A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of the activities that I’ve done in the past with my students as the school year comes to a close. I decided to put them in this Wakelet so you don’t have to search for them. On Twitter, Susan Barber (@SusanGbarber) shared a fabulous activity she did with her high school seniors, and I asked for her permission to share. (My post, Blackout Poetry Maker, has been one of the most popular ones this year, so I thought this might be something my readers would enjoy!)
My students had 5 choices for an end of the year activity. One was a college admission essay blackout or whiteout. Love the final products! pic.twitter.com/KTHJj7WgjV
Of course, once people saw her examples, they wanted to know more about the project. It turned out the students had several choices in addition to the blackout poetry of college essays. She later tweeted this Google Slides presentation so people could see the options and examples. As you know, I am a big fan of choice and open-ended activities that allow students to show their creativity, so I am a big fan of Susan’s idea, and I hope you can use it, too!
Way back in 2017, I blogged about a new project I had backed on Kickstarter called Turing Tumble. The game is a mechanical version of a computer, and includes a book with stories and challenges that slowly scaffold the working parts of computers. My students and I liked it so much that I reviewed it on the blog and recommended for my Gifts for the Gifted list in 2018.
Paul Boswell, inventor of Turing Tumble, has a new venture on Kickstarter. The project is called Spintronics, and it is designed to help children (and adults) to learn how electronics work by building mechanical circuits. Like Turing Tumble, Spintronics includes a book of stories and challenges. Without having to risk hot soldering irons or engage in complicated mathematical equations, students can learn the basics and vocabulary of electronics as they build, experiment, and play.
I literally received the e-mail announcing the beginning of the Kickstarter today, and Spintronics is already fully funded – more than 5 times over! So, the good news is that you should be able to receive a kit if you back it. The downside is that you will need to wait until January, 2022, to start playing the game. However, as I learned with Turing Tumble, it is sure to be worth the wait!
To continue this week’s theme of year-end activities to use with students, I want to remind you of this blog post from 2016. We used “Whatzit Tic-Tac-Toe” quite a bit in my class to analyze and synthesize learning, and the open-ended prompts work very well for an end-of-year reflection for upper elementary students. The game comes from Critical Squares: Games of Critical Thinking and Understanding, a book written by Shari Tishman and Albert Andrade for Harvard’s Project Zero, but you can see what the Tic-Tac-Toe game looks like if you go to page 24 at this link. I explain how I used it for reflection in my 2016 blog post, but you will probably find that you can modify it for lots of curriculum ideas. It’s one more way you can still learn and have fun once the year begins to wind down.
Okay, Americans, you may have a different idea come to mind when you hear “short and curly,” but it may help you to know this podcast comes to us from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In Australia and New Zealand, “curly questions” are ones that are difficult to answer; you know – like, “What is the meaning of life?” Short and Curly is an ethics podcast for kids and their families, posing a different “curly question” in each episode. For example, “Should we always be brave?” or “Can we build a world that works for everyone?” The episodes are about 22 minutes long, and have a couple of pauses built in for discussion. You can also download Classroom Resources for some of the episodes, and even purchase a Short and Curly book.
For those of you who read my post last week about Ethics in Bricks, you might want more philosophy resources for kids, and Short and Curly is suited for children in the upper primary age range. Also, don’t forget my latest article for NEO, Podcast Pedagogy, which will give you ideas for how to use these programs with your students.
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.
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!