Sunday, December 14, 2014

My SMS Silence Day - Brian Crookes

I woke up at 8:05 am, I had intended to be up at 7:30, to post a reminder and kick it off, but an extra few minutes, toast warm under the covers proved irresistible.  So the challenge began, well, extremely challenging for me, as I sat in my room, phone in hand, debating.  I found the will power to resist, gathered my things, and started my day.  At 9:15 I was in the car, heading to practice, the draw to check my twitter for player messages was strong, I did not realize the car was such a trigger.  I got to school uneventfully though, perhaps there is something to this distracted driving thing.

My first order of business once I arrived at the gym, was to gather the sweaty uniforms from our game the night before, and head to the laundromat, as we needed them for the game that night as well.  Have you ever sat in a laundromat.......for an hour.....with no pandora, and no games, and no twitter, and no facebook, and no...... I have never been chatty, I like my space, but I was getting desperate only 10 minutes in.  I managed to grab some eye contact, and a few nods, but everyone else had a comfortable device barrier to hide behind, so I found no reprieve.  Next time I'll have to set up a recruiting table at likely spots, so I won't be so alone.  I ended up sitting by the window out to Broad St. watching the traffic and passersby, and after a while, I actually relaxed, and found the people watching very interesting.   You wouldn't believe how many people stop in the middle of the street to let someone in, or out of the car, and how few people consider waving someone out of a side street.  It is amazing there are not more accidents.

By the time I was through washing the uniforms, and an hour of practice, I was starting to feel better about my challenge, human connection is underrated.  I fielded a couple of phone calls, which was fine, but even that felt like an invasion of my connectedness, so I kept the conversations to a minimum.  I ran a few errands, by this time, the phone was turned off, in my glove compartment, and I was feeling pretty good about it, but the toughest part of the challenge was yet to come.

On my way home from the Seekonk Lowe's, I noticed that the alignment on my truck was seriously off.  In order to drive straight, I had to hold the steering wheel at 45 degrees left.  There are some interesting noises that accompany this phenomenon, and the appearance is that of my truck hurtling down the road at a slanty angle.  I'll admit, it was kind of nice to get so much space from the other drivers on the road, especially on a busy Saturday afternoon, but long-term, it was probably not a good idea to keep driving like that, so I high-tailed it to my mechanic, who took my key, and said "I'll get back to you on Monday."  Surely there must be an app to let me know how big of a loan I will need to address this problem, but no... not for me... no apps.

So we played our game, won, and I was not able to debrief with my players through direct messages, which is my routine, so I talked to my wife, and my son, and my mom, and let my players have a night free from after-coaching, at least from me.

It just so happened that my 12-year-old daughter was having a birthday sleepover at our house that night, so when I got home, I was pleasantly surprised to see her and her friends watching a movie, and talking to each other while demolishing a ridiculous quantity of Chinese food.  She had spread the word, and unlike the last time they were together, each with phone in hand, this time, they were laughing and singing impromptu songs, and sharing a real moment.  It was very nice, I wanted to tweet it, oh well.  We all took the dog for a walk around 10, to the park behind the school, and watched the meteor shower, it was awfully cool, I wish I could have googled it to be able to explain it better to the girls, but, instead, we just looked and wondered, and that was good too.

Around 11, with no post to read or write, and no tiles to slide or poker hands to play, I went to bed, 3 hours before my norm, and at the same time as my Bride.  We watched the news, and fell asleep during SNL, and when I woke up, the SMS Challenge was over.  I'm glad to be back on the blog, and to clear my emails and messages, and to see what everyone is up to, but maybe just maybe, I'll miss the serene driving, eye contact, and 12-year-old girl movie reviews when life gets back to "normal."

I want to thank all of you who participated, and gave so generously, my world was changed.  I can't wait to talk to my students about it on Monday.  Please take a minute, and use the comment section to write a quick detail about your SMS day.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

SMS Challenge 12-13-14

Please take the time to comment here about your Social Media Silence experience:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Senior Project Descriptions

"I want to feed hungry people"
Josie, Mark, Natalia, Lonnie, and Maria

I want to learn to cook simple and delicious foods, and practice until I am good at it.  Can we cook with the special needs students every week, then plan a couple of events for the community, where we cook a big dinner, and people just show up, get a good meal, and share time together?

Food, family, and community are so entwined, that this project is a natural.  Students involved will research recipes with increasing degrees of challenge, and each take a lead role week to week. Shopping, prepping, leading a group of collaborating students through a cook, then reflecting, scrap booking, and planning a series of special community events to highlight their yearlong work in celebrations.

Specific Training =                                              $750.00
30 weeks of recipes X $25.00 per week =           $750.00
Special Events $500 X 3 =                                   $1500.00

"I want to build literacy in Pre-k and Kindergarten children"
Amelia, Jordan, Edward

I want to help young kids learn to read and enjoy words, more than I do.  I have such a hard time sitting still with a book, and understanding what is happening, and I want my little cousins and nieces and nephews to be better readers than I am.

Each week students in this senior project will select appropriate children's books, design exciting lessons, and read aloud to elementary school children.  Business letters and interviews with district teachers will open classroom opportunities, and lead students will be responsible for planning, and executing an entire lesson plan based on the book they have chosen.  Students will also have the opportunity to write and publish their own children's book, based on the lessons learned throughout this project.

Transportation =                                                $1000.00
25 children's books X $20.00 each =                $500.00
publishing cost 100 copies X $10.00 =             $1000.00

"I want to learn to build a car from the ground up"
Tommy and Jason

I have always loved and been fascinated by cars.  I go to weekly meetings with a group of "car guys" just to look at and listen to all the amazing modifications people have made.  When I put my hands on projects, I learn better.  Engines, transmissions, etc make sense to me in a way that history books and lab reports never have.  I want to learn to do this and keep on doing it for the rest of my life.

Students who have chosen this as their senior project will develop secure and appropriate space to store and work on building a vehicle from the ground up.  Bondo and sanding, righty-tighty/lefty-loosey, compression and timing are some of the ways they will spend some of their academic time during the next 30 weeks.  Ultimately they would like to register and drive this vehicle before auctioning it off, and donating all proceeds to the continued funding of Multiple Pathways programs and projects, so that other students will have the same opportunities they are getting now.

Acquisition of parts, tools, and expert mentoring =     $2500.00
Development of Space =                                              $1000.00
"I want to learn to design professional and athletic clothing"
Donald, Mike, and Chelsea

"We have a dress code that a lot of student's aren't happy about.  Big businesses make multi-millions of dollars from charging us high prices for products that are made in terrible factories in places that don't treat their workers very well.  Why can't we come up with something affordable, made in this country, that looks good, and serves a purpose?"

Students in working on this product will develop and market a clothing line of their own design. They will make this clothing available to students, and ensure that it meets the needs of students stylistically, affordably, and within the confines of the dress code.  Proceeds from sales will fund students who cannot afford appropriate clothing, and students in that situation need just ask, and appropriate clothing will be given.

Technology upgrade costs =                          $1000.00
1st run of stock =                                           $1000.00
2nd run of stock =                                          $500.00
3rd run of stock =                                           $250.00
future costs absorbed by sales

"I want to plan and run special events so kids around here have something positive to look forward to"
Jack, Diane, and Will

Years ago, we used to have a community center with a gym, a pool, game tables, and now it's closed. The library is hardly ever open, and there is nothing to do, so people just stay in their houses and go on their phones.  Why can't we have fun tournaments, like dodge ball, whiffleball, futsal, etc, that don't cost a lot of money, but are fun for everyone.

These young people want to impact their community in such a positive way.  By engaging the minds and bodies of kids in the neighborhood, and giving back.  The mentoring, organizing skill, and human connections will serve these students for their entire lives, and also impact the next generation of young people.

Professional Sound System =                            $1000.00
Uniforms, $10.00 X 100 =                                $1000.00
supplies, equipment, space development          $1000.00

Total cost of projects =                                    $15,0000.00      

*students names have been changed
please stay tuned for project updates

SMS Challenge 12-13-14

The SMS Challenge 12/13/14

The Challenge
SMS stands for Social Media Silence, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pledge to log out of, and turn off your Social Media, and all other apps, for 24 hours, and just “be wherever you are.”  Make a one-day commitment, from 8am on December 13th, to 8am the next day, not to check-in, crush, spin, tile, update, ping, refresh, or post.  We live in a world where the things we own, end up owning us, none so much as our digital lives.  Replace your check-ins with conversations, eye contact, napping, driving, walking, anything that involves being fully present in the moment and place, and with the people around you.

The Cause
I am a High School Teacher in Central Falls RI.  I work with a very special group of young people in a multiple pathways program called Guide 2 Success.  My students have not found success in the traditional academic process for a variety of reasons, but each one is brilliant, talented, and remarkable.  We have committed to a variety of community service projects as part of the graduation requirement.  This is mine.  Some of the projects the students have designed have associated costs (transportation, materials, expert mentors, etc).  All funds raised will go directly toward the completion of these projects, which must by definition benefit others. 

The Budget
$15,000 funds every student project completely
$150,000 funds every project plus paid internships post-graduation
$1,5000,000 funds facility development to ensure future success of MP students
$15,000,000 funds new school facilities for every student in Central Falls

There are about 320 million people in the United States, if 2.5% participate, imagine the change we can make in a community.

Your Pledge
By agreeing to the SMS challenge, you are agreeing to click on the link below, and pledge just $2.00.  With your pledge, comes the promise that you will maintain Social Media Silence for a period of 24 hours, from 8 am December 13, 21014, through 8 am the following morning.  If you break your vow, you will click the link again and pay the $20 “I broke my promise” penalty.  You also need to recruit everyone you know to join in. 

My Hope

Social Media can be a wonderful thing, in connects people all over the world in meaningful ways, and makes it possible to change the world in amazing ways.  It can also be dangerous, short attention spans, missing human connection, driving while texting, affect us all.  I hope that for just one day, people can use this challenge as a way to reconnect on a personal level and think about all the ways Social Media affects their lives.