Cardboard and Brick


“The other question is why the building does not collapse down on itself. You can probably see that the bottom stories of a building are going to be under much more pressure than the top stories, because they have to support more weight. So if you built the lower stories of a building from cardboard and the upper ones from brick, you’d run into problems quite quickly. But you might be able to build the lower stories from brick and the upper ones from cardboard.”

~Excerpted from HERE.

That’s how many weeks we’ve been in school.

That’s how many weeks I allotted for creating a layer…a foundation…a structure to support the important work we will do this year.


Still layering and foundationing and structuring. And as the beginning of this post states, bricks first, cardboard later. The past five years have been ME exploring, understanding and articulating those bricks. Here, I explain the importance of, and to make visible the artifacts of, each brick.

Brick #1: Knowing and Understanding Ourselves

Whyfor: The personalized classroom is about Voice, Choice, Pace, Place and Path. Young learners become co-pilots in their learning…they own the learning…and that can only happen when they know themselves well.

Artifacts: Learning inventories, interest inventories, Reflection Blog, choice seating, To Do’s

Brick #2: Routines & Procedures

Whyfor: Routines and procedures have always been an essential component of school but in our classroom, they are often co-developed and co-owned by both the teacher and students. The students have skin in the game in our classroom. Each of us, doing our part to make it work.

Artifacts: Lunch/Attendance, classroom jobs, Quadrants, To Do’s

Brick #3: Student Agency

Whyfor: Student who are actively engaged in their learning build deeper understanding of the content.

Artifacts: To Do’s, Book Clubs, Connections

Brick #4: Relationships/Culture/Community Building

Whyfor: I often talk about the need to “crack students wide open,” meaning creating a readiness for learning. This can only happen when there is a willingness to take risks; to listen to others, understand others, support others; to replace old, sometimes negative perceptions of learning…to journey forward free and clear.

Artifacts: Connections, Storium, BookClubs, Newsies

Brick #5: School to Home Connections

Whyfor: A partnership between parents/guardians and teachers provides both parties with unique perspectives about the child, creating a more complete understanding of the child’s abilities, strengths and challenges.

Artifacts: Meet-the-Teacher Night, Reflection Blog, Summer Slide Project

Brick #6: Learning…What is it?

Whyfor: Students need to understand what they are learning, why they are learning it, what learning looks like. This will enable them to make intentional moves when navigating their own learning.

Artifacts: Discussions about learning, Goal setting, 1:1 Conferences

Brick #7:  Content-Related

Whyfor: We don’t put content on the back burner for 4 – 6 weeks. It is through the content that many of these “bricks” are laid.

Artifacts: Quickwrites, Newsies, Reflection Blog, iRead

Brick #8: Skills & Habits Needed to Support Deeper Learning

Whyfor: Before deeper learning can occur, students need to learn a vast array of skills…from navigating, managing and retrieving information to conducting research to having deep discussions around a piece of literature.

Artifacts: Newsie groups, Book Clubs, Symbaloo, Diigo, Google Keep, Schoology

Brick #9: Connected Learning

Whyfor: New technologies provide students with opportunities to learn from peers and experts from around the world. A huge emphasis is placed on doing so safely, ethically and responsibly.

Artifacts: Edublog Challenge, Slice of Life Challenge, Reflection Blog, Author Hang Outs

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