I’m not sure about you, but in our house we use chopsticks as we prepare, cook and eat our meals.  We find them very effective in the following kitchen activities:

  • Stir and mix food;
  • Beat scrambled eggs;
  • Level measurement of dry ingredients;
  • Remove food items from a pan or dish;
  • Add small amounts of spices or food into pan or dish;
  • Stir crystalized honey;
  • Pick up items that fall into the drain;
  • Prop up/air dry plastic bags;
  • Strain liquids from bottle or can; and
  • Many others.

In addition to these kitchen-based activities, we have used other chopsticks in our home in the following ways:

  • Hold hair up in a bun;
  • Back scratcher;
  • Plant stake;
  • Clean areas hard to reach;
  • Stir small pot of paint;
  • Pole for mini-flag;
  • Wind up string;
  • Use as a ruler;
  • Spine for handmade book;
  • Prop open a window;
  • Replace dowels/fill small screw holes;
  • Pick up washers and nuts in small areas when working on projects;
  • Clean keyboard; and
  • Many others.

As you can see one tool can be used in many ways, some obviously intended and some perhaps surprising.  I think it not uncommon in families and households to find tools or products that can be put to many uses; for example, paint brushes, straws, razor blades and all kinds of uses for duct tape.

But what about transferrable tools and skills in schools?  Do we use our tools and skills beyond the content and construct they were meant for?  Here are a few examples and strategies we can consider to use tools and skills in schools beyond their original intent:

  1. Using Individual Education Plans (IEP) for general and special education students, establishing outcomes, impacts, strategies and benchmarks for development.
  2. Engaging students throughout grades and classes in leadership opportunities beyond the formal (Student Council) positions that engage some students as leaders by offering multiple leadership opportunities through small-group and class projects, student advisory groups and extracurricular activities.
  3. Expanding performance assessments in arts-related classes to other classes to document student skill development in many content areas.
  4. Engaging the community in course activities beyond career and technical knowledge and skill-building programs (e.g., job shadowing, apprenticeships, internships, etc.) to expand the contributions businesses, non-profits, public organizations and other associations can make to motivate and educate students as well as building awareness of community assets and opportunities for students to contribute to community development.

As you think about your skills and the tools used in your school, what other transferrable opportunities exist to expand effective strategies and increase their positive impacts on students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents and community partners?

Terry Pickeral
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Terry Pickeral

Terry Pickeral, has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations, evaluation and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
Terry Pickeral
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