Making Across the Curriculum is a Google Site created by Rob Morrill on which he has curated ideas for “making” that integrate with different subjects. If you click on the link for “Project Ideas by Class,” you will find suggestions such as “Loominous Literature” for English and “Living Hinges” for Engineering. Some of the project ideas are repeated in different curriculum areas, as they are open-ended enough to accommodate numerous interpretations. Although Morrill designed this site for his school staff, you may find some project ideas for your content area here.
So here I am again. You may have noticed the (not so) brief hiatus. Or you may not have noticed it. If you’re a teacher, the latter is probably more likely. Noticing things that don’t directly affect your classroom is understandably low on the priority list during the school year.
In case you don’t follow me on other social networks, I recently posted this announcement, “On January 6th, most of my colleagues will return to work in schools and, for the first time in over 28 years, I will not. I decided to retire in December. There are multiple factors, and I still feel torn in two about my choice. However, with several family members about to have surgeries and a daughter about to interview at a couple of colleges out of town I am going to take advantage of the next couple of months to work on personal relationships before I decide on my second career. As the narrator of one of my favorite podcasts, Hidden Brain, recently said, ‘We often underestimate our ability to reinvent ourselves.’ Hopefully, I’m not OVERestimating it ;)”
I hesitate to call it retirement because, as my husband is quick to point out, I will be returning to work – but the actual job I will choose is a bit hazy at the moment. Here are my thoughts so far:
- Starting as an intern at an advertising agency like Chandler on Friends,
- Working as a staff writer for SNL or Stephen Colbert on The Late Show,
- Training emotional support animals
- Working at this bookstore if I can convince the owner I’m not a stalker
- Going to law school
- Running for office, probably something to do with Parks and Rec since I’ve been binge watching that particular show lately and Leslie Knope is one of my nonprofit heroes
While I sort things out, I figured I’d come back to this blog, which was one of my many hobbies that has fallen by the wayside in the last 18 months. As I was crafting this post, one of my dear friends from the world of Gifted and Talented tweeted a new site that she has begun, and I realized it was the perfect inaugural post for 2020.
Donna Lasher has put together an amazing resource for parents and educators of advanced students from K-8 on this site, Big Ideas for Little Scholars. With curriculum links, thinking skills strategies, and project ideas, this website is a dream come true for anyone who is looking for ways to challenge and inspire students. This site is easy to navigate, and puts everything you need in one spot, including information on how to reach out to other teachers with similar interests.
When I first started teaching gifted children, there was a paucity of information, and I often felt like I was on my own. Social networking has definitely changed this – to the point that the availability of materials can be overwhelming. The structure and quality of Donna’s site makes this much more manageable. It’s definitely worth bookmarking and visiting on a regular basis!
Thanks to Donna for sharing the site! Like many of us, she has spent the time creating a resource that we hope will help others, especially our students.
Looking back on my blog posts, I see that I’ve never devoted one to Flippity even though I’ve used it for various reasons the last couple of years. If you haven’t tried Flippity and you like user-friendly tech tools, you should definitely visit the site. When I first started using it, it was basically an easy way to turn a Google Spreadsheet into flashcards. Since then, it has added many more features – all for free.
Leslie Fisher reminded me to take another look at Flippity when she mentioned a few of the newer additions to the site. There is a now a Timeline and a Typing Test. You can also make a Scavenger Hunt (which is similar to a Digital Breakout, but much easier to create!). I am eager to try the Badge Tracker for our Maker Space. I also noticed that there is a Flippity Add-On for Chrome if you are interested.
Each activity offers you a template that you can copy to your Drive. Follow the instructions on the template and/or the website by typing information into the correct cells. Publish your spreadsheet, get the link, and the magic happens.
Don’t forget that your students can also create with Flippity. Though most of the templates are not going to promote deep learning, they are great opportunities for students to practice skills in novel ways.
I learned quite a bit about Artificial Intelligence at a TCEA session this year presented by Anita Johnson of Austin ISD. She explained the difference between Expert Systems (where explicit rules are programmed – think “If…Then” statements) and Machine Learning (where the computer identifies and learns from patterns). Johnson teaches middle school, and introduced us to a site called, “Machine Learning for Kids,” which she uses with her students. In the “Worksheets” section, you can find many lessons, categorized by difficulty level, that can be done using Scratch, such as creating a character that smiles if you say nice things and cries if you are mean.
I haven’t had a chance to try this with my students, yet. It looks like you have an option to create a managed class account or “Try it Now”, but check out this page for details on the pros and cons of each choice.
You can also read this blog post to get more information on how to introduce Machine Learning to kids, and why we should even want to educate them about this technology.
As seasoned readers may know, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of math. (See here, here, or here for some examples.) Now that my job title is S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher, I have been looking even more for ideas on how to integrate math and art.
Math Craft is a great place to start. From mathematical knitting to Sierpinski Christmas trees, there is no shortage of inspiration on this site (though it is a bit heavy on polyhedrons). Not every post gives you instructions, as some of them feature work by professional artists – but you could always pose the question to your students, “How do you think they made this?” They may end up making something completely different, but equally as beautiful, along the way.
One of my colleagues pointed out a couple of weeks ago that Instructables offers free classes on many “makerspace” related topics, such as laser cutting, mold making, and 3d design. I’ve used the site for a few DIY projects, but never knew I could dig deeper with these lessons. I plan to investigate several of these for my own studies, and now I know that I can also refer some of my students to the site, especially if they want to learn more about something I may not have tried yet. It’s a good resource for DIY’ers, educators, and students.
You have less than 2 days to vote for this year’s Doodle 4 Google contest winners. This year’s theme is , “What inspires me.” This is a great opportunity to show your students the incredible creativity that is exemplified by the chosen finalists from K-12. And, even though the deadline to enter has passed, you can take advantage of the free educator materials to guide your students as they create their own Google doodles. Are you done with standardized testing for the year? Looking for ways to engage your students as the school year comes to a close? This is definitely one way to do it!