The Smashbook re-inspired my love of Journaling

Happy Monday everyone, if you have been following my Twitter feed the last few day you know I have been teasing Smashbooks. In a previous entry a few days ago, I talked about what a Smashbook was and how you could do them digitally through either iPads or Chromebooks. However, I wasn’t doing these pushes for a student or classroom Smashbook because I thought they were cool. I started doing them because they brought me back into journaling. Way back in 6th grade, I started my own journal. It was the classic dime store mini notebook and I wrote in it, drew pictures and so forth. In high school I decided to record my journal because Twin Peaks and the Incredible Hulk cartoon were all the range and I loved seeing the main characters chronicling their thoughts on a tape so they could keep track of. Then early in college, I stopped for several reasons from time to getting tired of writing down my life on paper. I felt I was too old and having a personal diary or journal was too “kidish” for me. Then of course blogging came about and I started writing about my hobbies, life, etc and sadly, no one read it, so I stopped.
Now, flash forward to 2010, my wife bought me a brand new journal and with my son on the way I started writing down my thoughts again until early 2011 when I stopped again. The reason was because my entries became too angry. I was mad at so many things, living with my in-laws, being unemployed, debt, feeling like everything was my fault. So, I took my journal and locked it away in a box until this past Christmas. As many of you know, I’ve been working with my students the last three years getting them into keeping journals for their classes and I’ve been really into Sketch note taking the last couple of months. When I came across my journal and realized I hadn’t written in it for almost four years, so I decided to start putting sketch notes along with my journaling and it was fun but it didn’t feel right. Then while I was in a Teach like a Pirate chat, someone mentioned the Smashbook and I looked it up. Many don’t know but I have loved scrap booking for many years and I loved the idea of that along with no planned path of creating a Smashbook and decided to start doing it with my journal. Wow! In just a few short days I was journaling like never before, sketching images, writing down my thoughts, gluing in pictures and even making it digital and using resources like Thinglink, Notability and Google Apps for Education and started making projects with my students. Just the other day I came across the idea of mini Smashbooks. These are Smashbooks usually made from paint swatches you can pick up at any hardware store or using a notecard. What you do is you write, post pictures and can hang them on key chains or twine and assemble them like key tags. I created two sets for my students.

1. The first was taking colors of inspiration and adding pieces to them in what I love to do or use on a daily basis. I created a green one that talks about my blog, App Dice, using Stick Around and on the back I put a QR code that leads directly to my blog and it is also augmented it so a video of me explaining about Stick Around comes up. I did the same for Reading Rainbow, Shake Up Learning, my Penguin Project and finally Mooper Films. What really sets them apart is I added a key tag between each one with a inspirational saying. This way I can look at this mini Smashbook and remember why I love what I do and also what inspires me and clip it on my keys or on my shoulder bag.

2. For students I wanted them to do this S.T.E.A.M. project too but with their family. I was recently reorganizing my pictures and I came across all of my siblings when they were younger. I took their old grade school photos and put them on a paint swash that represents their birth stone colors. I put their names and ages on the front and then on the back I printed out recent pictures of them and pasted them on the back and framed them. I then augmented them to have a voice over that explains who they are and what they do. I want my students to do the same with their mini Smashbooks. This way they use science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics with their mini Smashbooks and then can clip them to their backpacks so they always carry their family around with them.

Something that is great about a Smashbook is that it doesn’t have to be just a daily journal, it can also be a source of inspiration and reminding us on better days ahead. I recently just did an entry and used a little book mark that one of my Sunday school students created. It looks like a bird that sticks out of my journal. On it reads: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” from Matthew 28:20. When I am feeling down or thinking my problems are bigger than others, I can open up to that exact page thanks to the book marker and remember there are better days ahead and I am not alone in these problems. We all have our own story to tell but sometimes we have to look into what we write to inspire us when we believe things are impossible and that’s why my Smashbook is important to me and so is journaling.

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