Blogs on Lesson Plans

Blogs on Lesson PlansRSS

Whether you're a softie who jumps at any opportunity to tell everyone around you how much you love them, or a curmudgeon who thinks February 14th is a holiday manufactured by Hallmark and the candy industry to make everyone spend money, Valentine's Day gets a rise out of almost everyone. I confess to being the former, so I couldn't help gathering a collection of videos to celebrate the art, the science, and the mystery of love. As always, please preview anything you want to share with students -- there are some mentions in this playlist of topics not appropriate for the littlest ones. Enjoy!

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Linda S. LevstikFebruary 13, 2014

When I was an elementary and middle level history teacher, my students investigated worldwide human patterns and variety. They examined how shadows of the past stretch across the present, influencing ideas about what it means to be human and to live humanely in a community. In the process, I noticed that early adolescents started with some surprising misconceptions about human intelligence, innovation and agency, especially in the most distant reaches of the human past. These misconceptions present challenges for preservice teachers in my middle level methods course, especially when they teach the deep past -- the period for which we lack written documentation.

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Eileen MattinglyFebruary 3, 2014

With the advent of modern mass communication and world tourism, dramatic change has come to nations and cultures which had previously seen little change for centuries. Each technological or social innovation has brought unexpected and unintended consequences. One of the challenges of teaching global issues in middle or high school is helping students grasp abstract economic concepts like globalization and modernization. A well-chosen film, watched actively and with supporting curriculum, can make the difference in helping students understand how these abstract processes work out in human terms.

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Lori DesautelsJanuary 29, 2014

Feeling Felt

Over the past few weeks, I have learned deeply. My students were paramount teachers as I was privileged to share a part of their interior worlds, their "private logic" that is a culmination of accumulated beliefs, experiences, values, thoughts and feelings. This inner world is often kept tucked away unless an environment is created that allows for feelings of safety and an untainted sense of belonging. When any child or adult enters into a space that accepts, inspires and affirms their "ever-changing personhood," we have finally found the key that unlocks the door to extravagant learning! What is that key? That golden key is connection, nothing more.

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Suzie BossJanuary 17, 2014

I recently visited a school district where teachers are experimenting with Genius Hour. Sometimes called 20 percent time after the Google practice of reserving a day a week for individual research, Genius Hour offers students a regular time each week to tackle projects that reflect their personal interests and passions. (Blogger A.J. Juliani explains the reasoning behind 20 percent time.)

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Heather Wolpert-GawronJanuary 9, 2014

Since being asked to pilot my school's first iPad 1:1 classroom, I've been working through a paperless project-based learning unit with my eighth graders. It had been going on since the first day of school. And just before winter break, at the end of the quarter, it culminated in classroom presentations.

However, that didn't mean that the audience got to kick back and let their mind drift. Heck no. Instead, the audience of students arguably developed more brain sweat then the actual student presenter.

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Suzie BossDecember 30, 2013

When teachers ask how to get started with project-based learning, I acknowledge the "front-loading" that's part of project planning. Before students enter the picture, teachers need to consider the learning goals of a project, develop an assessment plan, and map out at least a rough calendar of the learning activities that will support the inquiry process. Those details may change once students dig in, but having a plan provides a roadmap for the student-directed learning ahead.

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Caroline TrullDecember 16, 2013

Students are taught that a closing paragraph should accomplish three things:

  1. Restate an essay's thesis
  2. Summarize main points
  3. Provide a finished feel

In response to this information, young writers often exhibit confusion. "Aren't I repeating myself if I copy the same content from the first paragraph? And what's a finished feel?"

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Elena AguilarDecember 6, 2013

I knew, like so many of us, that Nelson Mandela's days were coming to a close. And still, when I heard on yesterday that he had passed away in his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, sadness of a particular kind and magnitude washed over me.

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James Marcus BachNovember 29, 2013

Editor's note: Internationally recognized coding expert James Bach dropped out of school at age 16. A few years later, he was one of the youngest hires at Apple Computer. His book Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar shows how anyone can create their own education on their own terms.

Bite-Sized Logic

To teach critical thinking, start by bringing a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats to class. Hold it up. Shake it. Ask the kids, "Can you tell me what this is?"

"Cereal! Frosted Mini-Wheats! Mini-Wheats cereal," they will say. Some may call out other answers, even silly ones. Smile about that. Funny, irrelevant and unique responses are all good at this point in the exercise.

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