Asking students what yearbook means

Written by Lori Leonard, NBCT

In a professional development class called “Universal Design for Learning” (UDL), I was introduced to many new strategies to make learning accessible to all my students regardless of ability.

One of the strategies is called “synectics,” which derives from the Greek “syn” and “ektos,” and refers to the fusion of diverse ideas. In practice, students are shown a series of images and are asked to create analogies, metaphors or similes relating the images to an academic concept.

For example, a student in a science class could compare the cardiovascular system to a superhighway, drawing as many connections as possible between the two. If blood cells are like delivery trucks bringing oxygen to the body’s organs, then a blood clot is like a traffic jam preventing the blood cells from making their vital deliveries.

After our yearbook’s final deadline in late April, my staff and I take a little time to reflect on the year. This past spring, I tried a synectics activity with my staff. I showed them a series of images and asked them to make an analogy between the images and yearbook. I was purposefully vague so my staff could think of yearbook as a class, the process, our final product, or however they wanted to look at it.

Below are responses from my students, plus analogies from students at other schools. When you’re ready to give it a try, download and make copies of the exercise and try it with your staff.

  • Artwork: “We start with a blank canvas and then with different ideas, materials, and dedication it turns into something beautiful.” Alexa Nguyendinh
  • Building a house: “There needs to be a team to build it and it takes a lot of work but the finished product is worth it.” Caitlin Simms
  • A microscope: “Taking a closer look at the school and student body.” Bella Bowman
  • Quilt: “We’re very diverse and we try to include everyone in the school to make the yearbook complete just like you need all the pieces for a quilt to make it complete.” Shanzeh Khan
  • “Yearbook is like a map. With every turn you make, you end up seeing something different.” Colin Roberts, West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Virginia
  • “Yearbook is like bungee jumping. You have to take certain risks, like writing a story differently, breaking rules, or asking unknown questions. In the end, it could end terribly or it could open your eyes to many experiences.” Douglas Page, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • “Yearbook is like Harry Styles’s new album. It’s beautiful and pretty and there are so many different genres and you had to wait forever for it.” Lily Fragola, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • “Yearbook is like a boyfriend/girlfriend. You have to think about them before you make any plans.” Sophia Sanders, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Clock: “Yearbook is like a clock. Time is always against you and you never have enough time to perfect your spread, but it’s also timeless and will last forever.” Breana Bryant, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Hair: “Yearbook is like straightening your hair. It’s all fun and games until a rainy day come by and ruins everything.” Natalie Tajeddine, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • One Direction concert: “Yearbook is like going to a One Direction concert. At first you are really excited for it to start, but then the first song/spread starts and you begin to cry and scream. But in the end the concert/book is beautiful and you can’t wait until next year.” Rachel Giaquinto, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Chips: “Yearbook is like a bag of chips. Its packaging is colorful and flashy, while its chips are messy and greasy.” Anna Tam, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Running: “Yearbook is like going on a run. At first you think it will be easy and everything will go smoothly, but as you keep running, you get more and more tired. After a while though, you start to see results and improvement.” Kira Hinchey, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Banana: “Yearbook is like a banana. You have to peel through all the rough times to get to the prize hidden inside.” Nathalia Filgueria, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Gardening: “Yearbook is like growing a garden. At first, you don’t know what to do with the seeds. After slowly working with them, they grow into bigger plants that need to be trimmed and cared for. Before you know it, it’s all grown up.” Emily Crkvencic, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Packing: “Yearbook is like packing when you know where you’re going, but you don’t know where to start. You have the destination in mind, and you’re really excited, but trying to figure out what to pack and bring with you is stressful. You stuff it with as much as you can, and in the end, you put in everything you needed and more.” Renee Thorp, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Hannah Montana: “Yearbook is like Hannah Montana because it makes you realize ‘Everybody makes mistakes’ and that ‘Nobody’s perfect,’ but you continue to ‘work it again and again’ ’til you get it right.”  Sydney Richardson, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Legos: “Yearbook is like Legos. You can do things all cut and dried, following basic spread templates, and yes, it can look nice. But you can also break rules, change it up and create something that could have been risky to build” Sarah Devine, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Dentist: “Yearbook is like going to the dentist. Lot of your time as a patient/staffer you are uncomfortable and can’t imagine what is worth it in the end. But the dentist/editors help you remain calm and keep your eyes on the prize. And after all that brushing and flossing, you’re left with beautiful, cavity-free pearly whites and a beautiful book!” Lisa Bemis, Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Map: “Yearbook is like a map. With every turn you make, you end up seeing something different.” Colin Roberts, West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Quilt: “Yearbook is like a quilt. The pieces may all be different, but they still look good together.” Hannah Weisel, West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Mountain: “Yearbook is like a mountain because the hike to get to the top is time consuming, but the view is worth it.” Makenna McClure, West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Building a house: “Yearbook is like building a house. It takes a lot of sweat and tears to construct it, but, once you finish, you can stand back and admire it. Sometimes certain rooms get dusty, but once you go back in the room, all of the memories rush back to you.” Constance French, West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Tea: “Yearbook is like tea. No matter how much honey you put in it, you never end up in a sticky situation.” Megan Huck, West Potomac High School, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend: “Yearbook is like a boyfriend/girlfriend because you may go through some hard/complicated times, but at the end of the day you love him/her so much, you cope with the hard times.” Peyton Guillot, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Mountain: “Yearbook is like a mountain because it’s a struggle to get to the end but the view is worth it.” Avery Tyndall, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Quilt: “Yearbook is like a quilt, it’s a bunch of pieces stitched together, creating something extraordinary.” Blair Colson, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Tug-of-war: “Yearbook is like tug-of-war because we all have different ideas for the book/pages. We all go back and forth between the ideas we want to see published.” Abby Hutsell, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Puzzle: “Yearbook is like a puzzle, all the pieces have to fit together perfectly to create the finished product. It can be difficult to figure out in the beginning, but once you start connecting pieces, it will all come together.” Sydney Schad, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Bungee jumping: “Yearbook is like bungee jumping because you are taking a risk hoping that your school will love the theme and look of the book as much as you do.” Charly Reynolds, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Building a house: “Yearbook is like building a house because you have to have a strong foundation to base the house upon, just like a yearbook needs a strong theme as its foundation.” Emily Fussell, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Mountain: “Yearbook is like climbing a mountain because when you stand at the bottom, it seems scary and you feel as if it seems impossible to reach the top. But when you reach the top, you realize it wasn’t as scary as you thought it out to be and see the large fear you overcame.” Delaney O’Donnell, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Ocean: “Yearbook is like the ocean sometimes because some days it may have a calm atmosphere, while other days it can be very hectic and rough due to a deadline or something stressful.” Lara Dusing, William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida
  • Dessert: “Yearbook is like binging on dessert. You gain weight, but it’s delicious.” Edgar Olivas, Quince Orchard, Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Tree: “Yearbook is like a tree. You can either help it grow or let it get chopped down.” Jade Skok, Quince Orchard, Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Artwork: “Everything has to flow together and look pleasing to the eyes.” Adura Mehlek Dawveed, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Puzzle: “It takes a group of people to put all the pieces together.” Katherine Sperduto, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Ocean: “While creating it, you feel like you are drowning the whole time but when you send in a deadline, it is like coming up for air.” Ke’Aundra Jackson, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Treasure: “When people open the book they don’t know what they will see or find but they always keep it and look at it for the rest of their lives.” Bailey Cahill, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Going on Vacation: “When you open a yearbook, you find yourself in a different place.” Talia Ben-Yosef, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Bunjee Jumping: “You fall into the rush of getting all your work done then come back up and remember what you did and how exciting it was to do and realize you want to do it all again.” Alison Seymour, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Rubik’s Cube: “Yearbook requires so much time and effort and though it seems like it would be easy, it can be very complicated.” Bitania Asefa, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Climbing a Mountain: “All the time putting into it is hard but once you see the view, it is amazing!” Hyacinth Heo, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Treasure: “To the school it is a special gift that represents all of the school’s unique memories.” Jazlyn Pereira, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Mountain: “Although the journey may be rough at times, once you get to the top (and finish the book), you realize all the hard work was worth it.” Maya Koeppen, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland.
  • Tea: “It’s relaxing and nice to sit back and read.” Rahemmah Afinnih, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Ziplining:  “You sign up for it without thinking or knowing much about what it takes and then you are glad you did it because it is such a great experience.” Daniela Blumstein, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Microscope: “We look carefully at everything that happens at our school, all the events, accomplishments, people and then we try to show a different side to it.” Sammie Button, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland.
  • Tug-of-war: “We have to bug and bother people to get quotes, info, and pictures and they act like they don’t want to do it but yet they’ll complain if they don’t get into the yearbook.” Sammie Button, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Library: “Yearbook is like a library, divided into many sections; the ideas and stories become endless.” Holly Dube, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Building a house: “It has a lot of structure and support and it is something that we are all proud of. We grow up in both.” Kathryn Yiallouros, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Tent: “Yearbook is like a tent surrounded by bears because we are protected in the office while we are making it and then once the book is distributed, people start tearing it to shreds. (But then after they criticize the little stuff, they tell us how much they love it! Bears don’t do that part!)”  Jenna Deutch, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Maryland
  • Boyfriend: “Yearbook is like my boyfriend, it is often annoying like he is but I still love it and would really miss it if was not part of my life.” Anonymous sophomore staff member who is not allowed to have a boyfriend yet

 

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Lori Leonard, NBCT

Lori Leonard, NBCT, is the yearbook adviser at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, Maryland. She is vice president of the Maryland-District of Columbia Scholastic Press Association and regularly organizes and teaches at their fall Journalism Day. Her staffs are consistently honored as Gold Medalists by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and win First Place awards from the National Scholastic Press Association.