This Week's Clicks, aka Down the Rabbit Hole

Photo by George Becker on

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good -whatever-time-you-are-reading this. There is much to share this week with articles, tools, and learning opportunities for you and your students.

First is a review by Common Sense Media of 16 Authentic Assessment Tools for Teachers and Students. This list combines various sites for your students to engage in performance assessments while working on purposeful, real-life tasks including collaborating around social justice issues using The Wonderment, connecting with students across the globe with projects using Pen Pal Schools, and more. The list includes both free and paid options for ELA, Social Studies, and STEM classes like, Can Figure It for working through proofs in geometry. I encourage you to take a peek.

Not Sudoku but . . .

I happened by the Mathematics Learning and Technology blog where I learned about Futoshiki and Yohaku puzzles among many others she shares like this list of logic games. I had heard of Sudoku and KenKen but these were new to me. Futoshiki puzzles work in grids of 4×4 through 9×9 and like Sudoku, the numbers (same numbers as grid style) can only be used once in a row/column. The difference is the appearance of > and < within the grids bringing a whole new challenge to solving these puzzles. With the Yohaku puzzles, you are practicing your number sense as well as your problem-solving skills as these puzzles are either additive or multiplicative for the rows and columns. These puzzles are 2×2, 3×3 or 4×4 and there are puzzles for fractions and decimals, algebraic thinking for older students and adults as well as junior puzzles for younger kiddos. I spent a few minutes before class trying a 4×4 and just when I thought I had it . . .

I admit that during lunch, I will check my Facebook page to see what is there. I have gotten to the point where at times, I am looking at posts and having to look to see who I know, why they are showing up in my feed and if I actually know who they are. Today as I was scrolling I came across a question posed by a Nearpod educator about educational tools. One of the first responders pointed her to “The Amazing Educational Resources” Facebook group. Just like the Mouse and the Cookie, I went to that page to look around and found several items of interest.

My first click was on essaypop an online, essay-writing teaching tool that you can use with your students to help them practice their writing skills. Students can work on writing thesis statements, persuasive essays, paragraphs, topic sentences, hooks, and more. It is online and interactive and breaks down the components of an essay into individual, color-coded sections for students to practice as they build an essay around the myriad of prompts. This is a FREE tool with complete lessons for all levels of school including up through AP courses. Everything you need for a lesson including the resources is all embedded in each essaypop prompt. In addition, when you create a hive and add your students to it, they are prompted to comment and give feedback on their essays included in their hive. Pretty cool tool!

Next are Bunk History and Back Story. Bunk History is a site for history teachers and their middle or high school students that looks at historical topics and events from various points of view as well as how topics and events connect to others including to today’s current events. When you select a topic to read like The Myth of the American Frontier, and then click to look at the connections you will find an article like this one, American Extremism Has Always Flowed from the Border. So if you are looking to connect today’s news to the past, then check out the connections and ideas in Bunk History.

Back Story is what it implies: it is a weekly podcast that takes the history you know, or think you know, and gives you the back story. Additionally, like Bunk History, it makes the connections between the past and the present by using today’s news to understand our past. While the 12 year old podcast will be recording its final episode this summer, there are over 300 episodes on countless topics (literally, I could not count them there are so many).

After I clicked around in the Facebook group, I started in on my emails. In this post from Edutopia I read about Lyric Training, a free website for world language students to practice using the target language by watching music videos and filling in the blanks as the words scroll along. There are thirteen languages to choose including Spanish, French, and German as well as Portuguese, Japanese, and Catalan and you can choose your skill level from four options. I tried it to see how it works and I must say, I did very well. Of course I was using my native English but don’t judge. Later I tried to revive my French and guess what, I did it and it was pretty fun! The music video pauses if you don’t type the word and will resume once you do replaying the lyric. I think it would be a great way for your students to practice their language while learning some new songs too.

Finally are two important articles on the importance of culturally responsive teaching, Getting Clearer: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and teaching your students how to recognize implicit bias. In “Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It” you will read how a library media specialist and an English teacher used op-ed news pieces and Mad-Libs to teach their students about their unconscious biases and how these biases impact their worldview. We need to create this awareness so that we can mitigate the implicit biases we all carry.