For Your Listening and Viewing Pleasure

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This week offers a variety of ways to learn. There are articles for those who like to read, podcasts for those who like to listen, and videos for those who like the visual. They will engage your mind and maybe inspire your creativity, and provide resources, tips, and ideas to engage and empower your students.

If you teach or use current events in your classroom, you might want to check out Flocabulary’s Week in Rap. They have both elementary (grades 3-5) and middle/high school version (6-12) that takes the week’s news and puts it in a rap format. While it does cost to join Flocabulary to access their resources, you can view the videos in The Week in Rap without joining.

History teachers and history buffs will enjoy this next find! I have been listening to and watching webinars on culturally responsive teaching and culturally responsive literature, especially focusing on making sure all voices are heard and represented. In one (I cannot remember which), they mentioned the podcast Uncivil on Gimlet (a podcasting host). Uncivil is a 13-episode podcast where they go back in time to the Civil War for the stories that we did not learn about in (think- left out of) the history books. For more history podcasts, check out my other post, Listen Up.

Speaking of podcasts, in this week’s Shipley PLN Lower and Middle School Edition, you can read and listen to this article and podcast featuring Dr. Bernard Harris, who in 1995 was the first African American to perform a spacewalk. In the 26-minute podcast, An Astronaut’s Guide to Improving STEM Education (and What Space Is Really Like) Harris speaks to STEM education and culturally responsive teaching:

We’ve approached teaching up to this point that we bring in students from many different sectors in different communities and we force them to learn our way.

If you take students’ culture, their backgrounds, into account and teach in a culturally responsive way, then you have a better opportunity for improving their learning.

~Bernard Harris

Can you remember what you had for lunch yesterday? If you cannot, you might want to do a little retrieval practice! I have written numerous times about using retrieval practice in your classes. In one of Agarwal’s recent emails, she referenced the Learning Agency’s new videos highlighting retrieval practice in action. Agarwal is part of the Learning Agency, recently launched in 2019. You’ll see and hear how teachers are using dual coding, spacing, interleaving, and more in these short (6-10 minutes) videos. You’ll also find The Science of Learning guides for teachers and students as well as links to TED talks like this one. For more examples of retrieval practice, you can check out their YouTube channel with over 20 videos.

Teachers need to provide numerous opportunities for students to create by providing options and choices for students to collaborate, examine exemplars of creativity, find solutions to problems, use non-traditional formats to consume new information and content, and have the flexibility to put the ideas together to create and express new and better ideas

Innovate Inside the Box

If you are looking for ways to incorporate different performance assessments in your classes, check out this post, Student Agency: What Do Students Want to Create to Demonstrate Their Learning? There are some great options and ideas that your students could choose from including presenting a TED talk, creating a movie, and writing a children’t book to name just a few.

Finally, if you are looking for learning opportunities, you should check this out. Harvard’s Graduate School of Education has two-week online workshops beginning next week and continuing through the new year on a variety of topics (for a fee of $149) including diversity and inclusion, culturally responsive literature, and educating global citizens. How did I come upon this gem of an opportunity? My curiosity led me to it!

Love of Learning

Willingness to learn is not age-related; it’s about mindset

If you want to grow as a teacher, learning will become a way of life (1404)

“If we want to change how students learn, we must change how educators learn.” (1510)

The three quotes above (and one below) are just a few of the highlights from our book study, Innovating Inside the Box: Empowering Learners Through UDL and the Innovator’s Mindset and I am using them here to introduce today’s post which centers on professional learning. I love to learn and as mentioned in previous posts, I am a learning junkie and I love sharing what I learn with others.

 It is also a good practice to create space within the standard work day to dig into research, collaborate, share stories with colleagues about classroom and student success, and test ideas

One of the new ways our school is promoting the importance of our own professional development is by being committed to providing time during the school day for learning and gathering. For our upper and middle school colleagues, this means offering sessions at various times during the week in our Teaching Resource Center. For our lower school, so far it means Lunch & Learns*. Today was the first webinar watch party lunch and learn session that brought together some of our lower school colleagues to watch and discuss a webinar. We then hosted another viewing of a similar webinar this afternoon. While the topics of the learning sessions or webinars are important, to me, the conversations that are sparked when professional educators get together to talk about practices, vision, ways we can make learning equitable and accessible to everyone is what I find exciting and energizing. Really, it’s the time to talk, connect, and further develop relationships that will then impact our students and the school environment that is the true benefit.

So, what did we what did we watch today? The topic was Culturally Responsive Teaching and included two webinars from edWeb: Culturally Responsive Teaching So All Learners Can Be Seen, and Getting it Right: Authoring Equity for All. EquitableYou can find the links to the webinars, resources mentioned in the webinars, relevant articles, podcasts, and additional webinars in this Wakelet.

*When I say, “so far it is Lunch & Learns” what I see is that that is only a first step. It is a good one, and I love it, but that time may not work for everyone and I want to be able to find alternate times during the school day that will work for many.

Oh the Possibilities!

Be intentional about making time to learn

~George Couros, Innovate Inside the Box
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I am regularly blown away by the sheer volume of information, resources, and opportunities for learning (our own and our students) there are out there. I am continually learning about new resources and tools each week and while it takes time to read, watch, listen, comb through them all, it is time I find worthwhile and purposeful. This week I will share a few with you.

Earlier this week one of my colleagues, a Pre-K teacher, and I took time outside of our learning day (we are empty nesters so we can do this) to participate in an edweb webinar, “Creating Fun AND Instructive Learning Centers”. The big takeaways for me were the importance of making the learning accessible and equitable for all students, the learning centers need to align with the topic, they need to be intentionally created, teachers need to help guide the conversations with the students at the centers, and follow-up activities to do or discuss at home is a way to bridge the home-school connection.

The biggest takeaways, though were the additional resources for continued learning. First, is the edweb community of educators and the calendar of FREE webinars and resources. Three of the things that makes edweb such a great resource are the different professional learning communities for educators (there are close to 100) to join and learn with and from (for free), the webinars that happen everyday at varying times throughout the school day (and just after), and the continuing education certificates you can get for your participation. Second is the PBS teacherline professional development opportunities. PBS teacherline offers online, facilitated courses for graduate credits searchable by grade level, subject, and hours; and self-paced courses searchable by subject that are 1 1/2 – 3 hour commitments in total and are available to you for one year from the time of purchase ($49/course).

Curiosity drives the acquisition of knowledge

~Amanda Lang

If the above quote is true, how do we promote inquiry and curiosity in our classrooms? When Couros posed a similar same question in the Innovate Inside the Box Facebook group, among the many responses was one from a teacher who shared that she uses the QFT technique with her students. Since I had never heard of the QFT technique, I went to find out. I will leave you with a bit of curiosity and let you follow up on the questions you must have. If you want to go even further than that, then this may be what you are looking for.

Much Ado About Everything

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I love the start of the school year because it gives me a chance to think about what I want to do with the year ahead. I am not saying that the days leading to the beginning of school are not fraught with thoughts of wishing I had more time to stay home and relax (I work out of town most of the summer break), but, once I am back, I am all in! It’s kind of like when I wake up in the morning and calculate the number of hours until I can go back to bed, once I put my feet on the floor, I am up and there is no turning back.

One of the things I like to do is find tools, articles, websites for my colleagues and students that will enhance their teaching and learning, will reinforce initiatives, are helpful, or are just plain fun. This week’s share has all of the above!

First, a great tool that keeps getting better: Flipgrid (what is Flipgrid you ask? You can check out my previous posts that include it) has some exciting updates and improvements which you can find here in their blog, one of which is Shorts. Shorts is the ability to use the camera to make videos for your students, colleagues, parents, and community that includes a whiteboard mode, picture overlays, cool filters, and unlimited clips. You can see an example here.

Next are some tools I learned about from a recent post on Twitter asking people to share their favorite tools. is a free tool for making and taking your images and presentations to the next level. You can begin a in just a few clicks choosing first what you want to create. The options are many going from blank slate or template to learning experience, presentation, interactive image, vertical infographic to name just a few. You can work on your own or invite a collaborator. I made this one in about five minutes and it was not only easy to do, it was really fun looking at all the optional elements to include. Be sure to hover over the overlaid images and click on the button.

If you are a teacher, parent, librarian, someone who enjoys reading aloud to others, then this app is for you. Novel Effect amps up your read-alouds- no pun intended- by adding sound effects to the stories as you read bringing them to life like never before. Using your phone or tablet, find the book in their ever-growing library (currently over 200 favorite story and poetry books), plug in to a speaker (if reading for a class), then just start reading (note: you need to have a copy of the book, they have the music and sounds that correspond to the book). Novel effect adds the soundscapes, music, and sound effects as you read in the spots where the sounds go. If you stop reading, the sounds stop, if you slow down, the sounds will wait for you. You can check out their FAQs here and read how teachers are using it here. Adding this to your app collection is really a “no brainer.”

Speaking of stories, who does not love listening to a good one!?! Six-Minute Stories is a podcast I literally just heard of. When I say, “literally,” I am not being dramatic. I took a Facebook break and checked out the recent post from George Couros on the Innovate Inside the Box study group page and while reading the comments, I learned that one of the teachers uses Six-Minute Stories as a transition to class with her students. Of course I had to check it out (Curiosity is not in my top 5 signature strengths but is gaining ground with all its use). But I digress . . Six-Minute stories follows one storyline all year long, six-minutes at a time. It will definitely keep your students coming back for more. But wait, there’s more! The options do not stop at Six Minutes. Kids Listen has a whole host of podcasts (like Girl Tales and Tumble Science Podcasts for Kids) and story podcasts (like Sparkle Stories) for children on a whole range of topics! This one is definitely click-worthy.

While we are on the topic of kids, this next site will quickly become a favorite resource for your students of most ages (I try not to overgeneralize, hence “most” and not “all”). The Kids Should See This is a growing library of educational videos curated by its founder (with help from her two children) for kids of all ages. You can search from the more than four thousand videos in the Science, Technology, Art, Music, DIY, Space, Animals, Nature, Food, or Random categories, or get the list of new ones delivered to your inbox each week. I did a quick search for “sustainability” and got quite a list — 130 to be exact.

Last up is strictly for middle school science teachers; everyone else is free to go check out the other items :). In yesterday’s EdWeek email I clicked on an article about Next Gen Science Standards open educational resources called Open SciEd. Open Sci Ed is a fully free set of high-quality, full course, instructional materials for middle school teachers and student, along with accompanying professional development resources for science teachers. Currently there is one 6th, 7th, and 8th grade unit available for your use on the following topics: Thermal Energy (6th), Metabolic Reactions (7th), and Sound Waves (8th). By 2022 the full middle school science course that aligns to the NGSS will be rolled out and available but until then, there will be one unit available every six months. Their goal is to expand the resources from Elementary through High School.