Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

02/Jul/2018
by Denise Krebs
0 comments

Genius Hour with Grades 3-5

We did something fun and educational for the last week of school. We took the last two periods of each day to have #geniushour, #arsgeniushour, to be exact.

We were trying to improve attendance, as our department seems to be the only scholars left standing that last week of school. Their younger siblings had finished school the week before. Their older siblings were taking cumulative assessments, and finished their day by around 11:00 a.m. We typically have a lot of our students absent last week! Genius hour, we hoped, would help improve attendance.

I knew my work was cut out for me when I volunteered to organize #arsgeniushour for the last week of school. Besides the attendance issue, there were several more issues: we have traditional teachers without experience of genius hour and a significant language barrier, plus, I didn’t start my planning early enough, and finally, it was going to be held the last week of Ramadan.

I had to work on the schedule for nearly 20 teachers. At first, it was vague. Teachers who were normally scheduled those periods became scheduled for genius hour. But where would they be? We didn’t yet know which spaces–classrooms, art room, kitchen, athletic hall, computer labs, etc.–were going to be needed by the children. Some teachers found it difficult to hear that the students were going to decide where to go, and we would go accordingly. Teachers were used to planning the where and what of class for them. We had a teacher planning meeting before the week started, but some details were lost in translation. Arabic and English are so different.

Several times that week before when we were planning, I kicked myself for not starting another  week earlier. We had to inspire students about what genius hour was, help them formulate a question and make a plan, and get them enthused so they would want to come back to school the last week.

Our genius hour fell during the last week of Ramadan. People were tired after a month of fasting,  and it gave families an added reason to keep their students home.

OK, with all those reasons it shouldn’t have worked, we also had hundreds of reasons why it was inevitable that it would work. My colleagues are amazing professionals who rose to this new kind of learning, despite their questions and doubts.

Students, of course, took off with this learning. Tell a student that they can learn whatever they want to, and they first might ask, “Really?” As soon as they believe you, they are all abuzz with learning,  planning, creating, producing, questioning, and reinventing. It was the students who made any reluctant teachers believe in genius hour, not anything I said.

We had students coming and going all week. The attendance wasn’t that great. Maybe next year we’ll have to come up with another attempt to improve school attendance.

However, the culmination of the week was the presentation session on the last day of school. The students who came all week to genius hour were there with bells on! You never would have known this was the last afternoon after a long year of school, the last day of Ramadan, too. This  #arsgeniushour group of 28 students, plus a lot of proud adults, was small, but mighty. They loved presenting the work they had done. I am so proud of them!

Here’s a minute of #arsgeniushour for you to enjoy.

Resources:

Google Slides Introduction to Genius Hour in English and Arabic

One-minute video of our first department-wide #ARSgeniushour

Chess Set Genius Hour

#ARSgeniushour on Instagram

 

 

31/Oct/2017
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on Serenity

Serenity

My one word for 2017

Serenity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

This is my third blog post this year about my one little word–serenity. I introduced my word in January, and shared an update here this summer.

Today I feel encouraged because I chose to be committed to a couple of small things this summer, and those commitments are adding to my well being, my sense of serenity.

I decided to choose two goals that would possibly help me have more peace about the things I cannot change–particularly the politics of the United States at this time in our history. My goals:

  1. Take a challenge to read 40 books during the school year.
  2. Write 750Words at the start of each new day.

They seem fairly unrelated to our political climate. However, in 2016 and half of 2017, I was spending way too much time watching and reading political news. Instead I decided to read and write.

Recently, on 750Words, I broke my previous record of 62 days in a row, set in 2011. Today, I was up to 74 straight days.

It’s interesting how some outside lead measures have helped me to find serenity the second half of this year. Instead of searching for serenity, though, I write in the mornings, often praying for others and counting my blessings–10,000 reasons to say thank you.

In addition, I’ve read 7 books since school started, almost on par for my 40-book challenge. The frozen sea within me is getting chipped away.

I don’t have as much time for the news nowadays. Perfect. Instead of trying to say no to the drama and toxicity of our politics, as I had for so many months. I have said yes to writing, reading, praising, and reflecting. As a result I have more serenity.

 

17/Oct/2017
by Denise Krebs
1 Comment

The Time of My Life

I nod my thanks to the driver of the black Yaris as I pull out of the side lane in front of him. “Go ahead. You can go in front of me,” he says silently. The busy mother with a young child at each hip hurries through the crowd to get to the bus stop on time. The girls’ starched uniform pinafores move like great church bells, their scurrying legs the clappers.

I’m sitting at the red light listening to the music my husband put onto the USB. Usually I don’t pay much attention to what’s playing, but this morning, this time, this song had such a sweet and melancholy effect on me. It is “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.

I thought of the story that brought us to Bahrain. We were in our late 50’s. No need to make such a radical change, right? But we did. It was so unpredictable. From the beginning it’s been right. Just right. A chance to meet and love people from scores of different countries. From backgrounds, languages, and cultures so radically different than mine. I’m learning so many lessons day by day. This sweet song spoke to me today.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

So take the photographs, and still-frames in your mind
Hang it on the shelf of good health and good time
Tattoo’s of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

Normally I walk to school, but today I drove because I needed the car after school. It’s just a 5-minute walk, so I always know if I will be on time when I walk out the door. However, when I drive I need to leave 20 minutes earlier to make it on time. Today, I missed the 20-minute mark. I was on the road at 6:48. Only 12 minutes to drive less than 1 kilometer. I share the road with many others–adults hurrying to work, delivery men loaded with parcels, parents and drivers darting with their young charges to get them to school on time.

As I sat in the long lineup of cars a few blocks from my school, my friend and colleague Victoria  walked by. She didn’t see me, and I didn’t even bother to roll down the window and holler at her to hop in for a ride the rest of the way to school. I actually considered how I might ditch my car and walk with her the rest of the way to school so I wouldn’t be so late.

The music played on. I listened to the Green Day song twice, and two other songs started and finished by the time I pulled into the lot behind school. I punched in about 5 minutes late. Not too bad actually.

I added to my photographs this morning–the still-frames in my mind that I take with me. So many beautiful images. The grandfather pushing the baby in the pram, as he lovingly gazed at the baby’s face more than the bumpy sidewalk he traveled on. The lanky fellow who tripped and stumbled a bit when he stepped off the curb. He caught my eye as I sat at the red light, and he passed an infectious belly laugh to me. Laughter and smiles. These are the sweet slices of life that I cherish.

It’s worth all the while. I’m having the time of my life.

02/Oct/2017
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

O, God, Save Us

I have a FitBit, and right now I am on a bit of a 10,000-step-a-day streak. I also like to keep moving for at least 30 minutes each day. Sometimes I keep going while my husband runs an errand. Today I kept walking while he went into the Viva store to take care of a mobile phone issue.

Last week, when I needed a few more minutes to hit my goal, my hubby stopped at the market to buy some cashews. I went in, but I kept moving, moving around the store. He told me I was like a cat underfoot, going here and there, needing herding.

Tonight we walked through the dark alleyways and narrow streets of Manama, where I am never afraid. It’s dusty and run-down and crowded with cars parked on the sidewalks and people going every which way. Cars squeeze through places you would never believe they’d fit. (I spent almost a whole lifetime thinking I needed more room to drive than I really do.)

I took a walk with my husband tonight, after we heard about the tragedy in Las Vegas. I am weeping that my own country seems so unsafe and broken nowadays. O, God, save us, I pray.

Evening walk in the souk. #bahrainwtc #10000steppartyonmywrist

A post shared by Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs) on

21/Sep/2017
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on The Reading Game

The Reading Game

I am currently reading The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris Chesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. It is a business book, but we are using it to improve teacher effectiveness at our school this year.

Last spring our innovative principal told me about the book and how it would inform our goal for the new school year. He recommended it, so I bought the book. It has been a slow read because it’s not what I’m usually interested in, but I’m plowing through and always asking how we can use the concepts in our school. Our WIG, or wildly important goal, is to raise our ELEOT scores in two categories from 2.8 to 3.2 by June 2018. Clearly a measurable goal from x to y by when goal. Meeting this goal will mean that children will be given a more equitable and high expectations learning environment than they had last year. If we succeed, students will be more engaged in learning, with more opportunities for differentiation and higher order thinking.
Continue Reading →

Skip to toolbar