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New Google Classroom update: Little things that make it a big deal

The Google folks have been busy – and it seems as if they’ve been listening to teachers. Today, a few handy updates to Google Classroom were announced. If you’re not using Classroom, you really need to take a few minutes, perhaps, to come to your senses. It is a handy time saver and teaching tool that’s free, accessible anywhere, easy to use, and did you know it’s free? The biggest update is the ability to now Read more

Woman in Gold equals average movie, powerful story (and other Holocaust resources)

You know what I’m talking about. It’s one or the other. You go to the theater expecting a great movie with a great story and you get the Phantom Menace. You love the special effects, visuals, and pacing but the story is . . . meh.

Or you get the opposite experience. An incredibly powerful story but the actual movie? So so.

Woman in Gold is like that. The movie itself? Not so much. But the story it highlights is powerful, interesting, and one that seems like a great fit for starting an exploration of the 1933-1945 Jewish Holocaust.

Quick synopsis – Young Austrian woman named Maria Altman grows up in art loving family during the 1920s and 30s. Marries in 1937. Forced to flee the country after the 1938 German Anschluss because she and family are Jewish. Property and valuable artwork stolen by Nazis and Austrian government. She makes her way to California.

Though I’m sure you’ve already figured out how this all ends . . . spoiler alert. Read more

So many geography resources! How many? Sooo many

What does it look like when we combine inquiry learning with geography? What resources are available? Check out some ideas and materials below:

Helpful article:

Inquiry lesson examples:

Geography: Read more

Explorable explanations and 4 ways to encourage active reading

I love Sylvia Duckworth’s version of the SAMR tech integration model. The whole idea of any ed tech is to support student learning. And the SAMR is a nice way to think about the tech you’re using or planning to use. Is this just substituting for paper and pencil or is this true redefinition? Something that we couldn’t have done without the tech?

One level in the SAMR model is not necessarily better or worse than another. But it can help help us stop and think about appropriate usage. And a spat of reading over the weekend about a recent edtech idea had me flashing back to Sylvia’s version.

First called “explorable explanations” by a guy named Bret Victor, the idea can take reading to high levels of modification and redefinition. Victor, in his 2011 article, starts with a question: Read more

Tip of the Week: The problem with history classes, the Civil War, and hexagons

Several days ago, I wrote a quick post highlighting an article from The Atlantic titled The Problem with History Classes. In it, author Michael Conway suggests that traditional social studies instruction that focuses on the “right” answers doesn’t allow for enough academic discomfort. Social studies teachers need to go beyond basic foundational knowledge and create a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty in how things are going to work out.

One suggestion from Conway? If our students really are going to learn and master historical thinking skills, it is “absolutely essential that they read a diverse set of historians” and learn how a variety of historians who are scrutinizing the same topic can reach different conclusions.

But what can that look like? You may want to try an activity using hexagons – it’s an activity that can help your students grapple with historical viewpoints and start to understand connections between them.

The concept has been around for a while with lots of teachers using hexagons as part of a larger idea called SOLO. The basic idea is that Read more

Helping your kids find their bliss

It was the perfect storm this morning as print smacked head on into digital. The most recent issue of Wired magazine includes an article titled The Power of Boredom. And my Flipboard highlighted a post from Brain Pickings called How to Find Your Bliss: Joseph Campbell on What It Takes to Have a Fulfilling Life. I’ve written a bit about this before but the intersection of these two articles resurrected the idea that we need to intentionally plan time away from tech, to find a quiet space, to be bored every once in a while. Why? Because Read more

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