A Teaching Buffet: Something for Everyone


Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Some might say that I am a hoarder. But not like the ones that you see on Buried Alive. I am more of a “tabs” hoarder. I have shared this tendency before: I tend to keep lots of tabs open until I really have time to dive in. Of course I could use my One Tab extension and place them in a single, “save for later” tab, but alas, I do not. I like to leave them where I can see them until I am ready to dig in.

So today is the day I am wading through my tabs so that I can share them with you.

First off is Peer Teaching options from the Teaching Channel. One of the best ways to know if your students understand a topic or concept is to have them teach another student. So in this menu of videos from the Teaching Channel, you will find several options to use peer teaching in your class from appetizers to dessert.

Next is a “Wow!” It is a collection of digital history projects for use in grades 9-12 but some can be widened to include 6th -12th. What first led me to this was my looking for resources to use with our fourth grade students in their study of slavery as they prepare to read Jefferson’s Sons. I found this post from The Global History Educator that really is a WOW for history teachers. Included are 12 digital history projects that include The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Mapping the 4th of July, Back Story, and nine more incredible resources to use right now in history classes as a resource for you and your students.

The next two are from Matt Miller of DITCH Homework and DITCH Textbook fame. The first is several ways to end the year with GSuite tools and the next is 10 Things Teachers Should Know About the New Google Sites. Personally I love the new Google Sites and find it very easy to use. While I miss the sharing options for individual pages, I think the new drag and drop interface makes up for it until they hopefully bring that piece back.

I have written before about Jo Boaler and the other day I came across this video where she introduced Polyups. Never being one to pass up on anything from Jo Boaler, I took a look. After I figured out how they work, I was hooked and your students will be too. Polyups is a computational math thinking playground for students in grades 3 through 12 and covers Number Sense, Operations, Order of Operations, Problem Solving in 3rd -5th; Functions, Sequences, Logical Thinking, Algorithmic Thinking in 6th-8th; and Series, Numerical Methods, Calculus, Algorithms in 9th -12th. You can take a look at their videos here.

I learned about this next site on Twitter. Taste Atlas is just that– a world map of foods. I just finished reading Americanah and Jollof of Rice was one of the dishes Ifemelu (main character) mentioned several times. Taste Atlas has Jollof of Rice on Nigeria since it is a national dish. Once you click on a food or search a country, you will get foods of the region, where you can find the best of it, and recipes, and more. Interestingly enough, when I searched Florence, Italy (since I was recently there and my son is there studying abroad) one of the places they mentioned as best places to eat is the pizza place my son raves about, Gusta Pizza. Pretty cool.

Class Pad is a free digital math tool that makes solving math problems on the computer as easy as click, type, draw, and solve. It’s your digital scratch paper with built-in calculator that I can see teachers using along with Screencastify to make tutorial videos and your students doing the same to show how they solve problems. One of the cool aspects of Class Pad is the ability of Class Pad to recognize your geometrical figures that you draw and turn them into sharp figures (unless you draw a circle- no sharp lines there!). Subscribe to their YouTube channel where they will be adding more videos as they create them.

For more great articles, tools, tips, and videos, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.




In the Know

34604271491_919b678a1c_nLast week during the IMMOOC live session, one of the things discussed was how to keep track of everything that is out there and the pressure some feel to be in the know and keep up. A few quoteables that I tweeted from the conversation are below:

It’s not about adding on and doing more; it is about what we want our kids to learn and how we are going to get there- what conditions we need to set. Season 4, Episode 3 with  via

‘I might not be able to keep up with what’s new, but I will try to keep up with what’s best for Ss’

“We need to support & praise everyone where they are at”

“We need to be innovating out of a desire to find what’s best, not just what is new”

With so much out there, it can be tough to keep up with it all. That is why I tell teachers to find what works for you and these students right now, and go from there. There are many different versions of the same thing that one need not use all of them; choose the one that you and your students like. Now of course, what works this year with this group might not work for next year’s students so we have to keep in mind the needs of the group we have at the moment.

Part of why I like to share the way I do is to help my teaching colleagues who might not have time to sift through all that is out there. I love to find articles, videos, research, tips, and tools. I then read, watch, try, and think about what might be helpful, useful, interesting, and thought-provoking. The rest is what comes next- the weekly, or every-other-weekly share. So without further ado, this week’s share.

This first share is from Matt Miller and it is all about taking annotating to a whole new level. I love the idea of taking articles or pdfs and formatting them within a table so that students can annotate alongside it. The comment option in Google Docs is another way to do this. Check out the highlighting and sticky note add-on options in the post.

Speaking of annotating, Richard Byrne is always sharing great tools and tips and this week is no different. In his Practical Edtech Tip of the Week he shares Tools for annotating videos and images. If you are a teacher who uses videos for teaching, introducing these tools to your students or using them yourself will definitely enhance your teaching and their learning. And, if you are someone who uses Edpuzzle, you are used to adding questions, text, and other information to spots along your video timeline, so using one of these should feel natural.

Next up is a podcast from Modern Learners wherein Dr. David Gleason and Will Richardson discuss The Costs of High Expectations. Adolescence is starting earlier and going later. People have social/academic expectations of the kids who may develop earlier because they look older than they are, but don’t have the mental capacity to meet these expectations yet.  This is just a taste of what was discussed:

Is it our fear of losing our reputation for getting kids into competitive schools what holds us back from doing what we know to be right for kids as far as over-scheduling putting undue stress on them? “Who wants to come to a vanilla school?”

For additional reading on expectations, executive functioning, and the mismatch between developmental readiness and expectations, you can take a look at this linked-in  article, “All Aspects of Students’ Development Varies, Including Executive Functioning Skills”.

Student voice, choice, and empowerment are themes in this round of the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course. These interactive learning menus from Shake-Up Learning offer your students (and colleagues if you use these during PD sessions) the opportunity to choose their learning path from various choices on the learning menu choice board. These boards also allow you to differentiate by offering options that speak to different strengths and ways students like to learn and share their learning.

If you would like to read more about the importance of giving students choice, Alfie Kohn’s article, “Choices for Children: Why and How to Let Students Decide” is on point.

Lastly, I have mentioned Pooja Agarwal and retrieval practice as a learning tool a lot recently. That is because of all the science and evidence behind the practice of retrieving that Agarwal shares on her site. This week she shared a quick, no-quiz retrieval strategy called Two Things and it is a fast and easy way to have your students think about what they are learning.

photo credit: wuestenigel What’s new? via photopin (license)

A Handful of Spring Sharing

6393548853It has been quite a busy six weeks and unfortunately, my blogging had to take a backseat. While I did share my learning from a recent Coursera course, I have not shared any tips, tricks, or articles since February. My apologies. Time to move on!

As per usual, I have numerous tabs open so here we go:

#1. A great post from Rick Wormeli (I have recently referenced him here) titled, “43 Things We Need to Stop Doing in Schools” .  This list is certainly not exhaustive. I feel pretty strongly about #s 2, 3, 5, 13, 18, 26, & 30; how about you?

#2 This next piece is fun, one you and your students will enjoy being creative with and sharing learning, and it uses something you probably already have. Intrigued? Many kids (and grown-ups) love making stop motion animation but did you know you could do it in Google Slides? This video shared by Daniel Kaufman to our Google Education Group shows how you can use Google Slides to make Stop Motion animation video. Kaufman shows how to solve an algebra problem and uses 88 slides to do it. I played around and made one using just 10 (see below). The key as you will see in his video, is to use the “duplicate slide” option.


#3 Since we are talking about things you can do with Google Slides, I thought I would remind you of two Chrome extensions I posted about before- Save to Drive and Drive Slides. You can combine the capabilities of these the Drive Slides extension with the Stop Motion capability of Slides for one really cool presentation. #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm

#4 I have shared my excitement about HyperDocs in previous posts so when I saw this Padlet of HyperDocs posted on Twitter, I knew I needed to share it with you. I am certain there will be something you can use/modify in your classroom, then you can visit the teachers give teachers site for more inspiration! Click here to learn even more about HyperDocs.

#5 Think you are a smarty pants? How about your students? What about Smarty Pins? This next share is about another favorite of mine– Google– and it is “21 Google Tools That You Probably Never Heard Of”. OK, maybe you know that you can search for a stopwatch and Google will pull up their stopwatch function, or maybe you knew that you could type in an algebraic equation and Google would solve it for you and show the interactive graph (#3); perhaps you even knew you could do a reverse image search (#4), and create a story using Story Builder (#9); but did you know about Smarty Pins, an interactive mapping search game (#7) or Spell Up, a spelling game (#18)? Check out this post to see what else you can do with Google.

#6 Last but certainly not least is a great tool for making student learning visible. Flipgrid is simple, easy-to-use, and made for teachers and students from elementary school through high school. You can sign up, set up, and begin using your Flipgrid in about five minutes. I recently used Flipgrid to have my students reflect on a Tynker coding project they did and the responses were fantastic and honest. You can use it to have a whole class respond to text prompt or quote, share their strategies to solving a math problem, reflect on their work, and so much more. Flipgrid gives every student a chance to share their voice and respond, not just the ones who like to speak out in class. You can make your Flipgrids private or public, and you can moderate your topic so that students cannot see each other’s responses until you have viewed them.

For more great articles, videos, and tools, you can read this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Happy Spring!