Games, Techniques, and Game Changers



“I am still learning” ~Michelangelo

This week was a busy week of reading and learning. I had about 20 tabs open in my browser of articles, posts, and videos waiting for me to sit down and take the time to view. Since it is a snowy day off, today is the day I will plow through them so I can share the learning with you.

Students as Problem Finders

“A great teacher makes themselves obsolete.” ~Vicki Davis

First on the docket is this podcast from George Couros and Vicki Davis. This episode is the 2nd in a series about The Innovator’s Mindset, written by George Couros, and it is about teaching children to become problem finders- to not just solve problems you give them, but to find problems that they want to solve. Students will not be with us forever, we need to teach them how to be independent, seek out learning opportunities for themselves, and take initiative.

Minecraft is Coming to a Classroom Near You!

This next is going to be very exciting for all of the Minecraft enthusiasts, especially your students. Microsoft, who purchased Minecraft in 2014  has announced a Minecraft Education Edition for schools that will launch this summer. As teachers, many (or some) of us, might be loath to introduce something in class that we are not familiar or comfortable with. What we need to do is set aside our fears and allow the students to become the teachers– let the students show us how Minecraft works. The Minecraft Edu Edition is going to have a community resource area for teachers to share their Minecraft settings so others can use them with their students. Check it out– there are already some starter lessons including the Pyramids of Giza and the Temple of Artemis.

iPad 9.3 Update is a “Game Changer”

If you are using iPads in the classroom this next article is for you! The new iPad update 9.3 will now allow for multiple users on one iPad with the addition of user profiles. Now if you are a teacher in a classroom (or even an adult with children who share your iPad) where iPads are shared with another classroom or amongst multiple students in your class, this new update will  be extremely helpful for you. One of the features is the ability for student work to be automatically saved to their own profile making loss or accidental deletion by another user a thing of the past! For more on this update, see here.

Let’s Discuss

I love this post from The Cult of Pedagogy (which includes a podcast if you’d prefer to listen) because it has ideas– 15 to be exact– you can start using right away to get the conversations flowing in your classroom. There are some excellent discussion techniques/formats divided into low prep (you can insert them on the fly), high prep, and ongoing strategies including the Fishbowl, Socratic Seminar, Philosphical Chairs, Pinwheel and 11 more AND each comes with a link to a video of how the particular technique works. So with this article you get the audio, the text, and the video!  I like that in addition to sharing the ideas and how to implement them, Jennifer includes variations on each. Many of these formats can be used from as young as elementary school.

What’s the Scoop?

I learned about Jellybean Scoop the other day and think it’s an excellent site to add to your toolbelt. Jellybean Scoop is a non-fiction news and high-interest stories site geared to appeal to younger students incuding beginning or reluctant readers. The site is divided in to news sections like World News, Inspirational and Health, Nature and Science, Fun Facts, and Odd News, and the stories are leveled for beginning, intermediate, advanced, and fluent. Each articles come with audio so that students can listen to the article making it the perfect site for your early elementary or ELL students. Additionally, each article comes with vocabulary, word and sentence builders, comprehension, and print options to engage your students. Teachers can create and account for as few as 25 and as many as 100 students.

Khan and Pixar: A Match Made in Learning Heaven

What I love about technology is the opportunity to learn something new everyday. Now there is one more thing we can potentially add to our repertoire thanks to Khan Academy and Pixar: Animation. Khan and Pixar have released a free online course that is sure to make aspiring animators very happy. If you have ever spent time learning on Khan Academy, you know that the courses are well laid out and they make difficult content easier to learn so you can feel successful. This is definitely one to check out!

Want more great information? Check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition!

Overdrive, DOGOnews & Thought Leaders & Innvoators Worth Following

This is a copy of an email I shared with my colleagues back at the end of October

Guess what?! I found another FANTASTIC EXCELLENT AMAZING GREAT news site for kids and it’s called DOGOnews (but I read it as dog gone news at first). Kids can ready by category (Current Events, Science, Sports, and more) or filter by Grades (K-3, 3-5, 6-8. Note: When you filter by grades, you will not necessarily get the most recent news). Kids can look at news on the map and see where in the nation/world news events are happening. There is also sections on Books, Movies, and Sites where students can read reviews and see trailers. Try it- bookmark it, and let your students have options for getting the news (other FABU options: Youngzine, Tween Tribune, and Tween Tribune Junior ALSO HAS TWEEN TRIBUNE IN SPANISH, Time For Kids, and Newsela— I gave you that link last week). 

Surely you must have seen or heard of the movie High School Musical. Well, then you’ll appreciate this “We’re All in this Together” reference when I strongly suggest that you read this WashPo article on WAIT FOR IT— math. Since many of you are feeling that we are all math all the time, you will get a lot of enjoyment of this article on math. It might say Common Core, but it can easily apply to our MIF as both encourage teaching understanding rather than the rote way we learned back when teachers used blackboards that were either black or green and clapping erasers outside was high on the job chart. Anyway, you will get a chuckle about halfway through at Stephen Colbert’s words and a at what one of the dad’s wrote in response to an assignment. I’m serious— it’s FUNNY! So, be like Dora and just keep swimming (after you read this article).

I love Pinterest and get weekly updates on great boards. Here is one for Spanish teachers that has a lot of lessons, videos, books, and sites to share with your classes. And here is an annotated list of 30 Pinterest Boards for elementary teachers including SPECIAL SUBJECT TEACHERS like Art, Music, and Science 🙂 Yay, something for everyone!

By the way, if you are like me, you love to read. At this point, I go from book to book on my Kindle or my Kindle app. Well, you can kick your book habit into Overdrive (literally) and rent ebooks and audiobooks right from your local library using the Overdrive app.This article will explain. And you’re welcome; I just saved you $7.49/book or $9.95 if you were using Oyster Books monthly.

Checking in with your students before, during, and after a lesson is important to your teaching as it informs how you progress with a lesson. Here are 52 ways to formatively assess your students. There are some really easy and excellent ways to do this. Some involve technology, like using PollEverywhere, Geddit, Padlet, Google Forms; others are simple, no tech ways like a show of thumbs or paper slips. However you choose, make formative assessment a regular part of your teaching day.

Yesterday’s #edchat was about educational innovators and thought leaders. It was a great conversation talking about who we thought was inspiring to us as a thought leader; who challenged our thinking. I immediately thought of Sir Ken Robinson, Alan November, and Seth Godin. Another chimed in with Alfie Kohn . It was a great online discussion about what kinds of people inspire us to to look at our practices and beliefs about education.Someone shared this link in the chat that lists 30 Education Innovators Worth Following on Twitter. If you are making your way into Twitter, these are some people you might want to check out and follow.