Ice and Snowflakes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

―Abigail Adams

I love the above quote but I am part of the choir so-to-speak because I love learning. Not everyone’s top 5 character strengths includes a love of learning which is why as educators we need to know what Interests the students, Captures their attention, and what Engages them (ICE: a nice little acronym that happened naturally). This week I am sharing ICE and a few other snowflakes.

You’ve probably have heard of Fantasy sports games like baseball and football, but have you heard of Fanpolitics or Fangeopolitics? I am guessing some of you may have not. I learned about it today when I read this article, “Gamify Social Studies Learning and Current Event Learning with FanSchool.org”, whose purpose is to engage students with current events through a fantasy sports style game. Imagine your class divided into individuals, pairs, or teams of students drafting policymakers, countries, states, or candidates and following their “players” in the news, scoring points for when their “team” members are mentioned in the news. By signing up for a free FanSchool account you get a commissioner (you), up to 35 players, and access to all the games. There are lesson plans and links and everything you need to get started engaging your students in the events happening around them so why not start drafting!

sometimes I like to close my eyes

And imagine what it’ll be like when summer does come

~Josh Gad, Frozen

No need to imagine when you can explore the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminars. Once again they are offering not-to-be-missed topics like Native Americans in American History, Rehearsal for Equality: American Women from the Revolution to Seneca Falls, and The West and the American Nation. The seminars range from 3 days to 6 days and are led by lead scholars, master teachers and attendees have the opportunity to attend book talks by historians. One of my amazing colleagues attended one last summer and his lesson, “Murder, Theft, and Silence: The Conestoga Massacre” is now part of the Digital Paxton Teacher Seminar Education Materials collection. For more on the experience, you can read the EdWeek article, “How Do We Teach with Primary Sources When So Many Voices Are Missing?”

Last is something that will capture the interest of anyone who uses or is looking to use rubrics in their classrooms. This was a lucky click thanks to Richard Byrne. He shared some digital portfolio platforms along with a link to assessing digital portfolios. We use digital portfolios in our school and while we do not assess them, I clicked anyway just to have a look. Well, Creating and Using Rubrics for Assessments is exactly what I have been looking for and I think it may be what you have been looking for as well. You will find rubrics on all topics from writing to online discussions, to podcasts, group work participation to Slides presentations, elementary rubrics, middle school, all subject areas and grades, and tools for creating rubrics. It’s really a treasure trove.

For more curated topics you can check out the latest Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

“Don’t Know Much About History . . . “

36404305214_75847ae915_n. . . but you will if you follow these links!

Recently I have been working with a colleague who teaches history in middle school. She is starting to teach a new unit on Civics and she and I have been sitting together to make some interactive, blended lessons. We have had a great time working on these lessons and are in the process of starting our third set of Civics HyperDocs that incorporate videos, readings from icivics, and check-ins using edpuzzle and Google docs.

While searching around, I came upon a treasure trove of resources that will make any history or social studies teacher swoon.

First is the Civics Renewal Network with resources for teachers from K-12 that you can filter by resource type, subject, issue, grade, Constitutional Amendment, and teaching method- yes, you can filter by individual, whole class, project-based, and more!

Next is the Annenberg Classroom that has everything you could possibly need to teach civics and the Constitution including games, timelines, lesson plans, links to other civics sites for teachers, discussion guides, today in history, and current events.

I happened upon the next site (60-second civics- see below) while browsing this Foundations and Formations of Government HyperDoc which I found from this link in the April 2017 section of this collection of Social Studies resources that Eric Curts has crowd-sourced and updates monthly. If his name sounds familiar, you may recall I shared some of his other resources here.

60-Second Civics is a daily one-minute podcast on topics related to civics, our government, and issues around the Constitution. 60-Second Civics is housed on the Center for Civic Education website. Here you will find lesson plans for K-12 like this middle school lesson, Why do we need authority?  as well as lessons on Voting, Women’s History, early Presidents, the Constitution, and much more.

The next place happens to be right in our backyard which is lucky for us who live in or near Philly. The Constitution Center happens to also have numerous resources on their site including interactive games, crafts, historical documents, lesson plans, and a host of other amazing resources like these videos.

Common Sense Media has this list of 13 Best Websites and Games for US History and Civics that includes links to PBS Learning Media (you know I love this site!), History Pin, Mission US (my third grade students play the immigration game during their Ellis Island unit) and 10 others for you and your students.

Teaching History has teaching materials for elementary through high school as well as quizzes, links to national resources, an Ask an Historian section, searchable multi-media that includes dramatic readings, podcasts, walking tours, and yada, yada, yada– you’ll have to visit to see the rest!

Happy learning!

photo credit: vandentroost old books via photopin (license)

Lots of Awesome

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It has been a great week of learning beginning with Google Education on Air last Friday and Saturday, December 2-3. It was amazing to be part of a global education experience learning from inspiring educators. In one of the sessions What is your spark, I learned about Classroom Bridges, a way for teachers to connect their classroom with classrooms around the world. Just sign up and start connecting! If you are looking to connect your class with others around the country and around the world, this is as easy as it gets! Another fantastic session was the one on HyperDocs which I have written about before. Here is the link to the recording and this links to the resources from the session. You can view all keynotes and sessions on demand by clicking here.

The next thing I want to share is this article about which research and evidence-based teaching strategies effect student learning, “8 Strategies Robert Marzano and John Hattie Agree On”. Clear focus, overt instruction, and student engagement with the content are the top 3; read on for more!

This week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition has some excellent articles, tips, and ideas.  I think you will love this idea for your English classes- Memes Everywhere wherein you will learn how one teacher has his students create memes for literary characters while reading novels. It is a fun way to engage students with content while reading. Though I shared this a couple weeks ago, Book Snaps is another way your students can interact with text while reading.

I was interested in reading this next article, “PD Should Model What You Want to See in the Classroom”, since I recently read and wrote about best practices for professional development.This article is a recap of how the presenter designed the PD day so that he incorporated modeling various ways to teach while presenting on creating lessons incorporating and using primary sources from the Library of Congress.This post comes completely loaded with both ideas for different ways to teach, AND complete lessons for teachers in this PDF The Student as Historian. In it you will find the PD piece and lessons from 4th grade through high school including lessons on Lewis & Clark, the Civil War, and Native Americans of Oregon. You will need time to digest this one but it is worth it!

Continuing along the history path is this recent post by Richard Byrne, “Two Good Sets of Animated Maps for U.S. History Students” . Here you will find Byrne talks about two sites: one that shows animated maps of historical battles, and the other that shows map changes over time. Both are great supplements to your history and social studies classes.

For more great articles, visit the Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

 

 

 

 

Rest on Your Laurels with Tynker

laurel-wreath-297040_640As part of the Fifth grade Laurels, the students used Tynker, a block-based programming platform, to show evidence of learning about each of five ancient civilizations: Sumer/Mesopotamia, Egypt, Maya, China, Greece. This was a multi-level process as it involved first the gathering of the facts in a skeletal outline, finding and saving images to illustrate these facts, uploading these images to Tynker, then writing the code for each “actor” including the “Stage”. The students worked for approximately three class periods on their outline, basically scripting their story. Each civilization represents a scene in Tynker, and each artifact from the different civilizations will become the actors. We likened this to writing a screenplay and the students were the authors and directors. Once the outlines were written the students used Pixabay, WpClipart, Pics4Learning, or Wikimedia Commons to find images that are in the public domain. Occasionally they could not find what they were looking for so they used an advanced search on Google for images labeled for reuse. Some students chose to find and gather all their images for all the scenes prior to getting started in Tynker, others chose to do this one scene at a time and then gather for the next. Writing the code in Tynker was painstaking. The students wrote hundreds of lines of code for their story to run, many without any actions on behalf of the viewer. They encountered “bugs” (problems with how their story ran) and had to go through the lines of code to find the problem. They used creativity, perseverance, persistence, problem-solving, logical thinking, and digital citizenship skills throughout the process all while leaving their legacy and effectively using technology. Please enjoy. More to come as they are completed.

Laurel Project Showcases

Image from Pixabay