The View from Here

The pretty out my dining room window
The J where I can see him

From where I sit, both figuratively and literally, I am able to easily view many things. My literal view is out my dining room window from where I have set up shop so to speak. Each morning I arrive to work and have a beautiful view of the pretty that is often lit up from the morning sun. As the day goes on, the light changes but the view out the window remains the same unless you begin to look closely for subtle differences. In my case, I am able to notice the flowers on my trees being replaced by little leaves and the leaves on the trees become a little larger each day.

The same holds true for the things I am able to notice as I am able to peek into our classes: like teachers connecting with students during themed morning meetings, kids feeling comfortable working together in small groups, kids independently navigating between our learning management system and various links and team meetings, or teachers using the language of community, praise & feedback, and language of identity. While each day may feel like it’s the same as the last, taking time to look for the subtle changes from the day before may make a difference in your outlook.

This week I have a few things to share that may add to ways you can make your days stand out for you and your students.

The first actually comes from my brother in-law’s company, HDR, and it is an earth day BINGO game you can share with your class. Perhaps have your students take photographs of them doing these different activities and share a picture BINGO card to your class Padlet or Flipgrid.

Next is one I am so excited to share: the EduHam at Home from Gilder Lehrman. To read more about it take a look at this WaPo article about the free student program. If your students are studying about this period in history, are Hamilton fans, or want to learn how to take historical information like primary source documents and use their creativity to turn them into songs, raps, and spoken-word piece, then EduHam is one you will want to share right away. Your students or personal children can take what they learn choosing from 40 characters and 14 events from the Revolutionary War, create a video, then share it with Hamilton cast members who will choose 10 submissions each week to highlight. How exciting would that be for your students! I have one student who I know will go absolutely crazy for this chance.

This ABC Kids home exercise video is brought to you by three siblings, two of whom are gymnastic sisters. In just over 12 minutes, you’ll be taken through an exercise for each letter of the alphabet from Alligator leg chomps to Zebra rocking horse lunges. I can see our PE teachers having some fun during their PE Pop-ins and morning workouts.

Yesterday I participated in one of the Learning Revolution’s Emergency Remote Teaching webinars led by John Spencer, “Empowering Students in a Distance Learning Environment.” Among the many things Spencer shared was the importance of starting with the human, the connections and relationships; knowing students’ stories; and student agency moving from compliance to engagement to empowerment. Last week I shared Spencer’s free video writing prompts. Today I’ll add his YouTube channel with hours worth of professional development on design thinking and empowering students (to name just two topics) for you, and project-based and video prompts for student projects (again, to name just two). I am also sharing his instagram where you will find different ways to engage your students like having them choose their Quarantine Band Name. Putting it out there that mine would be the Fine Blue Hippeas. The recordings of yesterday’s Learning Revolution’s Emergency Remote Teaching & Learning webinars are now available for free; just sign up. Zarretta Hammond, Matt Miller, and A.J. Juliani, are just a few of the inspiring presenters. I caught the last bit of Hammond’s “Culturally Responsive Teaching Through Remote Learning” and plan on viewing the rest this weekend.

The last thing I am going to share is an article from Ron Ritchart’s blog that is in this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition. In “The Power of Art and Making Thinking Visible in Early Childhood Learning”, a kindergarten teacher from Sidwell Friends shares how she is creating a culture of thinking and learning not just for her students, but also for their families and caregivers who are often sitting with their student while they are learning from home. By using the familiar See, Think, Wonder routine and language of learning with her students and the families who have become part of her classroom, she continues to model the type of thinking and learning she values and extends the culture of thinking to her remote learning classroom. As she says in reference to our emergency remote teaching, “We don’t shift what we value, we shift what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like for our learners and their families or caregivers.”

Ice and Snowflakes

Photo by Pixabay on

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”, 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.

Back to School Learning Opportunities

Photo by Rajeev Mog Chowdhary on

I hope you have all had and are continuing to have a great summer!

With the start of school around the corner, there are many learning opportunities to be had for all areas of the curriculum. Here are just a few to get you started on a great year ahead.

Project-Based Learning

This opportunity popped in to my inbox this morning so I wanted to pass it along to you. It is a FREE, ONLINE workshop for teachers  (and school leaders, curriculum coordinators) about turning units and experiences into Project-Based Learning. You can check out the email below and click this link to register. A. J. Juliani will be leading this tonight.

Differentiation from Day ONE

“How can district leaders and educators make decisions that promote equity, inclusion, and learning for every student?”

Newsela and Ed Current offer monthly webinars throughout the year. You can read about the one I attended on Universal Design for Learning in this post. In this webinar, you will hear from Dr. Rhonda Bondie Director of Professional Learning at Harvard Graduate School of Education and how you can begin differentiating from the first day of school. Click here to register. Can’t attend? Not to worry, register then you will get the link to the recording and the materials!

Fall History Courses with Gilder Lehrman

You know the amazing resources you find at Gilder Lehrman, and these fall online history courses are yet another reason why you should check it out.

All NEW Flipgrid

You loved Flipgrid before, you will love it even more now! Check out the new features like whiteboard mode, photo overlay, and more.

A Chance to Be Part of History, Herstory, & Ourstory

Great learning opportunities are coming your way! If you are a history or social studies teacher, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s teacher seminars series is open now for applications. What is the Gilder Lehrman Institute you ask? They are a non-profit organization whose mission is “to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.” You can read a previous post about Gilder Lehrman here.

To learn about their online courses, click here.

For information about this year’s teacher summer seminars, click here.

To apply, click here.

Neither a history or social studies teacher ? Feeling left out of the learning? Not to worry, you can learn everyday from December 14-31 form the comfort of your own sofa or classroom being part of the DITCHSummit. For more information, you can see my previous post.

His Story, Her Story, Their Story, Our Story

11627048594I have had two tabs open in my browser for the last rotation and a half. Since my school is on a 7-day rotation, with each day being a letter of our school name,  that means this tab has been open since the previous P day. Today is E day. That is a long time to keep something hanging around but these two tabs are worth it and here is why.

The first is a blog post from the Cult of Pedagogy that got me from the title, Best PD Ever: The Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminars. At the time that I first saw this post, I was researching effective PD (which I then shared here) so of course I was going to open it up and read it. Gonzalez talked about a series of teacher seminars that immerse the teacher learners in the specific history experience during one week residential seminars. Depending on your area of study, this could be Mount Vernon for the George Washington experience, New York City for the 9-11 experience, or Missoula, Montana for the Lewis and Clark experience.

I had not heard of Gilder Lehrman so I went to visit their site. I have still not left. It is a veritable treasure trove of learning from all eras of history from The Americas and American Indians,  exploration to the present.  You can explore by era or by themes across time. There is so much here for history teachers, history buffs, students, or anyone like me who just likes to learn. There are primary sources like letters from soldiers that you can listen to while reading along, or this letter from a slave to his mother, or this one from Abraham Lincoln to his wife. They also have Multimedia like this one about Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass that I coincidently heard about during Dave Chapelle’s opening monologue on SNL, where Abraham Lincoln asked Frederick Douglass what he thought of his inaugural speech (Douglass was not allowed in to the White House because the guards did not know him. Lincoln saw him and shouted, “Let him in, he’s that’s my friend Douglass,”), or these about the Thirteen Colonies. There are Interactive features, teacher resources, video series, and so much more. The site is free to sign up and use, many things viewable without logging in. For educators there are professional development opportunities, online programs, self-paced courses,  summer seminars, teacher resources, and that is just the beginning.

To have this amazing collection of resources at your fingertips is incredible. While this post may be short, it is packed with information that I encourage you to spend some time checking out and then passing along.