3-12, Critical Thinking, Education, Math, Videos

Can You Solve the Bridge Riddle?

TED-Ed has a fun animation of the traditional bridge riddle using everyone’s contemporary worst fear – zombies.  I would recommend using the video with students in 3rd grade and up, and definitely pause in the middle to give them time before showing the solution.  I took a screen shot of some of the vital information to leave on-screen for the students as they try to solve the puzzle.  Can you solve the bridge riddle? Search for “riddle” on TED-ed to find even more perplexing puzzles for your brain!

screen shot from TED-Ed, "Can You Solve the Bridge Riddle?"
screen shot from TED-Ed, “Can You Solve the Bridge Riddle?
Education, K-12, Motivation, Teaching Tools, Videos

From Service Dog to SURFice Dog

Joelle Trayers’ blog is a frequent resource to which I often refer. She works with gifted Kinders, and shares fabulous lessons and student work examples that never cease to inspire me.

In her recent post, “Not Giving Up on Your Dreams,” Joelle recommends a book that I have just placed in my Amazon shopping cart.  (Read her post to see the title and her summary!)  As a tie-in to the book, Joelle recommended this video, which I had never seen.

Piggybacking on Joelle’s take-away from the book and the video, I would say that both remind me of one of my favorite Zen Pencils posters based on an Einstein quote:

poster by Zen Pencils
poster by Zen Pencils

Except in this case it would be a judging a dog by its ability to ignore the temptation of gloriously exciting birds.

Who could easily stay safe in trees, but apparently prefer to ramble around and tempt dogs.

I’m pretty sure a fish would not have that kind of audacity.

Anyway, have a Kleenex ready when you watch the video.  (And, if you’re one of those odd people, like me, who enjoys crying over inspirational videos, you can fly, swim, or surf over here for more.)

Education, Motivation, Teaching Tools, Videos

When I Grow Up

While I was searching for a short video to show my 2nd graders to motivate them to go above and beyond what is expected, I came across this little gem by Colin Hesterly.  It’s 2 minutes long (the perfect length for my 7 & 8 year old audience) and the lovely animation and creativity deliver the message without being heavy-handed.

For more inspirational videos for students, check out this Pinterest Board.

from "When I Grow Up" by Colin Hesterly
from “When I Grow Up” by Colin Hesterly
Education, Fun Friday, Videos

A Cautionary Tale

So, for today’s Phun Phriday post I thought I would regale you with a story could that could have turned out tragic – but mostly just ended up with a humiliating twist.

A couple of months ago, I received the Amazon Echo.  If you don’t know what that is, I highly recommend you watch the video below.  In fact, even if you do know what it is, I suggest you watch the video because it plays an important part in this story. (Try to ignore the irritatingly condescending father if you can.)  Go ahead and watch.  I’ll wait.

After I received the Echo, I mentioned it to my students one morning when we were all sharing some personal stories.  They didn’t really understand my explanation, so I showed them the video.  Duly impressed, they asked if I could bring it to school.  Unfortunately, the Echo needs wi-fi and I was pretty sure the district wasn’t going to give me the password just so I could demonstrate my new toy.

The next day, I went to get my hair cut after school.  My stylist, who has known me for 17 years, asked if there was anything new.  I told him about the Echo, and he looked a bit confused by my description. (Apparently I am very bad at describing things.)

“No problem,” I said.  “There’s a video I can show you. ”  I pulled out my iPad.  Two stylists, a client, and I gathered around one of his other clients who was getting her hair colored so everyone could see the Amazon Echo video demonstrating this modern miracle of technology in action.

I pulled up the video.

The video started playing and I watched everyone’s faces to see their reactions.  When the son said, “Alexa, play Rock Music,” and the speaker obeyed, I could see that the group in the hair salon was impressed.

The mom said, “Alexa, what time is it?”

And this is where things went awry…

“It’s time to calm the _________ up!” Alexa responded.

Substitute the worst word you can say out loud for the blank space.

I scrambled to stop the video.

The room was dead silent.

“Well, that was interesting,” commented one of the clients with a glint in her eye.

My stylist started snickering, and so did everyone else.  The other stylist was laughing so hard she was wiping tears from her eyes.

“Wait!  That’s the wrong video!  I swear that’s not the way it works!” I yelled because despite what I claim I am very worried about what people think of me and two perfect strangers were now of the mind that I regularly show R-rated videos to everyone in my vicinity.

“Well, darn, because I was ready to go out and buy it!” was my stylist’s response.

My face was so hot I was surprised my hair didn’t catch on fire.

All I could think of was that I hoped the clients didn’t think I speak like the foul-mouthed Alexa.

Then I remembered.

I had shown that video to my students yesterday!  What if I had accidentally pulled up the wrong video then?!!!!!

So, my friends, there you have it, a lesson to be learned by all of us.

Never marry a condescending man, like the one in the video, who thinks he knows more about technology than you do.

Oh, and never show a video to your students until your hair stylist has a chance to approve it.

Amazon Echo Parody

3-5, 5-8, Augmented Reality, Education, Math, Parenting, Science, Teaching Tools, Videos

Brainspace Interactive Magazine

Brainspace is a quarterly magazine for kids aged 8-14 that is published in Canada.  U.S. Subscriptions are also available (about $30 for 4 issues).

image from video in Brainspace Magazine's "School of Rap" article
image from video in Brainspace Magazine’s “School of Rap” article

The magazine topics in the issue sent to me for review ranged from dinosaurs to speaking French to whether or not you can get sucked out of an airplane toilet (not likely, it turns out).

What sets Brainspace apart from other magazines you might find in your elementary school library is that it also includes augmented reality.  For example, if you download the free Blippar app, you can see the dinosaur on the magazine cover move and roar.  The majority of the pages inside also have “Blipp This” tags, allowing you to scan an image and watch videos related to some of the articles.

The videos are educational and often include students.  Some of them definitely give this magazine an advantage over print-only magazines because the articles alone would not be as effective.  It’s helpful, for instance, to learn French phrases by seeing other students using them in context.

If you have a child who does not like to read, I wouldn’t count on this magazine changing their attitude.  More likely, they will scan for all of the “Blipp This” tags and close the magazine after they’ve watched each video.

But, if your child is eager to learn, and is especially interested in scientific topics, a Brainspace subscription could make a great gift.

If you are a teacher or librarian, Brainspace might be popular with your students.  I would caution you to try one edition first to make sure access to the videos is not blocked in your school.  I found at least two videos in the Summer 2015 issue that were hosted on YouTube and wouldn’t have been accessible with a student device if I was on school grounds.

Parents’ Choice recently gave Brainspace a “Gold Award.” (National Geographic earned a silver, just to put that in context.) You can read the Parents’ Choice Award review here.

I would like to see the magazine make things even more interactive by including polls or quizzes that could be accessed with a scan. They could also engage their readers by asking them to submit videos (with parent permission) for future issues.

Overall, this magazine has a lot to offer, and I look forward to seeing its evolution.

For more augmented reality resources, including lesson plans and free apps, check out my Augmented Reality page here.

Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Motivation, Parenting, Teaching Tools, Videos

Inspirational Videos for Students (Update)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. The post below has remained in the top 5 ever since I published it.  Beneath it, I’ve decided to add a few other favorites.

#3:  The Power of Words – I also mentioned this in yesterday’s post of Inspirational Videos for Teachers.  It is good for everyone, in my opinion, to be more thoughtful about what we say.  If our communication is not having the effect we desire, we should reconsider the way we are choosing to deliver our message.

#2:  The Kindness Boomerang – I have never done a post on this one.  I read about it recently on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day, and knew right away that I would like to add it to my blog.  Although it is somewhat simplistic, it does show how our actions can effect many more people than we will ever know.

#1:  Times of India Tree Ad – This is a powerful video that shows how important one person can be in effecting change.  It says a lot – without any words.

Here are links to my original posts on #3 and #1: The Power of Words and Times of India Tree Ad.

Also, you might want to visit my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Students here.

UPDATE 6/23/15: I originally published the above list in 2011 – so I’ve definitely accumulated some more favorites over the years. Here are three more I would add:

#3: A Pep Talk from Kid President – My students love all of the Kid President videos, but this is the first one they saw in my class and they beg for it again and again. (Be sure to look at my post on Kid President’s book, too!)

#2: Mark Bezos TED Talk and King of the Island (TIE!) – These two very different videos really complement each other.  They are about being a hero in ordinary life.

AND, Drum Roll Please…

#1: Caine’s Arcade – I never get tired of this video, and I’m always making people watch it when I hear they have never heard of it!  I think, in many ways, Nirvan Mullick and Caine have inspired me to be the teacher I am today.  Once you watch this, you will definitely want to learn more about the Global Cardboard Challenge.