I'll be traveling next week, so I've been scrambling to update my classes for Spring 2018, and so far, so good! I don't make a lot of changes to the classes over winter break, but I've been doing some updating, including the very fun task of updating some of my randomizing widgets with new graphics from blog posts added since I last updated the widgets a year ago.
So, yesterday I worked on the H.E.A.R.T. graphics (about health/happiness, empathy, attention, reading, and time — I have a separate set of graphics for writing). There is a blog that supports those graphics — H.E.A.R.T. — so that each graphic has a blog post of its own. Some of the posts have just basic information about the source/creator of the graphic, while other posts have more elaborate commentary.
By creating the randomizing widget, it means I can use these graphics throughout my class spaces: in the sidebars of blogs, on the weekly assignment pages at the wiki, and also in Canvas. I've made Canvas-friendly versions of the widgets for anyone to use:
H.E.A.R.T. (all 100+ graphics)
Reading (subset of appx. 40 graphics)
Time (subset of appx. 20 graphics)
I really appreciate what these randomizers do for my class content: this way, whenever students come to one of the class spaces, whatever it might be, the odds are that they will see something new; it's never just the "same old, same old." Plus, you never know when somebody will really connect with one of these graphics, either because of the words or the image or both. There's a link that goes with every graphic so, best of all, a student might even click and visit the blog and keep on learning more. I'm increasingly convinced that the most important experience I can offer my students has to do with their habits and beliefs, more than explicit content and skills, and these kinds of graphics are a way for me to tap into that level of self-awareness and, hopefully, their motivation to explore and grow.
This is also part of my own growth as a teacher, too, of course! I collected graphics for years, and then a few years ago I decided to create the H.E.A.R.T. blog to house them, and then I created some challenges to weave these materials into my classes. Then, just last December, I built the Canvas Widget Warehouse with the randomizers to share, and now, this year, I am happily in maintenance mode, just adding new materials that I've bookmarked at Diigo. There are always new things to add when I have time... and finding time is one of the themes of the blog, appropriately enough.
And now, on to today's task: working on the writing support materials for my classes, and updating the Writing randomizer. I'll be back with news about that tomorrow if all goes well. :-)