Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Inauguration Day Lessons

With only two more days until the United Stated Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021, most of you probably have decided on your lesson plans for the week. However, for those of you who like to fly by the seat of your pants or don’t mind doing a little tweaking when you see something that suits your needs better, here are some lessons you should definitely consider.

Discovery Education is doing an Inauguration Day Virtual Field Trip on 1/19/2021 at 12 PM ET. Dr. Jill Biden will be one of the special guests presenting. If you and your class are unable to attend, don’t despair. There are plenty of other lesson resources on this page from Discovery that you can use for grades K-12.

iCivics has a lesson plan for The First 100 Days that includes a customizable Google Slide Deck.

For grades 9-12, you may want to try this PBS lesson to “Write Your Own Inauguration Speech.”

Although the EdSitement lesson, “I Do Solemnly Swear” is listed for K-12, the activities look more appropriate for upper elementary through middle school.

You might want to focus on the history of poetry that is read at presidential inaugurations, and discuss the work of this year’s inaugural poet, 22 year old Amanda Gorman. What does it mean, if anything, that there was no poet invited to speak at Donald Trump’s inauguration?

If nothing else, I encourage you to watch and listen to Amanda Gorman reading from one of her poems below, “The Miracle of Morning.” Though this is not the one she has written for the inauguration, it very well could be the magnificent anthem of hope that all of us need.

The Homework Gap

For this week’s anti-racist post, I would like to thank Tiffany Arce (@tarce29) for sharing the video below on Twitter. The video was created in support of the 1 Million Project, which was formed in 2017 to give more students access to high-speed internet at home. The initial concern was the academic rift that was being created between students with and without this advantage on homework assignments. As we all know, that rift became gargantuan when entire school days ended up online due to the pandemic.

The embedded video is a simple demonstration of the difference that high-speed internet access can make during one activity on one day in the life of a student. Aside for the fact that the quality and quantity of homework assignments is a topic that needs to be addressed in our education system, I think that we need to accept the fact that high speed internet access has become a necessity rather than a luxury. Even as we are in the process of distributing vaccines right now, people in many parts of the country are at a huge disadvantage if they cannot receive digital information about the availability and method for signing up.

According to the data, an inordinate amount of students who do not have any or adequate internet connections at home are students of color. This is another example of how systemic racism continues to suppress student achievement in education.

If you are a teacher, please consider this carefully when you assign any work to be done at home. In addition, we all need to do what we can to rectify this by supporting programs that provide high speed internet to entire communities instead of just a privileged few.

I will be adding this post to my list of Anti-Racism posts on Wakelet. Please consider sharing it with others, especially those who have the power to make a difference in the classroom. 

Consider Joining One of These Global Collaboration Projects

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was to find ways students could somehow learn from people in other parts of the world, whether it was peer to peer, or speaking with experts in various fields. In fact, I have a presentation I offer on this to schools. With Skype in the Classroom no longer available (see my update on this post for more info), I have been on the lookout for other ways to “flatten the classroom”, so I thought I would mention a few today that are in the process of accepting more participants now that we are in January, 2021.

Humans of New York: Global Student Writing Project – Based on the Humans of New York photoblog by Brandon Stanton, this project has been adapted for students by Kelly Hilton (@KellyiHilton), Holly Clark (@HollyClarkEdu), and Tanya Avrith (@TanyaAvrith). I am not sure about sign-up deadlines, but I believe I saw somewhere that it is currently open.

Epic Pals Collaborative Reading Project – This is a monthly activity for 1st – 3rd graders hosted by Sara Malchow (@smalchow) using Epic! Books for Kids and Padlet.

Goals Project – Any class from K-College is welcome to participate in this event that is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Sign up now to get involved! (See another idea for incorporating the Sustainable Goals here.)

ScratchPals – The next round begins February 1st, 2021, so sign up here if you want to be involved in this global collaboration using the free Scratch coding site.

Virtual Valentines – This site will be updated very soon for the 2021 school year. My class participated in this in 2018, and really enjoyed it. One of the nice aspects of this project is that you can choose your level of participation.

Whether you decide to join one of these projects, one that isn’t listed, or even start one of your own, you can find a great video to help your students understand the value of global collaboration here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How to Do More With Less Screen Time

I’ve observed a disconnect between the length of time schools and districts are requiring distance learning teachers to be on screen (many expecting it to be the entire school day) and the number of daily hours that parents and teachers believe to be beneficial to virtual learners (definitely not 6-8 hours). In my latest post for the NEO blog, How to Do More With Less Screen Time, I’ve offered some “workarounds” to avoid or combat screen fatigue. I hope that some of the suggestions are helpful.

My previous NEO articles have been:  How to Facilitate Meaningful Discussions in Hybrid or Virtual Classrooms, Top Ed Tech Tools for DifferentiationFrom Normal to Better: Using What We’ve Learned to Improve EducationApplying Universal Design for Learning in Remote ClassroomsHow Distance Learning Fosters Global CollaborationHow to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.

Next month’s NEO post will be a fun surprise with many entertaining ideas. I can’t wait for you to see it!

Photo by Lena Helfinger on Pexels.com

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through Winter and Some New Jamboard Updates

I was excited to find that Google Jamboard updated last week, allowing people to upload our own backgrounds so we don’t have to worry about students accidentally moving our designs. I worked on re-designing one of my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. resources so I could offer it to you for use on Jamboard. S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is a creative thinking tool developed by Roger Eberle, and each letter stands for suggestions to spark innovation: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Another Use, and Rearrange. I am working on revamping all of my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. materials, but currently have S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through Winter available on Jamboard for you to copy and use.

I added some animated gifs from Giphy.com to create some more visual interest, but those are not part of the background so they can be deleted if you like. If you prefer, I also have the same prompts on a Google Slides presentation in case you want to make multiple copies of one prompt by downloading as a .png or .jpg. I slightly modified the prompts so that they are “holiday-neutral.” For some examples of some of the creative responses I’ve gotten from students in the past, you can look at this post and this one. I am adding this post to my Winter Holidays Wakelet, which has over 65 resources now. In addition, I will post the link on my Jamboard Wakelet, which is also gaining more resources every day.

One of my recent additions to the Jamboard Wakelet is a nice image of keyboard shortcuts to view a Version History in Jamboard. This image was tweeted by @MariaGalanis. Until yesterday, I had no idea it was possible to do this. Unfortunately, you cannot see who made changes on the Jamboard, as you can with other Google products, but being able to return to earlier versions when mistakes are made or you forgot to make a copy before students used it is extremely helpful.

Alice Keeler (@AliceKeeler) wrote a post about these shortcuts, suggestions for naming your original version history, and a sticky note short cut for Jamboard that she published today, so be sure to check that out for more good advice.

I hope everyone is having a great Monday, and this week, which will be the last for many before the Winter Break, is going smoothly!

Crystal Gems Speak Up

This post is a result of a tweet of a Tik Tok of a video clip of a PSA from the Cartoon Network. Yes, my friends, these are the kind of rabbit holes I dive into each day in the interest of finding resources to share on this blog – and in the interest of avoiding copyright violations.

Since we have no one under the age of 10 in our house, we don’t have the Cartoon Network, and I don’t really know who the Crystal Gems are. But they are anti-racist, so that is definitely a big plus in my book. When you visit the Crystal Gems Speak Up site, you will find two short (less than 2 minutes each) videos that tackle the topic of racism. The first one, “Tell the Whole Story,” explains how Thomas Edison would not have been able to invent the light bulb without Lewis Latimer, the Black man who invented the process for carbon filament. Latimer worked for Alexander Graham Bell at one time, drafting the drawings for the patent for the telephone, and then went to work with Edison. You can learn more about this fascinating man, who was also a writer and consultant, here.

In “Don’t Deny It, Defy It!” the animated actors deliver the message that racism exists even if you don’t experience it or observe it in your own life. It’s a gentle reminder of the need to continuously educate each generation about the damage that we do to each other by pretending that racism is in the past and will remain there.

This post is part of a weekly series of anti-racist articles. For previous posts in this series, please visit this link.

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on Pexels.com