UPDATE 6/24/15: I just added three more videos to this list. You can find the entire list with the updates here.
I thought this might be a good time of year to summarize and emphasize some of the most valuable resources I have reviewed so far. Today, I am offering a list of my Favorite Inspirational Videos for Teachers:
#3: The Power of Words – This might also be a good video to show your students. Its poignant message will hopefully help any viewer to think more carefully about how much word choice can impact what is said and written.
#2: Schools Kill Creativity – One of the many videos on TED that are motivational, this talk, given by Sir Ken Robinson, highlights the need for more imagination in our schools.
#1: What Teachers Make – If you are a teacher in need of a pep talk, this video of a speech by Taylor Mali will get you going. This isn’t one to show your students; it might be one to e-mail to the next adult who criticizes your job.
Many schools are out for the next two weeks, which gives teachers the opportunity to catch up on their personal lives. Sometimes, though, teachers like to use this time for planning. As the number of subscribers to this blog climbs, I am aware that many of you may not have had time to read all of the posts, or might have missed some of the earlier suggestions. So, I thought this might be a good time of year to summarize and emphasize some of the most valuable resources I have reviewed so far. Today, I would like to offer my Favorite Online Math Sites:
#3 – Math Pickle – This site has great higher order thinking activities for different grade levels. Videos and printables are provided.
#2 – Thinking Blocks – I really like how the students can use online manipulatives in order to visualize these math problems. The only disadvantage of this site is the inability to track the progress of students in your class.
#1 – Manga High– I have been phasing this program in with my gifted students in grades 3-5, and they are really excited about it. This is a relatively new site, which means that there are features being added on a regular basis. However, it already has the options for assigning lessons to your students and tracking them. You can view their progress individually or as a class. You can even print out progress reports for them. This is all for free, and allows you to offer some differentiation to your students for the times when you cannot work with them individually.
I received an e-mail from VocabularySpelling City that gave me some great ideas for helping my students to create gifts for their parents. These gifts require little, if no money, but some time and thought on the child’s part. They might also cause the receivers to do some pondering. In addition, this is an idea that parents might want to use for giving their own children gifts. If you don’t have an account at VocabularySpelling City, or want to investigate some other options, head over to www.puzzlemaker.com to create a Hidden Message, Fallen Phrase, or Double Puzzle. My students love solving these, and creating them is fun, too! This site is free and requires no registration.
This great post on Byrdseed Gifted, a fabulous resource for higher level thinking ideas, inspired me to come up with more ways to get music into my own classroom. To extend one of Ian’s ideas even further, I would like to use music to communicate some of my expectations. Students seem to forget, sometimes, what they should do when they finish their work. What if the background music answered this question? If I am playing Bach, for example, could this be the signal that they are supposed to check over their work, and then read a book? Or, could Beethoven mean that they can find another partner who is finished and do a center activity? Of course, this would mean the students would also have to be able to identify the pieces of music – an added bonus! Now that our school district subscribes to Soundzabound, I should have plenty of resources for creating a more harmonic classroom environment.
As a teacher, do you ever have a moment when no one needs your help, and you are standing in the middle of your classroom wondering what you should be doing? In my twenty years of teaching, I think that’s happened twice: when I was student teaching and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing anyway, and today. I showed my students Storybird, which allows you to choose sets of art to illustrate a story that you write. I meant for it to be a station on some computers in my classroom, but the students who started at that station didn’t want to leave. So, I started pulling out laptops until everyone was working on their own stories. For over an hour, there was silence in my room, and every child was engaged in creating his or her own story. We had been studying Figurative Language, and the assignment was to create a story with a winter theme that used at least 4 different types of figurative language.
After lunch, I thought the students might be weary of sitting in front of computer screens. I began saying, “Okay, you have a choice. You can either continue working on your Storybirds or – ” I didn’t even get to finish. They unanimously agreed that they wanted to continue.
Storybird is free. Register as a teacher, and you can add a class of students easily. The students do not need e-mail addresses to register or log in. You can view their work at any time, and they can also view the work of other students in the class by clicking on a tab at the top. They can comment, as can the teacher. It’s online, and easy to share, so they can show friends and family. The teacher can post specific assignments or the students can just create. Collaboration on stories is possible, and reading the stories of others is inspiring. The art work is charming and lovely.
Here is a sample from one of my 4th graders: (I apologize if some of the words are cut off – WordPress does not “play well” with embed codes!)
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Welcome to Engage Their Minds. This blog is designed for teachers who would like to differentiate for their students in new, unique ways. Although particularly suited for Gifted and Talented students, Engage Their Minds will have many recommendations that can be modified to use with students of many abilities. Please feel free to give your own suggestions!