Thursday, August 2, 2012

Try, try again

This week I saw just the tip of the iceberg as I reflected upon the most recent thoughts shared on The Open Classroom by edublogger Jo McLeay.

She discussed her third attempt at the 365 Countdown, a version of the 365 day challenge, during which participants take one representative/significant photo each day, for one year. This becomes the pictorial documentation of one year of the unique human experience.

Ms. McLeay mentions persistence as being part of this experience...and I find that this theme can be an important part of the classroom experience as well. I have recently become enamored of the relationship between failure and learning, and how proper acceptance of failure can contribute to the safe environment, and eager attitude, that are vital to facilitating adventurous and persistent learning.

I love the idea of the 365 day challenge. What a beautiful way to document the passing of just one year.   (Is this something I can do in the classroom, each student responsible for his and her own portfolio?)

I also love the idea that a third attempt at something not yet surpassed/succeeded does not somehow disqualify the intention, nor the product of those efforts.

I want to create a culture of acceptable failure in my classroom; failure that always begets learning.


  1. I too, want to create a classroom environment where failure is seen as something that happens and aids learning. Making a mistake can be just as useful as doing something correctly. You can learn what to do and what not to do.

    The 365 Countdown sounds like a lot of fun! I could see it being challenging. When I look back at the past few days, most of my pictures would consist of me sitting on the couch, typing on the computer, with the TV on.

  2. Shelley,

    I really like the idea of a 365 countdown. I have seen other people attempt to do this, and realistically a lot of people on instagram publicly document their 365 picture informally that way. I think it would be an interesting assignment for a classroom, especially since you as a teacher would be able to look at what each different student thought was worth capturing. Also, I really think they would all like looking at a booklet of their photos at the end of the year to relive their experience and be able to share them with other peers/family.

    Even though I think students could see it as another thing they have to do, i think over time they would grow to enjoy the daily task of snapping a shot. It's a creative outlet, which I think is so important.

  3. I'm trying to think how we could do an English-themed 365 Countdown. Maybe students could all sign up for New York Times or Word of the Day or something, and have to write short reports/reflections/sentences... Or even just make a note and spend a few minutes at the beginning of class discussing them.

  4. I wish I had you as a teacher when I started the long and painful three years of middle school. I was so used to succeeding, that when things got hard, I started to shut down. ("Nurture Shock" and "Why Don't Students Like School?" anyone?) What a great attitude to take, especially around students that are so worried about one failure ruining their chances of getting their dream job or getting accepted to their dream school. I think Saksia brought up an interesting point- how could this activity be adapted to an English classroom? Hmm, I would love to hear any of your suggestions :).
    I think you should write a little class motto about "a third attempt at something not yet surpassed/succeeded does not somehow disqualify the intention, nor the product of those efforts." I think that would set a great tone for the class, if it was something students could pass everyday in the classroom, consciously and unconsciously giving them a little boost.