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happy multiethnic children discussing structure of primitive organism

Genius Hour Teacher Planner

I am gearing up to do some professional development sessions on Genius Hour this summer, and realized that it might be helpful to have a one-pager for teachers to refer to as they begin planning to do Genius Hour with their students. Genius Hour can come in many forms, depending on your situation, so I thought it might be helpful to have a way to look at the “Big Picture” before designing the details. Most of the planning sheets that I see when I do searches are for the students, but I’d love for you to let me know if you have seen any that are for teachers. I am in the process of updating my Genius Hour resources, including the digital ones, and will let you know when the new and improved page is posted. In the meantime, if you are thinking of doing Genius Hour next school year, feel free to download this planner. Let me know if you see anything that needs to be tweaked! Also, if you are interested in me doing a professional development for your school or district on Genius Hour, Design Thinking, Coding, or Maker Education, please e-mail me at engagetheirminds@gmail.com!

Access the PDF for this page here
mother helping her daughter use a laptop

Make Code Arcade Beginner Skillmap

The Arcade Beginner Skillmap is a new resource from Microsoft’s Make Code which is perfect for students who want to learn how to design their own video games. It is free, and includes step-by-step tutorials for using block coding to make greeting cards, clicker, and collector games – all within your browser. I don’t have a minimum age suggestion, but would recommend that users have basic reading skills to help them through the tutorials. Once completing the beginner skillmap, burgeoning young game designers may want to work on one of the other skillmaps on the arcade, make their own project from scratch, or take advantage of one of the other tutorials. Then, keep their momentum going by showing them the hundreds of Hour of Code tutorials available on code.org.

Juneteenth

I confess that I never heard of Juneteenth until I moved to Texas. Even then, it took years before I realized it was an actual historical event, not just a fun portmanteau. To learn more about Juneteenth, which is now a Federal holiday, you can read this article from Learning for Justice. Another good resource is this article from The Kid Should See This about the Google Doodle for Juneteenth, which includes a video and narration by LeVar Burton. For a teaching resource (if you happen to be in school still, or want to bookmark it for next school year) this page from PBS has good discussion questions and video links while also bringing up the reasons some anti-racists may not be in favor of Juneteenth as a national holiday. For information about the symbolism of the Juneteenth flag, pictured below, see this page.

This resource will be added to my Anti-Racist Wakelet. You can currently find more than 45 other resources at that link.

Image by Wynn Pointaux from Pixabay

Reimagine, Recreate, Restore

The beautiful poem, “Reimagine, Recreate, Restore” was written and performed by Jordan Sanchez for World Environment Day this month. You can’t help but feel inspired to get up each day and do something positive to preserve our beautiful world. I will be adding this to my poetry Wakelet, which also includes this blog post on Spoken Word poetry. To learn more about Jordan Sanchez, visit her website where you can also find other examples of her incredible work.

Image by ejaugsburg from Pixabay

My Dog Can’t Do Any Math

So I have this friend who is about to adopt a dog and its foster mom said that it’s a great dog and it even knows how to “perimeter poop.” And I said, “OMG how do you train a dog to perimeter poop?!!!!!” And she said, “I was going to ask you!” Because I have three dogs. But sadly, none of them perimeter poop because I never knew that concept existed — so I guess you could say that they just “area poop.” You’re probably wondering why I am telling you this. Basically because I initially regretted that I never taught my dogs to perimeter poop but then I started regretting that I’m not in the classroom anymore because this could definitely be turned into the kind of math word problem my students would have thoroughly enjoyed. Once a teacher, always a teacher. And then I got philosophical as I realized that this was a classic example of someone having a lot of experience (me: having owned countless dogs) learning from someone new (her: adopting her family’s first dog ever) and that’s the lesson I should impart to you – that no matter how much you think you know about a topic it’s not as impressive as a dog that can defecate with geometric precision.

And since this blog is more about sharing resources, really, than about random thoughts about my inadequacies as a teacher of children and/or canines, here is a math resource on gorilla poop (I couldn’t find one on dogs) from the Lincoln Park Zoo. Or you can watch the video below of Maggie, the Jack Russell who supposedly does math (I think there’s some conspiring going one between Maggie and the owner). I like how one of the young students says in bewilderment, “My dog can’t do any math!”

If you want some more math resources, try my Wakelet of Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep.

The dog who poops on our sidewalk – you know, where we walk

Revisiting Makey Makey

I’ve written a lot about Makey Makey in the past, including recommending it in my “Gifts for the Gifted” series in 2014. (See all of my past recommendations here.) I recently visited their website, and noticed that there is a now a nice layout of lesson plans to use with this versatile tool. Some other ways I’ve seen people use it are as a Book Tasting tool and an Exit Ticket Data Tracker. My students used it for interactive onomatopoeia in one instance, and as a game controller for their Scratch games in our game design unit. There are plenty of ways to get creative with Makey Makey, and it’s very user-friendly. If you are considering integrating more Design Thinking into your classroom, a Makey Makey is an inexpensive way to encourage innovation and experimentation with your students!

image from Josh Burker on Flickr