When I have to come with ideas, especially in a pinch, I need to create the conditions for creativity.
Standards, parameters, boundaries. School is all about confined spaces — some are for safety, and some are for comfort. But once in a while you have to break through those limits, if only temporarily, to see what’s possible.
Piera Gelardi of Refinery29 (a women’s lifestyle site) invites her leadership team into the “Peach Pit” once a month, or whenever they are in need of some creative inspiration.
The name “Peach Pit” comes from the peach-colored walls where Gilardi holds the meetings, and she sets bowls of peach candy out in keeping with the fun theme. It works for her, but I suspect any school leader or business would come up with a name that fits the decor and spirit of the community.
The most important rule in the Peach Pit is there are no limits allowed in thinking — no discussions of budget constraints or staff cuts. Each discussion starts with the premise, “What would it look like if we did this right? If we had unlimited money and staff, what would we do?”
There is a buzzer (bedazzled of course, because it’s a women’s lifestyle site so everyone owns a glue gun and beads). If anyone during the meeting mentions budget or staff, anyone else immediately slaps the buzzer to remind the group there are no limits.
The premise is ridiculous, and far outside the norms of how leaders discuss solutions to tough challenges. And because of this, the conversations are fun and the solutions everyone comes up with are truly creative. Gelardi suggests that anyone who tries a variation of the Peach Pit look most closely at the moments of laughter. “Laughter unlocks brilliance” is her motto. There is always a grain of deep truth underneath the chuckles and belly laughs, and within that grain might be the solution to the problem that is vexing you.
What matters is that we never have “no limits” discussions in schools, which may be why it’s so hard to think in new ways about old issues. We start within clear, narrow parameters, and then winnow down possibilities from there. But solutions to the most intractable problems probably start well beyond those boundaries. Finding a way to create your own peach pit might be a start.
This week we look at creative takes on grammar instruction, with a bonus feature on mindful test-taking. Enjoy!
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Gretchen Schroeder shares a quick exercise she’s developed for her high school students to hone grammar and editing skills using online video resources and individual Chromebooks.
Jeff Anderson explains how you can help students see the power of grammar to strengthen writing through right-branching sentences.
Anna Gratz Cockerille shares five grammar lessons that also teach students how some understanding of grammar is integral to improving their writing.
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Melanie Meehan shares two of her favorite games for teaching grammar, including templates and web resources.
In this week’s video, Bitsy Parks works with her first graders early in the year to teach them the basics of how words are constructed, by clapping through syllable counts.
High-stakes tests weigh on teachers and students through the winter and spring. Mark Levine shares mindfulness strategies for test-taking, explaining how to help students recommit and refocus in the midst of an exam.
In an encore video, Melanie Meehan coaches a fourth-grade teacher who is trying to improve his grammar instruction.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
David Pittman coaches a fifth-grade teacher to look beyond the sea of grammar and spelling errors in student work, and instead start with strengths to analyze where to go next in instruction.
Ruth Ayres remembers how using her writing in instruction transformed her teaching, She shares three strategies for helping teachers inject their writing into lessons.
Maybe we talk too much about the top 1% in society. Seth Godin explains how being in the top 5% is far more attainable, since it is mostly about hard work and choices. There is a lot for leaders to think about in this brief blog post.
Have you claimed your 40% Literacy Leader subscription discount for one of our online courses yet? Instructors include Ruth Ayres, Dana Murphy, Katherine Sokolowski and many others. Details are at this link.
A problem is a diamond with many different facets. Roll it over in your mind. What others have missed, you can explore.
That’s all for this week!