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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Resources for Using iPads in Grades K-2

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Monica Burns
Looking for advice on integrating iPads in K-2 classrooms? In this curated guide, we've compiled resources to help you find apps, learn about best practices, and explore ideas for engaging activities.

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Karen Lirenman's picture
Karen Lirenman
Grade One/Two Teacher from Vancouver, Canada

As an Apple Distiguished Educator, the 2013 ISTE Kay L Bitter Award Winner for Innovation in a PK-2 Classroom, and a grade one teacher who has been 1:1 with iPads for the past two years my students' "go to" apps are pretty much creative open ended ones. Some popular apps include Draw and Tell, Book Creator, My Story, Skitch, Popplet, Pic Collage, EduCreations, Chatterpix, Explain Everything, and iMovie. I have blogged about how we use iPads for choice. I also shared screen shots of my students iPads with direct links to samples of how they have used those apps. My blog can be found at www.learningandsharingwithMsL.blogspot.com . I have also begun to create a K-2 iPad resource on my district's website which can be found here. https://www.surreyschools.ca/sites/E8JU47CFNJ/Pages/default.aspx Please feel free to contact me for more information re using iPads in a k-2 classroom. I am @klirenman on twitter.

Ashley Cronin's picture
Ashley Cronin
Digital Resource Curator

Karen, thanks for reaching out and sharing the info about your blog and K-2 iPad resources site. Very helpful!

Kristi Meeuwse's picture
Kristi Meeuwse
Kindergarten Teacher, Charleston SC

Monica,
Thanks for including my blog in this round up! What an honor! We work diligently in kindergarten to create content and not just consume it. The creation apps we use are very engaging and the kids always produce far more than I ever expect them to. We use Explain Everything, Book Creator, Popplet, Pic Collage, and iMovie the most.

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

Thanks Karen and Kristi for adding your favorite apps and helpful links!

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14 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom

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Edutopia blogger Monica Burns presents a wealth of iPad apps to transform daily math lessons for elementary students.
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Kara Carpenter's picture
Kara Carpenter
Former teacher, expert in cognition & learning, and co-founder of Teachley

Plus, there's some great research that backs up your point. Check out Doug Clements work about the advantages of virtual manipulatives in early childhood mathematics or more recent research that shows a combination of physical and virtual manipulatives to be most effective:

Clements (1999). 'Concrete' Manipulatives, Concrete Ideas. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 1 (1).

Zachariam, Olympiou, and Papaevripidou (2008). Effects of experimenting with physical and virtual manipulatives on students' conceptual understanding in heat and temperature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 45 (9).

MrsPincock's picture

Used the Number Pieces Basic (newer version by same creator & which I like better) today to help a struggling student. I had just downloaded it this morning. What did the student do? Ask to do more math in her free time! Thanks for the info ...

Alejandro Gomez Arangua's picture

"Decir que la matematica se puede ensenar con hojas de calculo es como decir que un nino puede tener unas vacaciones mirando un folleto"
"Saying math can be taught with worksheets is like saying a child can have a vacation by looking at a brochure" - @d_martin05

Samantha Edwards's picture
Samantha Edwards
2nd grade teacher from Kingsford, Michigan

Thank you for the great resources, Monica!
My colleagues and I were just discussing apps for using geoboards today! I will definitely be passing on the information tomorrow!
I also agree that using concrete models first is important, but the virtual experience is a fantastic supplement (and the students love using the iPad whenever they can!)
I also have students who gain iPad time as a part of their reward systems. It does work and helps to increase desired behavior in my classroom.
I am looking forward to introducing your recommendations to all of my students!

Alejandro Gomez Arangua's picture

Children must know what is a binomio before using virtual tools,too much of them,give poor results for USA in international tests.

Dennis Pack's picture

You do realise there are more affordable devices other than iPads? Those of us that work in developing countries iPads are out of reach ... but then again, we are more concerned about human rights violations in factories that produce these devices.
A more balanced approach to educational resources would be appreciated.

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Tools for Teaching: Managing a Large Class Size

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Do you have more than 30 students? Check out these strategies for keeping a large group of kids engaged and managed.
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Susan Weikel Morrison's picture
Susan Weikel Morrison
Science Education Program Developer, Sci-Q Systems

Keep a really good seating chart - in pencil. At the beginning of the year, put each child's reading and math levels next to their name. This will help you tailor your discussion questions to them.

It is very important that you call on all students equally and skip no one, so that kids know they can't hide behind playing dumb. Wait for answers. Coach answers. But do what you have to do to get success.

Leave space around the edge of the room and down the center so you can easily move around while you're teaching.

Put the weakest students nearest to you and/or partnered with a strong student. Make the strong student explicitly responsible for assisting the weaker student's learning. It will help the stronger student review material and develop better empathy and social skills.

Have students check each others' homework and assign a letter grade to it based on the percent correct. Tell them which percentages go with which letter. Have baskets on your desk labeled A,B,C and D,F. Have monitors collect the papers. Every kid should turn in a paper, even if it's blank. Have monitors be responsible that every kid turns in a paper and that every paper has a name on it. Monitors place the papers in the appropriate basket based on grade.

As soon as possible, when you are not directly teaching and the kids are engaged in an activity, call up the kids with papers in the D-F basket, one by one, and find out what their problem was. Assign a solution - a demerit for laziness, peer tutoring or small group re-instruction for lack of understanding, extra time if there was a family emergency, finishing the homework after school or at recess, a call to a parent, etc. Be frank with the kids: the only grades that count for report cards are tests and projects. Homework grades are just to check for understanding.

As for essays, have students write regularly according to specific criteria. When the essays are collected, scan them to be sure students generally met the criteria, but don't grade them. Return essays that haven't met criteria. Put the completed essays in a folder. After you've collected a certain number (for you to decide), return all essays. Have each student select which of his/her essays is the best one. Have them polish and re-write their essays, partnered with another student who will read and critique their work as they improve it. The polished essays are returned to you for grading. You also might photocopy them and create a class magazine. Those publications were always quite popular with my students and parents.

Do science labs in quads. Do not assign roles. Rather, have each child be a number from 1 to 4. When a task needs to be done, say the number of the doer. For example, No. Ones get the rock samples from the science table. No. Twos lay all your rocks out on your desks. No. Threes, find an igneous rock and tell the group how an igneous rock is made. And so on. Keep the lesson going really fast to keep the kids on their toes.

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Ellen Z.'s picture
Ellen Z.
Reading Specialist from Hellertown, PA

One idea may be to also have a "quiet" collaboration project, and have the students write collaboratively. Over the summer, I discovered a fun creative writing site for elementary students called Cubert's Writing Cube. This website streamlines the process of writing and is very user-friendly, colorful, and fun. It is Wiki based, and a great platform for collaborative story writing. There are interactive story-starters which make it impossible to suffer from writer's block, and there is a "gallery" where the students can draw illustrations or upload them. Here are some of the other benefits the site :

* Getting feedback from you and peers within the cube makes it easier to edit and revise and they resist it less.
* Students can access it at home to do their homework or add more detail to their illustrations.
* When they publish their writing, students can choose how to share it, with friends and parents.
* There is a lesson shelf for teacher, a great resource to get ideas on how to get started!
* The entire writing process (and papers) are accessible from a single place.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Scary thoughts about increasing class sizes - surely, you'd think, we'd be heading towards smaller class sizes. Anyway, these are great tips - and some excellent ideas in the comments, too. One tip that I've often found useful is devoting time each cycle for a little 1:1 session with each student, so that you can get a clearer picture of what's happening for that individual. A little individual time can be so valuable.

BieberQOU_durin's picture

Huge numbers of classes are naturally and inevitably scary to teachers because there is an immense possibility of failing to organize and successfully manage the class. But the teacher who is really a teacher in the calling finds way for his treasured commitment.

Mrs. Parks's picture
Mrs. Parks
High school English teacher

Most of my classes are in the low 30s, even up to 40 students. My challenge is simply that in my larger classes, I can't monitor behavior as effectively as I can in smaller classes.

During work time, I'm okay with the conversational volume that comes with collaboration, but I get so frustrated with students wasting work time. It seems that the more I assist students who need help, the more other students take advantage of my diverted attention. I struggle to police cell phone usage, keep track of how long students are in the bathroom, etc. while trying to actually teach.

We established community expectations as a class at the beginning of the semester, but I struggle knowing what behaviors to enforce. When I pick my battles, students see that as condoning inappropriate behavior and off-task behavior escalates, but I can't address every infraction either, or I spend all my time in a disciplinary mode rather than instructing. Any suggestions?

Audra Winters's picture
Audra Winters
Retired, but active educator!

I find it a very daunting task to keep students using indoor voices while working in small groups. Although there is collaboration going on, a lot of time is spent socializing. It's a situation that needs redefining with a group of 25 students. Students also think that it's o.k.if the work is complete, to chatter.

Jennifer Jones CCSD's picture

My classroom, fire coded for fifty three, ballooned up into the 70s. I had to place kids outdoors and in the hallway. I don't care how good you are. You can't teach around this. Try to look at this from the students' perspective. How could you not feel undervalued? Often we teachers complain that our students do not value their education, but the apple does not fall far from the societal tree. How can we demand for our students to value their education when they are treated like this? Preaching to the choir... I know, I know.... But thank you for allowing me the forum to express this. It is very hard day in, day out.

taja_tt's picture
taja_tt
TAJA TT® a paradigm changing teaching system

I am grateful for the tips and sympathize with difficulities of teaching large classes, even up over 50 students sometimes for me. These tips i will keep in mind.

reflecting on this article makes see so much clearer just how much better a class, esp a large class, can be taught and managed with 2 teachers. with one teacher the classroom management itself is a big struggle not to mention getting individual or small group attention to a sizeable portion of the students,...and all the while still tap into the class mood and give necessary motivational boost or bring them to inspirationi... but with 2 teachers....ah....both teachers can breathe easier, classroom management virtually takes care of itself and presentation of content is smoother, faster and more impressive as 2 teachers can tap into the mindset of modern day kids....and well in those kinds of conditions a teacher is ripe to get inspired and thus inspire the kids!

sometimes i like to teach solo, but when i teach a few in a row solo, esp. with the big classes, i again see how effective, powerful and relaxing 2 teachers in one classroom is and look forward to the next chance to partner with a colleague and "dance" in the classroom.

wishing you Peace, Harmony and Prosperity

Megan Colon's picture

I just completed my first year of teaching. My mentor and the other veteran teacher on my grade level kept saying that my class size will decrease. By the time it was the end of the year, I had 25 students. Majority of my class was not reading on grade level. It was a challenge to teach and keep 25 third graders focused. After reading the tips, I really liked tip 1 and tip 2. I can't give up on grouping because I can have my higher level students work with the lower level students. As long as my students are working together in the give, let it be loud.

Susan Weikel Morrison's picture
Susan Weikel Morrison
Science Education Program Developer, Sci-Q Systems

Keep a really good seating chart - in pencil. At the beginning of the year, put each child's reading and math levels next to their name. This will help you tailor your discussion questions to them.

It is very important that you call on all students equally and skip no one, so that kids know they can't hide behind playing dumb. Wait for answers. Coach answers. But do what you have to do to get success.

Leave space around the edge of the room and down the center so you can easily move around while you're teaching.

Put the weakest students nearest to you and/or partnered with a strong student. Make the strong student explicitly responsible for assisting the weaker student's learning. It will help the stronger student review material and develop better empathy and social skills.

Have students check each others' homework and assign a letter grade to it based on the percent correct. Tell them which percentages go with which letter. Have baskets on your desk labeled A,B,C and D,F. Have monitors collect the papers. Every kid should turn in a paper, even if it's blank. Have monitors be responsible that every kid turns in a paper and that every paper has a name on it. Monitors place the papers in the appropriate basket based on grade.

As soon as possible, when you are not directly teaching and the kids are engaged in an activity, call up the kids with papers in the D-F basket, one by one, and find out what their problem was. Assign a solution - a demerit for laziness, peer tutoring or small group re-instruction for lack of understanding, extra time if there was a family emergency, finishing the homework after school or at recess, a call to a parent, etc. Be frank with the kids: the only grades that count for report cards are tests and projects. Homework grades are just to check for understanding.

As for essays, have students write regularly according to specific criteria. When the essays are collected, scan them to be sure students generally met the criteria, but don't grade them. Return essays that haven't met criteria. Put the completed essays in a folder. After you've collected a certain number (for you to decide), return all essays. Have each student select which of his/her essays is the best one. Have them polish and re-write their essays, partnered with another student who will read and critique their work as they improve it. The polished essays are returned to you for grading. You also might photocopy them and create a class magazine. Those publications were always quite popular with my students and parents.

Do science labs in quads. Do not assign roles. Rather, have each child be a number from 1 to 4. When a task needs to be done, say the number of the doer. For example, No. Ones get the rock samples from the science table. No. Twos lay all your rocks out on your desks. No. Threes, find an igneous rock and tell the group how an igneous rock is made. And so on. Keep the lesson going really fast to keep the kids on their toes.

(1)

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Five-Minute Film Festival: Hooray for Pi Day

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Do you celebrate Pi Day? Pi is an essential mathematical symbol, representing the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Coincidentally, pie, a delicious dessert usually made with a pastry crust and fruit filling, shares the same pronunciation. So someone came up with the brilliant idea to combine them and celebrate both on one day: March 14th, or 3/14 (which matches the first digits of pi). It's one of those rare holidays that can make math fun for anyone, whether you're the kind of person who's interested in a tart pastry or a juicy math problem. Not sure what I'm talking about? Just read (and watch!) on for more Pi Day fun.

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National Poetry Month: Useful Resources for Teachers and Students

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In honor of National Poetry Month in April, Matt Davis has put together a list of useful poetry links for educators, including resources from the web, Edutopia's most popular poetry-themed blogs, and other quick reads.

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Sue Wise's picture
Sue Wise
Prof. Dev. Provider --Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium

The Library of Congress has millions of free primary sources and teacher resources. Here is a just small sampling useful for National Poetry Month:
* Literature and Poetry lesson plans (grades 3-12) http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/themes/literature/lessonp...
* Found Poetry (primary source set) http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/poetry/
* Poetry and Literature (resource page) http://www.loc.gov/poetry/
* From the Catbird Seat (blog) http://blogs.loc.gov/catbird/
* Poetry 180 (a poem a day for American high schools) http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/

ajr1206's picture
ajr1206
Educator, Author, Mentor, Consultant

Thanks for all the terrific ideas and links posted so far.
In invite you take a look at some of resources on my website including this one: Poetry Notebook: Product and Performance
http://teachingenglishlanguagearts.com/?p=1531
Students do research gathering biographical info on poet, selecting poems on theme, on topic, or by same author; model (pattern) poem(s), write original poems, write review (evaluation), memorize and recite poetry. Interim due dates make grading manageable and create formative assessments throughout the unit.

Melanie Link Taylor's picture
Melanie Link Taylor
Educator, Blogger, Southern California

Poetry to inspire, comfort, surprise, delight. Necessary, since we are poets all.

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Student Apps for Winter Reading

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Edutopia blogger Monica Burns shares a generous list of winter reading apps and ebooks for elementary students in class and with their families.
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Jeff Lehman's picture
Jeff Lehman
Teacher of Computer Science and Religious Studies

Sadly, it doesn't look like either Read Me Stories or Storia are available in the UK. I can't find them in the Kindle app store or on Google Play.

Demetria's picture

I appreciated your blog because many parents during the winter break still would like to engage their children with reading, but some forget that the use of their tablet can play a big role in increasing their child's emerging reading skills. By using their tablet can provide an interactive tool to enhance their child's love of stories and reading.

Debby's picture

The Dr. Seuss Bookshelf is by Oceanhouse Media. They make many book apps, including Berenstain Bears and Little Critter, that are available for Android and Nook, not just iOS devices. My four year old grandson loves listening to the app read the story, then he explores the page to find if it has any surprises. While he explores, the app says and shows the names of different objects.

docofsoc1's picture
docofsoc1
Parent of 1 first grader, CA, sociologist, parent blogger

We're in our second year of using Bookboard.com with our six-year old who loves books but struggles with reading and learning challenges in general. What works for us here is the focus on ebooks that are beautiful recreations of the print originals, without a lot of distracting bells and whistles going on (audio is offered on about a third of the collection)...and kids are motivated to read more as reading allows them to unlock new books to add to their library. Parents can also adjust the reading levels. My daughter likes to "take turns" reading ebooks and her library books -- the variety helps her remain engaged.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

Scholastic just released a sneak peek from their Kids & Family Reading Report coming out in January 2015. The numbers are interesting: 73% of kids said they would read more if they could find books that they like. That's the key, isn't it? Find books the kids like and an easy way to put them into their hands.

If you're curious, here's think link to the sneak peek: http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/

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A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom

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Edutopia blogger Vicki Davis, in the first half of a pro-and-con discussion about social media in the classroom, positions it as a vital life skill and provides 12 positive examples of classroom use.
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Rob Currin's picture
Rob Currin
High School English Teacher, Coach, Student

Fictional twitter accounts! I just wanted to share something that I have really gotten a kick out of recently. I started a Twitter account for Holden Caulfield @_therealholden_ and "Holden" tweets updates that center on our reading of The Catcher in the Rye. Students can interact and the whole thing has been a lot of fun.

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program

Hi Sam! I think there are a couple of different issues here. Bullying is bullying, period, and your school is legally required to have policies in place to deal with it. The larger issue has to do with school culture and classroom climate as well as being very clear about what quality digital citizenship looks like and sounds like. It requires direct instruction and conversation, analysis of other conversations pulled down from other sites (just hit the comments section on Huffpost for some awesome counter- examples of that!), and conversations (like #edchat) that you view and discuss together as a class.

Last, the conversation around firewalls and social media sites is one that has to be had at a higher level in the administrative food chain, I'd think. If you can make the case that you need to have them unblocked for sound pedagogical reasons, I think you'll have a better chance of getting them unblocked.

Michelle Luhtala at bibliotech.me has a lot of good thinking on this subject. You can follow her @mluhtala

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Manager

@Rob, I love the fictional Twitter account idea. These kinds of things really make the characters come alive.

Do you see what Jeri's comment below? She had her class take fictional roles from Antigone and play them out on Facebook. Talk about having to demonstrate an understanding of the story and the characters!

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Hi Sam,
Whether it's under your auspices or not, students are already using social media to communicate. It's my honest opinion that we should be using age-appropriate social media tools with students at all grade levels so that we can drive the conversation about how to be good digital citizens. Digital Citizenship is an important part of my curriculum. kids make mistakes and do things they shouldn't, but it's a lot easier to have a meaningful, learning-focused conversation with them if they make the mistakes when you've already talked about these issues.

The worst-case scenarios you bring up aren't going to happen or not happen because of the tools you use in your classroom. They're going to happen or not happen based on the tone you set with your students as to the kind of people they need to be whether they're online or off.

Lemlem's picture

Social media has been playing a greater role in our daily life. When it comes to the field of education, there are a lot of ways that social networks such as twitter and facebook can be used to enhance the teaching and learning environment and increase educational relevance. Students use social media everyday to communicate and gather information about various topics. So all in all social media is relevant to enrich classroom experience by connecting students with peers around the globe.

Renee T's picture
Renee T
#DSMsum14

Hi Vicki,
I feel lucky that I've had the chance to listen to you in person at last year's TIC in Dubuque, IA. I was reading this article for my Digital and Social Media class (this week we are looking at blogs and Twitter) and I agree with many of your statements. I especially connected with the parts about if we ignore SM, kids won't do it. Well, guess what, they're already snapchatting, tweeting and the like in class.

Dave Chaffey's picture
Dave Chaffey
Just a good bloke taking a look around :-)

Great article. I guess I see the challenges in education, but I have to question whether its not, perhaps, overstated? A lot of what I've read recently is tending towards a movement away from social. Two articles worth looking at are http://personalweb.about.com/od/facebookculture/a/Kids-Facebook.htm and http://www.kbbdigital.com.au/news/764-social-media-over-hyped-fad-or-eme... .Perhaps its not going to be the be all and end all. Just the next yo-yo or hula hoop fad... :-)

Lyn Lesch's picture
Lyn Lesch
I am an education writer who writes about how the experience of young people while they learn is even more important than what or how well they learn.

One of the best uses of social media in the classroom would be to connect students to the world of professional expertise as part of their classroom learning.

(1)
Andrew Kim's picture

I understand that many teachers are using social media as a form of communication between teachers, communities, and students, but our group at Queen's University were thinking about ways social media could be used to increase motivation to collaborate within the classroom. I have personally observed students' eyes lighting up just mentioning the word facebook or twitter in the class, and rather than viewing it as a distraction, want to know if there are ways to harness its power of allure, and use it for something productive; namely bringing about the much-awaited collaboration 2.0: where technology and the internet change the very nature of how we collaborate. We would appreciate some professional feedback on this proposal in the following document:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yxtnDH1j3XqP3C6ZcPpLsZKxi7IlWdYGTWDB..." target="_blank" >https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yxtnDH1j3XqP3C6ZcPpLsZKxi7IlWdYGTWDB...">https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yxtnDH1j3XqP3C6ZcPpLsZKxi7IlWdYGTWDB...

What are the effects of social media in your classrooms? Are there any thoughts in using them to promote collaboration and not just communication?

Lyn Lesch's picture
Lyn Lesch
I am an education writer who writes about how the experience of young people while they learn is even more important than what or how well they learn.

One of the best uses of social media in the classroom would be to connect students to the world of professional expertise as part of their classroom learning.

(1)

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Five-Minute Film Festival: 7 Videos on Love for Valentine’s Day

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It's Valentine's Day! And Edutopia's VideoAmy has collected these 7 delightfully entertaining videos about love to help you celebrate.

A Parent's Resource Guide to Social and Emotional Learning

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Explore a curated list of blogs, articles, and videos for parents about fostering skills like kindness, empathy, gratitude, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children.

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Doing Good Together™'s picture
Doing Good Together™
Doing Good Together™ offers family-friendly volunteer ideas & fun kindness activities to help busy families grow big hearts.

We love this list of valuable resources! In addition to these great finds, we suggest our projects, reading recommendations, and conversation tips found on our website, especially in our Big-Hearted Families(tm) program. We promote not only kindness lessons, but also the idea of family service and volunteering as a way to teach kids the benefits of giving to others and helping their community.

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Resources for Learning About Empathy on Valentine's Day

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Empathy is an important skill. In honor of Valentine's Day, Matt Davis has gathered a variety of great resources to help teachers bring lessons about compassion and caring into the classroom.
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Barbara Gruener's picture
Barbara Gruener
Counselor and Character Coach

Thanks, Matt! I appreciate your comprehensive coverage on empathy, the best gift a person could give or receive for Valentines Day ... and every day. I appreciate the shout out for our Empathy In A (Shoe) Box lesson at the Corner on Character. It has been a high-interest post for sure and is such an engaging activity for my students! To actually wear another person's shoes while a portion of their story is being told proves to be very powerful. Couple it with the book The Sandal Artist by Kathleen T. Pelley and you've got a dynamic duo!

Lina Raffaelli's picture
Lina Raffaelli
Former Community Engagement Intern at Edutopia

Such an important topic and V-day is a perfect time to reflect. Thanks for sharing

storybow's picture
storybow
Educational Stories for Children

Great List! Thank you very much for sharing Matt!

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