people in green and blue traditional dress standing near brown horse
Anti-Racism, history, Social Studies

Lunar New Year

As I was searching for links to add to my February Wakelet, I knew that I needed to include some for Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated on Feb. 1 this year (2022). I am always struggling to be more inclusive with my vocabulary, and was surprised to learn that there are other countries (notably Korea and Vietnam) that celebrate the New Year based on the cycles of the moon. This means that it is probably more fitting for us to call this holiday the “Lunar New Year” so that we are acknowledging all of those who observe this holiday, rather than just one large one. It might be interesting for your students to do some research to find out how the Lunar New Year traditions differ in each of the three main countries who celebrate it.

Though it may seem like just semantics to call it Lunar New Year instead of Chinese New Year, I am painfully conscious that centering the holiday around one country made me unaware that others also celebrated until I was 53 years old. It’s not a small thing to ignore something that is important to millions of people. So, now that I know, I will definitely try to use “Lunar New Year” unless I am referring to a country-specific celebration. Here are some student perspectives on why they believe the phrasing is important.

I’ll be adding this to my Anti-Racism Wakelet, and you can find links to educational sites about the Lunar New Year on my February Wakelet. Please let me know if you have more ideas to include!

By the way, Google “Chinese” or “Vietnamese” or “Korean” New Year, and wait a moment on the page for a special surprise!

Photo by Khoa Võ on Pexels.com

Games, Problem Solving

Woohoo for the Wordle Wakelet!

I’ve been watching the “Wordle” craze for a few weeks, and observing its slow creep into the classrooms. For those of you who have been lucky enough to escape this addiction in the form of a game invented by Josh Wardle (I confess that I am a Wordle fanatic, so there is a small amount of sarcasm in my choice of words), here is an explanation of the colored squares you may have observed showing up on social media streams. And no, we are not talking about word clouds, which were all the rage a decade ago!

As I was collecting resources and preparing for today’s post, I was also attempting to make my own lame version of a customizable Wordle game using conditional formatting in a spreadsheet so I could share it with teachers. Fortunately, I only wasted about 10,000 hours on that (but man, I now know a lot about conditional formatting) before I ran across this brilliant suggestion in a Twitter thread, My Wordle Me. This may be one of the best ways to go if you are using it with kids. As some of us know, there was a Wordle answer last week that was not inappropriate if you use it in the right context (think something painful you might do to your thumb with a needle), but highly amusing to middle schoolers who are always good at jumping to the exactly wrong context. There was a very fun Twitter thread of teachers who had that entertaining experience…

So, I had that link to share, and then came across a math one that I know my gifted students would have loved, called Oodle. Great! Now I had two fabulous links to give readers!

And then I got an email from a community I belong to for TCEA, and was blown away by the amount of Wordle variations out there! I want to thank Lori Gracey (@lgracey) for sharing those, but I couldn’t find a way to link to it, so I decided to make a Wakelet. In addition Lori Gracey shared a Twitter post from Tony Vincent (@TonyVincent) from Learning in Hand, who also shared some that were new to me. His post even includes a link to one where you can play against someone at the same time.

So, why play Wordle in the classroom? Well, as you know I think it’s great to borrow game ideas to shake things up in the classroom. And, of course, with the customizable version you can directly target vocabulary from your curriculum. Another big benefit is the logic and problem solving skills students need to use, and trying to improve on their own performance from the previous attempts. But one indirect advantage is that it helps you to challenge your assumptions. Sometimes I won’t guess a word because I think it’s too slangy or could be misconstrued (like the aforementioned answer that set middle schoolers giggling around the world). So I’m trying to get over that. The other assumption you might make which can also be a stumbling block is that once you get a letter correct, you tend to forget that it can still be in other places in the word — so you mentally eliminate it from the other spaces. It reminds me of a post I did almost 6 years ago about a TedEd video where people who need to solve a math pattern have a terrible time because they nearly all make the same assumption and can’t get past it.

Another interesting logic activity to do with Wordle is to start from the answer and work backward to see if you can figure out the other words someone guessed!

Also, if you want to get deep with students philosophically, there is the interesting social contract that seems to be observed by a huge portion of Wordle players that “what happens in today’s Wordle stays in today’s Wordle.” Most, though not all, are careful about not revealing the answer and ruining the fun for people who have yet to play that day’s game.

All of this is to say that I made a Wakelet of Wordles (versions of Wordle games), which will be a stand-alone collection, but I will also be adding a link to it in my Brainteasers and Puzzles Wakelet. Don’t forget that you can follow all of my Wakelets here.

Also, just a reminder to sign up to receive notification about when my new courses for credit come online. The first one, “An Introduction to Genius Hour,” will be free for a limited time!

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K-12, Teaching Tools

Valentine’s Day 2022

I’ve noticed an uptick in views of my Valentine’s Day posts, so I just wanted to remind everyone that I have a huge collection of ideas on my Wakelet here. I also wrote a post about being inclusive on Valentine’s Day because it can easily end up being a day of hurt feelings. I’m in the midst of creating a February Holiday Wakelet, so please check back soon (or follow me on my Wakelet profile page) if you are looking for other February activities. Sorry this is such a short post, but I’m juggling lots of projects at the moment!

Photo by How Far From Home on Pexels.com
Teaching Tools

New Online Courses Coming Soon!

I’m super excited to announce that I’m adding a couple of new features to the website. One is that I will be publishing a newsletter, which will include links to posts and some information that you may not find on the blog. The other is that I will be adding some online courses that I will be offering for credit. The first one, An Introduction to Genius Hour, will be free for a limited time, and you can earn one credit for it. To be notified when this course is available (probably in a week or two) and/or to start receiving the newsletter, I am asking interested readers to opt in by filling out the form below. Your e-mail address will not be sold or shared with any 3rd party, and you can, of course, opt out whenever you choose.

Anti-Racism, K-12, Teaching Tools

Talking To Your Child About Race

As regular readers know, I try to do a post each week focused on anti-racism. This week, I wanted to share the blog articles for discussing race with children that are on the Ensemble Therapy site. I like that these are broken down by age group. While they are targeted for parents, I think these articles give good advice on what is developmentally appropriate that can be helpful to teachers as well. There are also links to resources such as literature that could be useful in the classroom. Of course, some teachers are also parents, so these articles might perform double duty!

Since I am based here in Texas, I know that talking about race in the classroom is a sensitive issue. But we are not going to do our students any favors by ignoring history and current events. So, I will keep providing suggestions, archiving them in my Anti-Racism Wakelet, and hoping that education will open minds and make our world a better place.

Photo by William Fortunato on Pexels.com
Creative Thinking, K-12, Student Products, Websites

An A-Z of Creativity

I know I probably throw around the phrase “treasure trove” quite a bit, but I can’t resist using it for this extraordinary gift that Donna Golightly (@DonnaGolightly1) has painstakingly assembled and shared for all to use. Her Book Creator resource, An A-Z of Creativity is full of free website tools (and one non-web based tool, Toontastic) that can really make creating fun for both teachers and students. I feel like I am pretty knowledgeable about what’s out there, but I definitely found quite a few links that were new to me, and I imagine you will, too. Thanks to Donna for curating these and making them available for everyone! I’ll be adding this to my “Fun Stuff” Wakelet. When I have time. After I experiment with some of the sites…