All posts by engagetheirminds

Inauguration Day Lessons

With only two more days until the United Stated Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021, most of you probably have decided on your lesson plans for the week. However, for those of you who like to fly by the seat of your pants or don’t mind doing a little tweaking when you see something that suits your needs better, here are some lessons you should definitely consider.

Discovery Education is doing an Inauguration Day Virtual Field Trip on 1/19/2021 at 12 PM ET. Dr. Jill Biden will be one of the special guests presenting. If you and your class are unable to attend, don’t despair. There are plenty of other lesson resources on this page from Discovery that you can use for grades K-12.

iCivics has a lesson plan for The First 100 Days that includes a customizable Google Slide Deck.

For grades 9-12, you may want to try this PBS lesson to “Write Your Own Inauguration Speech.”

Although the EdSitement lesson, “I Do Solemnly Swear” is listed for K-12, the activities look more appropriate for upper elementary through middle school.

You might want to focus on the history of poetry that is read at presidential inaugurations, and discuss the work of this year’s inaugural poet, 22 year old Amanda Gorman. What does it mean, if anything, that there was no poet invited to speak at Donald Trump’s inauguration?

If nothing else, I encourage you to watch and listen to Amanda Gorman reading from one of her poems below, “The Miracle of Morning.” Though this is not the one she has written for the inauguration, it very well could be the magnificent anthem of hope that all of us need.

The Homework Gap

For this week’s anti-racist post, I would like to thank Tiffany Arce (@tarce29) for sharing the video below on Twitter. The video was created in support of the 1 Million Project, which was formed in 2017 to give more students access to high-speed internet at home. The initial concern was the academic rift that was being created between students with and without this advantage on homework assignments. As we all know, that rift became gargantuan when entire school days ended up online due to the pandemic.

The embedded video is a simple demonstration of the difference that high-speed internet access can make during one activity on one day in the life of a student. Aside for the fact that the quality and quantity of homework assignments is a topic that needs to be addressed in our education system, I think that we need to accept the fact that high speed internet access has become a necessity rather than a luxury. Even as we are in the process of distributing vaccines right now, people in many parts of the country are at a huge disadvantage if they cannot receive digital information about the availability and method for signing up.

According to the data, an inordinate amount of students who do not have any or adequate internet connections at home are students of color. This is another example of how systemic racism continues to suppress student achievement in education.

If you are a teacher, please consider this carefully when you assign any work to be done at home. In addition, we all need to do what we can to rectify this by supporting programs that provide high speed internet to entire communities instead of just a privileged few.

I will be adding this post to my list of Anti-Racism posts on Wakelet. Please consider sharing it with others, especially those who have the power to make a difference in the classroom. 

Snack Attack

One thing that I love about using Wakelet is that I can save Twitter threads. Sometimes I will see a Tweet from an educator like the one below asking for resources, and I will bookmark it so I can check later for the responses.

This how I found Snack Attack, an animated short that had me chuckling in empathy, outraged at the audacity of some people, only to find myself chuckling in empathy once again.

screenshot from Snack Attack short film

The video is less than four minutes long, but tells an excellent story with a fun twist at the end. If I were using this with a class, I would stop it at about 3:03 minutes in and ask the students how they think the two characters are feeling at that moment, and to back up their inferences. Ethics would be a fun discussion; who is right, and who is wrong? Then I would let it play to the end, glory in their surprise, have a conversation about stereotyping, and ask if they would revise any of their responses.

I’ll be adding this to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Video for Students, which you can find here.

Consider Joining One of These Global Collaboration Projects

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was to find ways students could somehow learn from people in other parts of the world, whether it was peer to peer, or speaking with experts in various fields. In fact, I have a presentation I offer on this to schools. With Skype in the Classroom no longer available (see my update on this post for more info), I have been on the lookout for other ways to “flatten the classroom”, so I thought I would mention a few today that are in the process of accepting more participants now that we are in January, 2021.

Humans of New York: Global Student Writing Project – Based on the Humans of New York photoblog by Brandon Stanton, this project has been adapted for students by Kelly Hilton (@KellyiHilton), Holly Clark (@HollyClarkEdu), and Tanya Avrith (@TanyaAvrith). I am not sure about sign-up deadlines, but I believe I saw somewhere that it is currently open.

Epic Pals Collaborative Reading Project – This is a monthly activity for 1st – 3rd graders hosted by Sara Malchow (@smalchow) using Epic! Books for Kids and Padlet.

Goals Project – Any class from K-College is welcome to participate in this event that is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Sign up now to get involved! (See another idea for incorporating the Sustainable Goals here.)

ScratchPals – The next round begins February 1st, 2021, so sign up here if you want to be involved in this global collaboration using the free Scratch coding site.

Virtual Valentines – This site will be updated very soon for the 2021 school year. My class participated in this in 2018, and really enjoyed it. One of the nice aspects of this project is that you can choose your level of participation.

Whether you decide to join one of these projects, one that isn’t listed, or even start one of your own, you can find a great video to help your students understand the value of global collaboration here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Step Up Your Game

In my latest blog post for NEO, I give ideas for games to play in class that are based on ones found on some of your favorite talk show. The post, “Let’s Talk a Good Game: Mining Talk Shows for Classroom Engagement Ideas,” includes popular examples from daytime and nighttime hosts like Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon. There are suggestions for how to tweak them to use with your curriculum, and they can be adapted for virtual or face to face classes. I even included a Google Slides Template for one of the games. This was a super fun post to write (especially as I hunted for video links to use for reference), and I hope that it will help you to generate some unique ways to introduce, review, and assess learning.

My previous NEO articles have been:  How to Do More with Less Screen Time, How to Facilitate Meaningful Discussions in Hybrid or Virtual ClassroomsTop Ed Tech Tools for DifferentiationFrom Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve EducationApplying Universal Design for Learning in Remote ClassroomsHow Distance Learning Fosters Global CollaborationHow to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.

Image by G Lopez from Pixabay

What’s the Big Idea?

I first mentioned Donna Lasher’s website, Big Ideas for Little Scholars, last January. Since that post, she has added so much more to this incredible resource, so I thought it would be good to revisit it. If you teach gifted and talented and/or advanced elementary or middle school students, Donna’s site should be your number one bookmarked page in your browser. It is incredibly thorough and very well-organized. For example, she has a page of academic and creative contests organized by categories, as well as a link to a page where they are grouped by months they begin. If you are looking for seasonal and holiday lessons, Donna (@bdlasher) has another page for these in chronological order.

With lesson ideas, teaching materials, books, and websites all organized by grade level bands, Big Ideas for Little Scholars makes it simple for teachers and parents to access innumerable resources for children who are craving more challenges in any subject area. In addition, you can visit Donna’s “About” page to learn how you can get invited to access and contribute to a Google Team Drive for teachers of gifted students.

I love to read Donna’s blog posts, and I always look forward to receiving her newsletter in my Inbox. If you feel like you’re in a rut (okay – I realize many of you wish you could get in a rut right now), want to find a fresh way to teach something, or desire ideas to make a topic more engaging, Big Ideas for Little Scholars should be the first place you look.

Through deeper learning experiences students master core academic content and build skills in problem solving and critical thinking. **THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN DIGITALLY ALTERED TO REMOVE OR OBSCURE STUDENT IDENTITIES.**
Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action