As school years kick off across the country, those teachers and students who will be logging in to distance learn from home will lose so much.
They will lose the supportive rhythms and routines of their classrooms. They will lose the idiosyncratic personal touches that are so integral to growing young minds. They will lose easy access to essential resources that just can't be duplicated online. They will lose the chance to catch up properly on the playground or over lunch with old friends.
Hopefully, this disruption to in-person learning will be brief, and hopefully those in charge will pay close attention to the schools, the districts, the states that are keeping everyone safe and winning the best results. However, in the mean time, I believe it's crucial every kid (and parent and teacher, too) gets the opportunity to turn off their screens at least a few times every day to stay connected to what is real and what is important to them.
Click here for some ideas to escape the digital landscape and stay connected in the ways in which we were meant to feel connected.
Making math more hands-on certainly takes two or three extra steps in planning an engaging lesson, but this small investment pays huge dividends for all learners in all environments. Have fun raiding Pinterest or reproduce your own manipulatives by looking at examples here.
Above, one of my third graders learns to construct prisms (and even angles of different classifications) using toothpick edges and marshmallow vertices. I always enjoy observing how "patient" the kids are with their building blocks. Funny, but every time at least one group comes up a marshmallow or two short and needs to ask for extras to complete the task.
If homeschooling is a viable option for your family, make sure to do some research to find out what the laws and regulations are in your home state.
Click here to see what your state's requirements are before hitting the books at home.
One of the greatest gifts a parent or educator can give a naturally curious child is a wealth of vocabulary words with which to express and explore their world.
Flocabulary is a great resource that outlines exactly how much a great vocabulary correlates not only to academic success but lifelong achievement as well. Their learning products are pretty fantastic, too. Check 'em out!
A great way to practice patience and sharpen a student's ability to follow step-by-step instructions is by folding origami.
Every spring, my students and I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and see how many paper cranes end up flying overhead come summer time.
Click here for some cheap and easy origami ideas you can try at home.
Some important takeaways from this very good TED Talk:
Listen deeply. Don't be afraid to learn right alongside. You don't have to be a content expert to teach meaningful knowledge and understanding. Sometimes the best teaching never happens inside the classroom. Usually the best learning comes from people you trust and love. Enjoy the ride.
Did you know that when you get to Step 12 in the dissection of a cow's eye you will find a strange, shiny coating right behind the retina? This shiny coating is called the tapetum lucidum. Sounds like a magic spell from Harry Potter, right? Well, actually, not really.
Tapetum lucidum is a Latin phrase that means "bright tapestry." This shiny surface lining the back of the eye has special reflective properties that allow a cow to see better at night.
Besides giving animals night vision, the tapetum lucidum is also responsible for making animals' eyes ‘glow’ in the dark. If you have an adventurous cat or have seen any pesky raccoons digging through your trash at night, you know what I mean. So, I guess tapetum lucidum is kind of magical after all.
Click here to order everything you need to dissect your own cow's eye at home!
Joe Manning is a Colorado public school teacher with a background in 3rd-12th grade education. He has helped hundreds of students achieve their learning goals both online and off, and he is excited to find smarter ways to help hundreds more do even better.