Sometimes, like the main character in The Dot, we are paralyzed by the worry that we can’t do something well enough. And other times, we try to do something well and are devastated when it doesn’t go the way we planned. Beautiful Oops is a book by Barney Saltzberg that encourages us to make the best of our mistakes. It is a great book for younger children – full of interactive pages and colorful pictures.
While I was looking for resources to accompany the book on the web, I found a great Pinterest Board from @KirstyHornblow that is full of ideas to go with the book. For example, I am totally going to try the lemon juice/watercolor idea from artprojectsforkids.org.
By the way, I added a few extra resources to that board this weekend, including several that I found on Larry Ferlazzo’s site. The one below, tweeted by @BradHandrich, fits the theme of this post quite well!
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…
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;)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.