9 Ways to Inspire Student Inventors

Edutopia Blog Post by Vicki Davis
January 17, 2017

There’s an old saying that the things that change your life are the books you read, the places you go, and the people you meet. But I’d like to add a fourth: the challenges you face (and how you face them) will always change your life. If we want our students to respond to challenges with creativity and inventiveness, we must create the conditions in which innovation is not only possible but encouraged. You don’t help students learn to invent by giving worksheets or cookie-cutter assignments. In fact, these one-size-fits-all approaches may actually take up the time that could be used for such creativity.

Read the rest of this on Edutopia

Financial Literacy: Make the Money “Real”

Vicki Davis on Edutopia
November 3, 2015

Financial literacy can be hard to teach. That's because numbers on a page don't feel real. With our society's increasing dependence on credit cards, it's more important than ever to help students “feel” the realness of their own money. Any effective financial literacy lesson needs to be hands on.

Financial literacy can be taught. A screenshot of Vicki Davis' full blog post on Edutopia.

Financial literacy can be taught, but the best ways are hands-on.

This article is posted in full on my Edutopia blog. In it, I share the greatest financial literacy lesson plan I've seen for fifth graders from right here at my school in Camilla. Financial literacy is important! We can all integrate it into our courses. 

Why Does Money Not “Feel Real” to So Many?

For some reason, using credit cards causes us to buy more junk food. And studies have shown that the more transparent our spending (cash versus credit), the less we're likely to spend.

As I teach accounting, for example, I find that debits and credits alone don't excite my students. But when I have them use debits and credits to keep track of their assets, profits, and losses while playing Monopoly, they care about accounting for every penny. As the money changes hands between them, they feel how each dollar is something very real.

They may be using play money, but the tactile experience of having it move through their fingers makes the financial concepts stick. And that is what we want, isn't it?

There are several ways to make financial literacy experiences hands on:

Read the rest of this post on Edutopia

MATH FREEBIE ALERT: Awesome Foldables and Downloads from Sarah Hagan

Math = Love Blog

sarah-haganSarah Hagan is one busy math teacher from Oklahoma. Her site has:

  • Foldables
  • Templates
  • Bulletin Boards
  • Graphic Organizers

If you know any math teachers, this is one of those sites that is a MUST SHARE! Just scanning her site, I see Frayer models, integer operations work mat, downloadable mathematical research projects, college algebra real number line project, order of operations graphic organizer. All ages here.

Here's where to follow her:

Tell every math teacher you know! Awesome! (What are your favorite places for freebies?)

Free Math resources from Sarah Hagan

Free math resources from Sarah Hagan

7 Awesome Ways to Be a Teacherpreneur and Inspire your Students to Be Exceptional

June 10, 2015

It has been some time since I first coined the word “teacherpreneur” here as it relates to the classroom teacher, but the word is becoming commonplace. ISTE sponsored a series on teacherpreneurship over on Edutopia. (Look on the left side of the post.) I think there are 7 ways that any teacher can be a teacherpreneur that are guaranteed to help students be more awesome.

Teacherpreneurs: We're Here to Inspire

“This week, my ninth and tenth grade students had shark tank app presentations. As the culmination of a six-month effort that started with more than 30 ideas, the final seven apps were presented to a panel of “sharks.” We initially had funding to put one app live on the Apple and Google Play stores. (Now we can afford two.) Each team had five minutes to present their apps, websites, and app trailers in a last-ditch effort for the rights to “go live.”

Now, some would think that choosing only one was hurtful to the other teams. It wasn't. Each team was incredible in a unique way, and the feedback from real-world judges made the whole experience more meaningful than ever.

7 Ways to Inspire

As a teacherpreneur, I work to create unique experiences for students that supercharge learning and increase engagement. Let’s dive into what teacherpreneurship looks like in the classroom and how you can show the craftsmanship of teaching every day.

Tip #1: Foster Social Connections and Appreciation for Each Other's Unique Strengths

Continue Reading this Article on Edutopia

20 Top Pinterest Tips

Vicki Davis on Edutopia
February 23, 2015

Are you Pinteresting? Well, lots of educators are. The PEW Research Center has found that 28 percent of online users are using Pinterest(compared to only 23 percent using Twitter). Women dominate Pinterest with 42 percent of women online using the site. With over 80 percent of teachers being women (PDF, 1.5MB), it makes sense that teachers are all over Pinterest sharing ideas for lesson plans, centers, and resources.

Pinterest is different from other sites. When you pin something, people will be looking at and repinning it years later. Pinterest may be the secret powerhouse of educational sharing. Here are 20 power tips that you can use in many areas of schools and your classroom.

Tip 1: Follow Boards or People

Pinterest has a useful feature that lets you just follow just one board. Here's an example. If I look at super-teacher Laura Candler's Pinterest, I can click at the top right and follow everything she pins, or I can click “Follow” under her boards that interest me the most. So a math teacher…

Continue reading the rest of this article on Edutopia.

Pinterest has so many uses for educators. After reading the post I wrote for Edutopia, which is comprehensive, you may also want to check out Simple Pinterest for Beginners and 346 Uses of Pinterest in Education.

8 Top Tips for Highly Effective Professional Development

Vicki Davis on Edutopia
April 15, 2015

davis-top-tips-for-effective-pd-2-01Highly effective classrooms can result from highly effective professional development. Recent research (Butler et al., 2004) has shown that effective professional development includes creating classroom content, modeling techniques for teachers to use in their classrooms, and feedback on lessons (Harris, Graham, and Adkins, 2015). It's not enough to teach the right things to your teachers — you have to teach your teachers in the right way.

Here are some top tips for delivering highly effective PD to your teachers.

1. Use What You Are Teaching

If a method of teaching works, that method should be used for teaching the teachers in your PD sessions. For example, if you're teaching cooperative learning but you're lecturing about it, that's undermining the message. Teachers notice what you do, so model what you're teaching by teaching with it. If you don't have enough time to use the methods that work, then you've just given an out to the teachers who will say that they don't have enough time to do it either.

Read the rest of this article on Edutopia

Edutopia is a fantastic resource. I appreciate the opportunity to write for them. Make your PD awesome!

How to Write a Letter: Lesson Plan

Canva Design School Website - Lesson Plan by Vicki Davis
December 2014
You can teach business letters using graphics.

This sample letter is one of two in the lesson plan. You start by having students compare the two letters. By comparing the two letters students can discuss what it means to be “professional” and which letter is a better example than that. Click this graphic to download the examples and plans.

How to Write a Letter: Lesson Plan

In this lesson plan, students learn:

  • The tone and style of business letters.
  • The format of business letters.
  • How to create letterhead.
  • How to proof and print their letters on personal letterhead.

This lesson is a great way to incorporate social entrepreneurship (read the post I wrote on Edutopia about this). Students can write letters to real people based upon needs. For example, two of my students created letters to the mayor of Atlanta about the situation of the homeless in certain parts of Atlanta. (This says a lot since these kids live 3 1/2 hours away but take time to volunteer and work in the neighborhoods at question.)

I believe that we should all be using graphics to teach. Canva is a great way to do that.

Disclaimer: I was compensated to create the lesson plans for Canva's design school, but not to write this blog post. There are many resources in the Canva design school you can use and I have six lesson plans up on the site so far: Writing Business Letters | Teaching About Fables | An Epic Event: Famous Historical or Literature Characters | Scientific Element Fanpage Designer | Historical Figure Fanpage | Literary Devices Unleashed . They are FREE to take.

200+ Free Educational Resources for Kids: Video Lessons, Apps, Books Websites & More

Open Culture

If you haven't added Open Culture to your RSS reader, you should. This list of 200+ Free educational resources is just one reason why. They catalog so many of the open educational resources including:

And so much more. Of course nothing is totally free and curating will take your time. But for those of us working hard to stretch our dollars, these resources can be assembled to create a world class curriculum in many subjects. You might just be surprised. With sites like CK12, ed.Ted.com you can bring the world to your students and they can publish right back.

Remember. Don't be overwhelmed. Innovate like a turtle! Plod ahead a little bit every day! You can do this!