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Tues Tech Tip: Integrating Pop Culture

​Santa Tracker is Back

​Looking for something to entertain the kids over break? Explore Google's Santa Tracker! The Village is full of games and activities to do in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. Then follow Santa across the globe with videos and a wealth of geographic information.

Star Wars in the Classroom

​​You may not be a big fan of the cult sci-fi classic, but there is no escaping the Star Wars frenzy this holiday season. While Books A Million has Star Wars workbooks, you might want something more engaging for your students. Visit Star Wars in the Classroom, a compendium of educational resources organized by content area that other teachers have used. The home page features posts about calculating speed of TIE fighters, exploring themes in literature and programming with Princess Leia.

Use Lego Bricks to Teach Math

​​As you know, I really like the brightly colored plastic bricks and find lots of unusual ways to incorporate them into the curriculum. We Are Teachers has a wonderful infographic and suggestions on:
  • ​Lego Fractions
  • Lego Area and Perimeter
  • Lego Multiplication: "Groups of" and Arrays
  • Lego Mean, Meridian, Mode and Range
  • Lego Place Value
  • Lego Spatial Awareness
  • Lego Dice

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Classcraft Interactive Notebook Page

Finished crafting interactive notebook pages for Classcraft, an engaging classroom management tool.

This fall I plan to add interactive notebooks to my classroom procedures. The goal is to provide students with something tangible to take home at the end of the semester. So that means creating or borrowing resources to guide students in developing their notebook.

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The computer lab is already divided into five or six stations, which lends itself easily to guilds or teams of students who work together in the game. I want students to develop their own backstory and choose their characters for the good of the group. I also need students to keep their login info some…

Easy Offline Lesson Plans

My lesson was on search engines, but the Internet was down. Learn how to have great offline backup plans.

So I had a room full of fifth grade students with a lesson plan on search engines. We were going to compare search results from different engines. We were going to learn how to refine our searches. We were not going anywhere because the Internet connection had gone down.

So I quickly checked with the librarian and moved my lesson offline. We selected books from the reference cart: dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias and records books. I then gave students the same search queries from the lesson. We still compared results and discussed why some sources provided better results. We even contemplated if other libraries would have better selections or unique resources.

The trick to any offline lesson plan is understanding what concepts digital tools are built upon. Digital search is still the search for and analysis of information. For centuries, people have dug through catalogs of i…

Passionate Purpose

Yesterday I was brainstorming with a coworker on writing projects for gifted students. At first she was looking for creative ideas of topics that students could write on. But then I redirected her thinking towards the purpose of the writing.

By allowing students to choose their topic of writing, it gives them the freedom to explore and question the world around them. Directing them away from fiction writing, we give real purpose to research - the exploration for an answer. Suddenly the focus shifts away from completing a grade or meeting a standard to inquiry and search for understanding.
For students to write meaningful content, they need to be passionate about it.  As teachers, we know it's important for students to (fill in the blank), but we don't always express the purpose well. Too often I hear that students will need these skills when they reach the next level. Elementary prepares for middle school which prepares them for high school where they are prepared for college…