K-12, Philosophy

Philosophy Toolkit

One of the resources that I have linked in my Philosophy for Kids Wakelet collection is Philosophy Toolkit from Plato. You can search for philosophy lessons by grade level or topic. The lesson quality is inconsistent, as some are basically just suggestions for discussion, while other provide more resources. However, at the very least you will get ideas for engaging questions and recommendations for related activities.

Why bother with teaching philosophy at all? Obviously it’s not on any elementary report cards. But the word itself means “love of wisdom.” And, of course we want our students to love learning and to seek out knowledge. According to the Department of Philosophy at Florida State University, “In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other.”

Chances are that you are already engaging in philosophical discussions in your classroom without formally calling them that. Team-building activities, conversations about literature, news, non-fiction materials, and social studies lessons all lend themselves easily to philosophy. If you use Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity, the multiple perspectives and ethics icons also prompt philosophical dialogues.

Since the toolkit can be a bit overwhelming, I thought I’d recommend one of the suggestions, “Joy and Heron.” It includes a 4-minute animation that’s adorable, and would be good to show students of any age, ask them to retell the story, and then discuss the ethics of what the dog chooses to do once it realizes the heron needs food. Right from wrong, empathy, and friendship are all potential topics to cover. If you print the PDF, related lessons in the toolkit will also be recommended.

I know that time is at a premium for teachers, but if you have a moment to explore this toolkit, I think that you will find some real gems.

K-12, Philosophy

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

history, K-12, Philosophy

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.

3-12, Philosophy

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.

little girls lying on green grass field
Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com
Critical Thinking, Depth and Complexity, K-12, Philosophy

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

3-12, Education, Motivation, Philosophy, Teaching Tools

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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