Category Archives: 3-12

Evaluating Online Information

I recently curated an entire list of sites to help teachers use in the classroom for lessons on evaluation online information – and most of the links on the list came from Facebook. I am not ignorant of the irony in that statement, but I will say that the particular Facebook group that this came from is my favorite and most educational – the Distance Learning Educators group. If you are looking for help or ideas in anything related to distance learning, this group is extremely knowledgeable and supportive. When a teacher recently asked for advice for lessons to use with her 12th graders about fake news, a stream of educators responded, and most of the answers were new to me.

My recent post on Factitious and Spot the Troll was beginning to get a bit unwieldy as I kept updating it, so I decided to move on over to a shareable list on Wakelet. (Here is my post about Wakelet in case you are new to it.)

This is a live document, so I will continue adding resources as I find them. I hope you find at least one useful link for your own classroom in this list!

Image by Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

Facilitating Meaningful Discussions in The Virtual or Hybrid Classroom

My latest blog post for NEO is all about encouraging students to participate in purposeful conversations about their learning – a challenging task even in a traditional classroom. As many teachers are currently working with students remotely or in a combination of face-to-face and remote, new complications have arisen when it comes to meaningful peer-to-peer discussions. In my NEO post, there are many resources for teachers that range from building a safe community to concrete methods to encourage all students to take an interest and offer their voices. I hope you will find it helpful.

My previous NEO articles have been:  Top Ed Tech Tools for Differentiation, From Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve EducationApplying Universal Design for Learning in Remote ClassroomsHow Distance Learning Fosters Global CollaborationHow to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.

Next month’s post for NEO is, “How to Do More with Less Screen Time,” and I really would love any ideas you can give me for that article in the next two weeks.

A ninth-grade student explains a new algebraic concept to his classmate.
Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Halloween Paper Circuits 2020

Paper circuits are an excellent way to introduce young students to electricity. Making them is also a good time to work on having a growth mindset, because there are various small details that keep your circuit from working (ripping the copper tape, blowing out your LED, connecting the wrong legs of the LED to the wrong pieces of tape, etc…) The supplies are pretty cheap, so it’s good to have a lot of them available , and I like to have some pre-made circuits so students can test batteries and LED’s when they blame the parts instead of the maker. Here is an updated list of Halloween Paper Circuit resources:

Brown Dog Gadgets (who also posted the Instructables Guide) has a whole page of paper circuit ideas in case you want to branch out from the Halloween theme.

Paper Circuit image from Chris Sloan on Flickr

3-2-1 Bridge Slides Activity

Like last week’s “Peel the Fruit” activity adapted from Harvard’s Project Zero, 3-2-1 Bridge is another Visible Thinking Routine that I’ve used with my students to elicit deeper introspection and understanding of a topic. You can see my initial post on the routine here. 3-2-1 Bridge is similar to a K-W-L chart, but it requires higher order thinking. Students are given a topic, and write down 3 words it initially makes them think of, then two questions, and 1 simile or metaphor to describe it. After learning more, they go through this process again, and make a “bridge” connection between their first impressions and their later ones. You can see examples of how this routine can be used in the classroom on this website created by Alice Vigors.

For online learning, you could use the Slides activity I am sharing. I considered a few ways to use this. You could use slides 2-4 for backgrounds on a Google Jamboard for collaborative work or in a PearDeck or Nearpod presentation (once before they learn about the topic, and then after – with the addition of slide 5). Alternatively, you could take out slides 2-5, and then assign the activity to individual students or pairs to work on together. Either way, I think that it is good to do the reflection questions because metacognition is so important when using these routines.

If you are interested in more interactive slides activities, try visiting this post, and if you want more Visible Thinking Routines on Slides, be sure to visit the Peel the Fruit Slides Activity post.

Peel The Fruit Slides Activity

UPDATE 10/13/2020: Here are links to some more Thinking Routine activities I made on Google Slides: 3-2-1 Bridge and Step Inside Monster Box.

I am a gigantic fan of Harvard’s Project Zero Thinking Routines. As distance learning has become a necessity for many teachers and students, I have been pondering what these routines might look like when conducting virtual discussions. I was in the middle of designing an interactive Google Slides presentations for one of my favorite routines, “Peel the Fruit,” when I saw a tweet from Dr. Catlin Tucker sharing some slides that she had made for Thinking Routines. Fortunately, my work was not a duplicate, as her slides are for 5 other great routines!

For my “Peel the Fruit” presentation, I linked the source I’ve adapted it from in the first slide. You can also see some other important links on this blog post. The 2nd slide in this presentation was actually designed on a Master Slide so that students don’t inadvertently change it. The slide has links to each of the student slides, so that when it is time to discuss, the teacher can click back and forth from each “layer” of the fruit. The home button on each student slide brings you back to the original diagram.

I envision that once a class has begun to study a topic, the teacher can assign students to begin on different slides, typing their comments in the tables. They can move onto a different slide once they have commented. If you need new slides, I would add them to the end, or else your hyperlinks will need to be changed. Once students have added their thoughts, the teacher can discuss with the whole class, and go over the reflection at the end of the slide show.

If you have not used this Thinking Routine before, you can see videos of it in action with a 4th grade class here. (Scroll down.)

To make a copy of my Peel the Fruit presentation for your own use, click here.

Tumble Together

As some of you know, I have a slightly scary addiction to Kickstarter.  However, I feel like I’ve been pretty good at choosing some winning products to back, which makes my addiction a bit less scary – though not less impactful on my wallet.  The Turing Tumble was one Kickstarter product that lived up to its promise, and I even recommended it for Gifts for the Gifted in 2018.  You can read more about it here.  I have used Turing Tumble with various age groups, and the kids who love it often don’t want to let anyone else try.  Put that together with, well, Covid-19, where you don’t exactly want to encourage people to share their toys, and you might have a bit of a challenge playing this game.  This is where the recently launched site, Tumble Together, can help out.  Tumble Together is a Turing Tumble simulator (say that 10 times fast).  You can mesmerize yourself by moving the pieces and dropping the marbles to your heart’s content.  You can even click on the menu to do 30 different challenges.  But the best part is that you can open your own shared room and invite your friends to work on it with you!  Without worrying about germs!

Turing Tumble – it’s a game, it’s an education, it’s a plethora of conundrums.  Check it out.  And, don’t forget that Turing Tumble offers Educator Resources here, including discounts on the physical game which is a delight.

Tumble Together
Click here to go to Tumble Together, a Turing Tumble simulator that allows you to invite friends to play!