Love, Teach

Usually my Phun Phriday posts are silly things with possibly little to no educational value that you may or may not want to share with students. However, probably only teachers would thoroughly appreciate the humor of the Love, Teach blog, so I wouldn’t bother showing it to your students or anyone who actually has a life between September and June.  But when you need to lighten up, I would head on over to at least one of the following posts:

“14 Reasons Why I Will Die Alone” – I’m married, which is something that never ceases to amaze me, especially when I can identify with at least 10 of the 14 reasons for potential suitors to avoid me like the plague.  #9 pretty much says it all, “Looking cute is time-consuming, expensive, and I give up.”

My First Day of School Questionnaire” – Forget the standard getting-to-know-you queries like, “What are your hobbies?”  Try asking your students #3 instead, “Which do you feel have a better chance of taking over the world: zombies or pirates? Justify your answer.” The last sentence really makes this a higher-order thinking activity…

“59 Real-Life Thoughts I Had on My First Day Back at In-Service” – After reading the following, I was pretty sure that the author and I are twins separated at birth.

from Love, Teach blog
from Love, Teach blog

I originally found Love, Teach when I was reading a post the anonymous author did on We Are Teachers.  The post is called, “93 Real-Life Thoughts I Had on Back-to-School Night.”  I promise that any teacher who has ever experienced Back-to-School Night will identify with this post – and I dare you not to laugh out loud.  Just try not to choke on your Giant, Bad-Decision-Burger while you’re reading it;)

Rubber Band Contest

Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) tweeted a link to the Rubber Band Contest the other day, and I just now got around to checking it out.  (Someday I will describe my convoluted methods for archiving resources that I don’t have time to explore right away!) The contest is sponsored by The Akron Global Polymer Academy at The University of Akron, and is for students in 5th-8th grades.  Entries are due on March 16, 2015 – but you can see all of the relevant dates here.  The challenge is to make an invention that uses at least one rubber band.  Here is the link to the official rules.  Even if you don’t qualify or don’t want to participate officially, you might want to check out the resources and inspire your students with some of the pictures of past winning inventions.  One of my favorites is a runner-up from 2014, the Oreo Creme Splitter!

Oreo Creme Splitter by Lawson Gray
Oreo Creme Splitter by Lawson Gray

iCivics Drafting Board

It’s been awhile since I’ve visited the iCivics site.  You can see my last post about it here (2012!).  The site, founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, offers interactives, games, and lesson plans for learning about civics.  And it’s all free!

There is a lot of curriculum available on the site, and teachers can log in and add students to a class, giving them assignments that the teachers can then monitor.  One of the tools that looks really great for 5th graders and up is the Drafting Board tool.  This is a robust, thought-provoking interactive that leads students through steps that result in crafting a persuasive essay.  I’ve embedded the iCivics  introductory video to Drafting Board below.  This PDF thoroughly explains how to use the tool.

iCivicsDraftingBoard

There are several things that appeal to me about Drafting Board.  It scaffolds the process of writing a persuasive essay based on evidence very well.  The teacher has the capability of differentiating the assignment by choosing different “challenge levels” for students. Though there is a lot of reading involved, all of the passages have accompanying audio for students who need that support.  These features make this a great UDL resource.

One of the lessons is about whether or not 16-year-olds should be given the right to vote - a topic that is frequently brought up by my students. (Actually, they think “all kids” should have the right to vote.)  Another one that would tie in very well with my 5th grade unit on The Giver is the question of whether or not students should be required to do volunteer work in order to graduate.

Even if you don’t have access to 1-to-1 devices for your students, Drafting Board would be a valuable whole-class lesson, or even a center for groups of students, inviting an educated discourse about controversial topics.

Help Desks

As my students gear up for this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge, they will also be researching a charity to which they will donate the proceeds from their cardboard arcade.  I want them to keep in mind Angela Maier’s mantra, “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution,” and to cultivate their empathy along with their creativity.

Help Desks for Indian children, created by
Help Desks for Indian children, created by Aarambh

As I was thinking about how to inspire my classes this year (many of whom have already seen the Caine’s Arcade videos), I ran across this video from an organization called, “Aarambh.”  Committed to helping students become more comfortable in their schools in rural areas of India, Aarambh found a way to make combination desks/backpacks out of discarded cardboard.  For less than 20 cents in American dollars, a child can be outfitted with this invaluable piece of equipment.  This is a great video to show students so many things:

  • the value of an education
  • how fortunate many of us are to receive a free education with numerous resources
  • how simple, yet creative, ideas can have an incredible positive impact
  • that recycling is not just a luxury but an imperative

It Ain’t Rocket Science

“You think that video game is fun to play?  How about inventing one?”  This is a quote on Part 3 of Episode 4 of It Ain’t Rocket Science.  In this segment, you will see a FIRST Robotics competition and the winner of the first “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…” contest.

It Ain’t Rocket Science is a project from Time Warner Cable as part of its Connect a Million Minds program, which endeavors to get more young people involved in STEM activities and studies.  According to TWC, the series of videos hosted by Adam Balkin,  “introduces parents and kids alike to some of the coolest opportunities, events and careers in STEM.”

So far there are 24 episodes, which you can watch on Time Warner Cable or access on the website for the show.  The 30-minute episodes are divided into bite-size pieces so you can sample them or show them to a class.  This is another great resource for getting students excited about STEM.

Screen Shot from Episode 4 of It Ain't Rocket Science
Screen Shot from Episode 4 of It Ain’t Rocket Science

Phodable Phun

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I bring you three examples of the impact the ancient art of origami continues to have in the modern world.

Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.
Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.  The video is amazing!

 

Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself - starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail!
Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself – starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail! Back this Kickstarter project, Poligon, if you love this idea! (You’ve got to watch the video to see this awesome concept!)

 

Richard Byrne just published a post about an app and a website that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations.
Richard Byrne just published a post here about an app (Foldify) and a website (Paper Toys) that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations. Read his post for a cool idea for what to do with your finished products!

Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!

As I established yesterday, I don’t like bulletin boards and I do like stealing ideas from other people.  It’s ironic that I have posted two bulletin board pictures on this blog from my classroom in the last month since it is my least favorite part of setting up my classroom – but it makes more sense when you realize that I’m just building on the ideas of others.

I’m really emphasizing Growth Mindset in a big way this year, so both of my bulletin boards are aimed at that while I wait for my classes to start so I can hang up student work.  (I am currently testing students for the Gifted and Talented program.  Stapling their tests to the board would probably be frowned upon…)  A few weeks ago, I mentioned my “Courage Zone” bulletin board.  Today’s post is about a board I did that integrates a programming theme with thinking about mindsets.

All of my students from last year are familiar with Kodable, a great iPad game for learning the basics of programming.  So, I “stole”  one of Kodable’s beloved characters, Blue Fuzz, as well as a screen shot of the programming blocks and arrows.  I made a little path of blue squares and added some gold coins to make it look more like the game.  My twist was adding words to each path that represent Fixed and Growth Mindsets.  To top it off, I have a list of questions for the students to consider in preparation for a discussion about the board.

I’m not very artistic, so the board isn’t as “pretty” as I would like it. However, I’ve noticed all of the students I’m testing have looked at it with interest, so I’m hoping it is sending the message I intended.

I’m also a terrible photographer (but I keep trying because I have a Growth Mindset!) so forgive me for the low-quality pictures! You might want to click on the top one to get a better view of my blurry photo ;)

For more mindset resources, check out my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board here!

Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!
Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!

programgrowthquestions

 

 

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