Five idea Friday

5 Ideas for Friday: Ideas for Teachers In and Out of School to Try Today

I've been getting emails from people asking me where this information is online. Five idea Friday isn't online in a blog post. You can only get it in my newsletter.

Here's the insight into how this works.

Blog posts. I post my blog posts and shows here on Cool Cat Teacher. You'll get great blog posts, how-to articles and information here that you can get in your RSS reader.

Newsletter. I have an email newsletter (you can sign up at the bottom) that I send 2-3 times a week. On Monday, I focus on motivation. On Friday, I share at least five ideas for teachers. Sometimes during the week I send one other newsletter email about something else of interest.  You can only get my newsletter by signing up for my email list.

I'm sharing today's newsletter below in this blog post for all of you blog readers out there who are wondering about the difference.

(I hope the links work because I'm not sure that some of them will — but you'll get the idea.)

[callout]If you want timely lesson plan ideas, freebies, and tips, just sign up at the bottom of the page and you'll be included in future newsletters.[/callout]

Today's 5 Idea Friday from the Cool Cat Teacher Newsletter

Dear Friend,

One quick note, the Global Teacher Prize application process is open again. Some of you should consider applying for this million dollar teacher prize.

Today I'm sharing 10 ideas: 5 for those actively teaching, 5 ideas for those of you restoring yourselves. ;-)


Check out 5 Epic Endings of the School Year with Tony Kline on meaningful ways to end the school year.

1- Try some new music to teach.

You can use music to teach. Learn from Jon Schwartz and Rockademix or readSimple Ways to Use Mood Music to Amp Up Learning. You can also use Hip Hop to teach ELL's with Jason Levine or Jed Dearybury's ideas for engaging kids with music. Write some of your own or just play some music you love.

2 – Help Kids Be Safer This Summer

Try one of these indoor or outdoor safety games for kids. Remember that students will be in new and different places this summer. Many are woefully underprepared for the outdoors.

The American Heart Association has lesson plans for CPR. The Centers for Disease Control has a variety of lesson plans on health and wellness. When you help kids become safe, you save lives.

3 – Rio 2016 Olympics

The Rio 2016 Olympics kick off on August 5, 2016. Many organizations have already created lesson plans: Scholastic, Education World, Read Write Think, and many websites have Olympic themes. (Or search TpT or Pinterest.)

Since it is in the news, you could also do an investigation of the Zika virus. (I doubt you'll find this in your textbooks.) Get lessons from PBS (grades 7-12), New York Times, AES Education, or use the topic to teach English.

4 – Movie Making and Green Screen

The end of the school year is a fun time to teach movie making (as I mentioned in a previous 5 idea Friday.)

Do you know how easy it is to teach green screen? (Here are tutorials for: iMovie,Pinnacle Studio, Adobe Premier Pro)

“Green screen” is called chroma key. You can easily make a “green screen” wall by purchasing Chroma key fabric at Amazon (I bought some at Walmart) or painting a wall with chroma key paint.

If you're wondering, chroma key is the technique used to put an actor in front of a background anywhere. (See this great explanation from Wonderopolis.) If you really want to have fun, have a student bring in a superhero outfit and follow the instructions in Videomaker magazine to do something super-awesome. (YOU could be the superhero in an awesome welcome back to school video that you could shoot NOW in post-planning.)

5 – Get into Making

The National Makerfaire in the US will be in Washington, DC June 18-19. Even if you cannot go, follow the hashtag #NMF16. They are kicking off the “summer of making.” Follow the tag on instagram and Twitter and feel like you're there. Students could be virtual reporters about what is happening or could dig deeper into making.

If you can go, tickets are complimentary. (See How the Maker Movement is Moving into Classrooms.)


1- Enroll in a class to learn something new.

Every teacher should learn something new each summer. I'll be announcing some webinars very soon, so stay tuned. Lots of resources are out there — at your local library, museum, art council or an online or face to face conference. (I set as a goal this year to take one class a month. I'm learning so much!)

2 – Wander Through a Library (or Amazon free titles)

Some of the greatest books I've come to love, I found on a random summertime stroll through the library.

Through such meanderings I discovered the Lady of Shalott by Lord Alfred Tennyson and A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall. I found 10 Fingers for God and became enamored with Paul Brand, the man who discovered the cure for leprosy. The essays of GK Chesterton inhaled me. This is the same technique I used when discovering Jane Eyre, The Odyssey, and Wuthering Heights when just a young teen. No one assigned those books to me until much later. I read all of James Michener's books because I liked how one of them looked in the library.

Wandering through the library and reading the spines may not sound exciting but can change your life.

3 – Learn How to Take Epic Pics with your Phone

Meri Walker is Iphone Art Girl. I've learned so much from her about how to take great pictures with my iPhone, but the tips apply to any smartphone with a good digital camera. Listen to her show and download the apps she recommends.

4 – Learn How to Sketchnote

I'll be leading a panel in a few weeks at ISTE of some Sketchnoting superstars. Read and try out some of these sketchnoting resources or just look up sketchnote on Pinterest and start drawing.

5 – Get Organized

Read an organization book like Sink Reflections or The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up or make your own planner like I do.

Happy June!

I'm excited to be heading to speak at the TICL conference in Iowa soon and then on to ISTE 2016. This week I've been sleeping and reading (a lot) as I am working on Design Your Day and spending time with Mom and Dad in the mountains. There's so much to be done in the summer, but getting rest is a top priority when possible.

Thank you, as always, for your kind notes and amazing stories. You are truly an amazing bunch of people. Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter and telling your friends! Another 900+ people joined the newsletter in the last thirty days.

You are appreciated and you are awesome.

With much love and gratitude,

Vicki Davis

You might wonder why I would do it this way? There are a variety of reasons, but overall — it is about giving things to people where they are most helpful. Blog posts are usually more effective if they are on a focused topic. Teachers are busy and sometimes don't have time to go online to check my blog — so having a quick newsletter right in their inbox will help them most.

Hopefully, you'll find helpful things when you see my name — that is my desire, anyway. Happy June and I hope you'll join my newsletter and get great ideas in your inbox. Have a great weekend!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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1 comment

Yesenia June 28, 2016 - 2:07 pm

I just subscribed to your newsletter! I am so thankful for all these great ideas! At times I feel so overwhelmed and now I know some great ideas to do while I am on summer break! Great ideas again!


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The Cool Cat Teacher Blog
Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere