Category Archives: K-12

Kids Philosophy Slam 2017

Is the pen mightier than the sword?  I think you may guess where I side when it comes to that question – but it’s how our students feel that matters to the folks at the Kids Philosophy Slam.  Students from K-12 are invited to submit their responses to the prompt by March 10, 2017.  You can read about the rules for each category here.

If you are looking for resources on philosophy to use with your students, “Teaching Children Philosophy” may be a great place to start.  For this particular topic, you might want to try the “Ethics” page.

With older students, you might want to introduce the topic with this attention-grabbing Geico commercial:

Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/95304400
Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/95304400

A List of More Lists You Just Can’t Resist

It is, of course, impossible to review all of the amazing educational toys out there.  My Gifts for the Gifted series is not nearly as expansive as some of the other lists that you can find this time of year.  Just in case you don’t find something that you think your child/student/niece/nephew/ would like on my list, here are some others that I plan to use for my own shopping ideas:

Stay tuned on Friday for another installment of this year’s Gifts for the Gifted!

Design Your Own Marble Maze
Design Your Own Marble Maze

Hour of Code 2016

I think it was three years ago that I signed my classes up for the first time to participate in the Hour of Code.   I was determined that year that every grade level I met with during the week (gifted students, 1st-5th) would participate.  I’m one of those people who jumps into things without knowing enough to be scared – which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the occasion.  In this situation it worked out great.  We tried all kinds of programming I have never done before, and we have experimented with many more ever since. There were lots of moments of frustration, but many more moments of excitement.

I don’t have enough knowledge to claim that I am an expert on any of the programming languages.  But I am known in some circles as a “techie,” so no one believes me when I say that you can participate in Hour of Code even if you have never coded in your life.  When our entire school took the plunge a couple of years ago, there was a lot of trepidation.  After that one experience, however, few people blinked an eye about doing it the following year.  In fact, many teachers waved off any offers of help from the community or skilled students because they knew that Code.org does an excellent job providing resources for all ability levels.

One of my students once said, “Mrs. Eichholz doesn’t let us use technology.  She lets us create with it.”  And that is why I love giving students the opportunity to learn how to code.  Coding incorporates everything I believe in: collaboration, problem-solving, communication, perseverance, growth mindset, and creativity.  Not every student loves it, but every student learns from it and feels empowered with the knowledge.

If you have never participated in Hour of Code before, I am asking you to try it this year.  As I often say during presentations, your students are actually at an advantage if you don’t know a lot – because you won’t help them too much.  From classrooms equipped with 1-to-1 technology to those that have zero computers, Code.org has you covered with tutorials and resources.  And, if you have participated before, note that Code.org has been busy adding new activities so your students can build on what they have already learned.

Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11, 2016, is next week.  Hopefully, you can participate in your Hour of Code then.  If not, the resources are always available and great to use any time of the year.

Here is a link to my Programming for Kids Pinterest Board for more ideas to bring coding into your classroom.

from Hour of Code
from Hour of Code

12 Actions to Maximize the Value of a Teacher’s Time

In my latest article for Fusion, I give advice to school systems, teachers, and parents to help make education more efficient in ways that will benefit the students as well as all of the stakeholders.  Click here to read, “12 Actions to Maximize the Value of a Teacher’s Time.”

time1

And, just in case you missed them, here are my previous articles for Fusion:

How Play Leads to Great Inventions

Dr. Pauline Dow (@PaulineDow), an Associate Superintendent in our district, shared this recent TED Talk by Steven Johnson, “How Play Leads to Great Inventions,” in a tweet this week.  Steven Johnson, you may remember, is an author I’ve mentioned on this blog because I was fascinated by his book, How We Got to Now.  Johnson is adept at tracing innovations back through time to discover the (often surprising) building blocks that made them possible.

In this October, 2016, TED Talk, Johnson claims that necessity is not always the mother of invention – and that play may be just as, if not more, important when it comes to generating new ideas.  I’m pretty certain that Sir Ken Robinson would approve this message.

I will be adding this video to my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Teachers.  Click here to see more.

Play

https://embed.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_how_play_leads_to_great_inventions

The Great Art Smuggle

So, here’s the thing.  Unscrupulous people are always trying to figure out how to get things out of art museums.  But what if you are a scrupulous person?  And what if you are the producer of the Kid President videos? And what if you get invited to speak at THE Guggenheim museum?

Well, then, you smuggle art in, of course.

At least that’s Brad Montague’s plan.  And he needs your help.  He would like children from all over the world to send him art work. The pieces should be

Great Art Smuggle

It is due by December 7th, and you can get more details from Brad’s video.  

I’m kind of curious to see how he pulls this off…

 

 

Taboo Brainstorming

Due to a creative schedule we have this year, I have the occasional opportunity to meet with students in different grade levels who are not necessarily identified as Gifted and Talented. When I have a class in K-2 during one of these “enrichment times,” I only have 25 minutes to make an impact. Most of the students in the class have never been in my room before, so lately I have been employing a technique I like to call “Taboo Brainstorming” to elicit some creative thinking in a short period of time.

With Taboo Brainstorming, I give the students a topic and they brainstorm ideas as a class as I record them on the board. Then I deliver the bad news.

“Okay, good job, everyone! Now you can choose a response of your own – but it can’t be any of the ones we just brainstormed.”

I get groans, eyes wide open with disbelief, and a few, “But can’t I just…” which I shut down quickly.

“We don’t have much time, and I know you have even better ideas in those brains that we didn’t get a chance to put on the board. Use one of those!”

The results are always a vast improvement over the average responses I would usually see. For example, the 2nd graders I met with this week brainstormed things they are thankful for that are soft.  Normally, I would get 5 or 6 papers with a pillow or a marshmallow on them, despite my pleas to, “think of something no one else will put on their paper.”  This time, I got papers with such answers as: a foam pit, a cinnamon roll, and a car seat.  None of these students are in my gifted class.  The 1st graders, who had to think of something to be thankful for that started with an “s,” were equally as creative: sesame seed, security, and the movie, The Secret Life of Pets. (By the way, both of these topics were taken from this activity on “Minds in Bloom.)

Now you’ve probably already figured out the down side to this idea.  It’s a “one-off,” unfortunately.  Once you let them know that the ideas on the board are taboo for their independent work, then they are probably going to hold back the next time you try to brainstorm.  No worries.  There are a few other tricks to get some good ideas:

  • Tell them you want them to brainstorm the “bad” ideas first
  • Do a brainstorm relay
  • Try reverse brainstorming
  • Tell them they must choose one of the ideas that wasn’t theirs, and then think of 3 new things it reminds them of on the back of their paper and choose one of those.

Or, don’t use any of these ideas, and think of one of your own😉