Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random Acts of Inspiration/In the Beginning...

It's the last week of school, so I'm trying to be reasonable about what I ask kids to do in class and what I'm willing to grade.   Last Friday, we reminded ourselves of Where the Wild Things Are before sketching ourselves as Wild Things, cutting out our mini-portraits and gluing them in a group to form a massive Rumpus.   We also wrote vignettes about our earlier Wild Thing selves.

It's my opinion that opportunities for art and kindness should be integrated into the curriculum whenever possible.   I never feel like I do enough of the latter, so I wanted to think of something small and cheap that could turn into something big and priceless.   And, yes, it would involve paint chips.

To replicate this activity you will need one paint chip per child, a single hole punch, ball point pens, yarn, scissors and patience.   To add a little drama, you will need some super awesome Facebook friends, a camera, stamps and envelopes.

Here come the baby steps.   Have kids get out a spare piece of paper for a rough draft.   They should imagine opening a fortune cookie and reading an uplifting message that makes them have a positive outlook on their lives.   What would that one sentence say?   Come up with four rough ideas.   Star one.   Craft it into perfection.

Once they think they've got it going on, they should show it to you for approval.   You may need to help and redirect them at this point.   Mark their sentence with a highlighter when it's a final draft.

When they get the official okay from you, they should pick out a paint chip, punch a hole, tie a piece of yarn and write their message.

Option A:   Allow students to take their own messages and hang them somewhere out in the world for someone else to find.

Option Awesomer:   After school, create a Facebook event.   Invite your friends.   People who choose to "attend" can send you their snail mail address and receive a paint chip in the mail.   They must agree to hang the inspirational message, post a photo on the event page with a brief message of the where and why to their location choice.   The next day, have kids write the return address on the envelope as well as a thank you message on the back of the envelope.   Kids then select a pre-approved tag and attach a sticky note, "This chip was handpicked for you by (student's first name)'".   Unsealed envelopes should be placed in a box.   After looking inside the envelopes to make sure that all is well, have a "responsible" student seal the envelopes and another one put the stamps in the corner.   Send yet another child to the school's mailbox.   Include them in as many ways as you can; they should feel like they are in control of something good.

Students know what I'm planning to do with their work, and they know that any extra chips will be delivered on my road trip to the Delta.   (And, no, they are absolutely not my Facebook friends until they graduate high school, friend me first and I know at least one of their parents.)

Here's what my friends and my students have in common.   They're all willing to give a potentially good idea a chance.   I never confuse the two groups, but I sure do appreciate their shared sense of daring.

Keep your eyes peeled.   My buddies have all summer long to get the job done.   Wanna play along?   The next time you are in Lowes, grab a stack of paint chips and commence with some guerrilla inspiration.

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