Okay people. If you don’t follow Laura Moore (@LearnMooreStuff), you are truly missing out on some incredible resources. Just do a search for her on my site and you will see how much I’ve learned from her over the years. Oh, wait. You don’t have to. Here is a link to the search. The woman is a tech integration POWERHOUSE! (Yes, I did it. I used all caps. Just like her favorite person. But, unlike that person, Laura Moore is GREAT!)
Laura recently posted a ThingLink on her blog with 18 lesson suggestions for 2018. Seriously, you have a plethora of great learning activities at your fingertips. Click on any icon to uncover a treasure to try. Laura’s site was recently recommended in the list of top 12 Fabulous EdTech Sites to Follow by Eric Curts. And, as if that isn’t enough, check out her other site, Rock the Lab, which is awesome for so many reasons not the least of which is STAR WARS!
I should probably add Breakout Edu’s Seasonal Games to my “Teachers’ December Survival Kit.” What better way is there to keep your students engaged, learning, and problem-solving than sending them on a holiday quest? You can find Breakout Edu games related to December holidays at the above link.
In case you haven’t hear about Breakout Edu yet, here is my first post about the site. Digital Breakout Edu games don’t require the physical equipment (boxes, locks, etc…) that are suggested for the regular games. Don’t despair if you want to try a Breakout Edu game and don’t have the supplies. I’ve seen teachers use many creative ways to simulate the boxes and locks with found materials. The students will enjoy working out the puzzles no matter what you use!
I don’t know how Richard Byrne does it, but he has this ability to suggest technology tools on his blog that fit in perfectly with lessons I am planning for the week. In this case, I had known about the tool, Loopy, but forgotten about it. Richard recently included it in this post, “Three Good Ways to Create Instructional Animations.”
My 3rd graders are learning about Systems Thinking, which is a pretty hard concept to get across to anyone, much less children who are 8 and 9 years old. We just completed the book, Billibonk and the Thorn Patch, about an elephantwholearns his actions can have far-reaching consequences. The book portrays some simple feedback loops, so I showed the students the basic ecology loop on Loopy. Then I let the students try to create their own to represent a portion of the story that we read.
A few caveats before you look at their examples:
Loopy was blocked in our district for students, so I needed to log in for them to use it.
The Billibonk projects are works in progress at the moment. Time ran out before they finished, and the text and loops definitely need some revision.
I only have 3 students in that particular gifted and talented class, and this is not an activity I would recommend students in large classes do without a lot of scaffolding.
These probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you if you haven’t read the Billibonk book mentioned above.
The site does give you an embed code to use on a website, but it unfortunately does not work on this blog. Therefore, you will have to click on the links below to see the “Loopy” from each student.
The interesting part of this process was listening to my students explain what they were creating, and how eager they were to make complicated loops with many factors. I felt like they understood systems thinking in a way I’ve never had students “get it” before. One of my students was so excited about it that he said he was going to show it to his dad at home and create feedback loops to represent other things. Since my goal is for them to apply this to real life situations, I was happy to hear that.
I love Rock the Lab, an incredible resource from @learnmoorestuff. She has recently updated her Hour of Code page, and the layout is awesome. It includes links to the basic computer science lessons for each grade level, the activities that have been especially developed for Hour of Code, an Hour of Code Hyperdoc, and a link to the newest Flipgrid Explorer series, which is all about coding!
Be sure to get involved with the 2017 Hour of Code, which is happening next week from December 4-8. This has been one of my favorite annual events, and I’ve seen incredible student learning ever since my classes started participating the very first year. Trust me, you don’t have to be knowledgeable about programming to facilitate a great Hour of Code experience!
Leslie Fisher (@LeslieFisher) tweeted out this link to Weekly Map yesterday. The concept is similar to the “What’s Going on in this Graph?” feature that appears in the New York Times the second Tuesday of every month – except, of course, that this a weekly challenge. Each Monday brings a new map, and a hint is given each weekday including Friday. A link is also provided on Friday to the answer.
So far, the site has archived 65 Weekly Maps, and they are labeled with difficulty ratings. This is a great way for students to practice deductive reasoning and geography skills, as well as vocabulary. (I had no idea what a choropleth map was until I looked at this site.) The “Lessons” part of the site is under construction, so maybe if we give them lots of love that will happen faster!
Empatico is a new site that is being developed to match students with other classrooms around the world. Because the site is beta testing, you will need to give them your contact information in order to gain early access (expected launch in September, 2017). It is designed for students 8-10 years old, and includes two types of activities: “Sparks” – short activities meant to last 3-5 hours, and “Fires” – experiences that last 2-3 weeks. You can see some examples of activities on this page. I’m already excited about the “Ways We Play” activity, in which students share the different ways they entertain themselves with a class from another part of the world. I am always looking for opportunities for my students to connect globally (see our Valentine Project from earlier this year and my Skype resource post), and Empatico looks like a promising free resource that we can utilize!
The Curiosity Workshop is a website founded by Mia Nicklin, who began to write daily “curiosities” for her son when she observed that his school experiences did not seem to be stimulating his interest in learning. Among the staff and contributors, The Curiosity Workshop also has a teacher advisory board and a student one that includes children between 8 and 12 years old.
Somewhat of an online magazine for children, The Curiosity Workshop is certain to motivate readers to learn more with its amazing pictures and kid “bite-sized” information . It does not yet have the substantive number of resources that you can find on sites like Wonderopolis, but it does have an interesting “hook.” With parent permission, students can register for the “Read for Good” program, which allows participants to collect online “stamps” as they correctly answer questions about each of the posts. With a mere 50 stamps, they can choose a charity to which to donate, such as saving elephants or providing soccer balls to impoverished communities.
This site has a lot of potential, and I hope that it will expand over time. In the meantime, share it with students and parents if you are interested in nourishing curiosity and the world at the same time.