CARE Resource Review Tool

I am absolutely aware that teachers are in survival mode at the moment, and their least precious commodity is time. However, as we all know, there are situations where investing a bit of time at the beginning can result in a much larger return later on — especially when crowdsourcing is involved. If you are feeling a bit helpless when it comes to doing anti-racist work, this is a contribution you can make that will probably take you no more than 15 minutes.

The Care Resource Review Tool is an online tool from the Center for Anti Racist Education. It is meant to be used to analyze educational materials “through an antiracist lens.” After registering (free), reviewers go through a simple process through which they consider a self-selected teaching material based on 5 Principles. After answering 3 questions for each principle, reviewers get an overall score and some recommendation. Below, you can see the one I received after reviewing The Giver, a somewhat tricky book to analyze since its lack of diversity is what makes the fictional community dystopian. The tool is not just for literature, though. It can be used for textbooks, podcasts, non-fiction, or whatever type of resource is being used in the classroom.

CARE is currently gathering information from reviewers, but they intend to make a searchable database once they have gotten enough contributions to make it useful. Once that is up, you will be able to find materials that have already been reviewed and make better decisions about what you should use in your classroom to better serve all students.

I will be adding this post to my Anti-Racism Wakelet, which is a free collection of links to tools and articles about how to be an Anti-Racist educator.

November Activities For You!

Thank goodness for my blog stats that show me when people are beginning to look for resources for the following month! Otherwise, I probably would be giving you Thanksgiving links the day before the big feast, which would obviously be too late. I know the November Thanksgiving holiday is only in the United States, so I also included a world-wide holiday in this year’s collection — Fibonacci Day, which is on 11/23. Donna Lasher’s excellent holiday page reminded me of that notable event, and I think that this is probably the first year that I’ve ever thought about it in advance. (Thanks, Donna!) She has a great list of fabulous activities for Fibonacci Day here, and I also included it in my Thanksgiving/November Wakelet. For this Wakelet, I used the new column layout, which will hopefully make it easier to find resources.

Now, of course there is another American celebration in the United States in November, Veterans Day on 11/11. Here is my Wakelet for that.

Some holidays during November that are celebrated in many countries are: Dia de Los Muertos, Diwali (November 4th, 2021), and Hanukkah (November 28th, 2021).

I hope to add more to all of these collections, so please let me know if you have a quality free resource/link to contribute! And if you want to see the Wakelet collections that I have so far, you can go here.

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Protobot

One of my favorite workshops to do with teachers is, “Developing Design Thinkers.” There are so many ways to use the Design Thinking process in every part of the curriculum, and it is just plain fun! I recently learned about a tool that I will definitely be incorporating next time. It’s called, “Protobot,” and it was developed by one of the professors at Stanford’s d. School. Protobot is an online randomizer that will propose different design challenges. Some of them are thought-provoking and some completely absurd. But the surprising combination of objects and purposes is what makes Protobot the perfect warm-up activity for promoting creativity. Here are a couple of the prompts I got when I clicked the “Randomizer” button:

Anyone who teaches can probably imagine the giggles these would elicit from students, especially the last one! The designer, Molly (@MollyClare), has some suggestions for using Protobot with different sized groups. You will also notice that my link takes you to the English (safe mode) version, which you can change by clicking in the top right corner. She teaches college, so sexuality and alcohol are possible references in the “unsafe” version. Either way, you might not want to go the completely random route if you have super young students, and take screen shots of potential ideas instead.

Here are some other options for generating design thinking challenges in the classroom. And don’t forget that I have a Wakelet of books to use, including picture books, that inspire creativity and design thinking!

October 2021

I’m a bit behind in blog posts, but the good news is that a little prep work from last year will pay off for this year! You can find all kinds of links for October activities, including Powers of 10 Day (October 10th) and Halloween, in this Wakelet I started last October. I’ve added a few new links that I got from MakerEd, TCEA, and Ditch That Textbook, and will continue to add more throughout this month. I also recommend that you check out the “Holiday Ideas” page on Big Ideas 4 Little Scholars, as Donna Lasher has a nice monthly list of activities that she keeps. If you find any broken links or want to recommend a resource I’ve missed on my Wakelet, please comment below!

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The Almanac of Interesting Numbers

I am living proof of the myth that only some people are “math people.” For years, I suffered under that delusion — and that I was definitely not one of those people. But things changed in high school. I won’t go into the long, boring story, but I realized that I enjoy math. And while I am not a lightning fast mental problem solver, the logic and patterns fascinate me. That is why I started collecting fun math sites for my students, and made this public list of Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep. I also started following fascinating people who tweet about math (#MTBOS is a wonderful way to start), which includes Sunil Singh (@MathGarden). Singh is a Content Writer for Mathigon.org, one of the Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep. While I’ve included Mathigon on the list, I didn’t notice the “Almanac of Interesting Numbers” until Singh tweeted about it.

Although I don’t believe that only some people have a “math gene,” I do know that there are some of us who find math far more intriguing than others. I’ve had students like that, and if you have them in your class you should show them this interactive number line that will give them amazing facts about numbers. I found the easiest way to navigate the number line is to put a number in the search box and click on the zoom in/zoom out magnifying glasses at the bottom of the page. That’s how I discovered that 40,585 is the sum of the factorials of its digits (4! +0! + 5! +8! +5!) and that 25 is the smallest square that can be written as the sum of two squares.

If I don’t publish any more posts this week, I think you can guess what I’m doing instead…

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Center for Antiracist Education

Along with this week’s conviction of Derek Chauvin came other tragic reminders that there is still much work to be done in our country to battle racism. C.A.R.E., the Center for Anti Racist Education, is a project that aims to arm people with the resources needed to work toward a world where Chauvin’s conviction would not only have been a certainty instead of a surprise but the deaths of George Floyd and countless others due to cold-hearted bigotry would never happen.

You can find C.A.R.E.’s guiding principles here. To learn more about what those principles mean and how to enact them, C.A.R.E. has published a four-part video series this April. Each half hour film, features a panel with four experts on antiracist education, and educators are the intended audience. The first three have transcripts and discussion guides, and I imagine the 4th one will also have those tools by the end of the month.

So far, I have only had the chance to explore the introductory video. I especially appreciated the analogy that is made comparing the antiracist education that has been done in recent years to people who want to lose weight but don’t want to risk leaving their comfort zones. “We’ve been on the treadmill for two miles per hour for 10 minutes when it deals with antiracism, when it deals with equitable history curriculum. When it deals with anything about providing equitable, uh, change in our society, we just get on that treadmill for two miles per hour for 10 minutes and think we’ve done something, says Dr. LaGarrett King, an associate professor of social studies education.

With C.A.R.E. resources like the web series and other tools, you can see a path for coaxing teachers out of that comfort zone – past semester book studies, one-off faculty meetings, and 3-hour professional developments toward a potential to make real, sustainable changes in curriculum and practices.

Use your voice to ask your campus and/or district to make a genuine and dedicated effort to eradicating racism within its system. With websites like C.A.R.E. and other resources you can find on my Anti-Racism Wakelet, there is so much that can and should be done to ensure justice and accountability for all of our community. Let’s put our heart and soul into this effort so no more time is wasted.

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