Category Archives: K-12

Peel the Fruit

“Peel the Fruit” is a Visible Thinking Routine from Project Zero.  I have mentioned some of the other thinking routines on this blog in the past (CSI, 3-2-1 Bridge) that have been very effective in my classroom for encouraging students to think deeper.  More recently, I wrote about how the Smithsonian Learning Lab uses Thinking Routines to examine art.  I have never used “Peel the Fruit” before, but it seems like it would be particularly useful for older students to use for examining news stories right now or for younger students to think more deeply about a picture book they are reading.

In the “Peel the Fruit” routine, students start by making observations about the “surface” of their subject, and go through six more steps to discover the implications beneath what appears to be obvious.  You can see an example of this being used with a text on this page created by Alice Vigors. (There is also a template that you can download.)

Ron Ritchart, who has a book coming out in May 2020, and is one of Harvard’s Project Zero researchers, has included a different graphic by Paviter Singh that might be more appropriate for older students on his blog.  Ron also offers a link to this document created by Carol Geneix and Jaime Chao-Mignano at Washington International School, that suggests online tools that can be used with each of the Project Zero Thinking Routines.

“Peel the Fruit” would be an excellent way to encourage curiosity and critical thinking about an image, Tweet, news article, headline, or literary work.  If students have never done the routine before, it would be helpful to model the process before asking them to complete it independently.

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Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay

TX Youth Code Jam

The TX Youth Code Jam is a virtual hackathon, and open to submissions from any student in the United States in grades K-12.  Entries are due on April 24, 2020.  Coding is not required for the projects, but any students who are registered can learn more about coding and other topics in the scheduled online workshops. (My wonderful friend, Michelle Amey, is presenting a workshop for parents to encourage creative thinking, and her son is doing an Advanced Scratch Workshop.)  It is free to enter the Code Jam, and creativity is highly encouraged.  The requirement for each submission is that it must be something the student (or team of students) created to solve a problem.  You can view the challenges here.

The Code Jam is offering lots of cool prizes, but the hope is that children will have fun designing, problem solving, and learning as they participate.  As our current quarantine situation has made us painfully aware, people who are solely consumers in our society find themselves to be far too dependent on others to provide sustenance and entertainment.  If your child needs some inspiration, go to the Resources page of TX Youth Code Jam, and scroll down to the section, “Kids like you innovating during the pandemic.”  It’s great to see what young people can do!

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Image by Jess Foami from Pixabay

 

We Are All Ears

When my daughter was younger, she would often plop on the floor next to our golden retriever, Mia, and read to her.  I would have suspected that Mia was just being a good sport, but her additional voluntary presence during our nightly bedtime stories seemed to suggest that she actually enjoyed read alouds.  Each evening, my husband or I would set ourselves up in the beanbag chair on the floor by our daughter’s bed, and Mia and our bulldog, Clancy, would lie down on either side of us, muzzles in their paws and eyes wide open, as we made our way through Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, and the Chronicles of Narnia. (It should be noted that, at the time, Clancy’s greatest joy was devouring books in a very literal way, so it was quite the feat to get him to calm down and actually listen to one being read.)

Pet Partners, an organization that helps to train therapy animals and match volunteers with organizations, recognizes the magic of reading to your pet.  In response to the pandemic, which may have placed more responsibility on parents to encourage their children to read at home, Pet Partners has begun a new program called, “We Are All Ears.”  With a reading log, printable bookmarks, and a bingo card students who may find reading to be a chore can make it more fun by involving their pet snake, hamster, bird, dog, cat, etc…  The program is free, but you can also purchase a t-shirt if you like.

I’ve seen lots of pictures on social media of people thankful for their pets during the quarantine.  Now you can give back to your pets while practicing literacy at the same time.

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How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom

My article, “How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom,” has just been published on the NEO Blog.  I hope that you will find that it gives some practical suggestions and resources for the ways that educators can model and apply the Design Thinking process.  This article was written before the pandemic drastically changed learning environments, but next month’s article on how distance learning can promote global collaboration will definitely take our new reality into account.

I hope you will take some time to browse through some of the other articles on the NEO Blog, as they are very thorough and cover a wide range of topics of interest to educators.  Please let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions for future articles!

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Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

Chronicles of COVID-19, Part 6

In an effort to encourage people from other countries to also contribute to our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World, I have added a Google Translate button to this site.  In addition, I have added Spanish instructions to the slide show.  Since I used Google Translate to interpret my instructions, I hope that someone who knows Spanish will let me know if I made any goofs!  Please go to the link above to find out more about this collaborative project.  If you have any other suggestions for helping this slide show to become more global, please add them to the comments below.

In the meantime, here is another recent entry from the diary.  I love that Estefany gave a book recommendation (and it happens to be one I haven’t read!), and it would be fun to see more of those!

Worldwide Online COVID Diary for students

Radiolab for Kids – Tic Tac Toe

One of the many podcasts that I listen to is Radiolab, a program that makes science easy to understand for non-scientists.  I was happy to find out from one of their Tweets that there is now a “Radiolab for Kids” site, where they have collected programs from their archives that would appeal especially to children.  One of the many episodes is, “Mapping Tic Tac Toedom,” which I’ve embedded below.  In this broadcast, the hosts try to figure out who in the world knows how to play Tic-Tac-Toe – a game that seems ubiquitous to Americans, but do people in other countries play it?

If your child listens to the podcast, and is interested in learning more about Tic-Tac-Toe, I recommend the Wikipedia entry on “Tic-Tac-Toe Variants,” which offers suggestions for different versions such as “Revenge in a Row” and “Random Turn Tic-Tac-Toe.”

My students enjoyed playing Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, and you can find directions for that here:  “Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe” (as explained by “Math with Bad Drawings”)

They also really liked the video, Tic-Tac-Toe Game That Goes Horribly Wrong, which I would use whenever we were about to do a unit on inventing games so they could see what happens when people just assume you know the rules to a game.

Other great listens on Radiolab for Kids? Try learning about animal minds, super cool science, or zombie cockroaches among other things.  Chances are, even the adults will learn something new!

 

Working Together While We’re Apart

I have been uplifted by the many videos that have been shared on social media lately showing how people are making their own joy with others despite our physical distances.  I wanted to share a few today.

This first one was brought to my attention in a blog post by @LarryFerlazzo:

Here are two young people who chose to give their elderly neighbor a concert:

The Rotterdam Philharmonic did this gorgeous recording, “From Us, For You” of “Ode to Joy.”

This particular video from the Roedean School in South Africa is beautiful to watch and hear.

I keep watching this one over and over again because I adore the pure joy in these boys as they play Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”

Here is an amazing mariachi concert by students on Twitter:

For a dose of absolutely adorable cuteness, you should listen to “Virus in a Tree.”

And finally, for those of us looking for some humor, watch this clever and talented family perform the pandemic version of “One Day More” from Les Miserables. (Thanks to @jtrayers for sharing this on FB.)

If you are looking for other videos to make your heart sing, I have two Pinterest Boards that may help you: Inspirational Videos for Students and Inspirational Videos for Teachers.