Weird, or Just Different

This short (less than 3 minutes) TED talk by Derek Sivers would make a nice follow-up to any discussions you may have had recently with your students about Steve Jobs and the Apple “Think Different” campaign.  It reminds us to think globally and to try to look at things from other perspectives.  Before showing the video, it might be nice to ask your students if they had ever witnessed something they thought was “weird”.  After the video, you could revisit the pre-discussion, and see if the students can think of reasonable explanations for those “weird” sights or behaviors.  Alternatively, have them develop a list of their own behaviors that others might perceive as “weird”.

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Mensa for Kids

This site offers resources for teachers and parents, as well as games, activities, and contests for kids who like challenges.  I like the “Living Poetically” challenge, as well as the “Excellence in Reading Award”.  In the games section, there is a neat “Family Crossword” that is updated twice a week.  It includes clues for kids and for adults, so families can participate together.  The “Word Roundup” is a fun way to learn new trivia and vocabulary, and there are several math games as well.  According to Mensa’s website, Mensa for Kids just won the 2011 APEX Grand Award in the category of Electronic & Video Publications (Nonprofit/Small Office subcategory). With its treasure trove of lesson plans and entertaining activities, I can certainly see why!

Kids’ Science Challenge

Free Technology 4 Teachers recently had post about this great website from the National Science Foundation.  Be sure to check out Richard Byrne’s description of the site.  And, when you visit the site, don’t miss the neat brainstorming tool and the information for parents and teachers.

WordFoto

WordFoto is an iApp ($1.99) with a lot of potential for creative minds.  The app allows the user to either take a picture or load a photo from the device’s Photo Gallery.  Once loaded, the designer can then crop the picture if necessary.  The main appeal, however, is adding words to the picture.  There are sets of words already provided, or a creative mind can provide his or her own.  You can also choose the style by selecting from different themes or creating your own.  In addition, there are some fine-tuning tools to tweak things a bit more.  Below you will find an example of an original photo by one of my 4th graders, and her interpretation using WordFoto.

Original Photo
WordFoto Version

Thanks to Laura Moore, who first brought this app to my attention in her blog!  Be sure to check out her post for ideas on how to use WordFoto in the classroom.

iCivics

Do you have a student who likes to argue?  Maybe one who aspires to be a lawyer one day?  Introduce him or her to this website, which is “designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy.”  With a woman like Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spearheading this effort to educate our children about citizenship, this site is not only a great addition to the curriculum, but an inspiration to students to become more involved in their communities.  You can try the games, like Argument Wars, or register for free and receive all of the benefits.

Tic-Tac-Connect

This idea is one of several provided in an article on Scholastic.com entitled Making Connections/Self-Monitoring: A Differentiated Learning Centers Unit Plan.  You may want to check out the entire unit.  Or, if you have less time, be sure to visit this section, which gives you suggestions for using the above reproducible to encourage your students to make connections to the text they are reading.  The students could use this independently or in a game format in pairs.  This lesson is excerpted from Differentiated Literacy Centers by Margo Southall.

Teaching Children Philosophy

Most teachers know by now that they need to take their students far beyond the Knowledge Level questions when examining a story or book.  This website offers intriguing philosophical discussions for many popular pieces of literature.  For example, I used to read the fabulous book, Knuffle Bunny to my daughter when she was younger.  It never occurred to me that there were deeper questions to ask than, “Why was the little girl so upset with her father?”  There are many resources like this on this website for those of us who want take our classroom questioning to a higher level.

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