Category Archives: K-12

Unlocking Design Thinking

Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec) has been tweeting some very helpful graphics for Design Thinking, using the hashtag #unlockingdesignthinking.  I asked his permission to post the ones for Ideate (Brainstorming) on here, as that is often one of the most difficult phases for my students, and I really like his suggestions.

Here are his two Ideate posters close up:

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created by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec)

I love the two strategies above, which I’ve never used with students before, to extend their thinking once they’ve generated possible solutions.

 

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created by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec)

I have more about the SCAMPER method here.  For some additional suggestions to encourage brainstorming in your class, you can also refer to this post.

If you like these posters, and would like to see the rest in the series, search for #unlockingdesignthinking on Twitter, and be sure to follow @gregkulowiec.  I will be doing a guest post for another site in March on “How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom”, so stay tuned for more details!

Chess Resources

A friend of mine asked for some chess resources to use with her after-school chess club (elementary-aged), and I thought I would share the ones that I was able to curate.  If you have any other suggestions (other than sites where you can play chess online), please comment below.

The game that I like to use to introduce how the chess pieces move is Tic Tac Chec.  I just did a search on my blog, and I can’t believe that I’ve never posted about this game before.  I used to use it with my Kinder and 1st graders all of the time, and they quickly picked it up.  The game board is a wooden 4×4 grid, and the two players each get 4 different chess pieces, one of which they can place or move during their turns.  The object is to get 4 of your pieces in a row.  If you are captured, you can use your next move to put your piece back on the board.  It’s fun to watch the students keep capturing each other, and finally realizing no one can win if that’s all you do!

Solitaire Chess is another game for practicing chess movements without playing the actual game.  This one-player game offers scaffolded challenges that show pictures of a 4×4 chess board set up with some pieces.  Your goal is to figure out how to move the pieces so that only one is left.  Each move must be a “legal” capture.  You can also play Solitaire Chess online (make sure you have Flash enabled on your computer), and there is a video tutorial.

Here are some other online chess challenges:

UIL Texas has this printable packet of mini-games for teaching chess.

For videos, don’t forget the inspirational one, The Magic of Chess, that I shared a couple of weeks ago.  Also, Kids Academy has a series of animated videos on YouTube, beginning with Getting to Know the Game.

Want to use chess for an integrated lesson, where students design their own chess pieces and/or boards?  This is a great lesson plan from Scopes-DF.

If you aren’t convinced of the educational benefits of teaching chess to young children, this article may help you to learn more!

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Daily STEM

Chris Woods (@DailyStem) tweets STEM challenges each day.  Even if you are not a Twitter advocate you can go to his website and download his weekly STEM newsletters for free.  There is an archive of at least 30 newsletters on this page.  Each one-pager has a puzzle, a mystery photo, and other short STEM articles that often have links to learn more about the topics.  The articles are perfectly bite-sized previews about different ways that we see STEM all around us, and are often timely (such as this one that shares how candy can be looked at through a STEM perspective – right in time for Valentine’s Day).  They would be great to post in your classroom, send home to families, or to comb through for awesome lesson ideas.

While you are visiting the Daily Stem website, go to the Resources Page for STEM movies along with project suggestions for each movie, as well as the Podcast Page for dozens of interviews with educators and other STEM experts.

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Image by LisaBMarshall from Pixabay

 

Beauty and the Bolt

According to its vision statement, “Beauty and the Bolt, centered on the idea that Brilliant is Beautiful, aims to make learning engineering easy, inexpensive, and accessible for anyone.”  With that goal in mind, Beauty and the Bolt has: a blog post that lists women who teach STEM on YouTube, a map to find makerspaces around the world, and some fun STEM merchandise.  There are also a few STEM lesson plans.  One of the most expansive resources Beauty and the Bolt offers is its video channel on YouTube, with over 50 DIY and educational videos.

My favorite piece of merchandise on the Beauty and the Bolt site is a 2020 calendar called, “Princesses with Power Tools.”   The calendar features 12 inspiring women who are involved in STEM careers, creatively and colorfully photographed as princesses.  Unfortunately, the site states that it is sold out.  I sent an e-mail to find out if it will become available again, and will update this post if I learn any more details.

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Image by RAEng_Publications from Pixabay

Class Hook

In yesterday’s post about a website that archives short video animations for kids I mentioned that I would be writing about another source for videos to use in the classroom.  The site is called, “Class Hook,” and I have mentioned it before in a post about using video clips.  That post gave information about some tools that you can use to make your own clips if you are trying to use parts of longer films.  But Class Hook actually provides clips for you.

I have worked in two different school districts, and one of them blocked Class Hook, so definitely try it out on campus before you choose to rely on it for a lesson.  Even if it doesn’t work at school, you can still use it at home to find clips relevant to your content.  Most of the clips come from videos already accessible on YouTube, which can be a work-around (if YouTube isn’t also blocked!).  Class Hook’s tools will allow you to quickly narrow down the unlimited content that you would find in a Google search to a few suggestions.

Class Hook has a tiered pricing plan, but I can only tell you about my experience with the free version, which was perfectly adequate for my needs.  On this plan, you can browse all of the clips, filter by grade strands, clip length, and by series.  You can also choose a subject or search for a topic and create playlists.

An example of how I used Class Hook in class was when I was searching for a clip for my Engineering class.  I knew there was something in Apollo 13 that I had once thought would be perfect, but I couldn’t remember the exact part of the movie.  A quick search on Class Hook revealed, “A Square Peg in a Round Hole,” which was exactly what I was looking for.

For ideas on possible uses for Class Hook, take a look a this page.  I doubt you will need it, though, as I’m sure you will see many potential benefits of this tool once you try it.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Kids Love Short Films

Although it looks like this site has not been updated in awhile (since 2016?), “Kids Love Short Films” has an archive of animated shorts that are considered appropriate for a young audience.  I say, “considered appropriate” because I always advise that you preview any videos before showing them to a class, knowing that “appropriate” is a subjective word.

Short videos like the one above often don’t have any dialogue, so they are good for students to summarize.  You can also discuss theme with your students or, depending on your curriculum, the design elements used in the film.  Some may be inspiring, like the ones that I collect on this Pinterest Board, while others may be directly related to the content you are teaching.

Another place that I have mentioned where you can find many videos for school is The Kid Should See This.  Tomorrow I will talk about an additional favorite video resource!

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The Magic of Chess

“Old people shouldn’t be forced to learn chess, but if they want to learn chess surely they can!  They’re allowed to,” a young girl assures the interviewer in The Magic of Chess.

“Even though they could be doing something else – like playing Legos,” the young boy next to her adds.

This adorable short film featured on Vimeo will inspire any young student (and maybe some old people) to try the game of chess.  The filmmaker, Jenny Schweitzer Bell, captured the many positive aspects of playing chess by interviewing boys and girls at the 2019 Elementary Chess Championship.  The children tout the problem solving skills they have learned, and growth mindset is a constant theme.  Their passion for the game is truly inspiring!

I am adding this delightful video to my Inspirational Videos Pinterest Board.

The Magic of Chess from Jenny Schweitzer Bell on Vimeo.

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Image by Ally Laws from Pixabay