Category Archives: 6-12

That One Rule


Our district’s teachers returned to work today.  At a gathering of the teachers in our high school cluster, the superintendent of our district invited some very brave secondary students on the stage to answer some questions.  One of the questions was, “If you could change anything about your campus, what would it be?”

Two of the students responded that they would encourage more teachers to “make connections” with their students.  They added that students want to perform better for teachers who “care about us.”  Another student responded that he would like all teachers to come to school “passionate about what they teach” because the teachers’ passions for their subjects inspire their students, and when students see that “teachers don’t care, then we don’t care either.”  The fourth student said that he would like an extra period added to each day because “there isn’t enough time to do all I want to do.”

When I saw the website, That One Rule, I thought about the responses from these students, and wondered what might be “That One Rule” educators and students might submit for making our educational system work.  Scrolling through the other submissions on That One Rule, I did not see any inappropriate ones, but you should be careful about showing it to younger students just in case.  Perhaps a screen shot, or collecting a few of them on Pinterest (sharing buttons are conveniently located on each rule), would be a good conversation starter in your classroom, or your faculty meeting, or in the teacher’s lounge…

When it’s all said and done, what is your One Rule?


Follow Your Curiosity

With the recent touchdown of the Mars rover, Curiosity, the beginning of the school year would be a great time to ignite your students’ curiosity about space exploration.  On the Follow Your Curiosity site, NASA has provided 5 lesson plans with student and teacher guides for grades 6-8.  I think that you could modify them for a bit lower or higher grades on either end, though.  The site includes video clips and many hands-on activities, including a simulation activity of a Mars rover and the creation of a 3-D Mars community.  Visit Follow Your Curiosity for a great selection of Rover Resources! is a website from the Discovery Channel.  It is visually appealing, and has many topics that you might be, well, curious about.  For example, you can see the 30 strangest landmarks in America or view an image gallery of geniuses. is not “vetted” for educational purposes, but there is a link to Curiosity in the Classroom, which is.  Curiosity in the Classroom offers resources for parents, students, and teachers including lesson plans and downloadable activities.  It also gives information on careers and fun quizzes for students to take.  This portion of the site is aimed at students in 6th-12th grades.

If you have secondary students who are working on independent projects, but cannot seem to narrow down a topic, might be the place to send them.

Pocket Law Firm

Pocket Law Firm is an iDevice app that is free.  It comes to us from Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics program, which has a wonderful website that I have featured on this site.  Pocket Law Firm is a game designed to teach about the Constitution.  In the game, the user is in charge of a law firm, and must “match” the clients to the lawyers who can best fight for their rights.  By earning points, the user can hire more lawyers, and buy ads and furniture for the firm.  As lawyers win trials, they develop more experience, and can help with additional constitutional rights.

If you have a student who is interested in the law, or wants to learn more about our Constitution, this simulation will satisfy his or her quest for knowledge.

What is a Flame?

As part of the World Science Festival going on in New York this weekend, The Flame Challenge (presented by Alan Alda) asked adults to come up with a way to explain what a flame is to an 11-year old.  The finalists will be judged by a panel of, well, 11-year olds, fittingly enough.  This particular animated video, “What is a Flame?” caught my eye, and my ear, with its graphics, comedy, and music.  But, does it meet the challenge?  We will find out on 6/2/2012.  You can see the other finalists on this page, and judge for yourself who should be the winner.

Estimation vs. Calculation

Estimation vs. Calculation is one of many interactive math bulletin board ideas made available by Kutztown University.  Each of the bulletin boards is designed by a college student studying to become a teacher, has accompanying pictures, directions on how to replicate the board, and worksheets.  Most of them are for secondary school, but  I noticed a few, such as the Estimation one, that would be appropriate for upper elementary.  I especially liked the warning that appeared at the end of the instructions for Estimation vs. Calculation.  The creator, Sara Karahoca, states, “WARNING!!!!!! A bulletin board with candy is very enticing. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE WITH COLLEGE STUDENTS (as they will eat all your candy). NOT RECOMMENDED IN HIGH TRAFFIC/UNSUPERVISED AREAS (as students, hungry professional staff, and/or wild animals may also eat all your candy and steal your smiley faces.)”  A sense of humor always helps!

The History of English in Ten Minutes

The History of English in Ten Minutes is a series of short animated videos from Open University.  They are humorous and quick – so quick that you may need to replay them a few times in order for them to sink in.  They are slightly irreverent, and aimed at the 12 and up crowd, so please preview them before showing them to a class. I like the Shakespeare one since my daughter has been recently studying the famous playwright:

Open University also offers 7 videos in their series 60-Second Adventures in Thought, which includes interesting philosophical topics such as The Grandfather Paradox.