April Classroom ideas

8 Awesome Ideas for Your Classroom in April

Get eight ideas of things you can use in your classrooms of all ages and tips for teaching in April (including test-prep ideas.)

April is a busy month. Here are some of the tools and tips for you to explore as you prepare your lessons for this month! I talk about some great books, how I'm using the Elgato teleprompter, eclipse resources anyone can use anywhere in the world, Earth Day, financial literacy month, Arbor Day, some excellent professional development resources and a webinar I'm doing on AI in learning, resources for promoting student safety in automobiles, and, of course, some valuable test prep resources. I hope you find ideas for your classroom in this episode. I've included all of the links in the blog post below.

EVERFI

This is financial literacy month! I recently taught my students about budgets and they were so grateful! Teach students the things that matter during financial literacy month and beyond! From budgets to banking to credit and savings, choose a topic and use it in your classroom with EVERFI’s free financial literacy lesson plans.
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    1 – Eclipse Event

    Monday, April 8th, will be a total eclipse event, but your classroom can participate anywhere.

    • The eclipse starts in the Pacific Ocean and moves into Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Main and small parts of Tennessee and Michigan, as well as a small portion of Canada are in the path of totality of the eclipse. 
    • Look at NASA’s Map Explorer for this eclipse to see the path. (By the way, my friends in South America have an upcoming eclipse in October.
    • On April 8th, NASA will have a live broadcast with live coverage from 1 pm EDT to 4 pm.
    • Additionally, the National Science Foundation has viewing events in Washington, D.C., and Dallas, TX, as well as its own live stream explaining the eclipse.
    • For other teaching resources and a guide for administrators, go to the National Science Teaching Association website. They have an archived webinar about safe solar eclipse viewing techniques and what you need to know as an administrator.

    eclipse-map-2024-1920-1

    2 – April is financial literacy month.

    I have a blog post going live this week about how you can teach financial literacy, and eVERFI is the sponsor of today’s podcast, but these opinions are my own. The issue with financial literacy is that in the past, it was most often a skill passed down from parents to their children. Financially literate parents are more likely to train financially literate children, however, the opposite is also true. Increasingly, financial literacy is becoming an equity issue. Let’s talk about four courses for all ages to check out.

    • Smart Economics: Economics Concepts (Middle School) is a middle school course that helps students understand how government and economics shape our world.
    • FutureSmart: Financial Literacy (Middle School) is a course every middle schooler should take. It is free and was recently independently validated to meet ESSA Level III, which demonstrates the usage of the digital course shows a positive, statistically significant relationship with student’s financial knowledge, self-efficacy, and behaviors.
    • And if you teach elementary school, there’s Vault: Understanding Money (Elementary School) to help your students understand the basics of budgeting, career planning, healthy borrowing habits, and more.
    • Find a way to teach financial literacy, whether by creating a classroom store or having kids pretend to file mock taxes. We all need to help our students learn about financial literacy.

    3 – Earth Day Resources and Ideas

    Earth Day is April 22nd, and you can celebrate so many ways. Earthday.org  has a resource library with toolkits, lesson plans, and more. You can study air quality, learn about our bees and insects, clean up trash, make recycling bins, or even adopt a plant. (You may know that plants are shown to improve concentration, productivity, and memory.)I’ve also seen schools plant and care for gardens in April, and they harvest crops before school leaves in May or June. I have had my friend Stephen Ritz on the show greenbronxmachine.org, and they grow plants in unique ways there—such a cool program. You can also talk about water-saving techniques in your classroom and use the water footprint calculator at watercalculator.org. Students can also pick a citizen science project like iNaturalist, the wildlife missions at Project Noah, or even the cross-curricular lessons at Zooniverse.

    OK, I also found a recipe for the cutest Earth Day cupcakes you can make with your students to celebrate Earth Day. It uses bright green and blue batter and looks like the earth when cooking. 

    4 – Arbor Day is April 27th

    On this day many of us plant trees but some states may celebrate on a different day.. The Arbor Day Foundation has resources for you. Plan to order your trees now. 

    5- Start Planning Your Summer PD and Taking PD Now

    Last week’s podcast sponsor was Modern Classrooms. They have some fully funded enrollments in their virtual mentorship program and other ways you can get up to speed on competency-based mastery-based learning. Those applications are due at the end of April, so follow the link in the show notes.

    You should also check out Edge U Badges, a sponsor of my January podcast. They have a fantastic micro credentialing program for teachers, administrators, and school staff that allows you to earn contact hours or graduate credit.

    I also look forward to meeting some of you at ISTE 2024 in Denver, Colorado, where I will be part of two sessions, and I look forward to connecting with you there. See my sessions: https://conference.iste.org/2024/program/search/detail_presenter.php?id=117263376 

    6 – Join Me for Artificial Intelligence in the 

    Learning Landscape

    On April 18th from 5:30 – 7:30 pm Eastern time for $25, I am conducting a 2-hour session on Artificial Intelligence in the Learning Landscape with the Darton Foundation and Albany State University. This is designed for individuals and educators to understand the rapid changes in AI and how we can use AI to help us become more proficient and inspire new ways of learning. Additionally, I’ll talk about what we need to do as educators to help our students move successfully into the age of AI. I hope you’ll join me.

    7 Safety for Students in Automobiles

    I’m not sure what has happened in your area, but I have been reading about so many senseless crashes and deaths of children racing at high speeds. So, I wanted to share some hands-on STEM lessons about crash science to help promote crash safety. I found them at Insurance Institute for HIghway Safety, however I have also seen mock crash events set up that were very powerful at schools. Contact your state highway public safety organization to set this up. I also found an organization called streetracingkills.org that is working to help bring awareness to the dangers of this disturbing trend.

    8 – Test Review

    Test review is coming and there are fun ways to do this. I want to shout out to my friend Lisa Oconnor; her classes always liked to play trashketball. So, you have a worksheet with problems or whatever you’re reviewing. When students complete it, they had the paper to a teacher (or to officials who are students) to quickly check the work. Once everything is correct, the student earns points by shooting their worksheet into the trash can. 

    MagicSchool.ai has a great jeopardy review game to help generate questions for you or other AI tools where you put in the standards and current questions you’ve already used and generate other questions and answers that you can put into the game of your choice, after you check them, of course. My students love reviewing on Gimkit for their AP CSP exam, and we’re also using JuiceMindj, which is a must-use tool for anyone who teaches programming or computer science of any kind. There’s also Blooket, Quizziz, and Kahoot, of course. Remember to do quick formative assessments so you know where students are struggling. And remember to plan fun Brain Breaks with a tool like Go Noodle and remember to be aware of the test anxiety some students have when taking a test and prepare them with relaxation techniques. 

    As you’re listening to this show, I’m enjoying spring break and am I ready! I will be reading, fishing, relaxing, and getting some sleep. I’m ready to get some sunshine and take a long walk or two as I continue to get stronger and feel better.

    Book Recommendations

    I’m also enjoying reading Slow Productivity by Cal Newport and an awesome book called Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things by Adam Grant. Another book I highly recommend is All It Takes is a Goal by Jon Acuff, I’ve read it three times already this year.

    Now, I’ve shared eight topics of ideas for you for April, and I hope this is helpful. This is a bit of an experiment for me, so let me know if you like having an idea podcast. I often share this sort of thing in my newsletter so sign up at coolcatteacher.com/newsletter.

    Now, let’s talk about today’s sponsor EVERFI.

    Everyone remembers THAT teacher. The study hall teacher who walked you through your first college application. The social studies teacher who taught you what taxes were AND how to file them. The math teacher who used student loans to show you how interest worked. YOU can be that teacher—and EVERFI wants to help you make that kind of impact with FREE digital lessons for K thru 12 students. From budgets and banking to credit and savings, you’ll find a financial literacy topic that’s right for your classroom. And especially during April, Financial Literacy Month, there’s no better time to equip students with smart decision-making around finances. Learn how you can share these FREE resources with students and give them a financial foundation that lasts a lifetime. 

    Go to everfi.com/coolcat for more information.

    Thank you for listening to the show!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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