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.

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!

Science, Google, Growth Mindset and More

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.” ― John DeweyExperience and Education

In honor of Earth Day and because I am a huge fan of Zaption, here is a Zaption tour on the Super Powers of Trees. Share with your students as a whole class and use the questions as discussion prompts, or share via your Edmodo class page and have your kids take a look tonight for some Earth Day fun. Be sure to browse all the Tours available for your use or remixing!

If you are someone who loves Science, teaches Science, wants to learn more about how memory works, or are just a Physics buff, you will enjoy this post 15 Science YouTube channels Kids Love. These channels explain science, they are not just how tos.

New features are coming all the time to Google Classroom, and today I learned about a few more. Now teachers can invite other teachers to be part of their classroom (think student teachers, co-teachers, etc) making sharing what’s going on and multiple teachers assigning work (or knowing what work your students have from other teachers) that much easier. The next is the ability to create an assignment and save it as a draft to post later. If you have other ideas, Google is happy to listen so think about what you would need from Google Classroom and let them know.

While we are almost at the end of April, it is still poetry month and so I thought I would pass this along to you. More likely something you might be interested in for yourself, or if you are a high school English teacher you might want to share with your students. This is the Library of Congress’  Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature where you can hear authors like Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury reading some of their poetry and giving commentary along the way. For more poet interviews (including spotlights on Hispanic writers, African writers, and more) both recorded and written, see here.

Some of you have started using Thinglink with your students as a way for them to share information about a topic. Richard Byrne shares how you can use your Thinglink classroom account and the Remix feature (where you take a Thing that’s already been made and remix it your way so you are not starting from scratch) to create review lessons for your students. This post is specifically about using it for map review, but I can see it easily being used for other purposes around your curriculum (Science you can have an image the students need to label, English they can answer Qs about a novel, etc).

We talk regularly about formative assessments, but have you thought about having your students use photos, screenshots, screencasts, and videos to find out what your students learned or found interesting today? Take a look at this article from Edutopia to see how your students can share artifacts of learning using digital media.

This next post by The Nerdy Teacher is about The next best thing to being there. The Nerdy Teacher, aka Nicholas Provenzano, is a 9th grade English teacher. He was going to be out of class at a conference for a few days but wanted his students to go on in class as if he was still there. He created some screencast of himself reading 4 different Emily Dickinson poems that he then wanted students to discuss. Since he was not going to be in class, he had the students do a “Silent Discussion” using their Google Classroom stream as their platform. You can read about it here. What he saw was how much discussion and interaction happened around these poems both during classtime and after it ended. It went so much better than he thought that he wondered if he holds his students back during discussions by being too involved himself. So, if you are going to be out of school for a day or two, why not be there virtually instead! For more ways to have class discussions where everyone gets a chance to speak up, not just the ones raising their hands, try Todays Meet, or if your classroom is on Twitter, use a hashtag to have a class chat.

I have shared several articles and posts on Fixed v Growth Mindset and today I am sharing one more. This one however, is a lesson plan developed in partnership with Khan Academy and it can be used over a few days with your students. It incorporates videos, discussions, and hands-on activities that help your students see that they can make a difference in their own learning, understanding and intelligence. I think this would be a great set of mini lessons to do with your students as you approach the end of the school year because it can be used in part as a reflection of their learning while they share information with future students of your classroom.

What if

What if we all decided to try something a little risky and something that makes us not entirely comfortable? This post from Justin Tarte talks about how we as teachers can stay relevant (which is something we all need to do!).

Food for thought: creating a classroom for social justice. Jeanne Stanley would be proud . 

For all our Science friends, this Pinterest Board from Steve Spangler (who will be a guest on the Ellen show).

Here is a math site that I think could work nicely with our Math in Focus. Thinking Blocks uses models to help students set up a math word problem. Once the students set up the model (they look like the bar models you are using with MIF), then they place the labels that go with each piece. Whenthey have the model set properly, then they place the numbers in the problem. This could be a viable option for additional math practice. PreK-grade 1 friends, please take a look at this because if you think this site could work with our new math program, there is an app for the ipads which could reinforce the bar model. All math functions can be modeled with Thinking Blocks! This is already a shortcut in the Lower School Internet Shortcuts, Math folder as it is one that I shared in the past. Nancy Carroll, a teacher on Twitter shared how she is using it with her 4th grade students and looking at it made me think it could work for you too!