Ice and Snowflakes

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Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

―Abigail Adams

I love the above quote but I am part of the choir so-to-speak because I love learning. Not everyone’s top 5 character strengths includes a love of learning which is why as educators we need to know what Interests the students, Captures their attention, and what Engages them (ICE: a nice little acronym that happened naturally). This week I am sharing ICE and a few other snowflakes.

You’ve probably have heard of Fantasy sports games like baseball and football, but have you heard of Fanpolitics or Fangeopolitics? I am guessing some of you may have not. I learned about it today when I read this article, “Gamify Social Studies Learning and Current Event Learning with FanSchool.org”, whose purpose is to engage students with current events through a fantasy sports style game. Imagine your class divided into individuals, pairs, or teams of students drafting policymakers, countries, states, or candidates and following their “players” in the news, scoring points for when their “team” members are mentioned in the news. By signing up for a free FanSchool account you get a commissioner (you), up to 35 players, and access to all the games. There are lesson plans and links and everything you need to get started engaging your students in the events happening around them so why not start drafting!

sometimes I like to close my eyes

And imagine what it’ll be like when summer does come

~Josh Gad, Frozen

No need to imagine when you can explore the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminars. Once again they are offering not-to-be-missed topics like Native Americans in American History, Rehearsal for Equality: American Women from the Revolution to Seneca Falls, and The West and the American Nation. The seminars range from 3 days to 6 days and are led by lead scholars, master teachers and attendees have the opportunity to attend book talks by historians. One of my amazing colleagues attended one last summer and his lesson, “Murder, Theft, and Silence: The Conestoga Massacre” is now part of the Digital Paxton Teacher Seminar Education Materials collection. For more on the experience, you can read the EdWeek article, “How Do We Teach with Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing?”

Last is something that will capture the interest of anyone who uses or is looking to use rubrics in their classrooms. This was a lucky click thanks to Richard Byrne. He shared some digital portfolio platforms along with a link to assessing digital portfolios. We use digital portfolios in our school and while we do not assess them, I clicked anyway just to have a look. Well, Creating and Using Rubrics for Assessments is exactly what I have been looking for and I think it may be what you have been looking for as well. You will find rubrics on all topics from writing to online discussions, to podcasts, group work participation to Slides presentations, elementary rubrics, middle school, all subject areas and grades, and tools for creating rubrics. It’s really a treasure trove.

For more curated topics you can check out the latest Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Knock, Knock!

Photo by Rajeev Mog Chowdhary on Pexels.com

On this Giving Tuesday, I am gifting you several learning opportunities to read, learn, and connect.

Gift #1: Stevey Wyborney’s Esit-Mysteries Do you love to teach math? Do you love to engage your students in rich talk around and about math? Then these esti-mysteries are for you. Esti-mysteries combine estimation and math mysteries in the form of clues to make a great activity for your students. For the folks in our lower school. you may remember the splat math that our wonderful math specialist shared last year; well, esti-mysteries come from the same guy! As of mid-November, Wyborney created the 51st esti-mystery. While the ones I have looked through may seem geared toward elementary school, I can easily see these being modified with more advanced math concept clues. I can also see students creating their own and sharing with their peers. So, put on your thinking cap and start solving these mysteries.

Gift #2 Tech Tools that Harness Retrieval Practice As you might recall (recall is a form of retrieval), I have written numerous times about Pooja Agarwal and retrieval practice as a way of solidifying and helping learning to move from short term to long term. Here is just one of those posts. Anyway, in today’s share, Agarwal lists the tools you can use in your class to help with retrieval practice. One of the ones I personally enjoy is Quizizz (you can read more here) because it allows you to shuffle questions (and responses) and shuffling questions, especially when they are on different concepts or even topics, is known as interleaving which is another way of helping students remember and learn the information.

Gift #3 Speaking of the brain, this next gift is 8 Ways to Create a Brain-Friendly Classroom Back in 2009, Judy Willis came to do a 2-day workshop at our school on learning and the brain where she offered strategies for teaching that aligns with the way the brain learns. It was quite interesting and I still remember a number of teaching strategies like change colors (novelty) when writing notes on the board (or projecting) so it activates the reticular activating device and brings attention back to what you are saying, do something different (novelty and unexpected) when you are about to say something important, etc. In this recent article co-authored by Willis, she offers more ways you can create a stress-free environment that is conducive to learning for your students and their brains.

Gift #4 A live webinar with Lucy Calkins. When I was a classroom teacher, Lucy Calkins was my idol. I read all her books, attended her summer workshops on writing and reading, and religiously did a reading and writing workshop in my classes. Those were the days. Well, next Tuesday, December 10, at 2:00PM ET you can participate in a webinar with Lucy Calkins where she will be discussing reading and writing instruction to support achievement in schools.

Gift #5 13 Unexpected and Fun Geography Lessons to Enhance your Curriculum Hear fun ways different teachers use geography to help their students learn about the world beyond their classroom. Mystery Skype anyone? #GridPals? #Epals?

Gift #6 Civics 101: A Podcast and when I say, “podcast” I am talking about more than 150 episodes on everything civics related like impeachment, how to run for president, the Federalist and anti-federalist papers, and around 147 more. Each episode comes with a transcript, the full episode, several audio clips, and more. It’s really a history teacher’s jackpot. If you check out their educator’s page, you will find a link to graphic organizers you can have your students use while listening and other ways to use these podcasts to enhance learning. You’re welcome!

Gift #7 DITCH SUMMIT Last but not least, DITCH Summit is coming! Everyday from December 21-January 8 a new video will be released with an interview between Matt Miller, the host of the summit, and his guest of the day. DITCH Summit is where I first heard Pooja Agarwal speak and she will be presenting again at this year’s summit along with Toney Jackson, Omar Lopez, Austin Kleon, and more. It is all virtual and all free. Each video comes with related notes, links, documents, and you can get a professional development certificate, and more. Like years past, the summit is only open for a limited time so sign up and get ready to learn.

For more articles, videos, tools, and more, read the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.