Category Archives: Motivation

Inspirational Videos for Teachers (Update)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. The post below has remained in the top 5 ever since I published it.  Beneath it, I’ve decided to add a few other favorites.

Yesterday, I published a list of Inspirational Videos for Students.  Today, I am offering a list of my Favorite Inspirational Videos for Teachers:

#3: The Power of Words – This might also be a good video to show your students.  Its poignant message will hopefully help any viewer to think more carefully about how much word choice can impact what is said and written.

#2: Schools Kill Creativity – One of the many videos on TED that are motivational, this talk, given by Sir Ken Robinson, highlights the need for more imagination in our schools.

#1: What Teachers Make – If you are a teacher in need of a pep talk, this video of a speech by Taylor Mali will get you going.  This isn’t one to show your students; it might be one to e-mail to the next adult who criticizes your job.

Here are the links to my original posts on each of these:  The Power of Words, Schools Kill Creativity, and What Teachers Make.

Also, you might want to visit my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Teachers here.

UPDATE 6/24/15:  Here are 3 more videos that I’ve found to be inspiring since this post was first published in 2011:

#3: Kid President Throws a Surprise Party for a Retiring Teacher – This video reminds us of all the lives teachers touch throughout their careers, often completely unaware of the impact they’ve made.

#2: This I Believe by Kasey Tamamoto – It’s our job as teachers to give all students the chance to shine.

#1: Every Kid Needs a Champion – This video of the late Rita Piersen’s TED Talk has probably been viewed by many teachers, but it never ceases to energize me.  A similar video is the recent “How to Fix a Broken School” TEDWomen talk by Linda Cliatt-Wayman.

There are plenty more great videos that you can find on my Pinterest Board!

Inspirational Videos for Students (Update)

This week, I’ve decided to reblog some of my more popular posts with some updates. The post below has remained in the top 5 ever since I published it.  Beneath it, I’ve decided to add a few other favorites.

#3:  The Power of Words – I also mentioned this in yesterday’s post of Inspirational Videos for Teachers.  It is good for everyone, in my opinion, to be more thoughtful about what we say.  If our communication is not having the effect we desire, we should reconsider the way we are choosing to deliver our message.

#2:  The Kindness Boomerang – I have never done a post on this one.  I read about it recently on Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day, and knew right away that I would like to add it to my blog.  Although it is somewhat simplistic, it does show how our actions can effect many more people than we will ever know.

#1:  Times of India Tree Ad – This is a powerful video that shows how important one person can be in effecting change.  It says a lot – without any words.

Here are links to my original posts on #3 and #1: The Power of Words and Times of India Tree Ad.

Also, you might want to visit my Pinterest board of Inspirational Videos for Students here.

UPDATE 6/23/15: I originally published the above list in 2011 – so I’ve definitely accumulated some more favorites over the years. Here are three more I would add:

#3: A Pep Talk from Kid President – My students love all of the Kid President videos, but this is the first one they saw in my class and they beg for it again and again. (Be sure to look at my post on Kid President’s book, too!)

#2: Mark Bezos TED Talk and King of the Island (TIE!) – These two very different videos really complement each other.  They are about being a hero in ordinary life.

AND, Drum Roll Please…

#1: Caine’s Arcade – I never get tired of this video, and I’m always making people watch it when I hear they have never heard of it!  I think, in many ways, Nirvan Mullick and Caine have inspired me to be the teacher I am today.  Once you watch this, you will definitely want to learn more about the Global Cardboard Challenge.

 

Mindset Book Study

Something I saw on Twitter about a year ago planted a seed in my head that it would be great to have a Parent/Teacher book study.  I’d just read Mindset by Carol Dweck, and thought that would be the perfect book.

We got a grant from our PTA to buy 30 books, with the idea that there would be about 15 parents and 15 teachers who would participate.  In a school of about 600 students, I thought it would be easy to find parents who would be interested, but I was worried about finding teachers.  We were giving the book out right before summer break, and I knew that many were ready to relax and hit the beach with books that are in no-way-related-to-school.

It turned out that my prediction was wrong.  More than enough teachers signed up – some even offered to buy their own books if there weren’t enough.  However, it took several e-blasts and personal pleas to interest 15 parents.  We finally got a group of over 30 people, and delivered all of the books right before the school year was over.

The idea is for everyone to read the book over the summer, and to then come together for a discussion in September.  I deliberately decided not to make any summer participation mandatory, but I did want to send out frequent highlights of the book, links, and some optional discussion boards.

I created a Padlet for the first month, and then sent this Smore link (that includes the Padlet link) to all of the participants.  So far, I’m the only one to post to the Padlet – so this idea might be a complete dud.  Or it might just take everyone time to feel comfortable discussing.  Or everyone thinks I’m a dork and they are silently thinking, “Doesn’t this girl ever stop thinking about school?!!”

Anyway, I wanted to share the Smore I did for this month with all of you.  You might enjoy the links, including the one to Dr. Michele Borba’s article about teaching your children not to be quitters.  You might want to share it with others, or you might want to comment on the Padlet yourself so my comment doesn’t feel isolated and ostracized :(

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 1.27.54 PM
Click here to access the entire Mindset Flyer for June

How to Fix a Broken School

@VideoAmy, curator of Edutopia’s “5-Minute Film Festival,” always finds the best education videos.  If you don’t follow her on Twitter, you should!

The other day VideoAmy tweeted about this recent TEDWomen 2015 talk by Linda Cliatt-Wayman about how to fix a broken school.  Linda’s passion for children is so clear throughout her presentation.  It’s appalling to see the conditions she faced when first appointed as principal at low-income schools, like:

Doors that made the school look like a prison

Strawberry Mansions Door

and dumpster loads of outdated textbooks, furniture, and equipment.

Strawberry Mansions Garbage

With her leadership, Strawberry Mansions improved test scores and, more importantly, relationships with students.  Now, this is the culture of the school.

Strawberry Mansions Transformed

Check out Linda Cliatt-Wayman’s full presentation here.  For more inspirational videos for teachers, take a look at this collection of videos.

Quiver 3D Coloring App

Before you download this app (available in Google Play or iTunes), please note that it is not “Quiver – The Matchmaking Game.”  Trust me, you don’t want that on your elementary classroom iPads ;)

Quiver-3D Coloring App is the new face of ColAR, an augmented reality app that brought colored pages to life.  In fact, when you go to the Quiver website, you will probably recognize some of the same coloring pages that were offered by ColAR.  One of my favorite free pages, the one they offer for Dot Day, is thankfully still there – although it now has “Quiver” across the top.

Quiver offers a few new free pages of particular interest to educators.  I think the Animal Cell one was part of the ColAR inventory, but I hadn’t seen the Planet Earth or Volcano ones before. I played with the Planet Earth one last night, and wish I had seen it before my last class with my 1st graders.  They were learning about the continents, and would have flipped over the augmented reality – especially the different viewing options of the earth, being able to manipulate it, and the ability to take pictures and video.

Planet Earth Page: You can choose different modes - including one that shows your own coloring and designs
Planet Earth Page: You can choose different modes – including one that shows your own coloring and designs

I decided to check out “Magic Letter” (also free).  I have absolutely no idea what the characters are saying or what the writing is, but the video that shows up when you scan it is very cute.  As you can see, it looks a bit like an award certificate, so I put my name on it to see what it would do.  At the end of the video, the characters hold up the “letter” with your writing and confetti flies.

Magic LetterLike Zookazam, there are free features and paid features in Quiver. Really, though, the free ones are only limited by your students’ creativity.

For more augmented reality fun, check out my resource page here. There are lessons, activities, and app suggestions. For these last few days of school, augmented reality might be just the thing to  engage your students.

 

Or You Could Organize a Flash Mob

“I don’t know why they even make the kids go to school during the last 2 weeks.  The textbooks have been picked up, grades turned in, and all the teachers do is show movies.” Okay, first of all – NOT TRUE! Okay, maybe some of it is sometimes true.  Possibly.

But think about it. Let’s say school ended in March instead of June. Wouldn’t we still have the same problems? As far as I can see, the only solutions are:

A.) Make the end date of school a surprise every year by having a groundhog predict it with his shadow:

“Hooray! He saw his shadow.  That means six more weeks until we can ask him to come out again and repeat this process.”

“Oh darn! He didn’t see his shadow! That means today is your last day of school!”

OR

2.) Schedule all standardized for the last 2 days of school.  Because, let’s face it, that’s the only thing that gives school meaning. Otherwise, it’s just about learning for the sake of learning.

Granted, neither of those solutions would be very popular.  So, I think we have to go with Door #3 and make the last two weeks as meaningful as possible – maybe even more meaningful. What can we do to make ourselves, as teachers, feel less like babysitters?

Give our students some physical activity by teaching them how to pack up a classroom. Give our students some physical activity with GoNoodle or Deskercises.

Stretch their brains by showing them Monsters Inc for the 70th time. Stretch their brains by showing them Word Picture Brainteasers or stumping them with 50 Riddles.

Let them play Heads Up Seven Up. Let them play Creativity Games or one of the bazillion quizzes on Kahoot.

Reminisce by showing them a slide show of pictures from the year. Reminisce by creating a Thinglink of a class picture with links to a video from each student or allowing them to each make their own Pic Collage that represents their year. (Check out the new Pic Collage for Kids app here!)

Assign them to draw whatever they want, which usually results in Minecraft, Pokemon, or My Little Pony posters they all want to gift you with. Assign them to draw something that challenges them to think, like a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. picture or a Sketch Note that summarizes their year.

Have your students start moving your supplies to your new classroom for next year. Have your students design a Rube Goldberg Machine to move your supplies or try out one of the many engineering challenges supplied by the F.L.I. girls in their Challenge Boxes.

Speaking of boxes, you probably need to pack some – so get those young, energetic kids to load them up for you. Speaking of boxes, you can always have the students bring in their own, and design games to play the last day of school (on which they will be sure to bring those games home).  Even better, put all the stuff you don’t need anymore into a pile and challenge them to make something new using only those supplies (with the understanding that their new invention will definitely go home with them on the last day).

I think I’ve suggested enough ideas to last one or two days.  How about we crowdsource activities for the other 7 or 8 days?  Put your favorite end-of-year lessons in the comments below!

image from:
image from: Irvine Unified School District

7 Books That Make Great Graduation Gifts

After doing yesterday’s post about videos to inspire graduates, I realized that I could easily  list a few books that I would recommend as graduation gifts.  Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a regular favorite, but here are some lesser known choices that might work:

For Kindergarten or Primary Students:

Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by Kimberly and James Dean image from: Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life by

image from: Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by Kimberly and James Dean

 

For Elementary (5th or 6th Grades) or Middle School Graduates:

Heroes for my Daughter (or Heroes for my Son) by Brad Meltzer

365 Days of Wonder by RJ Palacios

Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Brad Montague and Robbie Novak

For High School or College Graduates:

Whatever You Are Be a Good One by Lisa Congdon

Zen Pencils Book by Gavin Than

Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated edited by Larry Smith

Of course, you don’t have to restrict your gift-giving to graduates. Teachers and administrators might appreciate these, too ;)

You can check out more general gift ideas on this Pinterest Board, and I have some other recommended books here.