Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Beauty’s Beak

Deborah Lee Rose is an author who recently worked with a raptor biologist, Jane Veltkamp, to write the non-fiction book, Beauty’s Beak: The Brave Story of a Bald Eagle and Her 3D-Printed Prosthetic Beak.  The book will be published in 2017, but you can already access related S.T.E.M. materials here.

Deborah Lee Rose’s website also includes an educational guide for Beauty’s Beak that has lots of curriculum connections and guiding questions.

Beauty, who had much of her beak shot off by a poacher, was almost euthanized because of her inability to survive.  Jane Veltkamp and her team collaborated to save Beauty, and the eagle is celebrating her 15th birthday this year.

One important part of Design Thinking is empathy, and the story of how Beauty’s rescuers cared for her and found a way to replace the eagle’s beak using the technology of 3d printing is an excellent illustration of empathy at work.

There are so many lessons to be learned by the story of Beauty, from the perils of poaching to the fantastic feats that can be accomplished by those who work together to beat the odds.  This is a tale that is relevant and inspiring, and sure to make an impact on your students on multiple levels.

Beauty Before and After
USFWS Photo by Glen Hush – Beauty Before and After

How to Encourage Students to Question

In my latest article for Fusion Yearbooks, I offer some practical ideas for encouraging questioning in the classroom.  If we want future generations of students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, they must learn the importance of questioning – which is sadly a skill often discouraged by educators.

image from Flickr
image from Flickr

Here are links to some of my other Fusion blog posts:

Cubelets Lesson Plans

My students have always been completely mesmerized by the power of Cubelets, modular robots that adhere magnetically and can be put together in a seemingly endless number of combinations. Obtaining enough Cubelets to feed the curiosity of a large group can get expensive, but we were fortunate enough to get some grant applications approved that allowed us to purchase a decent number. The combined set has definitely been one of the best investments I’ve made for my classroom.

Modular Robotics, the company behind Cubelets, has offered resources to teachers for the past few years.  But they now have an updated portion of their site devoted to lesson plans.  The plans are divided into grade level strands, starting with Pre-K and ending with 12th grade.  Browsing through the plans I found some “meaty” material, including this “Cause and Effect” plan for 4th-6th graders. Be advised that you will need to look carefully at the required Cubelets for the plans you use as some are not included in the less expensive kits.

Cubelets are great for centers and maker spaces.  With these free lesson plans, educators may feel more comfortable with integrating these versatile robots into their curriculum as well.

image from modrobotics.com
image from modrobotics.com

Teach STEM with Stuffed Animals

I recently read a post on We are Teachers by Erin Bittman (@ErinEBittman) about how to use stuffed animals to teach STEM concepts.  In the article, Bittman gives several examples of how students can practice measuring, weighing, and using other mathematical skills as they compare their stuffed animals.  In addition, lessons can be learned about animal adaptations and habitats.

One reason I love these ideas is because I have seen the devotion that younger students have to their stuffed animals.  With that kind of interest, students will definitely be engaged.  The lesson give multiple opportunities for cross-curricular connections that will make the learning memorable and relevant to the students.  Check out Bittman’s article for specific activities, and feel free to add more in the Comment section!

I have a “Stemspirational” Pinterest Board here if you are looking for even more resources.

teddybear

TED Ed Club Video Guides

TED Ed Clubs are one way to encourage students to speak about their passions.  In a recent e-mail from TED Ed that was chock full of resources, there was a reference to some video guides that are posted on YouTube to help speakers refine their presentations.  You don’t need to be in a TED Ed Club to access these videos, and they give some great advice on the different parts of a great presentation.

Kudos to Timmy Sullivan, the student who speaks so eloquently in each video.  I definitely think these would be great to show students who are making any kind of formal presentation – including Genius Hour reports.

Click here to go to the Video Guides.
Click here to go to the Video Guides.

Stick Pick (Reblog)

I originally posted this 5 years ago.  I was recently discussing it with my colleagues because we are trying to work on better questioning, and thought it couldn’t hurt to reblog about this app.
20110822-013657.jpg

Stick Pick is an app with great potential as a teacher tool. The teacher can add one or more classes within the app. To each class, the teacher adds individual student names, determining the type and level of questioning to use for each student from the following categories: Bloom’s Taxonomy, Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, or ESL. Once all students are entered, their sticks appear in a cup from which the teacher can randomly or purposefully choose names. As each student is chosen, a list of question stems from their particular assigned level appears on the screen. This is a wonderful way for teachers to differentiate impromptu questions for students.

Advice for #NewTeachers

In my latest article for Fusion, I give some advice to new teachers – fully aware that I still feel like a rookie after 25 years in the profession.  If you don’t have time to read it all, at least check out the last paragraph where I reveal my favorite teaching/parenting secret that has never once failed me in a quarter of a century😉

photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr