In my third article for the NEO Blog, which was published today, I give a detailed look at how S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. instruction can be accomplished remotely. The article has links to many resources, so you will likely find at least one new helpful tool somewhere in the post. You can read, “How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning” here.
Next month’s article will be, “Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms.” As always, I would love reader input on this topic. If you have any resources or examples that would be helpful, please comment on this post!
Two Bit Circus is a foundation that describes its mission as follows: “We serve children in all economic situations by creating learning experiences to: inspire entrepreneurship, encourage young inventors, and instill environmental stewardship.” The organization has aimed to achieve these goals through activities such as summer camps, STEAM Carnivals, and workshops. Although many of these programs have had to come to a screaming stop during the last few months due to the pandemic, Two Bit Circus has not faltered in its delivery of quality content. Instead, it has shifted to offering streaming classes during the week on topics that range from creating music to building balloon racers. You can find the archive, already full of informational project videos they have streamed since March, here. Note that Caine Monroy (yes – the charming young man from Caine’s Arcade) makes a special appearance in some of them. He is a member of the foundation’s Junior Advisory Board. In fact, according to the streaming schedule on the home page, Caine will be hosting another live session this Thursday, May 21st.
It’s clear that Two Bit Circus is making a strong effort to offer distance learning projects that are fun, educational, and mostly reliant on household supplies. Some other resources you will currently find on their website home page are their STEAM Carnival Playbooks (currently free downloads thanks to Vans), a Bricks Playbook for Parents, and “Power Lab,” a “Print-At-Home Escape/Story Room Experience.” In addition, parents who are suddenly finding themselves to be educators may learn some helpful advice from the “Teachers for Teachers” series that you can find here.
While the official school year may be winding down for some, the unpredictability of the next few months will probably still leave some gaps in children’s schedules. With these resources from Two Bit Circus you can make that time fly!
Smash Boom Bestis a debate podcast for kids. Season 3 will be airing this summer, 2020, but you can still access past episodes from Seasons 1 and 2, and even vote for your choices here. For example, I listened to “Invisibility vs. Flying” before writing this blog post. The episodes are an excellent way to introduce debate to students in upper elementary and middle school with their kid-friendly topics and efforts to include their young listeners by inviting them to submit debate ideas. The “Micro” and “Sneak Attack” rounds add to the fun.
Once your students have listened to a debate or two (the episodes are about 35 minutes long), you can use the curriculum provided by Smash Boom Best to help them create their own exciting debates. On that same page you will also find downloads for scorecards that can be used during the debates and some other debate resources.
Smash Boom Best is part of a family of podcasts that also includes Brains On. This is an award-winning show where the host investigates those burning questions we have about science, like, “Can you dig to the center of the earth?” More episodes can be found here. For educator resources and some transcripts of select shows, you can go to this page.
National Geographic is currently offering a series of livestreams called, “Explorer Classroom.” These are currently available on YouTube at 2 PM Eastern Time. You can easily join in viewing by just clicking the “Watch” link under the featured presenters at the appropriate time. (Choose the calendar icon for the full list of scheduled programs.) For those of you planning ahead of time, you can register for the program with a chance for your children and/or students to get one of the few on-camera spots. The “Family Guide” that you will find after each program description gives excellent suggestions for activities and research that can be done before the livestream in order to get the most out of your experience. From discovering new species of frogs to learning what we can do to protect sharks, children will certainly find at least one, if not all, of these topics to be of interest.
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!
If you can’t go to the zoo, the zoo will come to you! Each weekday, at 11 am (EDT), the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is presenting a Virtual Classroom experience using Facebook Live. From what I can tell, a couple of the previous experiences (meeting alpacas and bathing an elephant) are archived on the Facebook page. According to comments, requests have been made to also make them available somewhere else so that people who do not have Facebook can still view them. You can also find some archived videos along with lesson plans on this page.
The Cincinnati Zoo is also providing Facebook Live Safaris. These are happening at 3 PM (EDT) each weekday, but you can also access past videos along with suggested home activities on this page.
There are many more, but I’m trying not to overwhelm readers with too many resources in one post. Thanks to all of you out there who are keeping our students engaged during these tough times!