I want to thank @MsABahri for sharing the link to these free Women in STEM posters on Twitter (still not calling it the other name, sorry not sorry). There are nearly 100 free downloadable posters on this site from Ingenium Canada, and I am sorry to say that most of the names are new to me. Fortunately, each poster in the series has an image as well as a caption to help us all learn more about each of these amazing people. In addition, you can go to this page for lessons that can be used with the posters, and 3 of the posters have been made into coloring sheets that you can download.
Don’t forget to check out the STEM videos, the interactive Timeline, and the other educational resources while you’re on the site. If your students are studying the ocean, there is also an #OceanDecade link that has specific posters and lessons for that topic.
You can also take the “Implicit Association Test” to get an idea of your own implicit bias when it comes to men and women in different careers.
When Dana Goodier invited me to be on the Out of the Trenches podcast, I almost said, “No, thanks.” This wasn’t a reflection on the podcast, just of my own anxiety. You see, a few years ago I was diagnosed with laryngeal dystonia and my brief celebration after finally getting a name for the strange things my voice has done all my life quickly became a frustrating quest to get the right treatment. There is no cure for this disease, and the most promising treatment is Botox injections in your vocal cords. These aren’t only expensive, but the right dosage varies incredibly and can result in temporary side effects like breathiness and “Minnie-Mouse” voice. Too little can mean that you just paid a lot of money to have a normal voice for 7 days, and too much can mean that you’re sidelined for 3 weeks from talking on the phone or attending raucous parties because no one can hear you.
So, I’ve been getting treatments, and sometimes my voice is great and sometimes I sound like SpongeBob, and sometimes I sound like I just spent the night before screaming at a rock concert. But I went ahead and said, “Yes,” to Dana anyway because I’m kind of done with making every decision based on the predictability of my voice quality.
Our interview was months ago, but the podcast just got posted. Of course, I had to listen to it first so I could decide if I should pretend it didn’t exist (even though odds are good someone would find it anyway) or share the link with you. Like most of you, I expect, I despise the sound of my recorded voice — even when the treatments are working — but I also felt responsible for listening to the episode because I couldn’t remember anything I’d said and I wanted to make sure I didn’t blurt out something stupid that would get me canceled.
Fortunately, my voice is not nearly as annoying as I feared, though it does break in a few parts. And I managed to not say anything super controversial, thanks to Dana being a great host who prepared me well. You can listen to the episode here if you want to judge for yourself.
Even if my particular episode isn’t your jam, Dana has a perfectly wonderful podcast voice, which you may want to listen to in one of her many other Out of the Trenches episodes. The podcast, and Dana’s book, are all about the resilience of educators. You can learn about obstacles they’ve faced and overcome, and advice they would give to others. One thing that I know I learned as a teacher (which I share during the interview) is to be less pig-headed and actually consider what experienced teachers have to say. If it wasn’t for one of those sage mentors, my teaching career would have ended after 8 years instead of 29. So, give yourself the gift of some positive, but practical, advice to drown out all of the hate that seems to be aimed at this profession right now.
By the way, though being on podcasts stresses me out, I love helping students to create them! I offering a new workshop this year for teachers of grades 6-12 called, From Script to Sound: Engaging Student Learning through Podcasting. Contact me if you’re interested! email@example.com
I was recently given the opportunity to review a nonfiction book by Caitlin Sockin, Dig It! Archaeology for Kids. The title is scheduled for release on April 25, 2023, but you can pre-order it now. The recommended reading age window is 10-16, and I feel like that’s absolutely on target. If you teach or parent children in grades 4 and up who have shown the slightest interest in archaeology, this 100 page book will become an indispensable resource for them. Of course, history, geology, and art play big roles in the study of archaeology, so devotees to those topics will also find many rewards when reading this book.
Writing nonfiction for kids is an especially challenging task as the author needs to develop a format that will deliver facts while maintaining the reader’s engagement throughout the book. Sockin achieves this by perfectly blending photographs and illustrations with fascinating information that will intrigue even well-read amateur archaeologists. Thoughtfully broken into bite-sized pieces, the material in Dig It! combines details of the work of archaeologists with tantalizing examples of some of the most famous archaeological sites discovered around the world. Readers can digest the book in small sections, or devour it from cover to cover in one session. Unlike a dry textbook, Dig It! is equally rich with both information and entertainment.
Although 10-16 year olds may be the ideal readers of Dig It!, I think adults will also find the book absorbing. Though I’m not an expert on archaeology by any means, I approached reading the sample with the idea that a children’s book about the subject would not teach me many new things — and was delighted to find out that I was wrong. For example, I had no idea that there is a Woodhenge in England in addition to Stonehenge, or that the clues that archaeologists look for include artifacts, features, and ecofacts. (By the way, Dig It! does a good job of explaining new terms in layman’s language on the pages the words first appear, and also has an excellent glossary at the end.)
Throughout the book you will find questions that prompt curiosity and QR codes that can be scanned to visit interactive websites related to archaeology. In addition, there are recommended additional resources that can be done in school or at home, such as science experiments, models, and games. I like the sections that suggest career options for people interested in archaeology and outline why archaeology is important so that readers can envision how something they might currently view as a hobby can actually transform into a meaningful career for them.
How do you get children to enthusiastically read nonfiction books about dusty relics of the past? Ask Caitlin Sockin, because in Dig It! she has cracked the code.
One hashtag that is always sure to reveal exciting math resources is #MTBOS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere). That’s how I discovered Nathan Day (@nathanday314), and a couple of his great shares. With his permission, I am putting the links in this post as I really want more people to become inspired by math and mathematicians. If you’re a teacher with a few blank spaces on your wall, some of these might be great additions!
First, here are Nathan’s files for 50 Mathematical Quotations. You can access them as a Powerpoint file (which can be added to Google Drive and converted to Slides if needed) or PDF:
I love seeing the diversity and representation (53 countries), and I think it will help your students to see that as well.
Thanks to Nathan for putting these together and sharing them! He also gave some shouts out to @DrStoneMaths, @SimonYoung10, and @Desmos for the versions/blog post on which he based his Famous Mathematicians posters, so thanks to them, too. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”
Even though I’m semi-retired and summers now tend to be my busiest time of year, I still fall back on a few of my old habits from my 29 years of teaching. One of them was to organize my home closets every summer, and so I started going through my memory boxes this year in the hopes of weeding out some things and gaining back some storage space.
Over those 29 years, I kept every card or letter from my students that included something they drew or their own handwriting. Going through the boxes of those notes has been bittersweet as my heart fills up with the beautiful memories. I think about the fact that I no longer have a life that is constantly enriched by a mosaic of personalities who could astonish me with their incredible insights, keep me grounded with their honest feedback, and sometimes make my eyes well up with their generous outpouring of love.
Many teachers who are about to return to work for a new school year may wish they were in my current shoes: semi-retired, often working from home, finally the one who decides on my own schedule. I remember beginning every school year with a mixture of hope and mourning, excited to work with students again but sad to lose the sense of balance and control I temporarily regained during my weeks away. And every year it seems there are more challenges and more concerns.
But you are needed and you are appreciated, teachers. It’s hard to hold on to that when you are in the midst of it all, and when you look at all of the sacrifices that you make. There isn’t a lot of physical evidence to collect that proves your worth. I suppose it’s true that most of us didn’t choose teaching for the money or validation. It’s still nice to have, though.
That’s why I went through some of my Inspirational Videos for Teachers, and added a few to my Back to School Wakelet. I tried to look for the ones that are good reminders of what it really means to be a teacher. Some are funny and some are serious. Some are classics and some are newer. But re-watching them, along with re-discovering notes from students, has reminded me about why I did what I did for 29 years. I can’t give you any extra money, but maybe some of these videos will give you the validation that too often seems to be lacking.
If someone asked me, I’d go back in time and do those 29 years again. (Just not now because I’m menopausal and grumpy and have a Great Dane who would chew the house down if I left her for that length of time each day. And I’m really fond of getting up at 8 am instead of 5 am. And going to the doctor when I need to instead of putting it off until summer break. And having some semblance of control over my thermostat.) Teachers can be treated unjustly and have to endure untenable conditions. I certainly went through my share of that during my career. The system needs to change.
But there are a lot of us out there who are grateful for teachers. It’s not tangible and it doesn’t make up for abuse and poor working conditions. But it can help to look through those memory boxes, watch those videos, and remember you are making a difference.
It has been five years since I first reviewed Ada Twist, Scientist on this blog, and I even recommended it back then for my Gifts for the Gifted list in 2016. The book, which is one in a series of collaborations between author, Andrea Beaty, and illustrator, David Roberts, in the Questioneers Series, is a delightful story about a young girl who embodies the curiosity and experimental personality of a S.T.E.M. hero in the making. Now, Ada and her friends (Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck, who also star in their own books by the dynamic duo of Beaty/Roberts ) are featured in a new animated series on Netflix that officially drops on September 28, 2021 — but don’t despair if you don’t have a Netflix subscription. You and your students can watch two episodes right now on YouTube: “Cake Twist” and “Garden Party.” The adorable cast of characters plus the real-life scientists who appear at the end of each episode will engage pre-school and lower elementary students while showing them how to brainstorm, problem-solve, and deal with mistakes. This mixture of fictional and authentic role models that are brought to you by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, are the perfect inspiration for our next generation of change-makers!