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Exploring Through Hip-Hop: A Win-Win for My Students and Me

Hip-hop was our vehicle for exploring universal issues, beginning with learning about storytellers and leaders like Phyllis Wheatley and Muhammad Ali and eventually through engaging with our community about issues the Young Prodigy’s felt, understood, or lived. Because our foundation was letting students lead their own learning, when authentic opportunities arose for community engagement, we could take advantage of them or even create them for ourselves. Young Prodigy’s speak with policymakers and community leaders regularly now because their own learning has led them there. The community benefits from their engagement as much as they do. Continue reading Exploring Through Hip-Hop: A Win-Win for My Students and Me

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How This Outdoor Educator Drew a VIP Visit From Parks Canada

The key to starting a successful outdoor education program, according to educator Bill Bagshaw, is to capture students’ enthusiasm. Teachers must create a “long sales pitch where you are promoting it and how much fun it is,” he said. If you’re able to organize field trips, that can be a good strategy: “That really sells the program, and you can then work to build it up. Once that has been done, you can add some things, like research projects.” Continue reading How This Outdoor Educator Drew a VIP Visit From Parks Canada

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Tea Cakes and Black History: Reclaiming a Legacy

I first learned about the history of tea cakes from a book called Christmas Gift, by Charlemae Rollins, about how enslaved people were allowed to cook certain things at Christmastime, and one of those recipes was a tea cake. Tea cake recipes were passed by word of mouth because our ancestors couldn’t read or write; they were forbidden from learning, of course. They didn’t have measuring cups or spoons, but they were able to create the recipes by word of mouth with loose measurements. Continue reading Tea Cakes and Black History: Reclaiming a Legacy

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Why Abi Henneberry Takes Her Class Outside Each Day

“We have delighted in discovering slugs underneath oak leaves, muskrats surfacing in local ponds and swimming to shore, and migrating geese establishing nesting grounds,” kindergarten educator Abi Henneberry told me. “Once, we discovered very active, fearless voles in the green space surrounding a local storm pond. They had created holes and tunnels in the grasses we had passed many times, and they were jumping everywhere. This was a tremendous opportunity for children to appreciate their place as visitors in another species’ world.” Continue reading Why Abi Henneberry Takes Her Class Outside Each Day

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How to Get Students Outside? Try Backward Planning

“I have always looked for opportunities to get students outside,” Xena Biffert told me. Xena is a district science consultant in Alberta, Canada, where we both live, and previously taught kindergarten and grades three through six. When she started bringing her own classes outdoors, it required her to think differently. “As I began taking students outside more, I really needed to reconsider the way I planned,” she said. “I started to do a lot of backward planning.” Continue reading How to Get Students Outside? Try Backward Planning