Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Awesome Failure

Serve up your slice on Tuesdays
with Two Writing Teachers
December brings Project for Awesome. 

Always December 17th, the Project for Awesome is an annual YouTube event.  Thousands of video creators participate by making videos in support of their favorite charities. Anyone can make a video and anyone can participate in the commenting, tweeting and donating fun.

I wrote a bit about how you can participate in the project on the Nerdy Book Club this past week and will talk about it on Engchat on Twitter next Monday. This week in my classroom is all about getting our videos planned, created and published. 

It's Tuesday and already I have to swap out my own ideas. See I had this idea. Sort of like Kristina Horner's 2007 Nerdfightastic mission to spread the word about Nerdfighteria, libraries and First Book. Instead of decorating index cards and inserting them into library books, I thought I could spread the word about organizations that serve the hungry in our community by sticking labels on canned goods at the store. 

I made labels. I did think alouds for my students. I got excited about the mission. I talked through ideas for filming. I was ready to roll when I thought about asking permission. Teaching is a subversive act, but I decided to ask the manager of the store if it was okay, just to make sure. 

Did you know that sticking stickers on items that are for sale in a commercial establishment is considered solicitation? Indeed it is, by more than one grocery store manager. So,  back to the drawing board. Failure means I've learned something. Failure means I revise and (cue the movie music) "keep moving forward."

 If an idea  fails there must be a better one on the horizon.

I want to highlight organizations that feed people and provide food. That's the idea I've been modeling as we gather facts, storyboard and write drafts of scripts.  I want to create a sample Project for Awesome video with things close at hand to show my students that we don't have to be in another country or working at an organization to make a difference. If we do what we can, that counts too. 

Don't get me wrong. I hope I'm raising students to work with the poor. I hope I am raising students to care about developing countries and fight for access to clean water and an end to Malaria and education for all, especially girls. Those pursuits are amazing and wonderful and terrifically needed, but your everyday ninth-grader is stunned by them and fears he will never live up to such amazing deeds. I want to give my students a  starting place. 

I want to teach them to take one step in the right direction. 

Eye level shot of the pantry.

So, my revised idea? Photograph food. Photograph what is in my pantry and or my refrigerator. Photograph what is on the shelves at the grocery store (the manager said that was okay). Beg my friends and followers for photographs of the food at their houses. Piece the images together into a montage and use them to talk about the food we have and the food others need. Highlight the food organization  I will support (I'm choosing between a local pantry and a meta-pantry such as Second Harvest) and close my video with ways anyone can donate or pitch in. What do you think? 

You'd think we don't eat vegetables, but we do.
Will you send me a picture of the food in your pantry ? Or the food in your fridge? Don't clean it first. No one will know whose is whose. Really, it's  not about you or your matching containers or alphabetically shelved cans or even the moths in the bread flour. Just try not to get the beer or the wine in the picture. 

Project for Awesome and the videos created for it are about helping people and raising awareness. If you want to help me inspire my students and  help me serve the hungry, send your pictures to spillarke (at) gmail or tweet them to @spillarke. 

Thank you, thank you! 
Lee Ann 


  1. I think that is a good solution.Now to get some pictures.

  2. I emailed you some pictures. It is from the same name as my blog name. Good luck! I like that you told your students that if one idea does not work out, you have to go to plan b. That's totally how it works!!

  3. Can I just comment on how awesome it is to see you tweeting about this today? We all need a little bit of the "Decrease World Suck" attitude today.

  4. I love your enthusiasm about helping your students learn to care about the world and work to make it a better place!