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Family Phone Contract: Promote Responsible Digital Citizenship

Hey kids: if you don’t have a phone yet and you’re in the process of trying to convince your parents that you deserve one… I think I might be able to help your argument.
Hey parents: If you’re on the fence about getting your child a phone, I’d like to offer my perspective on the matter and perhaps make it a bit easier to make the leap.

The summer is coming to a close and before you know it, those of us with kids will be off and running head first into another school year.
Organizing pick-ups and drop offs, making lunches, figuring afterschool schedules, helping with homework, meeting new friends, and reconnecting with old ones.
Yep! It’ll all be in full swing in a matter of weeks, and maybe, just maybe this is the year when you will finally cave and get your child that phone they’ve been asking/begging for.
If they’re like my daughter, maybe they composed a convincing persuasive essay outlining all the points that make her getting a phone perfect sense, a no-brainer if you will. 
And, if you’re like me, it worked.

With a new school year fast approaching it just made more sense for us really.
Besides they’ll be walking or riding their bike to and from school now and with after school schedules… It just makes everyone feel a little safer knowing you can reach our little darlings at anytime.

Yep it’s time for the dreaded phone.
But with all the press about the problem with phones like screen dependencies, bullying, and all those predators supposedly out there lurking on social media just waiting for little bobby and suzie to log on... heck! not to mention the cost.  Those smart phones aren’t cheap. What’s a parent to do? Well it’s simple. A Family Phone Contract.

You could sit down and write up a simple phone usage contract for you and your child to sign, but if you don’t feel like writing one up, there’s plenty of them out there for free! Having a phone contract delivers on much more than just an agreement for responsible phone use between two parties. They can be great tools for bigger life lessons such as…

  • Entering into an agreement means respecting a promise.
  • Consequences, and being prepared to suffer them if they don’t hold up their end of the deal.. ie. losing phone privileges. 

Kids can learn what it means to be a responsible digital citizen, and 'insert other big lessons here'!  If you want to writeyour own go for it, but if you do I strongly encourage you to include some of my favorites! such as:

  • “I will not purchase anything via the Phone without getting my parent's permission before hand.” That’s a good one. Cost effective.
  • “I will give my parents all the passwords I use to access any function or applications on my phone that requires a one.” I don’t know how old your kids are but if they’re under 18 privacy is earned right? Then there’s this one.
  • “I will not use my phone to take or distribute inappropriate photos or texts.”

 ..and my favorite:

  • “I will turn off the Phone and leave it at an agreed upon location every night at 9 pm.”   9? Yep 9. Heck as a kid I couldn’t get phone calls past 9! Probably cause the kitchen phone cord would reach anywhere private!

So you got those now add 5 or 6 more of your own and BOOM you have a pretty good family contract. Sign em and seal em then put your copy someplace safe.

Remember teachable and learnable moments are for everyone. A contract for them is a contract for us. The teachable moments have to be provided by us if they are to be received as learnable ones.  Good Luck. Let me know how it goes!

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More 'Make It Clubs' In Berkeley Schools For Spring 2015

Special thanks to Willard Middle School Enrichment Director Kemal Stewart for seeing the value in the Make It Club program.  M.I.C. instructor Garth Fry is heading up our first session at Willard with an at-capacity class!

We're also happy to announce our third consecutive session starting at King Middle School in Feb. 2015!  Thanks again to Mr. Leakes!

Make It Club is like a science fair project gone mad then made into an after school program!
This is program is an incredible opportunity for students who like to build, and think about what to build! Design Process Process Process!

Class operates much like that of a studio. Students will be encouraged to work collaboratively as they research ideas for further development and tackle random daily or weekly challenges!

Empty Paper Bag Towers at King Middle School in Berkeley, CA. Part of a "What Can We Do With A Paper Bag?" Challenge.

Empty Paper Bag Towers at King Middle School in Berkeley, CA. Part of a "What Can We Do With A Paper Bag?" Challenge.

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The Collective Mind Works.

The Borg Had It Right. 

As a teacher specializing in creative strategies and process, I’m constantly surprised how many of my students have yet to appreciate the power and possibilities that comes with working collaboratively.
Even when I impress upon them that learning how to navigate the collaborative experience is key to their professional and creative development, they still exhale in loud sighs and beg to work independently, on top of it all they shun any feedback until they feel the work is, in their opinion, “ready” to show.

Hell, I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.  I know that very specific kind of anxiety very well.  In addition to everything else, I know that it is just an excuse we use because being able to take criticism is not a skill we teach kids to appreciate or seek out.  But I also came around and embraced it and now train people in aspects of it.

When I ask my students why they hate working in teams they waste no time in complaining about bad chemistry or members who didn’t contribute would complain about the decisions being made.

I have to confess; I have to say up until now, I refused to do any group projects in my classes because I just didn’t have the energy to hear that collective “argh” followed by a stream of emails complaining about terrible group dynamics.  I just gave up.
I kept things on the individual tip and tried to rationalize it by saying that students weren’t doing their best work when working in groups. I needed to redefine what I meant by “best work”.
It was true. They weren’t doing their best work.  But I came to the realization that the crap work the students were producing wasn’t because they weren’t able to do better, but because they just didn’t know how to work in a group. Boom.

Now I need to come up with ways how I could make collaborative work a more central part of my instruction and simultaneously change my students tune. I mean, I was serious when I said that learning how to navigate the collaborative experience is key to our professional and creative development.

This is my current predicament. 

I’ve got loads of team building exercises and workshop methodology bouncing around in my head, but I need to come up with how I can translate all that into meaningful and effective curriculum and lessons that lead to engaging projects.

Thinking…

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A New Session of 'Make It Club' at Berkeley Middle School

A Make It Club member testing her Rube Goldberg contraption.

A Make It Club member testing her Rube Goldberg contraption.

Special thanks to Director John Alford-Leakes and the whole enrichment team at King Middle school in Berkeley, CA for seeing the value in the Make It Club program.  We're at capacity and just started our second session!

Make It Club is like a science fair project gone mad! This is program is an incredible opportunity for students to research and develop a project of their own from the ground up. Make It Club is designed to pace students through all the stages of research and development. 

Class operates much like that of a studio. Students will be encouraged to work collaboratively as they research ideas for further development.

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A brand new semester at AAU, SF

Narrative hunting. AAU Visual Storytelling students.

Narrative hunting. AAU Visual Storytelling students.

Well here it is.. a brand new school year! 

I've been teaching at the Academy of Art University in San Fransisco for just about three years now, and I always get pretty excited when I get my class schedule.
This year is no different. For the Fall 2014 term I'll be teaching Visual Story Telling, Creative Process, Fractured Media, Social Media, Portfolio for Strategists.  I'll also continue to chair the undergrad review process.  Big year and big ideas.

People ask how I feel about working in the Advertising Department of an art school, and I always answer by saying, there is more 'creative thinking' going on in this advertising department than I've experienced in lot of schools out there.
I feel lucky to be here.

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Amazing time spent at the 2014 Integrated Learning Summer Institute

I had the pleasure of attending the Integrated Learning Summer Institute Teachers Conference, last week (August 11-14th) Amazing professional educators listening and learning from others in the trenches keeping empathetic project based learning the focus in education.  I was asked to lead a MacGyverClass! workshop at the conference for a handful of elementary and middle school teachers. The workshop went really well and had a lot of great thinking, making, and  conversation. If you're a teacher, do yourself a favor and learn more about the ILSI.  There's loads of great stuff happening!

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