Category Archives: Teaching Tools

Incidental Comics

I bow down to people who can illustrate their thoughts in creative ways – such as Gavin Than of Zen Pencils and Grant Snider of Incidental Comics.

Many of Grant’s comics would be great to use for inspiration in the classroom – and you can purchase the posters here.  For example, this one is a fabulous one for emphasizing the growth mindset:

image by: Grant Snider of Incidental Comics
image by: Grant Snider of Incidental Comics.  Purchase the poster here.

This one is just plain fun. I would love to give it to my students to use as a template for a comic about an artist they’ve studied – “My Neighbor Da Vinci” for example!  I wonder what Da Vinci would sell at his yard sale?

by Grant Snider on Incidental Comics
by Grant Snider on Incidental Comics. Purchase the poster here

And this one is a great lesson for making sense of art:

by Grant Snider of Incidental Comics
by Grant Snider of Incidental Comics. Purchase the poster here

There are tons more that I love! Be sure to check out the Incidental Comics site for even more inspiration!

Growth Mindset and Why it Matters

I came across this Slide Rocket presentation on WhatKidsCanDo.org. If you are teaching older students or doing a professional development about mindset, this would be a great resource.  It includes links to several mindset videos, as well as suggested activities to go along with each one.  For more Growth Mindset resources, check out my Pinterest Board!

Growth Mindset from WhatKidsCanDo.org
image from: Growth Mindset Slide Rocket Presentation from WhatKidsCanDo.org

Powtoon for Educators

I had to search my own blog to find the last time I posted about Powtoon.  It was two years ago!  They have come a long way since then!

Powtoon is a fun way to present, allowing you all kinds of dynamic tools that will keep your viewers engaged.

The company recently launched a major campaign for educators offering free classroom accounts.  These accounts are usually $96/year, and you can add 60 students to your account!  The offer expires on October 31, 2014 – so be sure to activate yours soon!

Powtoon Educator Offer

A lot of resources have been added to the Powtoon library since the last time I reviewed it.  For example, when you go to your Dashboard, and choose to create, you will find that there are many templates that you can use .  These templates are fun; there’s even a “Teacher Intro” one!  I took that one, made a couple of minor changes, and had the one embedded below finished in under 5 minutes.

With all of my talk about creativity this week, Powtoon certainly fits the theme.  Imagine what your students could do with this great tool!

International Dot Day 2014

Yesterday’s post was about making mistakes.  A lot of our students are afraid to try anything because they think they will do it “wrong.” But there are lots of activities that don’t have a right or wrong way to do them.  Sometimes creativity and having fun are important parts of learning, too.

If you are looking for an easy, engaging way to get this message across to your students, try participating in International Dot Day on September 15th, 2014.  Read the fabulous book, The Dot, by Peter Reynolds.  Try one of the fun suggested classroom activities in the Educator’s Handbook.  Connect with someone using Skype in the Classroom. Or try the augmented reality app, ColAR, with the free Dot Day sheet.  Check out this Pinterest board or this one.  And don’t forget to check out the Celebri-dots here!

image from: http://www.coloruswell.com/?p=217
image from: http://www.coloruswell.com/?p=217

The Most Magnificent Thing

Once again, circumstances in my life have neatly meshed together without any conscious effort on my part;)

I have been seeing a book called, The Most Magnificent Thing, touted on many blogs.  Not sure I actually wanted to pay for it, I went ahead and requested my local library to add it to the e-books selection, as it wasn’t currently in their inventory.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

In the meantime, I attended a staff development yesterday during which we discussed a book called, Letting Go of Perfect. It’s about how to help young people deal with perfectionism.

When I checked my e-mail in the afternoon, I had a notice that my requested e-book was available.  I quickly downloaded The Most Magnificent Thing, and realized that the main character definitely has an issue with perfectionism, but finds a great way to cope with it.  This delightful picture book portrays a young girl who has an exact idea in her head of what she wants to make, but can’t quite seem to create a tangible version.  She gets quite frustrated, but gets a little distance from the project and then returns to improve it.

This book fits in so well with the message that I am trying to get across to my students about the importance of having a growth mindset and learning from setbacks.  It is very similar to Rosie Revere, Engineer.  Both of these books appear on a wonderful list posted on the blog, “A Year of Reading,” of Picture Books for Genius Hour.  (I recently added that list to the bottom of my Genius Hour Resources Page.)

Even the author’s biography at the end of the book emphasizes the importance of perseverance!

Author's Bio from The Most Magnificent Thing
Author’s Bio from The Most Magnificent Thing

For more great picture books about “doing your own thing,” check out this post from Joelle Trayers.  Also, Dot Day and the Global Cardboard Challenge are two great opportunities for your students to try to make their own most magnificent things!

TED Radio Hour – Disruptive Leadership

I love listening to the TED Radio Hour on NPR.  Each hour has a theme, and includes excerpts from excellent TED Talks that revolve around that topic.  The speakers are interviewed by the host of the show, Guy Raz, and give some great background insight into the TED Talks. One of my favorite shows that I heard this summer was the one on “Disruptive Leadership.”

Now, I’m going to admit that, when I listen to these shows I don’t usually have on my “teacher filter.”  This means that I am so engrossed in the message that I don’t notice if there are any details that might be inappropriate for the classroom.  So, I would definitely recommend you listen to these yourself before playing them for your students.  Or, you can view the transcript that is included with each one.

Drew Dudley, who I mentioned before on this blog in my post about Lollipop Moments, is one of the leaders featured on this particular show.  He has an excellent message about the way we often impact people without realizing it.

One of my favorite stories, though, is the one from General Stanley McChrystal in which he talks about the way leaders deal with failure.

Click here to listen to the interview with General Stanley McChrystal on NPR's TED Talk Radio Hour
Excerpt from transcript of Guy Raz speaking with General McChrystal.  Click here to listen to the interview with General Stanley McChrystal on NPR’s TED Talk Radio Hour

Also featured in this episode are: Sheryl Sandberg, Bunker Roy, and Seth Godin.  All of them are worth a listen, and will make you consider leadership in many different ways!

Grit Pie

In a few past posts, I have mentioned that I am making a determined effort to incorporate a growth mindset into our classroom environment.  One of the attributes that is key to a growth mindset is to have “grit.”  While reading this article on Edutopia, I came across a link for a great Prezi by Kristin Goulet, “Grit Pie,” that would be great to help illustrate this for students.  I love this idea of helping students to realize that blaming others for their problems relinquishes control, and that owning up to their mistakes can actually make them happier with the thought that they have the power to fix them.

Click here to view the "Grit Pie" Prezi by Kristin Goulet
Click here to view the “Grit Pie” Prezi by Kristin Goulet

For more resources about developing a Growth Mindset, you might want to check out my new Pinterest Board for this topic.