Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Which One Doesn’t Belong – More Photos!

One of my favorite math activities to do with students is called, “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” This was an idea that seems to have originated with @MaryBourassa, who created a website for this.  I described the concept and offered some links in this post from 2016. Recently, I saw a Tweet from @Simon_Gregg offering an entire album of over 200 WODB images for educators to use for stimulating math discussions.

Each picture set has 4 different images.  Project the images to your students, and ask them which one doesn’t belong – and why?  Hopefully, you will receive many different answers, and they will all be right for various reasons.  Because these are so open-ended, they can be used with different levels of complexity from number sense to geometric reasoning.  Encourage students to use mathematical vocabulary as they defend their choices, perhaps even making it a game where points are awarded for including particular words.  Challenge the students to try to find a reason for each one of the four to be excluded from the group, not just the first one they notice. The “See, Think, Wonder” Thinking Routine would go very well with this activity. (For more on Project Zero Thinking Routines, see this post.)  A formative or summative assessment option would be to ask students to create their own WODB challenges.

WODB is one of the 15 Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep that I’ve listed on this post. I highly recommend checking out those links if you feel like you want to add a bit more zip to your math lessons – or just enjoy doing unusual math puzzles.  (I’m addicted to the SolveMe Mobiles!)

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Which One Doesn’t Belong? Image by Simon Gregg (@Simon_Gregg), from this WODB album

Peel the Fruit

“Peel the Fruit” is a Visible Thinking Routine from Project Zero.  I have mentioned some of the other thinking routines on this blog in the past (CSI, 3-2-1 Bridge) that have been very effective in my classroom for encouraging students to think deeper.  More recently, I wrote about how the Smithsonian Learning Lab uses Thinking Routines to examine art.  I have never used “Peel the Fruit” before, but it seems like it would be particularly useful for older students to use for examining news stories right now or for younger students to think more deeply about a picture book they are reading.

In the “Peel the Fruit” routine, students start by making observations about the “surface” of their subject, and go through six more steps to discover the implications beneath what appears to be obvious.  You can see an example of this being used with a text on this page created by Alice Vigors. (There is also a template that you can download.)

Ron Ritchart, who has a book coming out in May 2020, and is one of Harvard’s Project Zero researchers, has included a different graphic by Paviter Singh that might be more appropriate for older students on his blog.  Ron also offers a link to this document created by Carol Geneix and Jaime Chao-Mignano at Washington International School, that suggests online tools that can be used with each of the Project Zero Thinking Routines.

“Peel the Fruit” would be an excellent way to encourage curiosity and critical thinking about an image, Tweet, news article, headline, or literary work.  If students have never done the routine before, it would be helpful to model the process before asking them to complete it independently.

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Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay

iCivics Game Odyssey

I have been a fan of iCivics, the site founded by Justice O’Connor in 2009,  since 2011. Since then, the site has continued to add fun, quality activities designed to help students learn about being responsible citizens. As a response to our current educational environment, iCivics has introduced a free, quest-based resource called, “iCivics Game Odyssey,” that will encourage students to, according to the site, #shelterinplay.

To begin, students will download the Odyssey map, which will be on a Google Slide that they will copy so they can edit it.  As they complete each quest, they will be able to add the badges they have earned to the map. The quests, which are also each accompanied by interactive Google Slides activities, are connected to iCivics games.  New quests are scheduled to be added each Monday.  If used as an assignment, teachers can have students turn in their completed Google Slides copies at the end of each quest, and the map once all badges have been earned.

There is a link on the Odyssey page to weekly planners for middle school and high school teachers who would like to use the lessons for class.  (To access these, you will need to register for a free iCivics account.)  Although 6-12 seem to be the targeted grade levels, I think that upper elementary students would also enjoy these activities.  There is no requirement for this resource to be used by schools, so parents can feel free to provide this as an enrichment activity for their children and even play along with them.

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Image by 272447 from Pixabay

National Geographic Explorer Classroom

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.

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Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Storytelling School with the Moth

The Moth is a program that promotes storytelling.  You can listen to stories that have been curated from The Moth’s live shows on “The Moth Radio Hour”, and there are also a few books of story compilations that have been published.

Like many entities during this time of widespread distance learning, The Moth has decided to offer some activities that can be done at home.  The stories and activities, offered bi-weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays, have been chosen specifically for school-age children, and include videos of the original storytellers.

The first “Storytelling School” assignment is “The Bad Haircut” by Alfonso Lacayo.  This tale is probably quite relevant right now as many of us are questioning the best course of action for maintaining hair styles with most salons being closed.

In the second installment from “Storytelling School,” Aleeza Kazmi narrates her experience creating a self-portrait in first grade, and her eventual realizations about herself and others that came from that event.

“The Care Package” is the third assignment, and a welcome, feel-good story that demonstrates that distance can never truly separate those who love each other.

The most recent “Storytelling School” assignment is “Mushroom Turned Bear,” and it’s one that anyone can relate to if they have tried to follow a YouTube tutorial and it spectacularly failed.  There are other accessible themes in the story that make it universally appealing as well.

So far, there are only the four assignments (the latest one was from today, 4/10/2020), but you can keep up with news of more by going to this link.  Also, if you are a teacher, be sure to check out the education link on the top menu for other ways that you can bring The Moth into your classroom.  For anyone who needs a laugh right now, which I suspect may be many of us, here is a link to their recent “Laugh Break” playlist. (Note: I haven’t listened to this yet, so definitely screen these before you share them with students.)

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom

My article, “How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom,” has just been published on the NEO Blog.  I hope that you will find that it gives some practical suggestions and resources for the ways that educators can model and apply the Design Thinking process.  This article was written before the pandemic drastically changed learning environments, but next month’s article on how distance learning can promote global collaboration will definitely take our new reality into account.

I hope you will take some time to browse through some of the other articles on the NEO Blog, as they are very thorough and cover a wide range of topics of interest to educators.  Please let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions for future articles!

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Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

Chronicles of COVID-19, Part 6

In an effort to encourage people from other countries to also contribute to our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World, I have added a Google Translate button to this site.  In addition, I have added Spanish instructions to the slide show.  Since I used Google Translate to interpret my instructions, I hope that someone who knows Spanish will let me know if I made any goofs!  Please go to the link above to find out more about this collaborative project.  If you have any other suggestions for helping this slide show to become more global, please add them to the comments below.

In the meantime, here is another recent entry from the diary.  I love that Estefany gave a book recommendation (and it happens to be one I haven’t read!), and it would be fun to see more of those!

Worldwide Online COVID Diary for students