As spring shoots poke their heads above our thawing earth, we scour cyberspace for new ideas sprouting in the fertile world of teacher magazines. The result is a mixed bag of fresh thinking, with only one or two of the ideas directly related to the pandemic. Brain science, always intriguing, leads the way with a challenging but fascinating article on using known science about how the brain works to improve classroom learning. Other worthy entries tackle fat-shaming, teaching primary students about Pride, the latest podcasts and—in a nod to spring—an environmentally-friendly dive into the world of the “Green Teacher.”

  • The Brain Seeks Patterns: How Neuroscience Meets EducationYou were wondering what’s new in brain science relative to student learning? The winter issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine suspected as much. In his rather technical article, Guelph science teacher Antik Dey describes teaching strategies that capitalize on the ways brains are organized. Context is important to learning, as students build on what they already know. So there’s an emphasis on cross-curricular learning, using real world scenarios, and on metacognition—reflecting on what one has learned. Much is based on existing mental patterns. “Patterning involves the brain to categorize and organize new sensory information in a meaningful way that is based on past experiences.”
  • How can you have two moms?In a TEACH Magazine article entitled Teaching About Pride, Elana Moscovitch, currently a child and family clinician, formerly an Ontario teacher and guidance counsellor, describes her experiences in teaching primary students about Pride. With a lesson designed by a queer friend specifically for this age group, she describes the ways the experience created a win-win for teacher and students.
  • Let’s Talk About Fat-Shaming“Uneasy about how to talk to your students about fat-shaming and related issues like body image, phobias, public health, and bullying? Here are some resources to start the conversation.” Yes Magazine offers one-stop shopping for a lesson framework designed to teach about fat-shaming that can be used for other tough topics. Among the tips: enter the discussion vulnerably with armor off; seek different student perspectives; and be careful what to ask—avoid accidentally being insulting; shut down hurtful or arrogant comments. Included: a glossary of terms, reading materials, and suggestions on how to conduct a lesson.
  • 10 of the Absolute Best Podcasts for TeachersIf podcasts are part of your day, you may have encountered some of these; if not, here are a few of what We are Teachers recommends as worthy listening: Teaching Keating features a husband-wife educator team that uses “iconic teaching moments from movies and television as a vehicle to reflect on instructional practice. They are fun to listen to and always bring it back to the importance and value of reflection in a teacher’s life;” Book Love focuses on developing a love of reading in students; Ten-Minute Teacher offers five short episodes per week; and The House of Ed Tech claims to be “a great resource if you want to learn about new apps, tech resources, and programs you can use in your classroom.”  
  • Should It Stay, or Should It Go?Writing for Teachers On Fire, Heather Edick offers her opinions on which COVID-launched techological innovations should be kept, and which discarded. Read this reasonably short piece to learn why she says robotic cameras, software to help with writing and some software for online formative assessment should go; and why doc cams, digital white boards, online office suites for collaboration and programs that check for grammar and style issues should stay.
  • Education for Planet EarthGreen Teacher focuses on the environment, with intriguing-sounding webinar-recorded topics that include: Empowering Youth Voices on Climate Change Policy; The Plastic Problem and What We Can do About It; Maps, COVID, and Green Cleaning; Schoolyard Garden Insights; and, Can Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities Happen Outdoors?

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