Origami is an activity that strengthens several skills. Two of the most important are spatial reasoning and using a growth mindset to work through difficult challenges. In this video that was featured on the Kuriositas blog, a young man’s grandfather creates a beautiful origami dragon and tasks the grandson with making one of his own. The boy quickly gives up, but a fantastical sequence follows, taking him on a journey of imagination. The short animation (around 8 minutes) is a gorgeous masterpiece, and could easily lead to discussions about the history of origami, growth mindset, the cultural threads that connect generations, and much more. It might be difficult for young students to interpret, but they may be engrossed in the magical appearances of some of their favorite origami shapes.
I’ve written about the OK Go Sandbox before on this blog. For STEM and STEAM teachers, this is a fabulous website provided by the incredibly creative and gifted band, OK Go, to suggest lessons inspired by their music videos. Those videos – masterpieces of science, music, and cinematography – are fascinating to listen to and watch in and of themselves. But combine them with hands-on activities designed to explore topics such as physics and color theory, and you have lessons that are sure to engage your students.
Somehow I missed the band’s release, last year, of their “All Together Now” video, produced near the beginning of the pandemic as each of the members remained isolated in their own homes. They dedicated it to the healthcare workers on the frontlines, and paired it with a challenge to create collaborative art to express gratitude for someone. Curated under the hashtag, #ArtTogetherNow, the art would be posted to this website gallery.
The lyrics of the song mourn the loss of what we had come to expect in our world, but offer hope in the chorus that we will eventually emerge from this crisis transformed – perhaps for the better.
In my latest post for NEO, “Podcast Pedagogy: Leveraging Audio Programs for Learning,” I talk all about the power of podcasts in the classroom – listening and responding to them, as well as creating them. This industry has really become popular in the last few years, and there are so many free materials out there that you and your students can take advantage of for learning and creativity. One fun new app that I mention in the article is “That Part,” which I have enjoyed using to save snippets of podcasts that I want to remember. It’s currently in beta, so there is a glitch every now and then, but it has been great to just take a screenshot of a podcast while I’m walking my dog, and using the app later on to share out the moments of inspiration I think family and friends will appreciate. One resource I don’t share in the article (because I discovered it after the article was submitted) is this awesome free podcasting template from SlidesMania.
April is National Poetry Month in the United States, and it is not too late to celebrate! You may remember when I posted about the Teach Living Poets site way back in January right after being blown away by Amanda Gorman’s recitation of the poem she wrote for the Inauguration. Scott Bayer (@LyricalSwordz), who contributes to the Teach Living Poets site, tweeted out this amazing interactive Google Doc of poetry and accompanying lessons for Latinx poets featured in the publication, LatiNext, from Haymarket Books. Next to each of the eleven poets’ portraits, is a link to a detailed lesson plan, and a link to an interactive image made with Genially that provides even more resources. Kudos to Scott Bayer and Joel Garza (@JoelRGarza) for putting together this excellent compilation of meaningful activities submitted by participants in #TheBookChat. In addition, thanks to the @breakbeatpoets editors, @_joseolivarez @WilliePerdomo and @writeantiracist!
The Adobe Education Exchange has a page of materials that have been curated to “Learn and Create for Social Justice.” (You may need to log in to Adobe in order to access this page.) Some of the resources are from Adobe for Education, and may be designed for Adobe products such as Adobe Premiere, but there are others that come from outside organizations. Even if your district does not use Adobe, you can get ideas and adapt lessons to suit your available resources. There are also several activities for which your students can use the free version of Adobe Spark.
Creating for Social Justice is one way to empower students to take a stand against racism, bringing importance and relevance to your curriculum. For more ways to give students a voice and educate them about what can be done about inequality in our world, please refer to my Anti-Racism Wakelet, which I update weekly!
With Earth Day just around the corner (April 22, 2021), one idea you may want to consider is to “Skype a Scientist.” Using this website, you can browse through a list of hundreds of scientists, or search for them based on keywords such as their specialties. Once you find one you would like your class to converse with, follow the instructions for getting in touch with the scientist through the organization so you can arrange your meeting. (Though I haven’t used the site, I am guessing you can use the video conference tool of your choice, and are not limited to Skype.) Another way to use this resource is to take a look at scheduled events hosted by scientists, and register for free through EventBrite.