A Few of My Favorite Things

As the end of the year approaches and we start to feel tired and weary, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed as schoolwork is suddenly matched with the stresses, strains, planning and preparation for the Christmas holiday season.

It’s the time of year when networks start to show re-runs of “Love Actually”, “Die Hard”, “Miracle on 34th Street” and of course the holiday season perennial, “The Sound of Music”; and it’s with this feel-good movie in mind that I am now embracing the Christmas spirit to share a “few of my favorite things.”

These links have all been shared with me by some of the amazing teachers in our Verso community, many of  whom I have had the privilege of working with in 2015. You will find that some are clever and some are quirky but all of the resources are perfect for developing amazing provocations in Verso, especially at the end of the year! Consider these stocking fillers as a few “brown paper packages tied up with string.” to help you through the next couple of weeks and beyond.

1. Dan Meyer Blog: Understanding exponential growth- how many dominoes does it take to knock over a skyscraper?

Domino Skyscraper

2. What Would You Do? Total Strangers Help Buy Christmas Tree for Family in Need

I have been a fan of the TV show What Would You Do? for many years. Their WWYD YouTube Channel is a superb source of intriguing provocations which lend themselves to the consideration of contemporary moral dilemmas. This heart warming example presents an opportunity for students to consider the real meaning of Christmas alongside the concept of gift giving and what it means to “pay it forward”.

3. Estimation 180: Building number sense one day at a time

I was really fortunate to work with Tustin USD math guru, Andrew Stadel this year. He briefly showed me his site Estimation 180 and I have been sharing it with schools around the world ever since.

How much area does my son’s hand cover?

Each day of the school year, Andrew presents his students with an estimation challenge designed to support students in improving their number sense and problem solving skills. Students are required to make an estimation and share their reasoning by first considering what might be too high and too low.

Andrew shares his challenges on his website and he has created his Estimation 180 twitter community where over 1100 teachers are currently sharing challenges of their own.

4. Curiosity.com: Never stop learning

I have downloaded the curiosity.com app on my phone and each morning it pushes 5 new amazing topics, guaranteed to cultivate curiosity and rich discussion. I can’t recommend this site enough. It is searchable by subject and links to YouTube, Vimeo and image banks suitable for use in Verso to generate rich discussion and thinking.
To get you started, I have selected an recent festive article on Krampus.

Krampus is the centuries-old Christmas devil creature that comes out every December 5th, known as Krampusnacht. On this night, the German legend has it that Krampus visits the children who have been naughty over the last year. He would then take these wicked children back to his lair!

Did you know?

  • In the Ukraine, a fake spider and web are hidden in the tree, thought to bring good luck to those who find it.
  • In Iceland there is a legendary cat who is thought to eat anyone who did not receive new clothes for Christmas.
  • KFC is traditionally eaten at Christmas in Japan!

Curiosity.com links ideas together by creating new pathways. These are fantastic as they allow students and teachers to take their inquiry in a range of different directions. The Krampus path has links to really useful clips on the root of Christmas traditions old and new.

5. Science Gifs Twitter

Mythbusters fire a soccer ball 50mph out of a cannon on a truck driving at exactly 50mph in the opposite direction pic.twitter.com/LFvciOWRsl

— Science GIFs (@Learn_Things) December 7, 2015

Mythbusters fire a soccer ball 50mph out of a cannon on a truck driving at exactly 50mph in the opposite direction, see the full video below

This Twitter community has an amazing 993000 followers. The amazing clips, gifs and images shared are powerful scientific conversation starters.

Furthermore, they sit comfortably with the sparking curiosity approach of renowned science teacher Ramsey Musallam who I have mentioned in previous posts.

I believe that when curiosity is sparked deep cycles of learning can occur

Ramsey Musallam

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning

Finally, I hope you enjoyed browsing through these resources. I will be adding more in the new year but in the meantime, I hope you and your students have a happy and peaceful holiday season and a peaceful and productive new year filled with awe, wonder and curiosity!