Category Archives: K-5

What’s the Big Idea?

I first mentioned Donna Lasher’s website, Big Ideas for Little Scholars, last January. Since that post, she has added so much more to this incredible resource, so I thought it would be good to revisit it. If you teach gifted and talented and/or advanced elementary or middle school students, Donna’s site should be your number one bookmarked page in your browser. It is incredibly thorough and very well-organized. For example, she has a page of academic and creative contests organized by categories, as well as a link to a page where they are grouped by months they begin. If you are looking for seasonal and holiday lessons, Donna (@bdlasher) has another page for these in chronological order.

With lesson ideas, teaching materials, books, and websites all organized by grade level bands, Big Ideas for Little Scholars makes it simple for teachers and parents to access innumerable resources for children who are craving more challenges in any subject area. In addition, you can visit Donna’s “About” page to learn how you can get invited to access and contribute to a Google Team Drive for teachers of gifted students.

I love to read Donna’s blog posts, and I always look forward to receiving her newsletter in my Inbox. If you feel like you’re in a rut (okay – I realize many of you wish you could get in a rut right now), want to find a fresh way to teach something, or desire ideas to make a topic more engaging, Big Ideas for Little Scholars should be the first place you look.

Through deeper learning experiences students master core academic content and build skills in problem solving and critical thinking. **THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN DIGITALLY ALTERED TO REMOVE OR OBSCURE STUDENT IDENTITIES.**
Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Do Kids Voices Matter?

Kid Correspondent is a new series of videos brought to you by Soul Pancake. Hosted by the delightful Riah and numerous other amazing children, the show has the energy and charm of the Kid President videos (also produced by Soul Pancake) and John Krasinski’s Some Good News. Episode 3 of Kid Correspondent asks, “Do Kids Voices Matter?” In a brief interview with Mandy Moore, viewers will learn why we have elections, while other segments of the show look at a child’s perspective for getting his or her voice heard. Although the episode is nine and a half minutes long, young children will likely stay engaged throughout as they watch peers present, act silly, and inspire. Like Kid President, Riah gives a short Pep Talk during the video, and ends it with a Dance Party.

Let young people know that we value what they have to say by showing them this episode of Kid Correspondent. Voting is important, but there are many other ways they can make their voices count before they reach the age of 18.

The amazing Kid Correspondent, Riah

PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism

In this week’s anti-racist post, I want to share with you a new 28 minute video from PBS kids called, PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism. There are several ways to view the video, as you will see in the link to the press release. This program is definitely aimed at families and younger viewers, using clips from the PBS animated shows, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, and Arthur. It also includes short discussions between real young children and their parents as they navigate conversations about skin color, being different, and making “good trouble” to stand up for what is unfair. These are not easy topics to cover with any age, but the video shows that discussion is needed and can be done. The children are delightful, exuding wisdom far beyond their years.

This is part of a series of Kids Talk About from PBS. You can find videos from past episodes on their YouTube channel.

Image by Hatice EROL from Pixabay

Here is a list of my previous anti-racist posts:

Also, for more amazing anti-racism resources, check out the Live Binder curated by Joy Kirr.

Step Inside with Monster Box

As I’ve been going through some of my “Halloween-ish” posts from previous years, I’ve recognized some updating that needs to be done. (Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for nine years now, and wow, have things changed!) For example, I used to do “Misunderstood Monsters” with my younger students, and many of the resources I mentioned in that post from 2012 are no longer available. Fortunately, the adorable short video, Monster Box, (also on YouTube) is still free and easy to access. When I pondered the changes I might make in a current lesson using this, my mind immediately went to the Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero. One routine that I think would be powerful to use with Monster Box would be the “Step Inside” routine. There are three questions students can consider from the perspective of different characters in the video:

What can the person or thing perceive?

What might the person or thing know about or believe?

What might the person or thing care about?

I would have each student choose a character from the video (shopkeeper, young girl, one of the monsters…), and answer those questions with evidence from the story. Another facet that could deepen the discussion would be if the answers to these questions change throughout the story.

You can see some examples of how to use “Step Inside”, and access some templates, from Alice Vigors here.

My previous post included some templates to use if you were discussing Ethics (from Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity), and those are still available. I also went ahead and made this new Google Slides activity for the “Step Inside” Thinking Routine with a template from SlidesMania that is free to copy and use. There’s even a slide with monster parts, so students can build their own monster!

Of course, you can extend this activity by creating your own monster paper circuits.

For other posts on Visible Thinking Routines, with links to more templates, check out this Peel the Fruit activity for Google Slides.

CoBuild

Teachers and researchers came together to create the CoBuild At Home website during the Covid-19 pandemic with the goal of encouraging children and their caregivers to use common household items to build and create.  You can find multiple project ideas on the site that range from extracting DNA from food to making art from sneezes.  Most of the projects have short challenge videos, and many include downloadable resources.

In addition to the challenges offered on the CoBuild website, the Science Friday podcast is collaborating with CoBuild at Home to provide a CoBuild Camp from July 24th, 2020 – July 31st, 2020.  This free camp is designed for children in 1st-6th grades, and will include a one hour Zoom each day of the camp.  Visit the link for more details, and to fill out an interest form.  Be sure to fill out the interest form soon, as spots for this great opportunity may fill up!

Girl with Building Blocks
Image by Design_Miss_C from Pixabay

The Young Editors Project

Dave Eggers, award-winning author, founder of McSweeney’s, and co-founder of 826 National, recently invited students in grades K-5 to participate in The Young Editors Project.  This is a great example of how students can get involved with authentic learning.  Teachers can e-mail the person noted in Eggers’ article to be paired up with a real manuscript that is in progress and matched to their age group.  Students can then give comments and suggestions for improvement.  Once the manuscripts go to final print, the children who gave feedback will have their names mentioned in the book.  This is an opportunity for students to learn about revision, the value of soliciting different perspectives about your work, and what a book looks like before it gets placed on the shelves.  Making the editing process relevant and real-world will have a huge impact on your students.  Click on the above link to learn more about this unique project!

book-4090799_1920
Image by VIVIANE MONCONDUIT from Pixabay