Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Guest Post: Author Jeff Gottesfeld

All the way in March, the children's book publisher Candlewick Press (full disclosure: that company is publishing my next picture book, TWENTY-ONE STEPS: GUARDING THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER in March, 2021, with illustrations by the immensely talented Matt Tavares) brought out a free, downloadable picture book for kids, explaining the Covid-19 crisis to them. I was impressed by how quickly it must have come together, and the good that could be done with a PDF download.

And it got me thinking. 

I have a pretty active Jewish life. Between my synagogue, family, and study, it was a big anchor for me. Then came Covid-19. And I realized that as much as my Jewish life was disrupted, it was worse for children in Jewish homes. So much of Jewish life is communal. The holidays, observances, festivals,'s always the more the merrier. The pandemic made the more the merrier the more the super-spreadering, or something. In any case, kids all over the world were stuck at home, including Jewish kids. They couldn't even mask up and go for a walk on their own. I figured it had to feel pretty joyless.

But the thing is, there is plenty of Jewish joy at home. It just has to be made. So I decided to see if I could enlist some talented Jewish friends and create a free, downloadable PDF book of our own. A coloring book, that would be positive and upbeat, whimsical and inspired. I talked to young artist Jonah Cohen, who went to high school with my de facto stepdaughter and is now at Rhode Island School of Design. Would you be interested, Jonah, in joining in a volunteer chesed project?  He said yes. I talked to my old Teaneck NJ junior high school chum Julie Greller, who's my webmaster. Would be you interested, Julie, in joining a volunteer chesed project, and design this book?  Julie said yes. 

Of course, everything takes longer than expected. Jonah had school, I had my writing life, and Julie had her designing life. But longer doesn't mean never. And maybe it is a 
besherit that just as America and much of the world is mired in this December wave of Covid-19 that's got so many of us on lockdown again, and Hanukkah is starting on Thursday night, that When We Can't Go Out: Jewish Joy at Home is ready.

It's free to download here. Go and enjoy.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 18 Articles, Lesson Plans and Videos

Academy of Achievement: Ruth Bader Ginsburg- biography, profile, gallery, interview

Examining the Impact and Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg- from School Library Journal; 6 books are reviewed for grades 3 and up.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biography- from

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Facts for Kids- from Kiddle

TIME 100- 1996: Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Legacy on the Supreme Court- PBS News Hour Extra's lesson for grades 6-12; video with questions provided.

My Hero- celebrating Ruth Bader Ginsburg, includes discussion questions

RBG (film) Classroom Guide- discussion questions, post-viewing activities, supplemental resources, movie reviews.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg- Share My Lesson has many documents to download with reference to the lesson plan.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biography Worksheet- biography is followed by questions (grade 5)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Coloring Pages

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court's Feminist Icon- lesson of the day from The New York Times Learning Network; although the grade level is not listed, it looks like grades 8-12.

Women Who Shaped the Supreme Court- lesson for grades 6-12 from NewseumED


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

7 Tips to Create Strong Passwords


It's always been important to have strong passwords. Too many people choose their birthday, anniversary, name of a pet or easy number pattern. (Yes, there have been those using 1, 2, 3, 4 ! ) Hackers live to crack your accounts, people! A few popular apps include Facebook, Hotmail, (Microsoft is big on their attack radar) Twitter,  and Instagram. The list is endless, so before you are the next to be hacked, here are some suggestions which will provide a strong password. 

1. Do not use the same password for all your accounts.
The reason is obvious, so just don't. Period.

2. Use a mix of upper and lower case letters with numbers and symbols.
You can choose a word you will remember, but really mix things up. For example, the number 1 can be the letter I or i. The $ sign can represent an S or s. Remember, letters in a password are case-sensitive. You get the idea.

3. Do not use spaces.
Spaces are not permitted most of the time.

3. Misspell a word on purpose.
Gr8PuRr$uN = Great person

4. Never use keyboard sequences, such as QWERTY or CVBNM.
Too easy to crack, right?

5. Never enter your password into a public computer.
Hackers will love you if you do that...

6. Don't leave password hints on site accounts.
It's nobody's business but yours!

7. Use two-step authentication.
For example, when logging into your online bank account, have them text you a code to sign in.

G00b lUk, y00$3R
Good Luck, User

Right-click to download the infographic I created from the list above. It is larger than it appears on this post.

Monday, September 7, 2020

10 Must-Haves for Your Media Center's Virtual Website


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Now that we are 6 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for school media specialists to have information-rich webpages which their students can access 24/7. The following list provides the most important elements you need to place on your media center's site. Media specialists can also go HERE to find everything related to the many hats you wear in your teaching position.

1. Your media center's webpage needs to have a direct link on the home page for your school.
     It should not take several clicks to get to the page, i.e. District Home > Your School > Extra Resources >Your School's Media Center Home Page. Unfortunately, that's exactly the where my school put our link. 😞

2.  Make the home page easy to navigate.
Remember that you will have students of all ages and levels, whether you teach in an elementary,  middle or high school. Ease of use will not frustrate your kids. Knollwood School Media Center (Elementary) has a clean main page, although I wish the resources page was alphabetically organized within categories, such as subscriptions, reading and research. I would not post user names and passwords for the world to see.

3. Make your website content rich and visually appealing.
    In order to keep students interested and focused on learning, your site's interface should keep students coming back to explore more and more of resources you have posted. Convince them that your site can offer them more than a Google search. I created a page devoted just to pathfinders, covering 135 subjects, from African American Inventors and Scientists to Young Adult Authors. With an icon for each subject, the page is not just a list; it's a visual listing. 

4. Utilize tutorials and infographics.
    Putting tutorials on your site will allow anyone who needs assistance 24/7 help. Tutorials can be in the form of videos, (visual learners love this method) or infographics. Explain the rules of the media center, show how to search the card catalog etc. My media center had 20x30 enlargements of infographics I had created, and others I was able to download for classroom use.  The first one by EasyBib should be on your website:

The next one covers the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism. Note the Creative Commons license at the bottom of the infographic:

I created this next example with SnagIt for Education, and because it was done quite a few years ago, this might not look the same on the EasyBib site. I wanted to show how helpful SnagIt is when you are a teacher.

Here's a video example of a tutorial to embed on your media center website:

5. Put a direct link to your online card catalog.
    Students and staff should be able to view your collection from anywhere. Books can be easily reserved if they are listed as checked out.

6. Resources should hand-picked by the media specialist and posted on your site.
    Important to cover: study skills, research paper formatting, tips for taking tests, recommended reading lists by grade level, website evaluation and cyber safety.

7. Provide contact information so that students and teachers can communicate with you.
    Use either a contact form, email address, or school phone number, if you are in school.

8.  Provide either a photo or emoji of the media center staff:

9.  Provide your mission information for the media center, as well as policies and procedures.

10. Provide book suggestions by grade level.

Friday, September 4, 2020

UPDATED: 100 Online Museums to Visit Without Leaving the Classroom


Taken at the Museum of Tolerance
Here's a pretty extensive listing of museums for you to use in your curriculum. I've covered subject areas of art, culture, history, natural history, science, technology and miscellaneous. Please add any suggestions you have to the comments section.

UPDATED: 9/4/20

Art and Our Culture
Art Institute of Chicago

Artsonia- world's largest art museum for young artists; this is an excellent place "to post and find student art"; all graphics are done by students.

The Barnes Foundationan art collection and educational institution promoting the appreciation of art and horticulture

Bling Universe- art museum in Maryland

Musee d'Orsay-very large galleries

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)- multimedia site

National Gallery of Art- online tours of the Washington, DC museum

National Museum of Women in the Arts- more than 3,000 works from the 16th century to the present

National Portrait Gallery: London- digital history resources

Philadelphia Museum of Art- explore online collection database

The Rodin MuseumWith nearly 150 bronzes, marbles, and plasters, the distinguished collection housed in the Rodin Museum represents every phase of Auguste Rodin’s career.

State Hermitage Museum- St. Petersburg, Russia

Tate Online- British & International Modern Art

The Van Gogh Museum- located in the Netherlands

Uffizi Gallery- Florence, Italy

Vatican Collections Online-virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel

American Memory Historical Collections

The Anne Frank Museum

The British Museum

Colonial Williamsburg Museums

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park- Indiana

The Hermitage- located in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ
Imperial War Museum

Memorial Hall Museum Online: American Centuries, View from New England
- for researcher, educators and students; explore American History with hands-on activities, exhibits, lessons, historic documents and artifacts.

Museum of Tolerance

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

National Museum of the American Indian

Boston Children's MuseumThe Boston Children’s Museum welcomes online visitors into its exhibits (no lines!) and you can supplement the images with your own at-home activities and games.

The Freud Museum (London)

Mathematics Museum (Japan) 

National Inventors Hall of Fame

Canadian Museum of Nature 

Museum of Paleontology- Univ. of California, Berkeley

Natural History Museum- Los Angeles County- activities and programs; teacher resources

Natural History Museum of Florence University- botanical

Nature Online- Natural History Museum; London

Ology at the American Museum of Natural History- for young children

University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History-virtual tour 

World Wide Museum of Natural HistoryAn online museum featuring photo galleries and quality educational products for homes, schools and museums.

Science and Technology
The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel Universitythe oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Americas; features Science from Home page, Academy Kids and more.

Computer History Museum

Exploratorium- this is a hands on science museum which has online versions of some of their exhibit

The Field Museum-several permanent exhibits

IEEE Virtual Museum-the history of electronics, electricity and computers

MIT Museum- multimedia

The Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia- a medical museum which contains a collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment

National Air and Space Museum- Smithsonian

The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television and Radio)

Robotics- part of the Tech Museum

The Science Museum of London- students can explore over 250,000 objects and archives from the collection of the Science Museum Group.

Science Museum of Minnesota-online activities

Try Science- virtual field trips for kids

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Teaching Empathy: 20 Resources During This Very Trying Time


These are unprecedented times. There is unprecedented anxiety, fear and anger. People have been dealing with isolation, death,  and loss of jobs. We all need to be more patient and empathetic with one another. Easy to say, right? As adults, we have been trudging through the past 6 months with great difficulty, so imagine how our kids and students have felt. My first guess would be that they are quite confused and wondering whether or not they will be returning to school in person or virtually. The following resources are meant to assist us all with being more empathetic. If you have any additions, please add in the comments section after the article.

3 Ways to Teach Kindness and Empathy- from McGraw Hill

4 Proven Ways for Teaching Empathy- from Edutopia

Ages and Stages: Empathy- from Scholastic; covers PreK- Grade 2

Can Empathy Be Taught?-by F. Diane Barth, LCSW; Psychology Today Magazine

Can Virtual Reality Teach Empathy?- from Innovation Education in VT

Developing Empathy Through Retold Fairy Tales- from PBS Learning Media; grades 5-8

Empathy Lesson Plans for Middle School

Empathy Worksheets- FREE download; grades 1-3

For Families: 5 Tips for Cultivating Empathy- from the Harvard School of Education's Making Caring Common Project

How to Be More Empathetic- NY Times article written by Claire Cain Miller; for older students to adults

How to Teach Empathy in the Classroom- from TeachThought

Nine Competencies for Teaching Empathy- by Michele Borba, educational psychologist and parenting expert

Someone Else's Shoes- activity for middle school kids

Teaching Tolerance- includes lessons, learning plans, articles, publications and much, much more

What is Empathy? And Why is it So Important?- from educator and author David Geurin


Monday, August 31, 2020

11 Non-Partisan Fact-Checking Websites

Those  of you who have followed this site have seen the large post I  did three years ago for teachers and students about Fake News. Today's post is for everyone, since our political climate is currently so filled with misinformation. We all need to have factual information for the coming November election. Please share with your friends on social media. Too many people believe everything they read or see on TV. I've also attached an infographic from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, which you can print and post near your workspace. 

UPDATED 9/3/20

AP Fact Check- Associated Press' website, an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting, founded in 1846.

Fact Check- A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center

Fact Tank: News in the Numbers- "Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research."

MediaBias/Fact Check- comprehensive media bias resource; currently 3200+ media sources listed in the database and growing every day.

Media Matters for America- "A web-based, non profit research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting misinformation in the U.S. media."

Open Secrets- run by the Center for Responsible Politics; non-profit, non-partisan.  Also lists where candidates get their money. Dark money is explained in detail.

PolitiFact- non-profit run by the Poynter Institute

PunditFact- "a project of the Poynter Institute, dedicated to checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, the hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media."

SciCheck- Fact Check's site "focuses exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy. It was launched in January 2015."

Sunlight Foundation- "a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses civic technologies, open data, policy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all."

TinEye- this is a reverse image search which tells you whether or not an image was altered.

Here is the English version. (Right-click on the image to download.)
The infographic is also available in 45 other languages!! CLICK HERE to see the list.

Follow me on Twitter, Like me on Facebook or Subscribe to this blog.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...