We Are What We Choose

In 2010, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, delivered the Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University.  Last year, I showed this video of his address to my 5th grade GT students.  In 18 minutes, Jeff Bezos is able to sum up everything that I hope that my students will gather from our classroom activities and discussions.  In particular, I like this part of his speech, “What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.”  You can find a complete transcript of his address here.

This year, I will show this video to my current 5th graders, and we will talk about the questions that Mr. Bezos poses at the end of his address.  My students may not be in college, yet, but it is never too early to consider that our strengths can be destructive when wielded without thought for others.

This video can also be viewed at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jeff_bezos_gifts_vs_choices.html


Writing Prompts About Personhood

I have mentioned Luke Neff’s Writing Prompt site before in My Favorite Online Writing Tools post, but I recently found a page of collected prompts that he had done on one theme – personhood.  My 4th graders are discussing the Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligences right now, and these prompts are great discussion topics.  If you are looking for inspiring journal entries, want to delve into the Multiple Intelligences, or just want to spark some new conversations in your class, post one of these slides on your screen!


The amazing Hostess with the Mostest, Lisa Johnson, at www.techchef4u.com, has just released a free iPhone app – also called TechChef4U.  It is an app to find apps – specifically EDUCATIONAL apps that are FREE.  When I downloaded the app today, there were already over 500 apps listed.  Featured apps will also include examples for classroom integration, and you can search for the apps by Platform, Grade Level, and Category.  This is a great, and much needed, resource for teachers.  Download your TechChef4U app today!

An Awesome Book

An Awesome Book was recently featured on the blog iLearn Technology, by Kelly Tenkely.  This book, written by Dallas Clayton for his son, is about dreaming big and dreaming different.  It is about being creative and not restricting yourself to society’s norms.  Clayton originally self-published the book, unable to find anyone to take on the project.  After making an impact around the world, he was finally contacted by a major publisher.  The book is now available for purchase at major retailers.  What is fabulous, though, is that Clayton and the publisher also agreed to make the book available for free online.  You can go here to view the book and a short video of the author.  Kelly Tenkely has a few recommendations for how this resource can be used in the classroom on her blog.  This book will inspire you and your students!

Summer Pool Party Creative Thinking Packet

My Summer Pool Party Creative Thinking Packet is now available on Teachers Notebook.  It is $1.50, and includes 12 pages of fun activities plus a cover sheet.


Wondermind is about Science, Art, and Alice in Wonderland.  It’s hard to describe this enchanting site, which just got nominated for a Webby Award in the Youth category.  I recommend that you visit the site, play the delightful games, and learn about the brain and its perceptions.  You will be enchanted.

Pinterest in the Classroom

In case you don’t know what Pinterest is, it is best described as a virtual bulletin board on which you can collect your favorite ideas in the form of images.  The surging tide of Pinterest users in the last year has caused much speculation on blogs and news channels about what will happen next with this site.  Lately, I have been seeing sprinklings of suggestions for ways Pinterest can be used to benefit students in the classroom.  You can see a good infographic on this at EdTech Digest: 16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest.

When I first started using Pinterest, I obsessively pinned items in my account, destined to become a virtual hoarder.  I finally realized I wanted to create boards in a less haphazard fashion, and started a new account.  It is definitely a work in progress, but you are welcome to take a peek at my “pins” at http://pinterest.com/terrieichholz/

I showed my fifth graders my “Favorite Quotations” board a couple of weeks ago, and had a difficult time transitioning them to a new subject after that!  They wanted to read and discuss every quotation, copy some of them into their notebooks, and write the URL of my board down so they could look at it from home.

Due to filtering issues, it can be difficult to use the actual Pinterest site in many districts.  Here is a page that gives some suggestions for working around that.  Also, be warned that there is a copyright controversy brewing over the site.  Despite the possible pitfalls, at the very least, Pinterest can be used to help teachers to share ideas.  But, I would also like my students to be able to access my own board to inspire their learning.  Having a classroom account would be even better for collaboration and research.

I would love to hear your ideas on the use of Pinterest in the classroom!

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