Cultural Fabric: Follow-Up

About a month ago, I shared a Cultural Fabric activity that I invited my school to participate in. Please see my post Cultural Fabric: Class Building Activity for more information, including a link to a PDF for instructions.

To my delight, they did ๐Ÿ™‚, and I am here to share with you some of those results!

My Cultural Fabric Example

Each grade level team (there are two per grade at the middle school where I teach) shared this idea with their advisory class. I really appreciated how the teachers embraced the activity and saw the activity as an invitation to have a class discussion about cultures, about differences, about togetherness…about our strength.

Once the “us” squares were collected, they were turned into “quilts” that were displayed during the week of conferences (and are still up today!). Here are some of those images:

Sadly, I was not at school during conferences to see and capture the initial thoughts and emotions (I was presenting at the NSTA Area Conference in Salt Lake), but many of my colleagues mentioned how wonderful the experience was, and how well it was received. One of my teammates expressed that many students had their parents capture their picture next to their piece of their team quilt. Yay! Happy!

Also, I want to say thank you to you…my viewers! I noticed on my blog data, that this activity was a popular “view”. Thank You! I do hope you share it (and this site) with your teammates as a possible future idea.

And…to help you do that, I made an additional PDF that provides instructions for students, rather than the PDF I originally wrote for teachers, to capture the idea.

My school wants to do it again next year, which will give us time to think of a new key…perhaps a genetics based one. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Sharing, Communicating, and Embracing Differences!



Parents and students had a wonderful time problem solving and designing together at our NOV8…INNOVATE event! ๐Ÿ˜€

The use of the character cards, and open design challenge cards were perfect for our time frame and goal. If you want to read more about the organization and setup of the event, please see my past posts: NOV8…INNOVATE and NOV8…INNOVATE: Character and Design Cards.ย 

Family teams used their background knowledge, problem solving skills, and creativity to innovate together! (Such a beautiful thing!) After each family team was done designing, I had them create a short video about their problem and designed solution on Flipgrid. If you haven’t used Flipgrid in your classroom yet…please consider it. It is new to me and I find it user friendly and great for communicating process (great EL tech tool). Also, even though I didn’t use it this way today, Flipgrid also can be used collaboratively, and be used to give and receive feedback.ย 

So happy with the results of today. I loved the conversations, the results, and the connections. See some of those results below:ย 

Huge shout out to my science team, admin team, instructional coach, media specialist, and amazing office staff for supporting my event and helping make it possible!

Happy Innovating!


NOV8…INNOVATE: Character and Design Cards

Yesterday I shared my NOV8…INNOVATE family events ideas.

Well, after some think time, and some discussion with my amazing colleagues, I have decided on using character and design cards (which is sort of a combination of my ideas):

Please click HERE to access the PDF and see all the cards I plan on having available for parents and students tomorrow. I plan on cutting them out and gluing them onto cardstock, so they last the day (and hopefully longer).

Note: The end of page one is blank…but there are more on page 2. I just needed to create a space so that it makes the cards print properly.

To read more about this event, please see my November 6th blog post.

Design results coming soon!

Happy Innovating!



How do you plan on celebrating NOV8/INNOVATE day, as part of National STEM/STEAM month? Me…I am still trying to figure out those last minute details, but here’s what I have figured out:

At my middle school, we are going to try something new. We are inviting parents (or a family member) to come to innovate with their son or daughter during the time that they have science class.

Click HERE for the link to see the entire PDF (which also includes a Spanish translation).

This means that students will only be missing the period they have science…but in many ways, not really missing science, because they will be engaging in some of the science practices during their innovate time.

For all my fellow visual learners, here is what I am picturing: parents will come to the office, check-in, and come down to the media center (library). This is where I will be with helpful TA’s and call slips. Once there, I will send for their son/daughter/nephew/niece/etc. to come down to the media center. Once together they will engage in an innovation challenge.

Now…the question is…what is that challenge???

This is what I am still contemplating. So far I have 3 ideas:

ONE: Start with a picture book!

Click HERE to purchase this book on Amazon

I could start by reading (but not finishing) this story and then have family teams brainstorm and design what their “magnificent thing” would be.

To read more about this book from a past blog post, please click HERE.

TWO: Have character cards that family teams can work together to problem solve by using the design process. I have to do some digging to relocate the ones I have created in the past, but an example would be:

“Meet Sally. Sally is a middle school teacher. She works at a school that has students use technology and paper based tools to learn…however, Sally’s student desks are only large enough for a few supplies. Students are constantly struggling to organize their tools so that they either fit or are easily accessible. This includes their pencil, marker, etc. With no pencil groove on the desk, the pencils are easily pushed aside and rolling on the floor. Could you help Sally, by designing a pencil/marker solution for her student desks, that doesn’t take up any precious desktop space?”

THREE: Theme Challenge

Similar to a 3D printing challenge I have had in the past, I could give family teams a theme…like: Transportation. Together they would need to brainstorm a community based transportation problem, and design a possible solution.

Hmmmm…three good choices, right?

TBA on which I select and how it goes.

Happy Innovating!


Native American History and Experience

Today I want to share another book resource with you…Brightly. Brightly’s mission is to help all of us raise (or teach) kids who love to read. Isn’t that wonderful!

One of the many book lists and shares that they have is one that highlights Native American history and experience, an excellent resource all year, and especially during this month, which is not only National Picture Book Month, National STEM/STEAM Month, but also Native American Heritage Month.

The link/resource that I am providing you today takes you to their list of preK-young adult reads:

See this link for the full list.

Among their list of books, one that I especially want to highlight is:

See this link to purchase through Amazon

This is not only a powerful history connection for your students, but one that lets you explore a powerful discussion and a series of explorations around codes.

Please see my past post about some of the activities I have done with my 2nd grade class.

Additionally, I found a picture book that features a similar story. Granted I haven’t had the chance to read it, but has received high reviews.

See this link to purchase on Amazon

Happy Reading!


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