Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show

Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show is a website that has short videos with easy directions on how to make a wide range of items – from the soft-circuitry products featured in the photo above to paper rockets and sidewalk chalk.  Sylvia is a kid with a lot of personality and very engaging videos.  If you are looking for some suggestions for your students for the summer, show them this site.  They will have many projects to choose from, and they might want to send Sylvia a request for a new video.  Your really creative students will see these, and want to make their own videos!  Here is the short link to the YouTube video below:  http://youtu.be/j3g_tdPIo0o

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She Wears Many Hats

Here is a cute printable from Fuel the Brain just in time for Mother’s Day.  I love the thought of brainstorming all different types of hats with my younger kids, and then guiding them to think about how their mother “wears” them.  “In what ways is your mother like a police officer?” I might ask – and I might just be surprised by some of their answers!  Fuel the Brain, by the way, has lots of games and interactives that you might want to check out in addition to the printables!

UPDATE: Here are some examples from the books my students made!

Inspiring Note

This note, according to an Instagram user, “M”, greeted him on his first day of work at Apple.  Jon Russell recently wrote about it in his column on Next Web, which you can see here.  Mr. Russell challenges other companies to follow suit, and I would like to see teachers do this as well.  What inspiring note could you leave for your students to read the first day they enter your classroom?  I realize that it is near the end of the school year for many of us, but this could be a great idea for your “Things to Try Next Year” list!  If you have any ideas for what this note could say that would motivate and inspire our students, I would love to read your suggestions in my comment section below!

Grace is Overrated Journal Pages

The 49 journal pages on “Grace is Overrated” are inspiring and thought-provoking.  They include quotations, fill-in-the-blanks, and questions that are great for self-examination.  The layout of each of Christie Zimmer’s pages is fun and attractive as well.  Some of them are more suited for adults, but I have used several with my students.  The kids enjoy voicing their feelings on such a variety of topics and discussing the quotations!

UPDATE 5/20/14: Grace is Overrated has moved to Adventures in Guided Journaling.  You can find journal pages for kids here.

Classroom Game Design

Classroom Game Design“, a TEDx video presented by Paul Andersen, suggests an interesting idea for organizing your classroom.  Why not leverage the fascination that many youngsters today have with gaming by making your own classroom a video game?  Have your students earn Experience Points to “level up” and gain new freedoms (and responsibilities) in the classroom.  This is an idea that does not even require any technology in your classroom – just a willingness to motivate your students using a language they understand very well.

If you are unable to see the video embedded below, here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec&feature=youtu.be

Brain Curls

Brain Curls is a website with a multitude of links to games that will give your brain a “workout”.  My favorite game, so far, is “Wordies Time”, in which you must guess a common phrase based on the placement of the words.  “brainFlex” is a good game for practicing your multi-tasking skills.  I’ve always enjoyed figuring out analogies, but “Analogix” is a new challenge for me with the added pressure of time.
Check all of these games out, and more, on Brain Curls.  Thanks to my fellow teacher, Kim Ball, for bringing this site to my attention!

Differentiated Furniture!

One of our 1st grade teachers, Mrs. Cunningham, is piloting an unusual classroom at Fox Run Elementary this year.  Much of the furniture is on wheels – including tables (instead of desks) and dry erase boards.  She has just posted an awesome video on her blog showing the amazing ways this has transformed her room.  From the beginning of the day – when the students walk in and immediately begin rolling the tables around to suit their morning routine – to their center activities, the students in Mrs. Cunningham’s video show the versatility such a classroom allows.  Two tables easily make a computer pod, a dry erase board becomes a station, students who have demonstrated responsibility roll their tables out into the hallway to work, and anyone who learns best by standing or sitting on the floor is welcome to abandon his or her chair.  You will also note that students who are commenting at the end of the video are using the microphones that go with her classroom amplification system – yet another powerful tool.

Our principal, John Hinds, saw a classroom similar to this at a university, and realized its potential.  Coupled with a teacher who works tirelessly to provide a differentiated learning environment for her students, this classroom is an ideal example of student-centered learning at its best.  Kudos for Mr. Hinds for having the vision (and providing the funding), and to Mrs. Cunningham and her students for being the trailblazers for our campus – and hopefully for many more elementary school classrooms in the near future!

If you are unable to view the embedded video below, please click here.  Also, I am sure Mrs. Cunningham’s class would love it if you visited their blog and left a comment here.

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