Perplexors are word puzzles that require close reading and or math skills plus deductive reasoning to solve the problems.
Introduce Perplexors the first weeks of school next year as group activities, then you can incorporate them into your lesson plans throughout the year any time you need:
Since my last lesson idea post was very standardized EOG prep, I thought this was a good time to mention two math and reading skills resources you can incorporate into class that will help your student not just with standardized testing skills but also with logic and higher order thinking skills that will help them well past the time their standardized test taking days are over.
Ms. Lyttle and Ms. Malone saw Perplexors in use during their PL visit to Park Road Montessori's sixth grade.
Perplexors offer free samples and here is the Link To Purchase if you like the samples. Specific types of perplexors such as Grid perplexors, Venn Diagaram perplexors and more books are available on Amazon and elsewhere.
Perplexor Tutorials are available on Youtube:
Basic level Math Perplexor Sample:
Expert Level Math Perplexor Sample:
Basic level Perplexor sample
Level D Perplexor Sample
Here's an embedded perplexor for you to see:
Some teachers say " Don't bring your drama into my classroom" Mr. Milligan requires it. His Pigman reenactment is a Piedmont tradition.
Over the years Mr. Milligan has honed the Pigman Trial project into a complete interdisciplinary lesson that encapsulates the best of IB, reading comprehension, creative thinking, multiple intelligences, and real-world skills development. That's a pretty impressive list from just one unit but it is an all-encompassing one that is true PBL, project based learning.
Even if you don't want to copy Mr. Milligan's full unit (and honestly who else could?) you can easily adapt pieces of dramatic-based learning to help your students master your content. It could be as simple as having students perform skits to explain units of a text, vocabulary charades or as complex as putting an aspect of your own content "on trial" or having students create a character from your content area and remain "in character" through a full class of interaction.
See Ms. Gurthie for more ideas or to plan together.
A student videographer prepared this full-length documentary video of this year's Pigman trial. Sure it's three hours long, but anywhere you click will show students thinking and arguing their point, and helping each other develop understanding in the process.
Thanks, Mr. Milligan, for using your own gifts in designing this active learning experience for Piedmont's seventh grade! For more information you can view some of Mr. Milligan's unit from his presentation on the Pigman Trial PBL year's North Carolina gifted conference here .
All one needs to sketchnote is pen and paper. However, as visual notetaking apps become more popular,
Here is apresentation to introduce the concept and process of sketchnotes notetaking to students. Some students will find it superior to traditional notetaking, some will prefer the old ways. Giving them an option will help personalize their education.
The One Pager
Tired of traditional notes and summaries?
Students summarize in one page. It reminds me of Doodle Notes or Sketch notes (see embedded slideshow below) and is a great visual way to remember plus a great thinking exercise in summation to solidify learning and it also forces students to make critical decisions about what to include and why.
Try this when reviewing or even to quickly cover a topic or for a bit of arts and graphic design integration. Great way to introduce a bit of visual literacy as well.
Thanks to Ms. Adornato and her PD book discussion group for the one pager idea.
Are you considering trying a STEAM-infused student-choice-driven product into a curriculum that is usually paper and pen based? Ms. Brown and I use these talking points to introduce Maker Movement STEAM-infused learning into her sevent grade English Language Arts class for a novel project.
Here is the basic gist of how we introduced it together that you can adapt to suit your needs:
"The Maker Movement is something teachers are excited about in education because it gives you an opportunity to use your gifts that may not be traditionally gifts you can use or show off in school.
Now some of you are straight A students (is it cool to be straight A? Yes it is!) and for you writing might be your gift. You should choose to re write the ending.
Maybe writing is your thing but you are usually a songwriter - then write a song.
Maybe you struggle with words but you are good at building. This is your chance to use that skill. Many people say that the future will need you to use your skills for entrepreneurship more than we had to in Ms. Brown and my's day. So you need to know what your good at and how to sell yourself as a brand so people will want to hire you.
Don't choose the art choice if you don't have still in drawing. Don't wait til the last day and try to draw something on the bus when you have no skill, haven't made it special.
If you know what makes you special, then do that. If you don't know come see me in the media center and I'll help you choose.
One skill that is becoming more and more important is the skill of videography. (Tell story of $75,000 Belk Video Contest) If you'd like to do a video trailer of the book, I will be back next week to show you how. You need to really tell the story with video. Make a trailer, but don't make a video that doesn't really speak to the book or show your knowledge of the characters.
Maybe you'd like to create a 3D Object- Choose the whirligig building choice. If you know someone who is good with tools and that is something you'd like to do ask them to help you build with wood. You can also just cut paper and straws. But whatever you do make it great.
One of the points of maker movement is to use skills we don't always give you a chance to develop in school. You can code a whirligig in Scratch, engineer one to move, anything you want. But start work early so you have time to do a good job, or to fail and decide you want to change. Don't wait unitl the due date. Show off so I can post it and make you famous! Hopefully what you make will inspire other students to be their best and other teachers to try more projects like this.
Many teachers here at Piedmont have used student-created movies to teach their content. Above are just two examples - a stop motion film of an scene from Seedfolks for Language arts and a video of a student created Minecraft Pyramid from Mrs. Kay's social studies Ancient Egypt unit.
Try these lesson plans to get started
Our School Resources:
Recommended BYOT apps for movie making :
If using a shared ipad, you can upload and download the video as needed from Google Drive:
(Sorry I ironically broke the cardinal rule of movie making - NEVER HOLD YOUR DEVICE LONGWAYS Learn from my mistake!)
This video shows how to upload and share from your device
This video shows how to turn in a video link for an assigment on Google Classroom
Do you know that IQ is a myth? That the test was never meant to be given to neurologically healthy individuals and especially for it not to be used for ranking. Yes, there is such a thing as talent, but IQ is not fixed and everyone is gifted at something. Do your students know this? It's time to tell them because students who believe there is such a thing as "smart" or "dumb" do not try as hard as those who believe that smart can be achieved with effort.
For more on growth mindset google Carol Dweck
Following is a Youtube Playlist of videos that explain growth mindset. I am in a training right now that says we should explicitly teach students growth mindset. The video they used (in the playlist) is called Austin's Butterfly and it shows the butterfly images in the photo below. It illustrates how students can all get better over time with focused effort and constructive feedback. If you take time to show how this first grader improved his butterfly drawings from drawing one to drawing six, students will be more likely to trust that they will improve equally stunningly in your class.
Another growth mindset example students might understand is the video game example. When a student starts out on level one and they die, they are not sad about it, they just keep going knowing full well that they will improve with practice. Help them transfer that surety and confidence to the effort they put into your classroom.
See me if you want to connect this to your actual content lesson in a more direct way or if you want me to come speak as a former psych teacher to your students about neuroplasticity (I can even tell them about the student I taught who LITERALLY had half a brain- and her entire brain rewired so you would never even notice!)
The days of teachers spouting simplistic short-sighted shortcuts like " No citing .com's -they are not respected academically" (shudder) or "Wikipedia can never be used for research" or even "there is nothing of academic value on Youtube" are thankfully over! This a lesson in credible sources relating it to real life scam awareness and digital citizenship on social media
Game -Dig Cit Forced Choices- both in social media and in academics
Have you ever copied and pasted - words? -images into a slideshow? Used an entire song? (show google search by usage rights)
Started a project at the last minute?
Used easybib or other auto citation generator?
Did you see any drama this summer? You liked it? You spoke out against it?
Favorite social media site is instagram? etc
LOL'd at a Vine this summer? (which one?)
Living Life Online magazine
The lap giraffe -discuss scams the sugar glider - real life animal but site is not credible- purpose
the tree octopus -discuss capow
To prevent being scammed, go "CAPOW!" to knock out" a bad website.
Unlike "Kaboom!", "CAPOW" is an acronym to remind you to check a site against other reputable sites and google for...
C-CURRENCY- is the info on the site recent? has it been maintained? You can tell by the "look" of it, by dates it has been updated, etc, by googling the info to see if it has been adjusted etc.
A-AUTHORITY- Is this website one from an authoritative institution? Is it peer reviewed? is it well respected source? Google the exact web address--what kinds of other sites refer to this site?
P-PURPOSE- Is this site trying to inform, persuade, argue? If the site is trying to sell you something, be aware.
O-OBJECTIVITY-Is this site covering all sides of the topic fairly? If not that is fine, you can still use it, but your research is not done-be sure to go to a site that supports other points of view.
W-WRITING STYLE: Misspellings, poor grammar, slang, are all signs that a site is not academic or may be a scam or a trick by someone not educated. If it is sloppy, it may have errors in its info or thinking as well.
LET's CAPOW these together right now in class:
DHM0 -discuss not taking the site's word for it and the difference between a lie and a bias
RYThospital -discuss not taking shortcuts
Emoji, hashtag webpage or superhero summary
Create your own emoji or Emoji Sentence or instagram hashtag summarizing the best advice of today.
Social Media and Digital Literacy for Online Consumers
Part 1- Getting Your Feet Wet (your Digital Footprint)
Online your digital footprint is like a footprint in cement, not like water or sand!
People WILL stalk your digital footprint and what you do never goes away.
future sports teams
parents of potential bofirends and girlfriends
avoid negative and accentuate the positive
better to not make the mess than to try to have to clean it up.-nothing is ever truly deleted (wayback machine, cache, screenshots, stolen passwords etc)
Make sure that you are following digital citizenship guidelines so you can show off your best work as part of your digital footprint without a billl or a letter from a lawyer. Google image search, royalty free music etc.
More in the Olympic section below
In my crystal ball I see the future of education will be makerspaces. Maybe that prediction my own wishful thinking, but I sure hope it's true. A move from content-driven fact regurgitation to studio, and lab-driven workshops can only be a good thing for our students' futures. At the rate of change in todays world, a skills-based, passion-driven, and failure-tolerant exploratory environment is the way to go!
What is a makerspace?
Jake Standish defines a makerspace as any place or process that provides students the opportunity for creative expression and the pride of feeling "I made something cool!" I see it as a way in school to experience what visionary STEAM educator Seymour Pappert terms "hard fun." Makerspaces are a place to both instill and nurture students' interests organically. If you are ONLY looking for quickest test score increases, maker ed will not be for you (and I feel sad for your students.) However, done well the maker method results are INCOMPARABLY more long lasting and far reaching than traditional instruction.
How did the maker movement in education start?
Makerspaces in school grew out of the hackerspace movement as a way of integrating STEM or STEAM back into schools and a response to the oversanitization of education. If you are curious how they look outside of a school stetting, there is a hackerspace near our school. google "Charlotte Hackerspace" to find where and maybe do a field trip. There are also maker faires in many areas.
Do I need to be an engineer, a tech expert or a scientist to run a makerspace with my students?
Not at all. Students can teach each other, learn from videos or instructions, or get help from adult or high school volunteers. Just provide the supplies and let students decide what to do with them.
Makerspaces do not have to include electronics but there are many creative electronic kits out there that are affordable even for a beginning school. Check the resources question below for a few.
" if you know the right end of a soldering iron , adafruot will get you the rest of the way." - Jake Standish of CMS
I can't abide chaos, should I even try this?
Yes, frustration and false starts will be common, valuable, and instructive, but you can minimize the chaos with rubrics and directed projects and minimize the mess with 3D printed and computer based projects. Ideas are on the Pirate STEAMShip page. I also recommend partnering with a chaos-tolerant co-teacher! Put your classes together!
How can I get started?
Rather than worry about who would use it or how, we got started by gathering anything that could be used into one spot and cataloging it:
When Ms. Newburger came back as our media specialist, she created a permanent makerspace home and improved the vision and -while waiting for the funding for her larger vision, immediately re-created the media center. She
Where can my students and I find ideas?
Makerspaces as an Extention of PBL
PBL - project based learning, also called Passion based learning can be student-driven and creation driven.
This kind of PBL - known as Love of learning, 20% time and Genius hour is creating some great results is based on the idea of flipping blooms (see image) while also giving students a voice in what is created.
It rewards intelligences often ignored in traditonal education and is more motivating that a teacher-driven class. It can also be the bait that drives students to grow their skills as they see the need.
At Piedmont we are one of the first CMS schools to create a makerspace.
Our MakerSpace supplies are the perfect compliment to make-ify your lessons and/or nurture the variety of genius in your classroom! In addition to our extensive collection of multiple intelligences apps, Green Screen, Collaboration Board area, MakerSpace workbench and Makerbot Replicator 2 3Dprinter housed in the media center, we have mobile carts of supplies available for checkout to your room.
Check this link for the full list of offerings http://piratesteamship.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/STEAMshipCarts
See Lisa Gurthie or Lisa Newburger for ideas of how to use these in projects or curriculum.
The full information about STEAM integration at Piedmont via the PirateSTEAMship is here
Photo Gallery Piedmont's Middle School Makers in Action
Ok, I don't really get it myself, but I think some of you will take this and run with it, so I am sharing:
Have you heard of design thinking? there is this whole movement in education to teach by using design thinking to solve real problems. the dschool at Stanford is way out in front of how to use design thinking in education.
So you can Google to find out more, but if you think you might want to try teaching by issuing your students a challenge, you can click the image to choose one of dschool's 3 "mixtapes" lesson strategies to:
I am Lisa Gurthie the PD facilitator at Piedmont IB Middle School. She specializes in tech and arts integration, interdisciplinary, holistic education, and unschooling school to make it more real and relevant. One day I will modernize my "about" page. Check out the other blogs on this site for Lesson Ideas, Celebration of Good Teaching, and Piedmont PD