Category Archives: K-12

#NEISDPLN – Internet Memes in Edu

Testing week.

Ugh.

Stressful.

Depressing.

NOT fun.

So, why not join us in a light-hearted Twitter chat using memes to discuss education?

Everyone is invited!

It’s tonight (Tuesday, April 21st, 2015) at 8 PM CST.  #NEISDPLN

picardmeme

Here are the questions:

1. Haters gonna hate – what’s something you hear educators complain about too often?

2. Grumpy Cat – How do you deal with the grumpy cats you encounter in your job?

3. Facepalm or Epic Fail – What is a teaching mistake you made that you’ve since corrected?

4.  Like a Boss – What are the ideal features of an administrator?

5.  1st World Problems – What are “problems” in our education system that other countries might find silly?

6. Charlie Bit Me – What’s the funniest thing a student has said in your class (and you wish you had video of it)?

I know you were testing today, and it’s exhausting.  But, look on the bright side – you don’t have any papers to grade tonight!

It’s going to be fun.  It’s going to be EPIC.  Do you want to be this guy:

grumpycat

or these guys:

epic

The choice is yours!

Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome

My students and I are huge fans of Kid President.  They love his videos and beg to watch them repeatedly.  I’m okay with that.  Kid President is a great role model, and his giggle makes it absolutely impossible to be grumpy.

You can buy Kid President's book here.
You can buy Kid President’s book here.

KP (Robby Novak) recently published a book with his videographer/brother-in-law, Brad Montague, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome.  My students insisted that this was a necessary classroom resource, so I ordered it.  It arrived just in time for a field trip for my 3rd-5th graders that involved an hour-long bus ride.  The book was happily passed around during the entire trip.

The book is colorful and full of pictures. It includes monologues from some of KP’s videos and interviews he has done with celebrities.  Many awesome people, including a large number of youths, are featured in the book.  The book is not dry and preachy, though.  Every page is motivational and includes typical KP humor.  Kid President’s advice to make the world more awesome ranges from, “Give the world a reason to dance,” (#62) to “Put tape on your nose,” (#63).  Other great words of wisdom are #70, “Gather your friends, dress up like superheroes, and do someone’s yard work,” and #82, “Give out handmade awards.”

Of course my favorite Kid President advice is #87:

recite-1uuwsp7

Kid President goes on to say, “We are convinced that if you want to change a community, it starts in a classroom.”

To stay organized, there is a handy checklist in the back of the book to help you keep track of your awesomeness.  Also included is a “A New Pep Talk.” Kid President recently uploaded a video inviting fans to make their own videos of the “New Pep Talk,” and send them in for possible inclusion on an upcoming special.  (Submissions are due April 23, 2015.)

I would recommend this book for any classroom.  Kids and adults of all ages seem to love Kid President.  I also think it would be a great book to consider as a graduation gift.  Parents might purchase one for home and discuss with their children which section to read each night.

I’m definitely adding this book to my “Books for Gifted Students – Or any Child Who Loves to Learn” Pinterest Board.  You might also want to check out my “Inspirational Videos for Students” board, which includes many Kid President videos as well as other great resources.

Why Our Family Eats Out 6 Times a Week

According to some probably-not-very-reliable-websites, yesterday , April 15th, was “Steal Something from Work Day.”  If you are a teacher, this probably amuses you – because educators are far too clever and ethical to steal from work.

Typical conversation in the Eichholz household:

Husband – What happened to the aluminum foil?

Me (innocently) – What do you mean?  There’s some in the pantry.

Husband – That’s the wrong kind.  We had some non-stick foil.  Now it’s gone.

Me – Oh.  Oops.  I brought it to school so the kids could see if they could play the Makey Makey piano on it.

Husband sighs deeply at the suffering he endures being married to a teacher who views all kitchen supplies as potential science experiments instead of cooking necessities.

Other items that have gone mysteriously missing from our home in the past year:

  • a hacksaw (to make a foosball table for Global Cardboard Challenge)
  • our tripod (desks are far too unsteady for stop-motion iPad videos)
  • various fruits and vegetables (again – for the Makey Makey)
  • a piece of drywall (great canvas for Sphero painting)
  • 5 lbs. of flour (key ingredient for Squishy Circuit Conductive dough)
  • electrical tape (vital for robots who need to detect dark lines)
  • 6 rolls of paper towels and 2,000,000 boxes of tissues
  • half my salary (to buy supplies from non-district-approved vendors and/or cool stuff for my classroom from Kickstarter)

To be fair, I do sometimes enhance our home with items from school such as:

  • the class tarantula who needed a home over Winter Break
  • the class snake who needed a home over Spring Break
  • strep, flu, and cold germs

Things that Completely Disappeared Between Home and School and I am Pretty Sure Will Never Be Found Again:

  • A flat head screwdriver
  • 9 umbrellas
  • my sanity

Mathematically, it appears that my workplace has come out ahead so far.  I don’t really want a Steal Something from Work Day.  What I need is a Find Something at Work that You Stole from Home and Return It So Your Family Can Repair Their Broken Appliances and Eat a Home-cooked Meal Day.

Actually, that might take a bit longer than a day…

stealfromhome

Don’t Raise a Hoop Jumper

I am fortunate to have a great network of parents who forward me articles and other links that they know will interest me.  Yesterday, a dad forwarded this fabulous post from the TED blog.  It includes the video of Jane Andraka’s TEDx talk.  If that name sounds a bit familiar, but you can’t quite place it, Mrs. Andraka is the mother of two successful young men.  One of them is Jack Andraka, a teenager who developed an early-detection test for pancreatic cancer.  The other son, Luke, won an international science fair and the MIT Think Award.

Mrs. Andraka speaks about how she helped her sons find their passions, and the responsibility that all parents have to do so.  In the Q&A included in the blog post, she says the following,

Jane Andraka, parent of Jack and Luke Andraka, speaking on the TED blog.
Jane Andraka, parent of Jack and Luke Andraka, speaking on the TED blog.

Ultimately, Mrs. Andraka’s message is to help your children develop a growth mindset and to learn how to make themselves truly happy. The only point that I somewhat disagree with her on is that this job falls squarely on the shoulder of the parents.  Of course, I believe that parents must work hard to advocate for their children and guide them.  But I also think that schools need to be partners in this process.  That may seem contradictory since schools seem to encourage the “hoop-jumper” mentality.  But I am hoping that future education reforms will change that. It should really be our goal to teach every child to “make your own self remarkable.”

Kid President and Steve Martin

In case you haven’t heard the news, Kid President is now an uncle! He’s a bit concerned about this new responsibility, so he consulted Steve Martin for advice.  This week’s Phun Phriday offering is the link to the video of this interview – and don’t miss the “Butter me up, and call me a biscuit!” secret link at the end of the video :)

from: Kid President and Steve Martin: Together at Last!
from: Kid President and Steve Martin: Together at Last!

Kahoot.it

Kahoot is a fun student response site that can be used with any device.  I don’t employ it very often because the nature of my gifted classes doesn’t really allow for many multiple choice questions. Yesterday, though, I decided to see how my first graders would respond to a Kahoot geography quiz.  They have been doing research on different countries, and have participated in all kinds of activities to help them learn the locations of their countries and the seven continents.  Sure enough, there were already several public Kahoots made that were perfectly tailored for my group.

Kahoot

It took a lot more guidance to get them started than it takes with my older students, but they were finally all ready to start.  The first question took them by surprise.  They had never used a student response system in their lives, and couldn’t figure out why the screen in front of the room looked different than the one on their iPad – but was still connected.  Once they realized what was happening, though, they got completely fired up.  They were leaping out of their chairs and cheering when they got answers correct.  After we finished the first quiz, they begged for more.

The level of engagement was undoubtedly there.  I was a bit uncomfortable, though, with whether or not the competition was a good thing or not.  Even when the students used “aliases”, it was immediately apparent by their reactions who was doing well and who wasn’t.

Every student, whether they did well or not, wholeheartedly agreed that they love “Kahooting.”  And I realize that competition can be motivating.  However, I have mixed feelings about the students comparing themselves to others. Am I helping them to learn more by offering this exciting and engaging activity?  Or, am I discouraging those who find themselves unable to answer correctly or fast enough?

What do you think?  Comments welcome!

Maker Space Essentials – Squishy Circuits

The next adventure for our after-school Maker Club will be circuits. I’ve already mentioned Little Bits, a great product for creating all kinds of circuits using interchangeable magnetic parts.  Those will be at one of our stations.  Another station will include “Squishy Circuits.”

Squishy Circuits image courtesy of Lenore Edman
Squishy Circuits image courtesy of Lenore Edman

Squishy Circuits are made using conductive dough.  You can find the recipe for the dough, as well as for insulating dough here. A Squishy Circuits kit, which includes the recipes and “hardware” is available for $25 here. You can probably find the items somewhere else, but I felt like this was a pretty good price that saved me the time of hunting for individual parts.

If you scroll to the bottom of the Squishy Circuits purchasing page, you can see two videos that show this product in action. As you will learn, this is a great way to introduce electrical circuits to young students.

I did a practice run this weekend with my daughter and some family friends.  One of the things that is really fun to watch is the natural curiosity that arises once you show them an LED lighting up. Suddenly, “What if” questions begin to flow, and “I wonder what would happen” becomes the beginning of every other sentence.

I did learn a few things from this Squishy Circuits rehearsal:

  • If you don’t have food coloring in the house, egg dye can work in a pinch – but it’s going to make your dough smell like vinegar.
  • There is a reason the recipe calls for distilled or deionized water for the insulating dough.  We didn’t have either, so we used spring water.  Our sugar dough – though less conductive – still had some power.  This turned into a great lesson, though.  (“Why” became the next favorite sentence starter.)
  • The buzzer sounds are extremely irritating to adult ears, but highly giggle-provoking to youth.

I found a few other resources for those of you interested in using Squishy Circuits.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to use Squishy Circuits.  If you have any other suggestions, please fill free to add a comment to this post. And, if you want to see some other Maker Space  Essentials, check out my “Make” Pinterest Board.

Maker Space Essentials (6)