Sing, Sing a Song

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Back in 2016 I wrote a post, More Than Just Music to Their Ears, on using songs for teaching to help with memory. Today I am reiterating that here with some additional sites. In case you choose not to click on the past post, I will summarize: music helps with memory. Not only can songs trigger memories and evoke emotions, it can create a positive learning environment and help solidify scientific concepts. I go in and out of classrooms when I teach so earlier this fall I started incorporating mindfulness into the beginning of class time to refocus students and get everyone together. I created a YouTube playlist called mindfulness jars and I do notice a difference when I start classes with a mindfulness transition. Additionally, in the younger grades, I sing the directions to the students that I want them to follow. By now, they know the tune so I can just hum it and they will know what to do. Since I use a song, I can add on when additional directions are needed.

With all that being said, here are some sites for teaching with songs:

  1. Numberock– This is a YouTube channel and website with math songs for all concepts for elementary age students. They even have songs about holidays and other special events on the calendar The YouTube channel has playlists in English, Spanish, French, Hindi, Chinese, and Portuguese (and maybe more but I stopped scrolling) so you can learn your math concepts in many languages.
  2. Using Music to Teach Science includes songs created by high school and college students to teach science concepts like the Krebs Cycle, Physics, and Polymerase. This was inspired by this Life Science Education publication, Using Science Songs to Enhance Learning which offers a study and includes a rubric to use with (college) students who create their own songs as evidence of understanding.
  3. Songs for Teaching has songs for teaching Science topics like Astronomy, Botany, and Earth Science to name a few. It also has songs for teaching Math topics for elementary school as well as advanced math topics like Geometry, Trig, and some Physics. The lyrics to songs are included with a short sample of the song, enough to give you the tune to sing along.
  4. I happened upon this Jack Hartmann channel of songs that includes songs about letters of the alphabet, phonics songs, counting songs, brain breaks, and additional songs for younger students and early elementary. The digraph one is quite catchy and will have your students singing about sh and th among others. And who could resist, Silent E by the Bazillions? Check out their channel of songs too.
  5. For history teachers and students, this PBS set of lessons, Hamilton’s America with Lin Manuel, is about the process of writing the song, My Shot for the Broadway show, Hamilton. The videos and support materials will introduce students to the process of turning history into music. If you are considering having students create and adapt history into music, this set of lessons will be inspiring.
  6. Last is one I have shared before. History for Music Lovers YouTube channel is 53 songs about events and people all set to popular tunes.

So if you want your students to listen to or sing these songs, write your own, or have your students write their own, songs can enhance the learning environment and experience.

Challenge, Listen, Create, Learn, Repeat

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People always ask, how do you find the time to find the things that you share? First off, I am so lucky that my current position allows me to spend time looking for learning opportunities for myself, my colleagues, and my students. I have a schedule but I am not with students all day as many of my colleagues are because I go in and out of the different classrooms on a rotating basis. Additionally, I no longer have children at home as my oldest graduated from college this past May (#WeAre) and my youngest is a college sophomore (#GoQuakers) so after I take care of the J (16 year old Bichon) and give him sofa time, I am pretty much free to do what I want when the school day is over. I also found that working without the tv is helpful. Hence, the time both during the day and in the evening to get to do what I do and be able to share with you the things I am sharing today.

Social Media Simulators

First are some templates you and your students can use to share their learning and show their understanding of a character, event, story, or topic in almost any subject. The first is a Netflix template you can download to use with Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Slides and the other is an Instagram template. Your students can easily show their understanding by creating a profile from the character’s point of view. Further clicking led me to the Twitter, Facebook, Time and Nat Geo magazine templates, as well as a link to a social media generator.

Writer’s Block

This next share is for our English teachers, budding writers, experienced writers who want to hone their craft and learn from an online community, or just those who enjoy writing and would like to exercise their writing muscle with random prompts. The Writer Igniter is a cool tool from DIY MFA where you are given a character, situation, prop, and setting (to me it sounds like the game Clue: Ms. Scarlet in the kitchen with a candlestick) and then you just start writing. For people looking for more, this site offers writing resources, an online community, podcast interviews with authors, and more.

Icons: More than Celebrity

I’m fairly certain I got this next site from a recent Matt Miller post but without going back in my history, I cannot be certain. I just know I have it open in a tab ready to share. It’s called, The Noun Project and it is basically a searchable set of free, downloadable (with your log in) icons for any noun (or verb, or adjective, or other part of speech including gerunds) you can think of– even “ugly sweater.” You can change the tilt angle, rotate it, add a shape, and change the outline color to get it exactly how you want it for your project. Kind of fun!

Front and Center

Sometimes having something front and center, staring you in the face, or just out on your desk where you can easily flip through and reference makes it more likely you will use it because you will be reminded of it. This downloadable image of four tools for learning from Pooja Agarwal is one of those things. It’s a simple mini-poster of the definitions of retrieval practice, spacing, interleaving, and feedback-driven metacognition along with downloadable guides for how to use these in your classroom. Who is Pooja Agarwal you ask? Well, you can check out these other posts where I have previously shared her great, research-based practices.

The Matrix

While scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, I came to a guest blog post on Alice Keeler’s blog. It was written by Robert Kaplinsky and it is on depth of knowledge matrices. The first sentence of the post is like clickbait to me, “Ready for a problem that will make you rethink how we teach students mathematics?” Honestly, had that been the title of a Buzz Feed article, I think more than math people would click on it. But it wasn’t and I was not specifically looking for it but am so glad I scrolled by when I did because while the blog post has several, I repeat, several DOK matrices from elementary math through Calc. I am so glad I was reminded (I first wrote about him last February) of his cool math website, Open Middle which has math problems for literally every grade in school from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Click Here for Free Stuff

Now that I have your attention again, the above link is from We Are Teachers and it goes to their free, downloadable posters and lesson plans. Check out their upstander, character ed, historical figures, world language, math posters and the many others on the 21 pages for all areas of the curriculum.

And now for some professional learning and listening opportunities

I have been doing a lot of reading and personal work on culturally responsive teaching and mitigating implicit bias. It seems the more I read, the more that I find to learn, and the more articles like this from Medium that make their way to my inbox and Twitter feed. Most recently I read these articles from Edutopia, “Reflections on Becoming More Culturally Responsive”, “How to Audit Your Classroom Library for Diversity”, “Bringing a Culturally Responsive Lens to Math Class”, and “How to Make Social Emotional Learning More Culturally Responsive”.

Next is a podcast series, Neuroscience Meets Social Emotional Learning. It has 38 episodes ranging from 8 minutes to 1 hour and 8 minutes with the bulk being less than 30. I have not listened to any yet as I just happened upon them, but plan on listening to this one currently open in a tab, Dr. John Dunlosky on “Improving Student Success: Some Principles from Cognitive Science”.

For our 1st through 9th grade math educators and specialists, this summer you can pack your bags and head west to Denver or south to Texas (my directional perspective is from the northeast) to the [Co]Lab. At the [Co]Lab, you will learn and think collaboratively with other math educators from around the country about math practice and creating mathematical experiences that you can bring back for your young mathematicians (aka, your students). Even before you go, you can learn from their suggested readings, books, and articles, and resources including video playlists and free downloads.

For those teachers who would like to pack their passport along with their luggage can check out 5 Programs for FREE Teacher Travel (or “travel with great funding”). This site is run by a Boston public school teacher as a way to connect teachers who like to travel and travelers who like to teach so we can all learn from each other ways to combine these passions. A quick click on the “explore” will lead you to clickable categories, tags, and archives making it pretty easy to see what’s there for you. So, if you are looking to travel to reboot your teaching self or inspire your lessons, then check out what others have done, how they’ve done it, and give it a try.

This Week's Clicks, aka Down the Rabbit Hole

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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.

Knock, Knock!

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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.

Listen Up!

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If you would like to listen to this as a podcast, click here.

I love when people ask me about something and then I am able to do targeted searches for resources. I was recently asked by two different colleagues about podcasts- those their students can listen to and those they can create themselves. In no time was I off and running to find them helpful resources.

For listening

In one of my recent posts, Much Ado About Everything, I had shared Six-Minute Stories from KidsListen, a platform for podcasts for children. When my colleague asked me to find podcasts for her middle school students, I found this list of 18 Best Podcasts for Kids in Elementary, Middle, and High School from We Are Teachers. This list is broken down by school division and includes podcasts relating to the English language, Science, History, stories, debates, and more. Freakonomics Radio, The Allusionist, and Stuff You Missed in History Class are just three on the list for middle school; Brains On, Tumble, and Short and Curly for elementary school; and Serial, This American Life, and Youth Radio for high school students (plus 9 morel).

Common Sense Education put out their list of 16 Great Learning Podcasts for the Classroom from your youngest Pre-K students through your 12th grade seniors in high school. While there is some overlap between this list and the one above, Common Sense includes on their list Story Corps (oral histories and lesson plans), Smash Boom, Best (debates), and Circle Round (folktales from around the world), and others.

My colleague Mark shared 15-Minute History, a podcast for students, teachers, and history buffs brought to us by the University of Texas at Austin. Each podcast includes the transcript, great for those who need to see the words while they are listening, or those who just want to read and not listen- something for different learners. You can filter podcasts by US History by Time Period, Texas History, World History by Region, or World History by Time Period (and then continue to filter from there). After a quick look through the 18th Century/American Revolution time period, I found this one, “The Royal Proclamation of 1763” (which if you don’t know what that is, take a peek at one of the Revolutionary War Adobe Spark videos our fourth grade students made last year and see).

Speaking of the American Revolution, I found this one, American Revolution Podcast: A Chronological Journey Through the Revolutionary War by chance. This is like finding a $20 bill in your pocket when you didn’t know it was there. Along with the podcasts are a whole host of links for more information, a list of free books, and of course, a link to additional podcasts.

For the adults in the room, I came across Teachers on Fire, a one-year old, 100-episode strong podcast that features educators who are leading and transforming K-12 education in the way that Entrepreneurs on Fire features entrepreneurs who are setting the world on fire with their ideas.

There are so many more, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. But, it is a good start to adding some podcast listening to your classroom repertoire.

Free Teaching Resources: Always a Good Thing!

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Today I am diving right in to sharing some amazing free resources that are available for teachers (and parents too).

First is a set of evidence-based playbooks from Angela Duckworth’s Character Lab to help build character in your students and children. Everything from grit and purpose to gratitude and resilience with more playbooks to come, you will have research and evidence-based tools to help build and grow these skills. Looking to learn more about developing character in your students? The educator summit will be held this July 11-12 in Philadelphia.

Next is Open Middle: “challenging math problems worth solving.” I found this site from one of Robert Kaplinsky’s recent tweets and have been clicking around ever since. You’ll find problems for students from kindergarten through high school including this Ten-frame challenge for kinders.

The Math Vision Project is a team of teachers who set out to create free, printable math materials for teaching math that is inquiry-based, student-driven, task-based, and aligned with Common Core Standards. It is also a set of downloadable open source math resources created by teachers for teachers to use with their students learning Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, towards an Integrated Math I, II, II. When I say “resources” I mean everything you need to teach regular and honors math from beginning to end with both student and teacher editions, homework help, professional development resources and more. It is a complete curriculum offering multiple access points for students within the same classroom to be able to solve problems and show understanding.

Open Ed or ACT Academy is another free site with K-12 resources including lesson plans, assessments, homework, and videos for topics from all school subjects including Science, English, Math, and Social Studies as well as Social-Emotional learning, Electives, and Technology. You can search by grade, subject, resource type (interactive, lesson plan, audio, video, etc.) topic, standard, publisher, and featured content provider. Honestly, if all you do is click the type of resource you want, you will see the wealth of materials for you.

Last but certainly not least is Facing History, a site whose mission it is “to engage and educate diverse students on issues of racism, anti-semitism, and prejudice to promote the development of a more humane citizenry.” This site is rich with resources on topics from the Holocaust to Civil Rights, Race, Immigration, and much more searchable by subject (English, Psychology, US History, World History to name a few) and resource type (books and borrowing, lessons, featured collections, and beyond). They also offer several professional development opportunities to support teachers both in-person and online. This is a site you will want to spend time with.

I Went Browsing and This is What I Found . . .

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When I was a little girl going on car rides with my parent and/or grandparents (sitting on the fold down arm rest in the front was always a treat albeit an apparent danger but it was the 70s, who knew?), aside from listening to show tunes, Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, and Frank Sinatra, we played car games. One of the family favorites was, “Going Shopping”. Each person would start with “I am going to Pathmark, Shop ‘n Bag, the A & P (fill in any supermarket of the 70s and 80s here) and I am going to buy (something that begins with an A). The next person would then go to the market and buy what the last person bought and then whatever comes next in the alphabet. It was always fun when people would buy these obscure or even funny-sounding or embarrassing items (my mother loved to throw a Kotex in the cart). And then of course having to remember everyone’s previous purchases was always a challenge, especially as we neared the latter part of the alphabet. Anyway, browsing around thinking about this blog post reminded me of that game and those fun car rides. And now, on to the point of the post!

Here is what I put in my cart today . . .

I went browsing and I found ClassHook. A great FREE site for finding movie and TV clips to use in your class for any topic. Search by decade, grade level, topic, series, and clip length. You can even check the box to leave out the profanity.

I went browsing and I found Edulastic, a great FREE too for formative assessment that integrates nicely with Google Classroom. Upload your own pre-made assessment, browse their library, create your own from a variety of question types, and you are good to go.

I went browsing and I found Formative an in-the-moment way to visually assess your students and give immediate feedback (which, as we know, immediate or timely feedback is best to correct misunderstandings). Like Edulastic, it’s FREE, you can create from scratch, you can browse their questions and add them to yours, and you can upload one you already have made as a doc or pdf and transform it by adding to it and allowing your students to answer right there. The best element is the ability for your students to draw their responses (great for math) and your ability to see all your students’ responses at the same time. Check. It. Out.

I went browsing and I found Infographics in Foreign Language Classes. If you teach a world language, you just might want to have your students share their research using an infographic. This post will explain how.

I went browsing and I found over 500 High School Math Videos. Mr. Robb is a high school math teacher who has created videos for his AP Calculus AB and Integrated 3 Math courses. His Xtranormal video on his home page introduces the idea of having the students watch the videos before they are introduced to the content in class so that they have an idea and familiarity when the teacher intros the topic (Flipped classroom model). For more help with PreCalc and Calculus, take a look at the 100+ videos from Mr. Berberian. He started making these before Khan Academy was a household name. Looking for Algebra or PreAlgebra help? My colleague has created more than 120 videos and several playlists teaching concepts and going through whole chapters to help his students. Check out the videos and playlists on his YouTube page.

I went browsing and I found Story Maps. If you have a location-based story or event, or series of events, what better way to tell it than through maps using pictures, videos, and text. StoryMaps is similar to Google’s Tour Builder.

I went browsing and I found the Visions of Education podcast episode 100, Teaching Racial Literacy and Controversial Issues with Genevieve Caffrey. I have the tab open and have started to listen and looking at the accompanying links and resources I already know it’s going to be good. Within the first fifteen minutes Caffrey talks about why teachers fear having these controversial conversations or discussions of current events in their classroom, which, if you were part of our recent in-service, much of what she says will sound familiar. Caffrey talks about the “risks of silence” in not having these conversations and how we can start using the acronym, LET’s ACT to start. We are currently reading Not Light, But Fire by Matthew R. Kay and discussing creating the safe, caring, trusting communities in our classrooms for having meaningful conversations (and then how to have them), and this podcast and it’s accompanying resources is a good pairing. Browsing the titles of the other episodes on the podcast I found episode 67, American Indians in Children’s Literature. I encourage you to look around and listen in. Great quotes from these episodes: “Who’s past and who’s future are we talking about?” and by not talking or learning about others’ perspectives, we may be inadvertently saying, “Some people’s experiences is not important or worthy of discussion.”