovely folks who have the privilege of running one of this city’s most creative and engaging educational experiences, sent us all outside. It was an absolutely beautiful night, crisp and cool and a bit nostalgic with the long shadows in the fading light.

Our first mission was to explore on our walk through a particular lens. As we sat around tables in small groups, we discussed and debated and picked a role. One group chose poets, another chose by-law officers, another mathematicians. The idea was to look at our environment from the perspective of a particular role, and see what we might normally miss.

Our second task was to use a particular journaling technique to capture the insights of our new viewpoint. When teachers join the Open Minds School Program they’ve given a fantastic book called “Journey into Journaling” (here’s a description of the book based on the Calgary model, but described by the good folks over at Museum School London). The book describes all types of different tools to capture experiences through journaling. Some of the favorite techniques of teachers at our table were:

The 60 second sketch

(students put as much detail into their picture as they can, but only for 60 seconds, so a lot of the inhibitions of drawing are lost in the rush of time)

 Character creation

(students make up a character that may have used the object or interacted with the environment)

 Sense journaling

(students record senses connected with the object or environment)

My group chose to take our walk through the lens of a psychologist, using the journaling technique of just looking for colors. As soon as we went outside we realized that perhaps we set our own standards a bit high, and after a short discussion we changed our profession to architects (if only it were that easy!) But it was a great lesson; surely we could have done the exercise as psychologists, it wouldn’t have been impossible, it just felt too hard. How lucky that we, as adults, can just change the assignment to suit our needs. I wonder how assignments would change if I gave children the same power.

My big “ah-hah” moment of the night came as I was journaling. Just seeing the Calgary skyline through colors brought me to some interesting thoughts (nationalism, ecological design or the appearance of it, personal glorification, materials, etc.) and I found it interesting to apply a very specific lens to the view. Interesting and perhaps a little embarrassing, as I was drawing the Bow building in my black pen I wrote “Bow building…. Blue”

AH-HAH!!!

Oh boy. How many times have I looked at that building and not made that connection? But we’re not really trained to look deeper are we? (okay okay….I know I’m not really setting the bar very high here).

On our second walk about we were invited to look through whatever lens we wished, we weren’t bound by our group, nor by the facilitators. I get the sense that the second round was a lot more productive for folks, just because after you’ve been restricted, it’s so much more exciting to be free.

On the other hand, freedom does sometimes lead to chaos, and I know some of us likely just stood around and chatted for our last walk…

I think I’ll leave this post right there & head back to the students… thinking about how I can use their time here to be the counterpoint freedom to their lives at school, and how I can make sure that with freedom, they stay productive and make the most of their time together. Maybe I need to re-think what productivity really is…

A wonderful night, lots of learning, and a great opportunity to connect.