Category Archives: K-12

International Dot Day 2016

International Dot Day, 2016, falls on September 15-ish.  I never feel like the school year has truly begun until we celebrate Dot Day.

Here are some of my past posts about Dot Day:

I hunted on Pinterest to find some ideas I hadn’t seen before, and this is what I found:

There are plenty more creative people out there with Dot Day activities to share.  So, don’t forget to get out there and, “Make your Mark!”

image from Flickr
image from Flickr

Advice for #NewTeachers

In my latest article for Fusion, I give some advice to new teachers – fully aware that I still feel like a rookie after 25 years in the profession.  If you don’t have time to read it all, at least check out the last paragraph where I reveal my favorite teaching/parenting secret that has never once failed me in a quarter of a century😉

photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr

Growth Mindset Memes

When I take a look at the stats for this blog lately, I see that my posts about growth mindset are getting more views than usual.  My hope is that this means that many teachers are getting ready to teach their students about having a growth mindset.  It’s important to read Carol Dweck’s recent statements, however, about how the message she intended to deliver regarding her studies on this subject can sometimes be diluted or even completely misrepresented.  Students may learn the language of growth mindset without really understanding the practice, especially if we don’t model it ourselves.

That being said, I came across a fun blog called, “Growth Mindset Memes,” by Laura Gibbs (@OnlineCrsLady).  She has taken some popular meme images and added her own captions, often paraphrasing or using famous growth mindset quotes. One of my favorites is this one:

from Growth Mindset Memes blog
from Growth Mindset Memes blog

Students love memes, so they will definitely be interested if you hang a few of these around the classroom.  You might also want to allow older students to make some of their own – perhaps after watching the Class Dojo mindset videos to summarize their learning.

If you need more ideas for teaching Growth Mindset, here is a link to my Pinterest board.

Embed a Video From Google Drive

Many of our teachers like to e-mail welcome videos to their incoming students at the beginning of the school year, and some even add the videos to their blogs or school websites.  Although there are an endless number of ways to share videos, here are the steps for embedding one that you’ve uploaded to Google Drive. (Tip: If you are using an iPhone or an iPad to shoot your video, make sure the device is horizontal (landscape) with the Home button on the right.  This can save you from orientation problems later on.)

I’m going to use a short video of our bulldog trying out the pool to demonstrate the steps.  If anyone reading this knows a shortcut, please feel free to share!

Once you have located the video you’ve uploaded to Google Drive, double-click on it.

embedvideo1

At the top right of your screen, you will see the download icon and 3 vertical dots.  Click on the dots.

embed2

First, you need to make sure you give the video the appropriate sharing rights.  If I’m putting it on my blog, I just choose “Advanced” and select that anyone with the link can view it.  After changing the sharing rights, move down in the list to “Open in a new window.”

embed3

Things may not look dramatically different in the new window, but when you click on the 3 vertical dots this time, you will get an embed option.  Click on that.

embed4

Then you can copy the embed code inside the box.  On your blog or website, you can add the embed code to the HTML editor (on WordPress blogs, it’s the tab for “Text”), and your video should then work once you publish.

Let’s see if my bulldog one is working: When you are in HTML editing mode, you can mess with the code a little bit to adjust the height and width appearance on your blog.

By the way, bulldogs can swim.  Ours just runs out of energy and sinks like a rock as soon as he stops paddling – hence the life jacket😉

What You Might Have Missed This Summer

Summer break is over – at least for many of the public school teachers in Texas who return to work today.  Of course, many of us never really stopped working over the last couple of months, fitting in workshops and lesson planning in between trips to the beach and afternoon naps.

I’ve been saving educational articles of interest to Pocket all summer, and I thought I would share some of the news that I curated that might have some impact on your planning for the new school year.  I would love for you to share any other summer education news that I’ve missed in the comments below!

What You Missed

  • Osmo put out two new games this summer, Coding (near the beginning of the summer) and most recently Monster (described as “The Creative Set”).  My summer camp students loved the Coding game, and I’ve just ordered Monster.
  • Speaking of tangible coding, Google has announced “Project Bloks,” which looks pretty intriguing.  The Bloks aren’t available to the public yet, but you can sign up on their interest page to get updates on the program.
  • In other Google news, the Expeditions VR app is now available on Android with expectations to release it on other platforms later this year.  Also, there is a free Cast for Education app that I am really interested in that supposedly allows students to project their work without the need for other hardware/software like Chromecast, Apple TV, or Reflector.  Richard Byrne has a blog post on a new add-on for Google Docs called The Lesson Plan Tool.  By the way, if you want to keep updated on new Google Classroom features, here is a good page to bookmark.
  • When it comes to lesson planning, Amazon Inspire might be your go-to site as soon as it becomes available, with free access to educational resources.  Sign up for early access now.
  • Think about allowing your students to show off what they’ve learned during those great lessons with Class Dojo’s new feature: Student Stories.
  • You may have somehow escaped the Pokemon Go craze, but your students probably haven’t.  Here are some ways to use it educationally.
  • Words with Friends now has an Edu version that is free and can be played on the web or on mobile devices.  I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it even has materials aligned to Common Core.
  • Breakout Edu has Back to School games.
  • Canva now has an iPhone app.
  • YouCubed released Week of Inspirational Math 2 last week.  This is a great way to start your students off with a growth mindset in math.

Do you have some education news that we might have missed this summer?  Be sure to add it in the comments below!

 

Week of Inspirational Math 2

I posted last year about the Week of Inspirational Math resources provided on YouCubed.org.  I used these with my 3rd grade class (there are versions for K-12), and the students really enjoyed this approach to math.  The set of activities and videos promotes a growth mindset in math, and I felt that it really set a great tone for the rest of the school year as we worked on challenges.

I’m happy to see that professor JoAnn Boaler and the team at YouCubed.org have produced Week of Inspirational Math 2, which looks just as promising as the WIM1.  The videos provided with this new WIM are a bit more fun, while still remaining faithful to the theory that anyone can be a math person.

Having personally experienced my own metamorphosis from “not a math person” to someone who excelled in math in high school, I am a firm believer that too many of us get caught in the myths and stereotypes that make us believe only a pre-determined group of people can understand math.  I have witnessed in my own classroom students who have given up on the subject and, with effort on both our parts, turned this fixed mindset around to become students who enjoy math.

If you have the opportunity to start your year with one or two weeks of Inspirational Math, I think you will find it is an excellent use of time that will pay off for the remainder of your school year.

from Week of Inspirational Math 2
from Week of Inspirational Math 2

Back to School Games from Breakout Edu

In this Education Week article, “10 Non-Standard Ideas About Going Back to School,” by Nancy Flanagan, she gives the following advice:

“Don’t make Day One “rules” day. Your classroom procedures are very important, a hinge for functioning productively, establishing the relationships and trust necessary for individual engagement and group discussions. Introduce these strategies and systems on days when it’s likely your students will remember them and get a chance to practice them. This is especially important for secondary teachers, whose students will likely experience a mind-numbing, forgettable parade of Teacher Rules on Day One.”

It’s often considered good practice to establish rules and procedures at the beginning of a new school year, but I can definitely attest that my daughter came home from each first week during her middle school years feeling bored and defeated.  Not only did the teacher of each subject spend the entire period going over rules, but many of them showed the same not-so-exciting videos, which repetitively appeared in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. (Fortunately, each year improved dramatically after the first weeks, as her fabulous teachers definitely challenged and engaged her.)

As a teacher of 25 years, I’ve gone through many first days, and I can tell you that I am just as enthusiastic as the students when my staff development weeks begin with rules, procedures, and awkward team-building activities.

Nancy Flanagan goes on in her article to suggest doing engaging activities the first day that will also help the students to learn something.  If you are looking for ideas, Breakout Edu offers some Back to School games that might be just the ticket to ramp up excitement so your students go home the first day and tell their parents what they learned and that they had fun doing it!  There is one game each for elementary, upper elementary, and secondary. There is even one for Staff Development! (Note: You will need to register for free with Breakout Edu in order to get the password to access the games.)

Consider embedding rules and procedures into exciting learning activities, rather than making them the starring topic for introducing the year.  Your students – and their parents – will thank you!

from Breakout Edu Back to School Games
from Breakout Edu Back to School Games