Disability Awareness Month

One of my favorite resources, StoryCorps, has created a collection of videos in partnership with the Disability Visibility Project for Disability Awareness Month, this October, 2020. You can find the stories here. Some of the stories are animated, while others are just audio. “Leading the Way” is one of the beautifully illustrated videos in this collection, relating a conversation between a blind/deaf father and one of his children. The daughter asks her father about what he is proud of, and he details learning Braille and teaching it to others, “So if I could help some person, then my living will not be in vain.” From this short interview, it is clear that he can also be proud of the children he raised, including the daughter who pledges, “I’m going to take care of you the best I can” to her 95-year-old father. As this story, and so many others tell us, we should never underestimate the positive impact of a human being,

Photo by Danny Nee on Unsplash

PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism

In this week’s anti-racist post, I want to share with you a new 28 minute video from PBS kids called, PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism. There are several ways to view the video, as you will see in the link to the press release. This program is definitely aimed at families and younger viewers, using clips from the PBS animated shows, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, and Arthur. It also includes short discussions between real young children and their parents as they navigate conversations about skin color, being different, and making “good trouble” to stand up for what is unfair. These are not easy topics to cover with any age, but the video shows that discussion is needed and can be done. The children are delightful, exuding wisdom far beyond their years.

This is part of a series of Kids Talk About from PBS. You can find videos from past episodes on their YouTube channel.

Image by Hatice EROL from Pixabay

Here is a list of my previous anti-racist posts:

Also, for more amazing anti-racism resources, check out the Live Binder curated by Joy Kirr.

Halloween During a Pandemic

I went through some of my old Halloween posts, and then scoured the web for some new resources to add. The result is my Wakelet, “Halloween During a Pandemic.” It includes some new treats, such as a free Harry Potter virtual escape room, some fun Halloween Zoom backgrounds, and a podcast episode for kids from Smash, Boom, Best. There are some “tricks” in there, too, such as Halloween STEM activities and really bad Halloween jokes. I also collected a couple of ideas I’ve seen on social media for safely delivering goodies to kids in socially distanced Rube Goldberg kind of way. I hope you can find at least one or two ideas from this list!

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Halloween Music Playlist from Disney

I vividly recall taking out the record album for Disney’s Haunted Mansion and playing it repeatedly for the whole month of October when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that record got thrown away long ago when I moved away from home. So, when I went to the link Disney recently shared for its Halloween music playlist, I was excited to see a track from the Haunted Mansion album, “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” The first five notes brought me back to chilly autumn nights spent imagining the amazing costume I would wear for trick-or-treating that year (conveniently forgetting each year that it was always so cold in New Jersey that I might as well just wear pajamas under my winter coat).

This playlist is available on 11 different music platforms, including YouTube. It includes classic and contemporary songs. There’s a wide variety to appeal to different age groups, and some are less spooky than others.

What can you use this for?

  • Wait time while students are joining class
  • Background music while students are doing independent work
  • Cues for different actions
  • Writing prompts
  • Connecting songs to literature or history
  • Changing the lyrics to fit a different context (My students used to do this with the song, “Superman” by Five for Fighting when we read Tuck Everlasting, and it was powerful!)

I’m sure you can come up with even more ideas!

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Step Inside with Monster Box

As I’ve been going through some of my “Halloween-ish” posts from previous years, I’ve recognized some updating that needs to be done. (Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for nine years now, and wow, have things changed!) For example, I used to do “Misunderstood Monsters” with my younger students, and many of the resources I mentioned in that post from 2012 are no longer available. Fortunately, the adorable short video, Monster Box, (also on YouTube) is still free and easy to access. When I pondered the changes I might make in a current lesson using this, my mind immediately went to the Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero. One routine that I think would be powerful to use with Monster Box would be the “Step Inside” routine. There are three questions students can consider from the perspective of different characters in the video:

What can the person or thing perceive?

What might the person or thing know about or believe?

What might the person or thing care about?

I would have each student choose a character from the video (shopkeeper, young girl, one of the monsters…), and answer those questions with evidence from the story. Another facet that could deepen the discussion would be if the answers to these questions change throughout the story.

You can see some examples of how to use “Step Inside”, and access some templates, from Alice Vigors here.

My previous post included some templates to use if you were discussing Ethics (from Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity), and those are still available. I also went ahead and made this new Google Slides activity for the “Step Inside” Thinking Routine with a template from SlidesMania that is free to copy and use. There’s even a slide with monster parts, so students can build their own monster!

Of course, you can extend this activity by creating your own monster paper circuits.

For other posts on Visible Thinking Routines, with links to more templates, check out this Peel the Fruit activity for Google Slides.

Halloween Paper Circuits 2020

Paper circuits are an excellent way to introduce young students to electricity. Making them is also a good time to work on having a growth mindset, because there are various small details that keep your circuit from working (ripping the copper tape, blowing out your LED, connecting the wrong legs of the LED to the wrong pieces of tape, etc…) The supplies are pretty cheap, so it’s good to have a lot of them available , and I like to have some pre-made circuits so students can test batteries and LED’s when they blame the parts instead of the maker. Here is an updated list of Halloween Paper Circuit resources:

Brown Dog Gadgets (who also posted the Instructables Guide) has a whole page of paper circuit ideas in case you want to branch out from the Halloween theme.

Paper Circuit image from Chris Sloan on Flickr
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