One of the many podcasts that I listen to is Radiolab, a program that makes science easy to understand for non-scientists. I was happy to find out from one of their Tweets that there is now a “Radiolab for Kids” site, where they have collected programs from their archives that would appeal especially to children. One of the many episodes is, “Mapping Tic Tac Toedom,” which I’ve embedded below. In this broadcast, the hosts try to figure out who in the world knows how to play Tic-Tac-Toe – a game that seems ubiquitous to Americans, but do people in other countries play it?
If your child listens to the podcast, and is interested in learning more about Tic-Tac-Toe, I recommend the Wikipedia entry on “Tic-Tac-Toe Variants,” which offers suggestions for different versions such as “Revenge in a Row” and “Random Turn Tic-Tac-Toe.”
My students enjoyed playing Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, and you can find directions for that here: “Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe” (as explained by “Math with Bad Drawings”)
They also really liked the video, Tic-Tac-Toe Game That Goes Horribly Wrong, which I would use whenever we were about to do a unit on inventing games so they could see what happens when people just assume you know the rules to a game.
Other great listens on Radiolab for Kids? Try learning about animal minds, super cool science, or zombie cockroaches among other things. Chances are, even the adults will learn something new!
Usually my posts are not about anything that most people would consider controversial. I try not to sound “preachy” because I’ve been in the trenches, and I know that the majority of the educators are doing the best we can – but we all make mistakes, and we can certainly disagree on what is “best.”
I’m about to bring some hate down on me, and I know this because of a recent Twitter interaction, which definitely resulted in mixed responses. But I want to clear the air of some misconceptions that I’ve been hearing lately, and this is the only way that I can think to do it.
I was listening to a podcast called, “Reasonable Doubt,” while walking my dog on Monday. The show is hosted by Adam Carolla and Mark Geragos, and they discuss different current legal issues. I find their comments intriguing, and they often open up my perspective on topics. There are times that I don’t agree with what they have to say, but I enjoy hearing a variety of views, and they sometimes change my mind.
During the 3/28/2020 episode, the two hosts made a few comments about how teachers would be more willing for schools to open back up if they weren’t getting paid right now. They suggested that teachers are not currently working, and that they are enjoying this paid vacation. This was completely contrary to what I have been hearing from the teachers I know, so I decided to disagree with them in a Tweet:
@markgeragos and @adamcarolla I feel that you were unfair to teachers in your recent podcast. You stated several times that they were getting paid to not work right now, but I disagree. Most of them are working harder than ever and can’t wait to get back to classrooms.
Surprisingly, @adamcarolla responded with, “got it,” which is a nice way for him to say that I was heard, without necessarily agreeing with me. Not a problem.
As one person replied, and rightly so, “You know most teachers?! That’s a lot of people!”
I responded, “You are correct. I should have said that as an educator of 29 years I know a lot of teachers, and many of them have shared with me the stress of switching their courses to remote learning, and that they miss face2face with their students.”
A few people have supported my response, with specific examples. A few people have said they know teachers who are useless or are just playing video games. One person – so far – has used an obscenity.
I’m a big Devil’s Advocate kind of person, so I often look at my own arguments and think, “What if I’m wrong?” So, here’s the thing: I understand that I’m in a bubble of educators who will, of course, claim they are working hard. It’s probably not going to change anyone’s mind if we barrage social media with teachers protesting that they are working long hours, many of them also having to take care of young children simultaneously. What I would like is for you to share this, and for anyone who parents a child currently involved in remote learning (or for any child who is old enough to respond) to tell us your perception of how hard (or not) teachers are working.Let me know in the comments below, or let @adamcarolla and @markgeragos know (politely!) the level of effort you think teachers are making right now.
I have been uplifted by the many videos that have been shared on social media lately showing how people are making their own joy with others despite our physical distances. I wanted to share a few today.
This first one was brought to my attention in a blog post by @LarryFerlazzo:
For a dose of absolutely adorable cuteness, you should listen to “Virus in a Tree.”
My daughters (Fenn 4, Bess 6) made a virus related song today. It’s called ‘Virus in The Tree’. It’s written from the perspective of the virus. They’re trying their best to process it all. 🌳 pic.twitter.com/27RuYeWkOo
And finally, for those of us looking for some humor, watch this clever and talented family perform the pandemic version of “One Day More” from Les Miserables. (Thanks to @jtrayers for sharing this on FB.)
I am getting a huge kick out of seeing responses to the Getty Museum Twitter Challenge to recreate a work of art with things you have at home. You can see their invitation to participate in the tweet embedded below.
We challenge you to recreate a work of art with objects (and people) in your home.
🥇 Choose your favorite artwork
🥈 Find three things lying around your house⠀
🥉 Recreate the artwork with those items
The creative responses have been mind-blowing, and another example of how adding a few constraints can often motivate people to be more innovative than leaving things completely open-ended. I’ve added a couple below. Here are some of my favorites (and you can see more by clicking on the above Tweet):
You can learn so much about our culture and the past by comparing these pictures. They are definitely a collection that should become part of the historical archives, allowing future generations to see our ingenuity and sense of humor during this time of crisis.
I’ve seen a large contingent from New Jersey, which is actually where I was born and lived until I was 10 years old. Some other trends I’ve seen – almost everyone has a pet, most students seem to miss going to school (although there are a few who are loving this educational model!), and many students are enjoying the extra family time.
I hope that we will get more entries this week! See the above link for how to access the diary and troubleshooting tips.
Scratch programming is one of the most versatile tools for creativity that my students have ever used. I am constantly in awe of the ideas people come up with using this free coding platform that is available to anyone online. One of the most recent suggestions that is perfect for those of us going a bit stir crazy during the quarantine is to “hack your window.” Basically, you take a picture of any of the windows in your residence, use the Scratch drawing tools to delete the panes, and add what you would like to imagine seeing outside your window. This post from Eduard Perich gives specific instructions for creating an animated scene.
If you are not familiar with Scratch, or would like to start by just seeing what others have done along this theme, here is a link to the Scratch studio where creators are sharing their programs. You will notice that there are submissions in many different languages, which could be fun for translation lessons!
Knowing many of my former students, they would probably enjoy the entry, “Don’t Let the Corona Get In,” which I’ve embedded below. It’s a game where you have to try to click the images of the coronavirus before they get too large and overcome you.
One way to help students learn quickly in Scratch is to allow them to copy a program and remix it. You can do this by clicking on any shared program, choosing, “See Inside,” and then making a copy. You will need to be logged in to Scratch in order to do this.
There are many, many resources out there for getting started with Scratch. This is one of the basic ones, but keep in mind that the platform has been updated since then so some of the screen shots may look different than the current version. You can also do a search of this blog for ideas to use with Scratch and/or Scratch Jr.
I’ve noticed that a popular activity during our COVID-19 pandemic right now is scavenger hunts. My favorite scavenger hunt app is Goosechase, which I wrote about in January of this year. Although I don’t currently have students, I immediately thought of this app when pondering how I would engage my students during online learning. I considered making a GooseChase for other teachers and families to use, but a few others have beat me to the punch – and done much better jobs than I would have done.
First of all, Goosechase itself has begun a “Community Cup 2020” that is open to all to participate. It runs from now until April 3rd, with new missions being added each day. (Apparently the first day included a mission for people to do their best Batman impression, and the video compilation of select submissions is super cute.) The page describing the contest also includes a how-to video in case you are new to Goosechase. Since this is an app that asks for photos and videos of people doing (usually) silly things, please be conscious of privacy issues, especially for minors.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta have also created their own special pandemic-inspired Goosechase. They tweeted that they have one called, “Quarantine Can’t Keep Us Down,” which ends tomorrow, March 26th. You can download the app and do a search for that game title to participate. It has so many missions that I couldn’t count them, and it would definitely be a fun activity for the whole family. According to @BGCMA_Clubs on Twitter, this is just the first of an educational series of scavenger hunts, so follow them on Twitter if you are interested in participating in future hunts.