For those of you inspired by Amanda Gorman to make some poetry of your own, here is an online Blackout Poetry Maker that makes it easy. Though that surely is not Gorman’s method for writing her verses, blackout poetry is one of many “gateways” into this medium that students enjoy. For some other methods, here is a link to one of my old posts with more ideas. Be ready for National Poetry Month in April by writing your first drafts now!
(Can you guess what famous speech I used to create the poem below?)
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.
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.
I first mentioned Donna Lasher’s website, Big Ideas for Little Scholars, last January. Since that post, she has added so much more to this incredible resource, so I thought it would be good to revisit it. If you teach gifted and talented and/or advanced elementary or middle school students, Donna’s site should be your number one bookmarked page in your browser. It is incredibly thorough and very well-organized. For example, she has a page of academic and creative contests organized by categories, as well as a link to a page where they are grouped by months they begin. If you are looking for seasonal and holiday lessons, Donna (@bdlasher) has another page for these in chronological order.
With lesson ideas, teaching materials, books, and websites all organized by grade level bands, Big Ideas for Little Scholars makes it simple for teachers and parents to access innumerable resources for children who are craving more challenges in any subject area. In addition, you can visit Donna’s “About” page to learn how you can get invited to access and contribute to a Google Team Drive for teachers of gifted students.
I love to read Donna’s blog posts, and I always look forward to receiving her newsletter in my Inbox. If you feel like you’re in a rut (okay – I realize many of you wish you could get in a rut right now), want to find a fresh way to teach something, or desire ideas to make a topic more engaging, Big Ideas for Little Scholars should be the first place you look.
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.
I recently curated an entire list of sites to help teachers use in the classroom for lessons on evaluation online information – and most of the links on the list came from Facebook. I am not ignorant of the irony in that statement, but I will say that the particular Facebook group that this came from is my favorite and most educational – the Distance Learning Educators group. If you are looking for help or ideas in anything related to distance learning, this group is extremely knowledgeable and supportive. When a teacher recently asked for advice for lessons to use with her 12th graders about fake news, a stream of educators responded, and most of the answers were new to me.
UPDATE 10/22/2020: Jigsaw Explorer now has a feature to hide puzzle previews in case you want students to solve the puzzle before seeing the final picture. Learn more here!
Want to add a little light fun to your online classrooms? How about doing a collaborative jigsaw puzzle? Jigsaw Explorer might be just the ticket for a bit of community building.
There are many online jigsaw puzzle sites out there, as I found out when I started doing a bit of research on this topic. Techie Teacher wrote a great post about using Jigsaw Planet. But I had the specific criteria that I wanted it to be a site where I could use my own picture (so I could possibly use something connected to the curriculum), and that it could be easily collaborative. Jigsaw Explorer seems to fit the bill.
You can, of course, use the puzzles already provided on Jigsaw Explorer – including their Friday mystery puzzles which only give you part of the image. This particular site does not allow you to actually upload pictures initially*, so you need to get the web address of the picture you want to use. I did a Creative Commons Search for a picture of the frog life cycle, right-clicked, saved the image address, and pasted it here. You can then add credits to your puzzle and choose the number of pieces. Once you create it, you are given links to share the puzzle, and an embed code if you want to put it on your own website. When you open a puzzle you’ve made, you will see an icon with the silhouette of two people, which allows you to share the puzzle in multiplayer mode. You choose a nickname and create a game link to copy and share. Up to 20 people can be working on the same puzzle at a time. Here are more instructions for the multiplayer games. *Also, if you do actually want to upload a picture you already have on your computer, you can click on the three lines in the top left within a puzzle to make your own.
I tried doing an activity like this last year, when I was doing a digital breakout (escape room), and the students were supposed to put the puzzle together to reveal a clue. I didn’t realize that there was a preview button so they actually didn’t need to solve the puzzle! Unfortunately, this is the case on all of the online jigsaw puzzle sites that I found. However, I found this great video from Joli Boucher that shows how you can put a jigsaw puzzle on Google slides. It’s a bit time-consuming, but definitely an option if you are trying to keep the final picture a mystery. (For other ideas for digital breakout tools, you can visit this post.)
Since I have family members and friends who love to do jigsaw puzzles, I’m hoping to do a Zoom Jigsaw party soon! One idea for the classroom might be to showcase student art by making it into a jigsaw puzzle. You’re all so creative, I am sure you will think of lots of ways to use this with your students.