Expect Unexpected Engagement When you try Hexagonal Thinking in ELA


Trailer: The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast
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Are you a Sound of Music Fan like me? I’ve been known to sing “These are a few of my favorite things” to my daughter at night pretty often, except that I only remember a few of the words, so I’m always having to be inventive.

Today on the podcast, I’m sharing a few of my own favorite things. Favorite books, tech, products, and even social media accounts. I’ve been working on such varied projects over the last few months, and my fun discoveries don’t always fit neatly into blog posts and podcast episodes. So today, grab some tea and join me for a fun little wander through some of my recent discoveries.

You can listen on the podcast player below or on Apple PodcastsBlubrry, Spotify, or Stitcher. And/or, you can read on for the highlights, pictures, and links.

Starting with books…

How to Read a Book, by Kwame Alexander

This beautiful children’s book is all about the experience of reading. I highly recommend it as a read-aloud in class, and a springboard for having students create projects around their own experience of reading.

Long Way Down, All American Boys, Ghost, and For Everyone, by Jason Reynolds
I LOVE THEM ALL! Read more here. 

On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
So good. Just as good as The Hate U Give or better. This book belongs on your independent reading shelf.

The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
A wonderful book. A good option if your students are loving books written in verse.

Then diving into Tech…

Wow, I just bought the version that lets me record longer videos and I’m loving it! If you’re interested in flipped learning at all, this is a super easy way to screencast while recording your voice.

My Shakespeare (an amazing discovery from Jennifer Gonzalez’s Teacher’s Guide to Tech 2020, which I think you’ll also love. Blog post about that coming next week!).
My Shakespeare features the full text of five popular Shakespeare plays, with pop-out buttons that allow students to hear audio, watch performance snippets, and get related notes about mythology and other helpful additions. Plus, they can read sections in modern English when they need to.

Such a cool platform! You prompt students, then they record video responses.

Purdue Writing Lab: The New MLA Citation Format
Purdue Writing Lab online is AMAZING! If you don’t know about this resource, particularly for teaching MLA, you’ve got to check it out. Read more about MLA today and grab the free citation poster I mentioned in the blog post here.

High Tech High Unboxed
Want to learn more about project-based learning? Learn from a school at the forefront, High Tech High.

Bringing up a few favorite products…

Amazon Flair Pens (so much cheaper, and you get more!)

I wanted a ton of flair pens available when I keynoted at the VATE conference in the fall, so I bought them myself. I didn’t want to spend as much as I’d have to to get Papermate for over one hundred sketchnoters, so I tried the Amazon basic version. Everyone loved them!

The Ed Deck

I created these cards to make creative planning easier. Keep them in your desk or on a bulletin board, or spread them out in your department office or faculty room. Find them here. 

Erin Condren Planner

This is my second year buying the Erin Condren planner and I’m really getting attached to it. I love being able to design my own cover, and I love the stickers and the beautiful spreads that help me organize. If you want to invest in a really nice planner, I recommend EC. 

Artisan Bread in 5

I’m a little obsessed with this cookbook series. If you wish you had time to fill your house with the smell of baking bread, cinnamon rolls, and pizza, this cookbook is your ticket! You stir up a huge batch of dough and throw it in the fridge. Then when you have time, you pull out a glob and form it into whatever you’re making. I can make a giant pot of pizza crust and then pull it out for four different pizzas over the course of two weeks. Or kick Sunday off with cinnamon-orange-almond rolls like the ones above! In the summer when we have guests at the cabin, I’ve been known to have three separate kinds of dough in my fridge at once – pizza, bread, and brioche.

And for good measure, a couple of great Instagram accounts you might not know yet…

Amplifier Art
Amplifier Art is using art to change the world. And I love it. They’ve got tons of free educator resources.

I like the way this account features people of indigenous nations doing wonderful things across many fields and in many spaces. The point of the account is to “increase the visibility of Natives in American Society” (from their profile) and one of the reasons I like following is because their posts remind me to keep Native poets, authors, and artists front of mind as I design units and curriculum.

Ok folks, that is all! What are a few of your favorite English teacher things you’ve discovered this year? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Ethical AI PBL Unit

3 Weeks of Attendance Questions

Better Discussion Toolkit


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