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.

Much Ado About Everything

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“LEARNING IS NOT ATTAINED BY CHANCE, IT MUST BE SOUGHT FOR WITH ARDOR AND ATTENDED TO WITH DILIGENCE.” ―ABIGAIL ADAMS

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.

Genial.ly is a free tool for making and taking your images and presentations to the next level. You can begin a genial.ly 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.

Enjoy!

Resource-Full!

cup of clear liquid on glass surface

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This week I am sharing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But first, apologies for the lack of sharing this past month. I have started a specialization through Coursera and have been trying to be efficient with my time, i.e.,  when I have it, I am using it to learn.

And now the shares!

Listen Up

I have listened to and read transcripts from several podcasts, TED talks, and articles the first of which is from The Cult of Pedagogy, aka Jennifer Gonzalez. Gonzalez shared how she is transforming her teaching and therefore student learning by incorporating what she learned when she began going to Crossfit workouts with her husband. Gonzalez shares four ways she has changed how she teaches based on the Crossfit methods. My personal favorites are the Differentiation and Student Choice, and Variety Matters. Who says all the students need to be doing the same things at the same time, and who says that you can’t switch things up in your classroom!

While I was browsing Gonzalez’s site, I came across her post about ways we as teachers can support students of color  which was inspired by Dena Simmons’ TED talk . Her post offers four ways Simmons suggests we can begin and continue to change our behaviors and our classrooms to honor and recognize all of our students, one of which is Create ways for students to bring pieces of their lives into the classroom.

If you teach middle or high school math or have children who are in these grades, then these Math tools Chrome Add-Ons are for you. Graphing calculators anyone??

This next was a BIG find! Thanks to Nicole Mancini who created this Author Connections Flipgrid, you and your (elementary) students can hear authors read aloud first chapters of their books, get writing advice, as well as hear the authors share their books and why you should choose to read them. It is a great resource for your budding writers and readers.

If you do anything on (in?) Chrome, then these Top 10 Must-Listen Google Teacher Tribe Podcasts are for you. From add-ons to Slides, Classroom Hacks to Special Education, there is a Must-Listen podcast for everyone that includes links to numerous resources. One of my faves is on different things you can do with Google Slides that go beyond presentations. Thanks Kasey Bell and Matt Miller for these resource-full podcasts!

It’s all about the search!

Sometimes I just get lucky and today was one of those days. I was looking for a Twitter template for a colleague and while I was searching, I came across some fantastic options. First is this list of results from a template search on Matt Miller’s DITCH That Textbook website. I knew he has written and shared about these before so his would be the first site I checked. And you know me, one click leads to another and I found Template Palooza. Take some time to browse the numerous options and then get your creative juices flowing for ways you and your students can do a deep dive into a character’s thoughts and motivations using these and other templates.

Next on the agenda

Lastly are some articles I have open and ready to read. While I have not read them yet, I am sharing them with you because I am sure they will be meaningful and thoughtful. First is an article on over-scheduling, next is on teaching students how to structure their thinking,  and last is on the importance of building relationships in our classrooms.