Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Systemic Racism Explained

Before I get into this week’s post dedicated to eradicating racism, I want to make note of the moving moment that took place yesterday when teams for both the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees all took a knee at the same time to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  After this truly awe-inspiring scene, which you can read about here, they all stood for the National Anthem, demonstrating that we can honor our country while still wanting to improve it.

baseball kneeling

As more and more institutions in the United States acknowledge the problem of racism, it is important for young people to understand how embedded prejudice is in the history of our country, and the strength it will take to root it out.  TED Ed has a good animated video that explains systemic racism.  Though a four minute video certainly cannot give the whole picture, it is a simple introduction for students who may have the misguided belief that racism ended when schools were integrated.  If you want to have your class probe further, the “Dig Deeper” section includes a link to a Vox article that incorporates several charts portraying the racial divide that still exists in our country, including one showing the disparity among Native Americans/Blacks and people of other races who have been reported to have died from Covid-19.

This post is part of a weekly Black Lives Matter series that I have vowed to include on this blog.  Here are the previous posts:

Also, for more amazing anti-racism resources, check out the Live Binder curated by Joy Kirr.

Stamped Digital Reader’s Notebook

UPDATE 7/23/20 – Here is a link to a guide for Stamped.  Also, find out more about author Jason Reynolds in this blog post.

For this week’s post dedicated to sharing anti-racist resources, I am giving you the link to a digital Reader’s Notebook that was tweeted out by Pernille Ripp (@PernilleRipp) today.  This is a Google Slides template created by Jennifer LeBrun to accompany the book, Stamped, co-authored by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Stamped is based on Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which Reynolds and Kendi “re-mixed” to create a book with the same information for younger audiences.  If you haven’t had a chance to read Stamped, yet, you may want to try purchasing it from one of these independent, black-owned, bookstores. It is extremely readable, and offers pretty much all of the information about racism that history textbooks completely ignore or wrongly represent to intentionally mislead readers.  The Google Slides template is extremely thorough, and the book along with this notebook and some well-orchestrated discussions would make a fine addition to any middle to high school curriculum.



This post is part of a weekly Black Lives Matter series that I have vowed to include on this blog.  Here are the previous posts:

Also, for more amazing anti-racism resources, check out the Live Binder curated by Joy Kirr.


Clay Smith’s Twitter profile (@ClayCodes) states that he is a “Former Talent Agent turned Tech Educator.”  Fortunately, he is kind enough to share some of his technology skills on his blog, “clayCodes.”  Specifically, he has created some helpful Google Add/Ons and Extensions that make teaching easier.   One of them, Record to Slides, may be of particular interest for teachers who are working remotely.  Once you’ve installed the extension, you can click on the blue camera icon on the top right near the comment icon in your Slides presentation.  It allows you to record a video, and add your recording immediately to a slide.  You can give quick instructions, add a surprise message for your students, or maybe give them a reminder to pay attention 😉  Of course, be wary of the amount of recording time you add to your presentation overall, as it can cause loading problems for students with lower bandwidth at their homes.

Slide Record Example

I haven’t tested it out, yet, but another cool tool by Clay that you can try is, “Classroom Assist,”  which allows you to use your voice to create documents, add assignments, and make other useful changes in your Google Classroom.

Thank you, Clay Smith, for making Google Slides and Classroom even more teacher-friendly!

Just a quick word about Google extensions – most of them do ask for permission to access your drive.  This means there is potential for hacking your information, so be cautious about the number that you add, and delete ones that you’ve added but don’t use.  Here is a recent article on this topic.


UDL for Remote Classrooms

My latest post for the NEO blog is, Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms.   I know that many educators are still concerned about what the beginning of the new school year will bring, but this article will give you many helpful tools regardless of your upcoming situation.  Universal Design for Learning is all about creating lessons effectively and efficiently for all students.  One of the first videos that I watched when I went to Harvard one summer for UDL training is the Todd Rose TED Talk I’ve embedded below.  It embodies the philosophy behind UDL – where we stop designing schools for “average,” and begin designing “to the edges.”  Take a look at the video, and then hop on over to my article for specific ways to apply UDL to distance learning.

My previous NEO articles have been: How Distance Learning Fosters Global Collaboration, How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom, and How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning.

BrainPop: Black Lives Matter Protests

BrainPop has created an excellent animated video that explains the protests for Black Lives Matter.  It is accompanied by a blog post that offers tips for discussing related topics with young people, and a video discussion guide. This is a fairly recent addition to the BrainPop archives, as it refers to the death of George Floyd and other current events.  You may prefer to read quickly through the transcript instead of watching the video to determine if it is appropriate for your target audience.

This post is part of a weekly Black Lives Matter series that I have vowed to include on this blog.  Here are the previous posts:

Black Lives Matter
Image by S B from Pixabay

Charty Party – All Ages Edition

Charty Party is a game based on charts. (H/T to @MsMessineo for tweeting about this!)  Played like Apples to Apples, a judge is selected who turns over a card with a chart on it.  Only the X-Axis is labeled.  Players look at their own cards, which have potential labels for the Y-Axis, and choose one from their hand that they think the judge will find the funniest.  The player whose card is chosen by the judge collects that chart, and a new person becomes the judge.  The game ends when someone has collected 5 charts.

The creators of the original Charty Party, which was designed for ages 17+,  received a lot of requests for versions that would be appropriate for classrooms and young families.  So, after interviewing many people, including teachers, they are back with an All Ages Edition on Kickstarter.  The good news is that the game has already been funded, so production is guaranteed.  The even better news is that for every $5,000 the team raises from backers, they will donate 10 Charty Party All Ages games to a school.  As I am writing this post, they have already raised over $56,000. (Their original goal was $10,000.) The kind of hard-to-swallow news for those of us eager to play it is that delivery of the games will not begin until January, 2021.  😦

You can get the original Charty Party right now, and add on your All Ages Cards when you receive them.  I read some of the Q&A on the product’s Amazon page, and in response to, “How many cards would I have to remove before I could allow my high school students to play this at school?” one person answered, “About half.”  Personally, I think it would be fun to have your students make their own cards to go with the charts for the time being.

If you teach math, I envy you, and definitely think you should check out this game.  For other math fun with charts and graphs, see my posts on: Slow Reveal Graphs, Dear Data, and What’s Going on in This Graph?


Charty Party All Ages
image from Charty Party All Ages Kickstarter