3-12, Math, Problem Solving


Maybe the site formerly known as Twitter is circling the drain, but I’m still getting some wonderful resources from it. Case in point is a recent thread started by @kathyhen_ where she asked for more ideas for fast finishers in her class. She helpfully provided a doc that she gives her students, and then many people responded with additional suggestions.

Though many of the sites are already part of my Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep and Brainteasers and Puzzles collections, I did see a few that I need to add. One of those is called, Sumplete.

To play Sumplete, you simply click on numbers in each column and row to “X” them out so that they will actually add up to the sums on the right and bottom of the grid. In the example above, 19 is bolded, which means that row already adds up to it, so you don’t need to delete any numbers. However, the middle row needs a number deleted so that it will correctly add up to 16. I can click on the 5, but I need to make sure the 5’s column will then also equal 10 when it’s deleted, as it does.

The Sumplete page gives more detailed instructions if needed. As you can also see in the above example, there is an arrow next to 3×3, which you can click on to select larger puzzle grids. Once you get to 6×6, you can also choose the difficult level. The most difficult is 9×9 master.

Interestingly, the Sumplete page mentions that the puzzle was created in collaboration with ChatGPT, and you can read all about the steps the creator, Daniel Tait of Hey, Good Game, went through for this process. It inspires me to try my own puzzle creation, so I’ll let you know how that goes 😉

3-12, Critical Thinking, Language Arts

Create a Connections Game

If your students love “Connections” type games similar to the daily New York Times puzzle of that name, you may want to consider either authoring some of your own or challenging your scholars to create them on this site.

I’ve recently been noticing a huge uptick in visits to my post on PuzzGrid, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Even my family and friends have been getting into the NYT “Connections” game, usually right after they do their Wordles. For some, once a day isn’t enough, so that’s where PuzzGrid and the site below, shared by Shelly Sanchez Terrell (creator of many teacher resources such as her famous Teacher Reboot Camp) on LinkedIn, can help you quench your thirst for more. PuzzGrid has hundreds of user-created puzzles, and Swellgarfo’s site has archives of the NYT ones back to June in case you missed some.

Swellgarfo’s site has a simple, but attractive, interface for creating your own Connections games. All you need to do is type in your lists of words and their category descriptions, then click “Generate” to create your puzzle on a separate web page for which you can share the link. There are no ads or other distractions. Of course, I had to make one just to check out how well it works. See if you can figure it out! (If you’re not familiar with how to play the game, I have a more detailed description on my PuzzGrid post.)

I’ll be adding this to my “Brainteasers and Puzzles” collection. And if you’re one of the millions of people that can’t get enough of Wordle, you won’t want to miss my “Wordle Variations,” which currently has more than 50 options!

female scientist wearing latex gloves
3-12, Careers, Math, Science

Women in STEM Posters and Lessons from Ingenium Canada

I want to thank @MsABahri for sharing the link to these free Women in STEM posters on Twitter (still not calling it the other name, sorry not sorry). There are nearly 100 free downloadable posters on this site from Ingenium Canada, and I am sorry to say that most of the names are new to me. Fortunately, each poster in the series has an image as well as a caption to help us all learn more about each of these amazing people. In addition, you can go to this page for lessons that can be used with the posters, and 3 of the posters have been made into coloring sheets that you can download.

Don’t forget to check out the STEM videos, the interactive Timeline, and the other educational resources while you’re on the site. If your students are studying the ocean, there is also an #OceanDecade link that has specific posters and lessons for that topic.

You can also take the “Implicit Association Test” to get an idea of your own implicit bias when it comes to men and women in different careers.

Celebrating Women’s History Month – Getting Excited About STEM (NHQ201703280001)
Celebrating Women’s History Month – Getting Excited About STEM (NHQ201703280001) by NASA HQ PHOTO is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
3-12, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Research, Student Products, Teaching Tools

The Big Fib Podcast Planner

One of my most recent workshop additions is one on using podcasting in the classroom. The title is, “From Script to Sound: Engaging Student Learning Through Podcasting.” During this three hour PD, participants learn how to use podcasts as a tool to help with reading and listening comprehension as well as to develop critical thinking skills. In the second half, they learn how to create podcasts using Canva (yes, it can be done!).

One of my favorite ways to start students off with creating in any kind of media is to use a “mentor” piece, whether it’s text, songs, poetry, video, or podcasts. In this case, we use a podcast called, “The Big Fib.” This is one of many productions suitable for kids that you can find on the GZM classroom site, an excellent resource which I blogged about earlier this year.

Choose an episode of the podcast that has a format your students can emulate for a topic you’re teaching. I chose “The Big Fib” because the premise of the show is that two people are being questioned, an expert and a fibber. The listener is supposed to be able to discern from their responses who is the expert and who is the fibber. There is a different topic each time, such as Ancient Egypt. The structure of the show not only supports critical thinking skills, but also easily allows for students to make their own similar podcast on any topic they are studying in class. (Though it’s not part of the GZM family of podcasts, another great “mentor podcast” is, “Smash, Boom, Best,” which you can read more about in this post.)

During the latest workshop, the teachers got to try out using the podcast planner which I’ve made based on “The Big Fib,” and to spend time working in Canva to make their podcasts. We didn’t have time to finish, but they got a good understanding of the steps, and I was completely floored by their creativity! One group chose the show, “Bluey” as their topic (which is apparently an extremely moving show despite being for pre-school kids), another was doing Edgar Allan Poe, and a third group — composed of an art teacher and two language teachers — had come up with a podcast they called, “Just Say It,” where they would ask a question and the two guests were supposed to respond in Spanish (but one would not be responding correctly).

The variety of topics from the teachers made it clear that this is something that could be done as a great assessment tool in most subjects because you could pretty much have students “show what they know” about anything with this activity.

If you’d like to make your own copy of the planning document they used (I made some modifications based on their feedback), click on this link. And, if you’d like to have me do this workshop with a group of teachers in your district, virtually or in-person, drop me a line at!

brother and sister sitting together on podium and reading from digital pad
K-12, Language Arts, Reading

Young Mensan Magazine

Young Mensan Magazine is a digital magazine for students that is free and available online. Though the target audience is children who are part of Mensa, a non-profit organization open to people who score in the 98th %ile or above on certain IQ tests, the magazine is not restricted to members, and should appeal to students with a variety of interests. It has jokes (the latest edition includes a Mad-Lib type of activity), puzzles, and human interest stores that are contributed by children who are members of Mensa around the world. There are also contests, such as the “Create a Cryptid Contest” (deadline September 30), as well as poems and well-written articles.

Though Young Mensan is a quarterly magazine, you can also access the archive online — dozens of previous issues that go all of the way back to 2009 when the magazine was originally titled, Fred. Some of the themes you’ll find are: “Numbers Game,” “Time Tales,” “2E,” and, “Zombies.”

Whether you assign an article or poem to be read, offer this as an option for “first finishers,” or recommend it to parents of children who are always hungry for new things to read, definitely keep the Young Mensan Magazine in mind as a great option for students searching for engaging and relevant reading material.

crop african american student studying craters of moon on tablet at observatory
Photo by on
Artificial Intelligence, K-12

What Do Students Think About AI?

Since I’m no longer in the classroom, I don’t get the valuable daily perspective of young students about education topics that impact them, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence). When I do get the opportunity to ask students of different ages about how the subject of AI is being handled at their schools, most of them tell me that it’s either being banned or largely ignored. So, I was curious to see a video made by some students at a Code Ninjas location in College Station run by David Hendrawirawan. The students participated in a camp in which the teacher, Julia Weiss, helped them to learn more about Artificial Intelligence.

As these astute young people have concluded, there are some troubling ethical issues surrounding AI, but there are also some very exciting uses that can dramatically improve people’s lives. I would argue that it’s imperative for us to face the reality that AI will be ubiquitous in a short matter of time and that we will be doing our students a huge disservice by ignoring its potential impact.

In a recent presentation that I gave about AI, I included this quote:

We cannot stop AI. What we can do is teach our children what it is and how to use it ethically to solve problems. The good news is that there are lots of resources to help you do this that I’ve been collecting here, including a new page from specifically for teachers. And, there are some tools that can improve your life as educators right now by saving you time, such as Curipod. While we need to be wary of privacy and safety with AI, as with any technology tool, banning its use completely from schools is definitely not the answer.