This article from TeachThought caught my eye recently. For those who know me, I often choose to do a "sandbox" day when introducing a new tool. I know that I learn best by hearing about something, watching someone/a video, and then messing with it myself. I need the verbal, the visual and kinesthetic modes to really get a handle on most of the digital tools and all of the physical tools. Although the article spoke to gaming and video games, like Minecraft, where the object is to build something, it also spoke to the need to "do stuff", "make stuff", to create. The digital tools I use every day stick in my head, the ones I use sporadically, I have to look up every time. The physical tools I use every day present no challenges,but new tools often take me a while and some "sandbox" time to get used to. Fellow teachers and I were watching students cut paper circles last week as part of a project and could not believe how hard it was for them. They apparently never have to use scissors. Last year I watched a student attempt to use a hammer to screw in a screw. If you have ever seen me try to use a sewing machine, you know, some of us just need more direction and practice. Thus, Sandbox Learning=hands-on, engaged, minds-on learning. It works. It brings out our strengths, allows us to learn and work through our weaknesses. Is this the way to learn everything? Probably not. I know how much I have hated being tossed into a project with no help. Sandbox learning can be structured, with scaffolded support as needed, but wide open enough to challenge to encourage. Lock-step, teach-to-the-test may give students high test scores, but are they learning?
I'm quite sure that as we head into election season here in the US, the "disinformation" in the media will only get worse. Commonsense Media is an excellent resource for educators. Their News and Media Literacy Resource Center has a wealth of material to use. I love the Sift, the News Literacy Project's newsletter for educators. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Did you know about the upcoming first National News Literacy Week, Jan. 27-31 ? The goal is to raise awareness of news literacy as a fundamental life skill. Read more about it here. I also didn't realize, and have not checked out their new app Informable. "The app, which is free, is designed to improve users’ ability to identify different types of news and other information." This is also an interesting site that I was introduced to recently- allsides.com .
What are you using for media literacy resources ?
Ideas to Share
Social Studies Links
I shared some of these links over the summer with a few teachers, but they are worth repeating/adding to.
A wonderful friend and talented NYC teacher, Kate Meyer, introduced me to the 1619 podcast.
This link will bring you to all the available podcasts. This is the main link to the trailer. Below are some videos to tell you even more.
Can you identify each state by one photo? Fun quiz for all ages. Studying the 50 states? Regions? Or just for fun. Check it out here.
Free Primary Sources from the LOC
We had an interesting social studies PD with Laurie Risler recently, focused mainly on teaching students to differentiate between primary and secondary sources. Laurie also mentioned this collection from the LOC- free ibooks.
I downloaded several of them, but have yet to figure out how to distribute them on a set of ipads via Apple School Manager and Jamf, without having to log into each one with an apple id. If you know the magic, please leave some directions in the comments or email me.
East of the Rockies- AR app plus Learner Kit
This is aimed at high school age students- 12-17. It is an AR app (the cost is either 1.99 or 3.99- I've seen both.) Here's the synopsis: "The East of the Rockies app is an experiential augmented reality (AR) story written by Joy Kogawa, one of Canada’s most acclaimed and celebrated literary figures. The story is told from the perspective of Yuki, a 17-year-old girl forced from her home and made to live in the Slocan internment camp during the Second World War. As Yuki and her family adjust to their new reality inside the camp, they struggle to make life as normal as possible" The author, 84 years old, is a former internee at one of B.C.’s Japanese Canadian Internment Camps.
Richard Byrne recently shared a couple of links to two versions of a game called Bad News, used to teach students how to recognize disinformation. One is for older students, one for younger. It looks like a fun way to work on these skills that we all need every day. You can check out his post here.
Links to Share
EL Tech Tools is a google site filled with ideas, especially for EL teachers and their students. Created by Kelly Martin and Josh Harris for an ISTE presentation, you will find a solid selection of tools, nicely sorted into categories.