Latest teaching and learning ideas

The Latest in Tech, Tools and Toys for Teachers.  Lesson Plans, Classroom resources and ideas for busy teachers.  iPad Apps and Android Apps for teachers and students.

Thug notes gives learning some much needed street cred...

Thug notes is a YouTube channel which started out as a series of comedy skits that somehow didn't pan out for it's creators who had dreams of becoming stars on the silver screen.

They created video 'cliff's notes' or quick descriptions of of classic literature and films delivered by gangsters and other highly engaging characters.

Somewhere along the line Thug notes switched from a comedy channel to one of the most viewed education channels on YouTube, as their approach had a massive impact on teachers and students.  It was both cool and well researched material.  And yes, it is funny.  It may not be for everyone, but either is sitting in a lecture theater for an hour listening to an incredibly boring analysis of lord of the flies.

Anyhow take a look for yourself here...

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Respected resources to teach students about depression and anxiety

 Robin Williams

Robin Williams

With the passing today of Robin Williams due to his reported battle with depression it might be a worthwhile process to discuss depression with your teenage students.

Whilst many students would be aware of bullying and unsociable behavior from the moment they enter school, it would be rare that they are made aware of depression and the devastating effects it can have on on individuals and families.

It is a silent killer, In my homeland of Australia more than twice as many people die as a result of suicide than is claimed by the road toll.  Of them more than two thirds are young males.

So here are a few recognized organizations that provide information to students about understanding and dealing with depression. 

Teen Depression from helpguide.org

NHS UK - Child Depression information

Headspace Australia

Kids Helpline

 

Five innovative ways to use newspapers in the classroom.

Believe it or not but news used to be delivered to the world first via the newspaper.  Once the cornerstone of the media.  Although they struggle for relevance as we become more dependent on technology over one billion are still printed globally each week. 

So today we are going to take a look at five innovative ways you can use newspapers with your students.  Thanks to Rhaul Bukari for this lesson plan.  Remember you can sell us your lesson plans here. 

Let's take a look his suggestions.

Wall to wall.

On separate strips of paper write questions about facts that can be found on the odd-numbered pages of the newspaper e.g. "Who came third in the Grand Prix?" Pin the whole pages on the walls round the room. Hand out one question to each pair, who must now tour the room, find the answer, return and tell you - for which they receive a new question. Keep score if you wish.

Scrunched-up stories

Choose and cut out a number of longer stories (at least half a page). Scrunch up the pages into a ball so that it's impossible to read everything. Give one of these text-balls to each group, who can look all round it but may not touch or open it. Their task is to guess what the story is and write a one sentence summary of what they think their article is about. Collect these summaries in - then redistribute them. Groups now look at different texts around the room trying to work out which summary goes with which text. If you wanted to, you could then un-scrunch the texts and find out how well the learners guessed the full stories.

"Have you heard the news?"

Cut up and distribute different mid-length stories to pairs who should then think about how they could retell their story in the most exciting, interesting way if they met their friends at a party. You could offer input on useful phrases, intonation etc and discuss what makes one motivated to listen to a story. Ask them not to simply recite the facts.

When everyone is ready, they stand up and mingle, buttonholing others to tell their story, starting "Have you heard the news?" Listen and join in, encouraging lively interaction by dropping in a few phrases such as "No! I don't believe it!" and "Really? What happened?"

Headline gaps

Cut out a number of headlines (you'll need at least one for every 2 learners). In each one choose an interesting word to remove (e.g. "Hunting is good for trees, bad for _____ "). Glue the gapped headline at the top of a piece of paper with two columns. The pages are now passed around class. In the first column pairs should write their best guess at a possible word for each gap; in the second column they write a funny possibility. At the end compare answers and choose the best or funniest choices. The class could go on to predict the contents of the articles and maybe read a whole article of their choice.

Notes and Queries

Read out a good question from the "Notes and Queries" column   (e.g. "Why do we have noses?") and give the class 5 minutes to discuss and come up with the most amazing explanation they can.If you do not have access to a copy of The Guardian Weekly you can see this section online at: ww.guardian.co.uk (Search for Notes & queries)

 

 

The most fun way to teach computer science to kids

Computer Science Unplugged is my find of the week.  It houses a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through innovative games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of fun and action.

CS unplugged introduce students to underlying concepts such as binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the distractions and technical details we usually see with computers.

CS Unplugged is suitable for people of all ages, from elementary school to seniors, and from many countries and backgrounds. Unplugged has been used around the world for over twenty years, in classrooms, science centers, homes, and even for holiday events in a park!

Check out the video to see how it can be used in the classroom.  And be sure to download the excellent lesson plan booklet.       Click here to access


Simple but effective icebreakers to start the school year.

Although you may be a new teacher to a group of students, most of them have already worked together for years and know each other all too well. The new teacher may be the only one who needs to learn names. And, even if the teacher and class have all worked together before, there may still be a need for some activities to welcome everyone back and mark the start of the new year.  Here are a few that might be useful. 

Be sure to check out our list of ten great activities to break the ice for more ideas

Fibbing to the teacher
When a teacher is new to a class that already know each other, try this game. In groups of 5 or 6, the students should carefully prepare to introduce members of their group to the teacher. Everyone should introduce another person (not themselves). They should say names and something about their interests, home area, personality etc. All the information must be true except for one person in each group – for whom every single thing must be untrue. Allow plenty of time for careful preparation, after which the teacher should listen to all a group’s introductions (while learning useful names etc) and decide which is the untrue one. Warn all students that they must be careful not to give away the fib by laughing, sniggering etc.

The virtual party
Arrange an imaginary “welcome back” party. Ask everyone to stand in one part of the room. Designate another section of the room as the party room and show them where the front door is. Appoint a host / hostess or two and brief them on how to welcome guests. Be a host yourself too. Then encourage students to “arrive” at the party one by one, or in small groups, (ringing the imaginary door bell) and once there, mingle, chatting in English, catching up on news. Serve imaginary drinks and snacks. Students initially tend to react to this simulation with some suspicion (feeling it is a bit silly to hold imaginary drinks etc) but it usually takes off very well once they get into it.

Setting year goals
It is all too easy to simply launch into teaching from a new coursebook assuming that the class is automatically with you. However it is worth taking time to make sure that students are really clear about why they are learning and about what they want to get out of it. A simple way to do this is to ask them to make brief notes in answer to questions you ask. Make sure you allow enough thinking time. Students can then meet up in pairs or threes and compare thoughts. Possible questions: Why do you think English will be useful to you in the future? What is the most important area you want to improve on this year? What types of activities do you enjoy most in English classes? What advice would you give to your English teacher? What do you want to be able to do by the end of the year that you can’t do now?

Thanks for Michael Ramiko for submitting these ideas.  We'd love to hear some of yours.

Climate Change Scavenger Hunt task for students

Purpose : At the end of this ‘scavenger hunt on climate’ students will be able to learn about the vocabulary of climate and science behind it.  It is aimed at students from years 4 to 9.

This scavenger hunt introduces to students information and basics about the Climate, its various zones and factors affecting the climate.  There are 24 scavenger hunt cards with colorful pictures. 

It’s a great tool to explore vocabulary around Climate.

This lesson was submitted by Piyush Bhakar - If you wish to sell us your lesson plans take a look here.

 Instructions -

1.  Download the free lesson plan here.

2. Print the given all 24 cards on a card stock or any other good paper and cut them along the black line.

 3. Get the print of Climate Scavenger Hunt questions pages and each student should be given this copy.

 4. Place Climate Scavenger Hunt cards around the classroom. For example you can place it on chair, on table, on benches, behind the classroom doors, besides the computer or wherever you like.

 5. Students have to search the cards in a classroom in order to find out the answers of the questions. Students can complete this exercise in a group with classmate or alone.