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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.

woman reading a book to the children

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.

mother and baby girl reading a book
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close up of human hand

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…

black chess pieces on chess board

Journeys in Film: Queen of Katwe

I have been eyeing the Journeys in Film website as a potential blog post for a couple of months. You can join the site for free, and it has an extensive library of curriculum to accompany different movies. The only downside, of course, is that you need to be able to somehow access the movies — something that can be quite cumbersome in schools. Though Journeys in Film does not solve that problem, the site does have a nice link for each film that offers suggestions for all of the ways to stream or purchase each film.

The latest resource I’ve noticed from Journeys in Film is for a Disney film called Queen of Katwe. This movie is based on a true story about a Ugandan girl who meets a mentor who teaches her how to play chess. I thought it was a fitting resource to share today, when we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. with a Day of Service, as the discussion guide highlights the incredible value of mentors in the lives of young people. I have personally seen students’ lives changed by mentors and Queen of Katwe is a shining example of the difference mentors can make.

The curriculum/discussion guides on this site are extremely thorough and of high quality. Though I think full-length movies should rarely be shown during a school day (try Class Hook for short clips that support your curriculum), there are definitely exceptions to this rule. If you want to inspire your students, apply some of the lessons of chess to everyday life, or motivate a new generation of mentors, Queen of Katwe may be worth a couple of hours of class or after-school time.

black girl playing chess at table in room
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Stories That Need to Be Told

On Monday, January 17th, 2022, we will honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. I say, “we,” though I know that not everyone, even today, appreciates this man’s contributions to the advancement of civil rights for all. And there is a disturbing amount of people in our country who would rather not acknowledge our past. Some will ignore the date, some will protest against it, and some will argue that commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. somehow harms the children of this generation.

My anti-racist link for this week is to a Storycorps video about one of the men who motivated Martin Luther King Jr. to become an activist, Maceo Snipes. Snipes was an army veteran who returned from fighting for our country in World War II, voted the next day, and was murdered for exercising his right — one of the many rights he defended valiantly as a soldier.

This egregious crime prompted a young college student, Martin Luther King Jr., to write a letter that was published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. In that letter, King refers to the “scarecrow” arguments racists utilize to defend their terrible acts, attempting to justify themselves by claiming they were only protecting White people from Black people who want to take over. Sound familiar?

We often recall Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech this time of year, but I think we need to make sure we don’t forget why that speech needed to be made. It’s not pleasant to think about the horrific sins of our past, but we are in grave danger of returning to them if we choose to ignore them.

For more resources for teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr., you can go here. I will also be adding a link to this post to my collection of Anti-Racist Resources.

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person pointing on a miniature toy robot

Day of AI

I know, I know. You’ve got tons of curriculum to cover and here I am telling you about learning that isn’t going to be on a standardized test. But here are a few things that might change your mind about participating in Day of AI 2022: it’s on May 13 (so many of you will be done with standardized tests, or close to finished and we all know how challenging it is to keep students engaged at the end of the school year), you don’t have to do it on the exact date, you need absolutely NO experience, and the resources and participation are absolutely free.

No matter what your opinion is of Artificial Intelligence, the fact is that it is becoming more and more prominent in our everyday lives. Explaining it to our students, and educating them on the potential good and bad ways that AI can impact their lives makes sense — and the resources provided on the Day of AI page are fascinating and relevant. (There are more to come, but you do need to sign up for the free registration to access them.) There will be activities for grade K-12, and you might find, as I did while looking at the materials, that you learn some things you didn’t know as well.

One of the most popular posts in recent months on this blog has been the one I did last year on AI generated poetry, so I know that there is definitely some interest in this topic among my readers. Code.org has dedicated an entire section on AI lessons for students here, and I have a Wakelet collection of other educational resources on Artificial Intelligence as well. From Blueprints for Alexa to Machine Learning for Kids, and multiple fun Google Experiments, there a multiple ways to help your students understand the basics of AI and consider its implications while having fun.

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