May the 4th be With You

May 4th, known by many as “Star Wars Day,” is quickly approaching. Don’t worry if you haven’t prepared because a few Jedi educators have got you covered. One of them is Laura Moore, of the Learn Moore Stuff blog, who has a bit of an affinity for Star Wars as you may deduce from her website design. She has provided May 4th resources for a few years, which you can find here.

Shannon Miller, host of The Library Voice, has some May 4th choice boards with a galaxy of activities to choose from. Amy Cowen of Science Buddies has a list of engaging STEM activities, including light saber paper circuit cards, in her article. Another great roundup can be found on Tech and Learning.

Oh, and you know all of those posts I’ve published about philosophy for kids lately? Turns out quite a few people have their own philosophical interpretations when it comes to Star Wars. There are even some life lessons in The Mandalorian

The Socratic Method from TED Ed

Larry Ferlazzo was the first person to bring my attention to one of the newest TED Ed animations, “Improve Your Critical Thinking,” a video that explains how Socrates chose to use questioning rather than lectures with his students. With this, and my recent posts on the Short and Curly podcast, and Ethics in Bricks, I think it’s about time to share a new Wakelet. This is my Philosophy for Kids Wakelet, and includes the aforementioned posts, Ferlazzo’s “Best Resources on Teaching and Learning Critical Thinking in the Classroom,” and several other gems.

The Short and Curly Podcast

Okay, Americans, you may have a different idea come to mind when you hear “short and curly,” but it may help you to know this podcast comes to us from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In Australia and New Zealand, “curly questions” are ones that are difficult to answer; you know – like, “What is the meaning of life?” Short and Curly is an ethics podcast for kids and their families, posing a different “curly question” in each episode. For example, “Should we always be brave?” or “Can we build a world that works for everyone?” The episodes are about 22 minutes long, and have a couple of pauses built in for discussion. You can also download Classroom Resources for some of the episodes, and even purchase a Short and Curly book.

For those of you who read my post last week about Ethics in Bricks, you might want more philosophy resources for kids, and Short and Curly is suited for children in the upper primary age range. Also, don’t forget my latest article for NEO, Podcast Pedagogy, which will give you ideas for how to use these programs with your students.

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Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

Ethics in Bricks

So my daughter taught me that I was behind the times in using the 😂 whenever I found something hilarious. She probably will wish she did not inform me of this because I now want to use her suggested replacement on a regular basis. As someone who suffers from depression I am constantly seeking out things that will make me laugh. My latest obsession is the Ethics in Bricks Twitter feed (@EthicsInBricks, also on Instagram), and its pinned thread, #ArtInBricks has me 💀 (I probably didn’t use that right, but it doesn’t matter because my daughter doesn’t read this blog anyway.)

I love when creative people represent famous art works with different materials (remember this post?) so the #ArtinBricks photos make me smile – especially The Scream, which will always have a special place in my heart.

Don’t stop with that thread, though. Ethics in Bricks produces amazing content about philosophers using Lego Bricks, which is perfect for the GT classroom. Take a look at their most recent thread to celebrate Kant’s birthday:

I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t like building with Legos, and this is an excellent way to integrate some deep philosophical discussion with making while also dealing with constraints. If I was back in the classroom right now, I think I would use a quote and picture from this account every day to start my class.

My students really enjoyed Socratic Dialogues and having deep discussions about philosophical ideas. For some other doors into philosophy for students, you can also try 8-Bit Philosophy (screen videos first for appropriateness), Philosophy for Children, and this list of articles on Ethics lessons Joelle Trayers does with younger students in her classroom. Donna Lasher also has exceptional suggestions for using philosophy in lessons. You can find a few of my favorite past activities linked in this post I wrote. In addition, we used this book when I was in the K-5 GT classroom that is a wonderful resource.

Image from @EthicsInBricks on Twitter

30 Things I Believe

My 5th graders spend the last semester examining their own beliefs, developing manifestos, and researching a Dream Team of people who exemplify what they stand for.  We use some of the “This I Believe” curriculum to help them identify their values.  Yesterday, my students and I listened to one of the short radio essays archived on the website for the podcast.  It is called, “30 Things I Believe.”  In this particular episode, a first grader, Tarak McLain, reflects on his Kindergarten 100th Day Project.  While most students bring collections of 100 objects, Tarak brought in 100 things he believes.  For the podcast, Tarak shares 30 of those beliefs.  My students and I enjoyed listening to his earnestly read list, and talked about what they agreed/disagreed with.  We also discussed which of Tarak’s beliefs might change as he grows up.

Tarak would be about 16 years old now.  I wonder what his thoughts are on the manifesto created by his 7-year-old self.

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Our Magnificent Manifestos

As my 5th grade students wind up the school year, I begin to worry that they will go to middle school next year and forget everything they learned in our GT classroom.  Some of them have been with me for 6 years, so I’m hopeful that a few things will “stick.”  Nevertheless, a visual reminder can be helpful.  Rather than make them all stick pictures of me on their walls at home, I started this project with last year’s 5th graders.  It seemed to make an impact so I decided to repeat it this year.

You can read a little more about the process I used to jump start this year’s manifestos here.  Once the students did quite a bit of brainstorming, I let them jump on to Canva to design their manifestos.  Things were going merrily along until I noticed that many of them were using famous Pinterest quotes on their documents instead of their own words.  There was a bit of groaning when I insisted the manifestos needed to be in their own voice – not someone else’s.  I’m still not sure if that was the right thing to do, but I just felt like it would be more meaningful.  One of my students was quite satisfied with one her rewrites, “Life’s a llama with a neck full of opportunities.”

Another mistake I made was to let them design to the edges.  Last year, the students downloaded their manifestos as images, and we printed them on t-shirts.  The quality was not very predictable, though.  This year, I went to the dollar store and bought each of my 11 students a frame.  When we tried to put some of the manifestos into the frames, though, words got cut off.  (That’s why you won’t see 11 in the picture below; I’m still re-printing some.)

For an investment of $11, I got more than my money’s worth when the students framed their manifestos.  The students were proud of their work and I got the impression that at least some of them might display those manifestos in a place of honor when it goes home.  I also really like having them in the classroom for all of my students to see. (We can’t hang them up because I am in a borrowed room at the moment.)

The next part of the project is for the students to design their “Dream Teams.”  They are using the “Find My Role Model” tool from The Academy of Achievement to find 5 people they admire who embody the statements on their manifestos.  You can see some ideas for how to publish your Dream Team here,

Photo Apr 24, 12 59 09 PM