Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Engage

Engage is a two minute video from “Let it Ripple” Film Studio (also the producers of The Science of Character).  It’s a good reminder that we only have a short time on this planet, so it’s important to make that time meaningful by helping others.  Accompanied by the soundtrack of, “Give a Little Bit,” by Rodger Hodgson, Engage might be the little nudge of inspiration that your students need to become more involved in the world around them. A similar video, which you can also find on my “Inspirational Videos for Students” Pinterest Board, is “The Time You Have (in Jellybeans).”

H/T to @ibceendy for sharing this link on Twitter!

Engage
from Engage by Let It Ripple
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Skype in the Classroom Bingo Cards

One of your goals this new school year may be to “flatten” your classroom walls by making more global connections.  “Skype in the Classroom,” which I blogged about earlier this year, is a great way to get started.  The site now offers Bingo Cards as a resource that you can print out for your students to keep track of all of the fantastic Skype experiences they have throughout the year. You can also use a bingo card to get a nice collection of ideas for Skype sessions!  There are teacher instructions, and there is even a set of cards that you can use for professional development.  All of these downloadable PDF’s are free, and just the tip of the iceberg when you explore everything that “Skype in the Classroom” has to offer!

Skype Bingo

Good Thinking!

The Smithsonian Science Education Center worked with Fablevision Studios and science experts to produce the web series, Good Thinking!  The Science of Teaching Science.  Each of the short (about 6-10 minutes) animated videos is designed to address a common student idea or misconception about science.  For example, one video disproves the unfortunately common “neuromyth” of people being either right-brained or left-brained –  “Why Right-Brained is Wrong… Brained.”   Each video offers detailed references regarding the research it is based on, as well as a professional development guide. Although the target audience of these videos is science teachers, some of them may also be good to show students.  Before you embark on your next science unit, take a moment to explore Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science to find out how to make your lessons even better.

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from: Good Thinking!  The Science of Teaching Science

Redesign the Report Card

I have been looking at alternate report cards lately – some that use standards based grading, some that assess 21st century skills, etc…  As I did my research, I ran across an article from 2011 that appeared in Good magazine, challenging readers to “Redesign the Report Card.”  I was intrigued by the idea of not only rethinking what would be assessed on my ideal report card, but how it would be visually represented.

Since the article was from 2011, I deduced that there was probably a subsequent article announcing the winner.  I was correct.  But before you look, here is a slideshow of the submissions from readers that made it to the final vote.  I was intrigued by the variety of presentation ideas as well as the infographic-type style incorporated into many of the redesigns.  The addition of QR codes to one of them so that parents could scan to get more detailed information was brilliant!

Here is the link to the winner.  Considering this was created six years ago, I feel that it is pretty innovative.  However, I still think that we need to consider the question of what kind of feedback we are actually trying to communicate with reports to parents.  What does a grade really mean – how much the student knows now, or how much she crammed for a final exam and forgot the next day?

I think it would be a fantastic idea to pose this challenge to students.  Think of the rich discussions and debates you could have in the classroom as they struggle to create a meaningful report card.  Even with younger students you could ask them what their parents would want to know about how they do in school.  Older students could start with what should be assessed and talk about if grades should be used or another way to keep students and parents informed about progress.

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image from Kyle Harmon on Flickr

Leela Kids

The “Wow in the World” podcast from NPR is just one of the many kid-friendly podcasts that can be curated by the Leela Kids app, which is available on iOS or Android. Download the app to your mobile device (search for it under “iPhone Only” in the iTunes store – even though it works fine on iPads), and open it up to see a simple menu that allows you to choose an age bracket (3-5, 5-8, 8-12, 12-15*) and a category (Stories, Music, Animals, Ocean, Space, and Curious).  Once you’ve made your selections, you can then see either a list of specific episodes or the list of shows that provide those episodes.  The duration of each podcast episode is listed under the title.  Some are a minute long, while others can be almost a half hour.

How could you use this?  Well, as a parent and/or a teacher you may know how difficult it is to search for appropriate podcasts.  Now you have a treasury your children can listen to during long car trips or in classroom centers with a set of headphones.  The great thing about this is that podcasts have frequent updates so there is a slight chance that you will never run out of episodes!

If you are using this in the classroom, you can gather student reflections using a response sheet like this one from Chase March.  Students searching for topics for Genius Hour projects may find something that they may want to research further. Another idea is to use the app to find relevant podcast links for class, and embed those links in a Hyperdoc.

As you can see, there are many ways to use podcasts in class, and the Leela Kids app just made it even easier.

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Leela Kids App

*If you teach secondary students, here is an article on “Likewise,” a more robust collection of podcasts that can be used in the classroom.

Splat!

Steve Wyborney recently published this article on Edutopia about a series of math problems he has created on Powerpoint called, “Splat!”  The challenges begin at a low enough level that you could use them with Kindergarten, and increase in difficulty to a point that even secondary students will enjoy the intellectual stimulation.  Steve provides all 50 of the downloadable Powerpoint files here, along with a video in which he explains the process.  Basically, students are shown a group of dots, some of which are then covered with one or more “splats.”  They have to deduce how many dots are under the splats.

I love the potential for rich math conversations with this activity and the natural algebraic thinking that will evolve from solving each of these challenges.  Thanks to Steve for providing these great resources free to educators everywhere!

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image from PublicDomainPictures.net

What You Missed This Summer – Inspirational Videos

I know that my readership takes a dip June-August each year as many educators go on vacations or take breaks during those months.  Although I did not post as regularly as I meant to this summer, I did share some resources that I believe are worth repeating in case you missed them.  I am going to spend this week spotlighting some of those.

I already shared the Jennie Magiera video this week, but here are some others that I posted this summer that you may have missed:

As always, you can find hundreds more Inspirational Videos for Students and Inspirational Videos for Teachers on my Pinterest Boards!