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.
In my latest post for NEO, “Podcast Pedagogy: Leveraging Audio Programs for Learning,” I talk all about the power of podcasts in the classroom – listening and responding to them, as well as creating them. This industry has really become popular in the last few years, and there are so many free materials out there that you and your students can take advantage of for learning and creativity. One fun new app that I mention in the article is “That Part,” which I have enjoyed using to save snippets of podcasts that I want to remember. It’s currently in beta, so there is a glitch every now and then, but it has been great to just take a screenshot of a podcast while I’m walking my dog, and using the app later on to share out the moments of inspiration I think family and friends will appreciate. One resource I don’t share in the article (because I discovered it after the article was submitted) is this awesome free podcasting template from SlidesMania.
If you’d like to catch up on my previous articles for NEO, here’s the list: Six Ways to Support Spatial Reasoning Skills Online, Let’s Talk a Good Game: Mining Talk Shows for Classroom Engagement Ideas, How to Do More with Less Screen Time, How to Facilitate Meaningful Discussions in Hybrid or Virtual Classrooms, Top Ed Tech Tools for Differentiation, From Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve Education, Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms, How Distance Learning Fosters Global Collaboration, How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.
April is National Poetry Month in the United States, and it is not too late to celebrate! You may remember when I posted about the Teach Living Poets site way back in January right after being blown away by Amanda Gorman’s recitation of the poem she wrote for the Inauguration. Scott Bayer (@LyricalSwordz), who contributes to the Teach Living Poets site, tweeted out this amazing interactive Google Doc of poetry and accompanying lessons for Latinx poets featured in the publication, LatiNext, from Haymarket Books. Next to each of the eleven poets’ portraits, is a link to a detailed lesson plan, and a link to an interactive image made with Genially that provides even more resources. Kudos to Scott Bayer and Joel Garza (@JoelRGarza) for putting together this excellent compilation of meaningful activities submitted by participants in #TheBookChat. In addition, thanks to the @breakbeatpoets editors, @_joseolivarez @WilliePerdomo and @writeantiracist!
For more Poetry links, visit my Wakelet here. I also have Wakelets for learning about Amanda Gorman and Anti-Racism.
You may have noticed that I’ve been playing around with re-designing this website, which has included trying different color schemes. I keep getting sidetracked as I teach myself different tools, and though I’m fairly proficient when it comes to technology, I have a lot more to learn about design. I think my attempts at creativity hurt my husband’s eyes whenever I ask for his opinion so my drafts range from rebelling against his traditional perspective with crazy rule-breaking combinations to realizing that it’s not really my goal to blind my readers.
I’ve done different units on color with various age groups, from investigating the science behind it and writing poetry with my 5th graders as we read The Giver, to teaching about Color Theory in my Principles of Arts high school class. Along the way, I learned about Canva’s free Color Wheel tool, how to assess my color IQ, and Color Theory for Noobs. We examined websites like this one to see how different colors can evoke different emotions.
Since then, I’ve learned about Adobe’s Color tool, which can extract color themes from a photo you upload, or allow you to choose colors and find pleasing additions to create your own theme. If you subscribe to the Creative Cloud, you can even save those palettes in your libraries to access from your Adobe products.
I also learned about Coolors, where you can explore palettes that are trending, or generate your own. On any of these sites – Canva, Coolors, Adobe – you can copy the hex code of any color and paste it as a custom color in presentations you are making.
So, teachers and students can use these tools to improve their designs. But you can also use them for introspection. @WickedDecent shares a Slides activity to use with students where they identify their own Personal Color Palettes. This would go well with another activity my students used to do where they designed their own “Character Strength Floorplans.” Or, you could extend the idea by having students design color palettes for historical figures or book characters, justifying their answers with researched evidence.
Another way to go (especially if you are using yesterday’s post about dining traditions) is to explore what colors mean in different cultures. The Kid Should See This has a great collections of videos on this topic. And if you really want to delve deep into all things colorful, this 5-Minute Film Festival includes videos and multiple resources.
I must admit that I enjoy a good pun every once in awhile – though some may argue that “good pun” is a contradiction in terms. Regardless, the people at The Open Notebook appear to have a sense of humor along with an appreciation for science, prompting them to host a “Peep Your Science” contest for 3 years in a row. Inviting entrants to submit science-themed dioramas featuring something nearly as passionately loved or hated as puns – marshmallow Peeps – this contest demonstrates how enthusiastic creators of all ages are about science and/or dioramas and/or sugary, pastel-colored candy.
You and your students can see the 2021 entries in all their glory (and vote for your favorites), from Jane Goodall Studying Chimpeeps to the Peeprona-19 Vaccination Clinic by clicking on the links near the bottom of this page. Challenge your students to see what they know about each scientific reference, to make a timeline of Peep-o-ramas, or to design their own. I think we all need a tad more light-heartedness right about now, and a glimpse of a Peepriodic Table is just what this not-a-medical-doctor-in-real-life-or-any-parallel-universe-ever has ordered.
Although I haven’t seen it yet (watching it this evening!), I want to take the opportunity to promote a production of Luna by Ramon Esquivel that is being performed this weekend by students from Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech. Several of my former students are performing in the play and working back stage, and one of them wrote this promotional post about it. According to the description, Luna is written for all ages and especially suited for children. The play is being performed live (with social distancing), but is also streaming tonight (Friday, March 26, 2021) and tomorrow (Saturday, March 27, 2021). Having seen several ALA productions, I highly recommend them, and hope that you will help this talented theater department to create even more wonderful shows in the future by purchasing tickets at this link.