I was doing a little research the other day for ideas on how to teach brainstorming, and came across this article by Jim Flowers on, “Five Brainstorming Structures.” I generally vary brainstorming structures in my class from individual to partner to group, but I hadn’t seen the idea of a Brainstorming Relay until now. It would be too much pressure for rookie brainstormers, but I like the idea of adding a bit of team competition to see which group can get the most ideas in a timed session. Some students have a hard time understanding that quantity is more important than worrying about quality when they brainstorm and “braindrizzle” because they are so worried about coming up with good ideas. This might be a fun way to practice getting some more fluency when they ideate.
International Dot Day, 2016, falls on September 15-ish. I never feel like the school year has truly begun until we celebrate Dot Day.
Here are some of my past posts about Dot Day:
- Scratch + Dot Day = Global Learning
- International Dot Day 2014
- International Dot Day and Augmented Reality Fun
I hunted on Pinterest to find some ideas I hadn’t seen before, and this is what I found:
- I love these ideas from Mrs. Taylor, especially the dots created in the styles of different artists. (Way to look at things through multiple perspectives!)
- These string-stitched dots definitely stand out!
- What a great idea for students to get portraits taken of them with their dots!
There are plenty more creative people out there with Dot Day activities to share. So, don’t forget to get out there and, “Make your Mark!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about homework lately. This is partly because my daughter begins high school today, and one of her teachers has already assured us that there will be lots of homework assigned in her class.
When I was a 5th grade teacher, I assigned homework every night. My goal was to teach responsibility because I had heard the middle school did the same. I didn’t worry about whether or not the homework was meaningful or how it might impact the students who had home environments and/or schedules that weren’t conducive to doing school work every day.
When my child entered grade school, homework began almost as a game. They received packets at the beginning of the week with bingo pages that allowed them to choose any 3 homework activities in a row to turn in on Friday. My daughter was so excited that she insisted on doing every single activity each week.
That didn’t last.
My least favorite assignments were the ones that required parent participation. We would have to cut out game pieces and make boards and then I had to try to pretend that it was exciting to practice my multiplication tables while I simultaneously attempted not to crush my daughter’s spirit by excelling at the game.
If I ever taught 5th grade again, I would not assign mandatory homework. First of all, I’m lazy. It takes a lot of time to explain homework assignments, collect them and record who did them, and delve out consequences to the ones who didn’t. Secondly (and I realize this should be the first reason, but I’m just being honest), I really don’t think it teaches very much to the students who need practice the most.
I’ve read a few articles like this one that seem to support that homework shouldn’t be assigned, at least at the elementary level. This school in Massachusetts, which is banning homework for the next year, seems to agree. (Full disclosure, they have lengthened their school day as well.)
In this hilarious video from the Huffington Post, you can see what happens when a middle schooler tries to get some adult help on math homework.
I get it. Sometimes homework is important – particularly in secondary school. But it’s intention should be to support learning – not to teach responsibility (and it should never be used to introduce a concept.) One of the teachers I follow on Twitter (@alicekeeler) suggests that students be given a sampling of math problems to do, and then the choice to get feedback on whichever three they would like. This, in my opinion, makes homework about what the student needs, instead of drill and kill.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about homework in the comments below!
In my latest article for Fusion, I give some advice to new teachers – fully aware that I still feel like a rookie after 25 years in the profession. If you don’t have time to read it all, at least check out the last paragraph where I reveal my favorite teaching/parenting secret that has never once failed me in a quarter of a century😉
When I take a look at the stats for this blog lately, I see that my posts about growth mindset are getting more views than usual. My hope is that this means that many teachers are getting ready to teach their students about having a growth mindset. It’s important to read Carol Dweck’s recent statements, however, about how the message she intended to deliver regarding her studies on this subject can sometimes be diluted or even completely misrepresented. Students may learn the language of growth mindset without really understanding the practice, especially if we don’t model it ourselves.
That being said, I came across a fun blog called, “Growth Mindset Memes,” by Laura Gibbs (@OnlineCrsLady). She has taken some popular meme images and added her own captions, often paraphrasing or using famous growth mindset quotes. One of my favorites is this one:
Students love memes, so they will definitely be interested if you hang a few of these around the classroom. You might also want to allow older students to make some of their own – perhaps after watching the Class Dojo mindset videos to summarize their learning.
If you need more ideas for teaching Growth Mindset, here is a link to my Pinterest board.
Many of our teachers like to e-mail welcome videos to their incoming students at the beginning of the school year, and some even add the videos to their blogs or school websites. Although there are an endless number of ways to share videos, here are the steps for embedding one that you’ve uploaded to Google Drive. (Tip: If you are using an iPhone or an iPad to shoot your video, make sure the device is horizontal (landscape) with the Home button on the right. This can save you from orientation problems later on.)
I’m going to use a short video of our bulldog trying out the pool to demonstrate the steps. If anyone reading this knows a shortcut, please feel free to share!
Once you have located the video you’ve uploaded to Google Drive, double-click on it.
At the top right of your screen, you will see the download icon and 3 vertical dots. Click on the dots.
First, you need to make sure you give the video the appropriate sharing rights. If I’m putting it on my blog, I just choose “Advanced” and select that anyone with the link can view it. After changing the sharing rights, move down in the list to “Open in a new window.”
Things may not look dramatically different in the new window, but when you click on the 3 vertical dots this time, you will get an embed option. Click on that.
Then you can copy the embed code inside the box. On your blog or website, you can add the embed code to the HTML editor (on WordPress blogs, it’s the tab for “Text”), and your video should then work once you publish.
Let’s see if my bulldog one is working: When you are in HTML editing mode, you can mess with the code a little bit to adjust the height and width appearance on your blog.
By the way, bulldogs can swim. Ours just runs out of energy and sinks like a rock as soon as he stops paddling – hence the life jacket😉
Summer break is over – at least for many of the public school teachers in Texas who return to work today. Of course, many of us never really stopped working over the last couple of months, fitting in workshops and lesson planning in between trips to the beach and afternoon naps.
I’ve been saving educational articles of interest to Pocket all summer, and I thought I would share some of the news that I curated that might have some impact on your planning for the new school year. I would love for you to share any other summer education news that I’ve missed in the comments below!
- Osmo put out two new games this summer, Coding (near the beginning of the summer) and most recently Monster (described as “The Creative Set”). My summer camp students loved the Coding game, and I’ve just ordered Monster.
- Speaking of tangible coding, Google has announced “Project Bloks,” which looks pretty intriguing. The Bloks aren’t available to the public yet, but you can sign up on their interest page to get updates on the program.
- In other Google news, the Expeditions VR app is now available on Android with expectations to release it on other platforms later this year. Also, there is a free Cast for Education app that I am really interested in that supposedly allows students to project their work without the need for other hardware/software like Chromecast, Apple TV, or Reflector. Richard Byrne has a blog post on a new add-on for Google Docs called The Lesson Plan Tool. By the way, if you want to keep updated on new Google Classroom features, here is a good page to bookmark.
- When it comes to lesson planning, Amazon Inspire might be your go-to site as soon as it becomes available, with free access to educational resources. Sign up for early access now.
- Think about allowing your students to show off what they’ve learned during those great lessons with Class Dojo’s new feature: Student Stories.
- You may have somehow escaped the Pokemon Go craze, but your students probably haven’t. Here are some ways to use it educationally.
- Words with Friends now has an Edu version that is free and can be played on the web or on mobile devices. I haven’t tried it, but it looks like it even has materials aligned to Common Core.
- Breakout Edu has Back to School games.
- Canva now has an iPhone app.
- YouCubed released Week of Inspirational Math 2 last week. This is a great way to start your students off with a growth mindset in math.
Do you have some education news that we might have missed this summer? Be sure to add it in the comments below!