Category Archives: 3-12

Blackout Poetry Maker

For those of you inspired by Amanda Gorman to make some poetry of your own, here is an online Blackout Poetry Maker that makes it easy. Though that surely is not Gorman’s method for writing her verses, blackout poetry is one of many “gateways” into this medium that students enjoy. For some other methods, here is a link to one of my old posts with more ideas. Be ready for National Poetry Month in April by writing your first drafts now!

(Can you guess what famous speech I used to create the poem below?)

Merge Mercy with Might

If you couldn’t tell from Monday’s post, I had already fallen in love with the poetry of Amanda Gorman. When our nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate read “The Hill We Climb” at the Inauguration today, I was moved to tears. Her words acknowledge the weight we carry while simultaneously lifting us almost effortlessly to a peak where we can look all around and see new hope. The poem declares that we can be strong as we admit our faults, and move on to correct them in a way that will both heal and empower us.

I added the link to the PBS New Hour lesson that was posted almost immediately following Gorman’s recitation to my list of Inauguration resources, but I wanted to give it a separate place here. For teaching ideas and a transcript of the poem, follow this link. Introduce this incredibly gifted young woman to your students because they are sure to hear more from her in the future.

The Moth Story Map

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is, “The Moth Radio Hour.” It is a weekly compilation of autobiographical stories told by brave souls to live audiences. Last April I wrote about the Moth’s “Storytelling School.” All together, there are 32 lessons. Here is a link to their final one for 2020.

For the new year, the Education team at the Moth has put together a Story Map to help students create their own relatable tales from their lives. To help teachers demonstrate the pieces of the Story Map, there is a video of a student, Dante Jackson, telling the audience at his high school about, “The Prom” he attended in eighth grade. It’s endearing and funny, ticking all of the boxes in the 5 step Story Map.

In addition to the Story Map tools, there are invitations for students in the NYC area to participate in a virtual workshop, and for teachers of 5th-12 grades to attend a virtual Spring Institute. See the Story Map link for more information.

Gifts for the Gifted – Girls Garage

 A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season.  I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December.  These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child.  For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. You may notice that I missed 2019, but I’m making up for it this year with a post every Thursday in November and December up until Christmas Eve.

Before I get into today’s recommendation, I do want to let you know that I will be making one more recommendation next Thursday, Christmas Eve. It will be a digital subscription, so you won’t have to worry about receiving it in time. The price varies, based on the features you want, but the company is also offering a 15% discount code. In addition, I will be giving information on a free class I will be teaching involving this surprise. So, be sure to tune in next week for the final edition for the 2020 Gifts for the Gifted series!

Now, let’s talk about this week’s great gift! I actually wrote about this book in June of this year. The full title is, Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See (Teenage Trailblazers, STEM Building Projects for Girls). The book is written by Emily PilIoton, who founded Girls Garage in California in 2013 with the mission to empower young women from ages 9-18 to design and build. Girls Garage is full of practical advice for using tools and regular maintenance activities that most of us encounter as we live our lives, in addition to instructions for fun building projects.

As with most of my recommendations, this is the kind of gift you should use with the recipient. If you just present the book with no follow-through it will likely sit on a shelf collecting dust. In fact, I think it would be a great idea to put it in a basket with the supplies for one of the projects that you could do together. And if you don’t know a lot about using hand or power tools, that’s even better. Kids love to learn with adults, and it’s a wonderful way to model how to handle problem-solving and mistakes.

Some of you may be asking whether or not this book is suited for boys, given the title. In my opinion, the content is great for anyone who is not used to working with tools. There may be similar books out there that don’t address a specific gender. Yes, I would give it to my own son if I had one – along with his first power drill. However, you will ultimately have to be the judge about whether or not the person would appreciate this gift.

Amazon has made enough money this year, so if you can purchase Girls Garage from Bookshop or directly from your local independent bookstore, please do what you can to help them out!

Crystal Gems Speak Up

This post is a result of a tweet of a Tik Tok of a video clip of a PSA from the Cartoon Network. Yes, my friends, these are the kind of rabbit holes I dive into each day in the interest of finding resources to share on this blog – and in the interest of avoiding copyright violations.

Since we have no one under the age of 10 in our house, we don’t have the Cartoon Network, and I don’t really know who the Crystal Gems are. But they are anti-racist, so that is definitely a big plus in my book. When you visit the Crystal Gems Speak Up site, you will find two short (less than 2 minutes each) videos that tackle the topic of racism. The first one, “Tell the Whole Story,” explains how Thomas Edison would not have been able to invent the light bulb without Lewis Latimer, the Black man who invented the process for carbon filament. Latimer worked for Alexander Graham Bell at one time, drafting the drawings for the patent for the telephone, and then went to work with Edison. You can learn more about this fascinating man, who was also a writer and consultant, here.

In “Don’t Deny It, Defy It!” the animated actors deliver the message that racism exists even if you don’t experience it or observe it in your own life. It’s a gentle reminder of the need to continuously educate each generation about the damage that we do to each other by pretending that racism is in the past and will remain there.

This post is part of a weekly series of anti-racist articles. For previous posts in this series, please visit this link.

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com

Mathigon Puzzle Calendars

Mathigon has appeared on this blog from time to time, most notably on my post, “15 Math Sites that Won’t Make You Fall Asleep,” because of its visually engaging math activities. In the past few years, the site has offered a puzzle calendar with 24 different challenges every December, only one of which can be opened each day. Solutions are given the subsequent days, but you will need to log in (it’s free to register) to see them. If you prefer to pick and choose among puzzles, the puzzles from 2017-2019 are available by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page – great for challenging your advanced students or looking for specific math problems that will support what you might be currently covering in your curriculum.

Since Mathigon’s puzzle calendar is basically a mathematical Advent calendar, I will be adding this post to my Winter Holiday Wakelet. Check it out for some more fun activities to do this December!

Photo by Black ice on Pexels.com