Ready To Go Back To School? 7 Fun Lesson Ideas To Start The New Year

Every teacher knows the struggle of getting a class full of children to cooperate the first few weeks back after the long Christmas vacation break. If you’re looking to avoid going hoarse from shouting at distracted kids all day then you need an organized plan of action that will keep you and your pupils entertained whilst learning. This article is aimed at teaching children in the 4th and 5th grade so if that’s you, read on for our top lesson ideas to keep everyone happy, entertained, and ready to learn!

  1. Start With Your Resolutions

Before you pile straight back into hardcore learning (aka the boring bits!) give your kids a chance to settle in with a mindfulness session where they can write down their resolutions and wants for the year. You can have this session be as creative as you like. They could decorate their objectives, frame them or even add them to a jar. If you pick the latter, why not end the year by reading out everyone’s resolutions and seeing how far everyone has come?

  1. Use Some Fun Worksheets

Rather than having your kids write pages of English and history right off the back, ease them back in with educational worksheets. There are a ton of great teacher resource center websites where you can download sheets for virtually every subject on the planet. Why not pick a fun subject such as foreign languages that can relate to their Christmas break? You can pick three countries that some of your children may have visited over the holiday season and work on sheets based on the languages of each country.

  1. Plan A Horrible Histories Lesson

Most children love blood and gore, so incorporate these themes into your history lessons. Focus on the Roman Empire, which was full of deathly battles they can learn about, or you can teach them about the early origins of the toilets. Romans are a great subject as they invented many things that we still use in the modern-day. You could even have the kids re-enact famous Roman gods and goddesses or have them paint their ultimate roman feast.

  1. Class Presentations

Let the children write and present what they did to celebrate Christmas to the rest of the class, or how others celebrate. If you can, set this task before the holidays begin as a homework task. You can ask them to pick one fact or tradition about Christmas and ask them to research it in depth. Bonus points to the child who explores a tradition and teaches the class some facts that even you don’t know!

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What You Might Have Missed in December

Here are the most-read posts for the month of December

  1. Hour of Code? Here’s why to participate
  2. Coding Websites/Webtools by Grade
  3. 15 Unusual Projects for Hour of Code
  4. The Easiest No-coding Way to Build an Education App
  5. What is ‘Technical Math’?
  6. 11 Ways to Update Your Online Presence
  7. Have Santa Call Your Kids!
  8. 14 Holiday Websites and 9+ Projects
  9. Holiday Activities To Keep the Learning Going
  10. The Return to Rigorous Mathematics

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

http://eepurl.com/chNlYb


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Top 10 Hits and Misses for 2021

Since we at Ask a Tech Teacher started this blog thirteen years ago, we’ve had almost 5.6 million views from visitors, about 10,000 followers who have read some or all of our 2,731 articles on integrating technology into the classroom. This includes tech tips, website/app reviews, tech-in-ed pedagogy, how-tos, videos, and more. We have regular features like:

If you’ve just arrived at Ask a Tech Teacher, start here.

It always surprises us what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post one of us on the crew put heart and soul into, sure we were sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

Here they are–my top 10 hits of 2021 (though I’ve skipped any that have to do with website reviews and tech tips because they’re covered in separate posts):

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How to Change the Dynamics of Peer-to-peer Learning with Tract

As teachers move from a “teacher-lecturer” model of education to a “teacher-guide”, peer-to-peer learning–acquiring knowledge from a select peer group–has become a popular education strategy. Often, it is a less stressful way to support the long-held goal of developing lifelong learners. As a pedagogical strategy, it can be more effective in reinforcing critical thinking, cooperation, creativity, and problem solving–traits that are difficult to teach but essential for students who want to become productive, happy adults.

What most educators and parents innately know has become a truism of education:

“If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” –Albert Einstein

If you’re not familiar with Tract, you’re in for a treat. Tract is a new way to inspire students to become lifelong learners. It’s easy to use, intuitive to setup, enticing to students, and requires no professional development on the part of teachers to roll out. The platform focuses on student growth and learning, accomplished via videos, hands-on projects, and more, all with the goal of sparking student creativity and empowering them to explore their passions at their own pace. Lessons are given by young adults, your students’ peer group. They engage learners through multimedia, tasks, projects, and peer interaction. Content is vetted, curated, and reviewed by qualified teachers to ensure its educational rigor.

Click for a more detailed review of Tract or visit Tract’s website here.

I was thrilled when the folks at Tract partnered with me on their new platform. I’m a fan of peer-to-peer learning and I could tell right away that Tract did it well. If you’ve already heard about Tract and are ready to try it out, visit their website at https://teach.tract.app/ and use the access code ASKATECHTEACHER to get your free Tract teacher account.

Peer-to-peer learning is a second cousin to teaching and in many cases, more effective in solidifying understanding of a topic. Students often collaborate and share with peers in their education journey and careers. Becoming adept at giving and receiving feedback will help them negotiate the workplace and life diplomatically and effectively.

With educators struggling through the challenges of remote and hybrid teaching, there is renewed interest in how to deliver peer-to-peer learning beyond traditional approaches of discussion boards, forums, blogs, and collaborative projects. While the value of peer-to-peer learning is unquestioned, executing it is not always easy, and when executed poorly, students become confused and discouraged.

If you are looking for a fool-proof platform for deploying peer-to-peer learning in your class (and you should be), try Tract.

On the Tract platform, students learn through videos created by their peers but also by creating their own video or written projects (learning paths), developed either individually or in small groups. When completed, these are uploaded to a video gallery and shared with fellow students, giving everyone a chance to share knowledge and learn from each other. The combination of these essential pieces–learning from peers, teaching to peers, and sharing research–makes education dynamic and motivating, turning reluctant students into lifelong learners. Tract not only teaches topics of interest to kids, but encourages students to work together on projects and passions, and share their knowledge with classmates.

The importance of peer teaching and peer learning is well established:

The Roman philosopher Seneca declared: “docendo discimus” (“by teaching, we learn”). 

If you want to put project-based, peer-to-peer learning into practice, you’ve found the right platform with Tract. Be one of the first 1,000 to request access at teach.tract.app. Use the access code ASKATECHTEACHER to get your free Tract teacher account.

Sidenote:

Tract considers it incredibly important to create a safe, supportive learning environment for students to share their classes, projects, and comments. While they trust all students, they also recognize the importance of taking the proper precautions to protect against inappropriate content that violates Community Guidelines. These guidelines include common sense policies like 1) be kind and respectful, 2) no bullying, 3) only upload age-appropriate content, and 4) be a good digital citizen.

–This post is sponsored by Tract. All opinions are my own.

@tractlearning #tractapp #p2plearning


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Subscriber Special: Donate to my blog–free MLK Lesson Plans

Every month, subscribers to our newsletter get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

January

This month: If you donate to my blog drive, I’ll send you FREE: 

The 18-page two-lesson plan bundle to teach about Martin Luther King (click for more information) in preparation for MLK Day January 17, 2022. Lesson plans include:

        • an Event Chain of Dr. King’s impact on American history
        • interpreting his words with a visual organizer

Donate using the feed below or the button in our sidebar. Add a note that you’d like the MLK lesson plans. If you need to reach us, email us at askatechteacher at gmail dot com.

We’re close to our goal, but not there yet. To those who have donated–Thank You! I sang your praises from the roof of our building and sent a special appreciation prayer your way. Any amount you can contribute–$5… $10… using the PayPal Donate button below or in the sidebar, would be appreciated.

Here’s the one-time donation button, or you can find it in the sidebar:

Here’s the button for a monthly donation–the price of a cup of coffee and a donut:

Comment


BTW, we’re always open to sponsors, too. We love sponsors!  If you’re an edtech company interested in helping spread Ask a Tech Teacher resources to everyone, contact us at askatechteacher@gmail.com. We can add you to the sidebar, review your product, or another sponsor sort of activity.

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Here’s a Preview of January

Here’s a preview of what’s coming up on Ask a Tech Teacher in January:

Public Domain Day

Subscriber Special and MLK Day

10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2021

10 Top Reviews for 2021

10 Top Tips in 2021

Tract–How to Change the Dynamics of Peer-to-peer Learning

Build Empathy Among Students

5 Must-have Apps for Curious Students

Free Posters

Practices of Tech-savvy Teachers

Tech Tips

Digital Literacy

Managing Difficult Parents

YouTube Features for Teachers

Google Earth Lesson Plans

Teaching Math

How Minecraft Teaches Reading, Writing, and Problem Solving

See you January 3rd!

I’ll be taking a few weeks off–December 19-January 3rd–to edit/format my website, work on projects with a deadline, prioritize life, and wish my two adult military children could come home to visit. I may drop in on you-all as you enjoy your holidays, but mostly I’ll be regenerating.

I wish you a wonderful season, safe and filled with family.

See you in a few weeks!

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

http://eepurl.com/chNlYb

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Making a Family Story Video For A School Project

Working on a school project could be fun if you’re making it together with your kid. If they need to create footage to tell a story of your family. One of our Ask a Tech Teacher crew has some tips on how to make it properly

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What Is A Family Story Video?

A family story video is a moving picture that illustrates the complete history of all your ancestors up till your generation. Many schools require their students to sit down with their parents, talk about their ancestral history, and put it all together in a video. It can be an amazing experience for homeschooling parents and their children to talk about their family and what events led them to where they are now.

How To Make A Family Story Video With Your Child?

Making a video with the kid can be tricky, and since it is a school project, you must make sure that you give your 100 percent! Here is a step by step guide that can help you make a spectacular family story video:

Gather Information

Our lives are extremely fast-paced and busy; we might not know our family really well and, therefore, might not have the required information to give our children. This is why we need to conduct a great deal of research and look for relevant information to your lineage. A good place to start research is ‘Google’. Google might have the information even your adults might not.

You can type the name of your great-grandparents and see what pops up on the internet. If there has been a notable person in your family, there may be several articles in their name, and you can use them in your family video.

Make sure to save whatever information you find so that you can use it later. Make notes as you go, as it will help you keep track of the information.

Get the Geographical Location

Your ancestors might have lived in different places over time. You might not originally belong to the place you live in right now. Therefore, keep track of where your ancestors came from and your original homeland. Your adults might have some information they can share, so consider asking them about their origins, and then you can locate them on Google Earth. This will help your child visualize the areas and learn about your origin a little better.

Connect With Your Extended Family

Connecting with your family and learning their history is an enriching experience for every child. Reach out to your extended family members and inquire about the whereabouts of your adults. This will help you connect with the older family members, helping you gather as much information as you need. You can even ask them for pictures and videos of themselves or their parents who fall in your lineage.

Record Interviews, Gather Pictures, and Find Videos

Another method of data collection is recording interviews. Your child, with your help, can come up with a list of questions they should ask, and then you can connect them with your elders to ask them. You can use applications such as Flipgrid to record and save these interviews. Involving your children in these activities will increase their knowledge of technology and help them learn how to use different software.

Now that you have all the material you need to add to your video, it is time for you to piece it together. To do that, you will need the help of specific tools.

What Tools Should You Use For The Video Making

There are lots of applications and tools available for video editing for kids. You can search the internet for the best ones, but here are some that you can use and make the video-making process a lot easier:

Flipgrid

If you want your child to amplify their learning, you can make them join Flipgrid, and here they can communicate with other people and learn the ins and out of video making. There is a lot of space for your child to work on their expression of creativity. Using this platform, they can see how others are using it and try it too. What’s more, you can even use this platform to discuss different random ideas, such as what to get your husband this Christmas.

Movavi

While making the video, you will need the help of a video editor, and Movavi is one of the best video editors out there. It allows you to do a lot when it comes to video editing. For instance, if you want to remove background from videos without green screen, you can easily utilize this tool. Movavi also has other useful tools that can come in handy when editing your video. The best thing about t this application is that you can use this application on your mobile phone. You don’t have to get through the hassle of opening your laptop each time you want to edit. More importantly, children are most likely to know their way around a mobile application rather than a tool on your computer.

Google Slides

You may want to add stop motion animations in your videos. For that, this application is the best fit. It is super easy to use and can help you add presentation slides to your video. Oversee what they are doing and help them wherever need be. Otherwise, the application is super easy to use for children.

Make it a fun experience for you and your child as both of you can learn a lot. It may also serve as a great way to spend some quality time together, and you’ll be able to get to know your roots. Needless to say, making a family video is essential for the identity of your child!

#storytelling #digitalstorytelling #familystory @flipgrid @movavi #videoediting

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

http://eepurl.com/chNlYb


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.