posted on August 10, 2019

As elementary school teachers, we developed an entrepreneurial after-school program for grades 3-5.

We felt that it was important for younger students to develop a solid understanding of business and the economy. Our program consisted of three components:
(a) visiting local businesses, noting physical positioning, product, and range of service;
(b) playing a virtual stock market game: GAME HERE;and
(c) creating a product from concept to design to packaging and marketing.

I have not seen many programs on this topic. Recently, however, I met an elementary educator who has developed an extensive curriculum in business development ideas for elementary and middle school students. Eva Foxwell’s materials include curriculum material on entrepreneurship, business skills, and career development: CLICK HERE

We do not know where students’ interests and passions will lead them later in life, but it is certainly advantageous to offer early insight in careers, entrepreneurship, business, and economics.

posted on August 8, 2019

I am always thrilled to share really interesting products, both recently introduced and longstanding favorites. I particularly favor products offering children hands-on learning opportunities.

The products I can share after attending an education convention in Palm Springs, CA are:

(1) KEVA Planks from Keva Education. Keva offers teacher lessons and activities with their single size Keva Planks made from fine hardwood maple. Students can innovate and problem solve collaboratively using the materials. Using your hands to work through problems with classmates can only benefit students as they prepare for other STEM/STEAM topics. Website HERE

(2) Learning Wrap Ups. This company offers many hands-on classroom and after-school curriculum supported manipulatives for students to reinforce learning in math and reading topics. Offering very creative ways to check and practice topics. Website HERE

(3) Insect Lore. To get hands-on learning about caterpillars, ladybugs, butterflies and more, this company offers an excellent opportunity to do just that! Children should know about all aspects of our fragile eco-system, and what better place to start than with insects? Website HERE

posted on April 22, 2019

For K- 8 Colorado schools considering bringing in an education program in STEM, consider STEMpunk. Here is their program catalog: PROGRAMS HERE

It is not easy to find an extremely well researched and presented roll-in STEM experience.

One truly never knows where that spark of inspiration comes from engendering a passion for learning!

Engaging students in programs brought to schools enriches students’ experiences and interests.

posted on March 7, 2019

Teachers spend many hours of their own time each week searching for images and articles to complement their curriculum materials promoting essential understanding and providing teachable moments in their classrooms. These searches are often complicated by copyright use issues and time constraints.

We have formed OZZLA, Inc. to develop and provide comprehensive yet concise lesson units across grade levels. OZZLA SPARKS, as we have called our lessons, offer professional photographic images and engaging text to teachers for classroom use. OZZLA SPARKS target a specific learning objective such as “Compare and Contrast”, or “Descriptive Writing”. In this way, images and corresponding text are tightly bound together to form a teachable moment.

OZZLA SPARKS provide immediately accessible and low-priced teaching material to teachers.

These lessons are tied to, and reference, the ELA Common Core curriculum guidelines.

We are building a selection of OZZLA SPARKS – click HERE

posted on January 28, 2019

All institutions, by their very nature, contain a finite amount of knowledge representing the communal skills and learning of their employees. Well funded institutions who find skills or knowledge lacking hire more employees or outside consultants. Many K-12 entities lack the financial resources to exercise this option. That is why it is vitally important for local communities to participate in K-12 education either through on-campus interactions, or by offering opportunities in their own spaces.

Universities, with an abundance of professional educators, students, and meeting spaces, are perfectly positioned to offer enrichment to the K-12 community. Two examples that come to mind are the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) Wizards program: HERE and The Rockefeller University Science Saturday: HERE

Both offer incredible learning opportunities to young learners by carefully crafting how to present complicated topics to this audience.

The Boulder Center for Interactive Learning at Dawson (BCILD) hopes to learn about, and share, information on other such opportunities within K-12 communities.

Photos taken at CU Wizard event Boulder,CO, Saturday 01/26/2019
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posted on December 17, 2018

Through the use of classroom manipulatives, we can encourage a wide range of thinking and questioning at the elementary level. Using sets of diskii where each of ten tokens has a unique name, face, and color, we can avail students of opportunities to work collaboratively to solve hands-on problems. The opportunity exists to vary the complexity of the challenge according to the topic or grade being taught.

In a very simple example, consider the equation 3+4=7. We could ask students what 3+4 equals. There is one finite answer. However, using diskii we can ask what the possible values of the tokens are if: token + token = 7. Already, the complexity of the challenge is increased. Alternatively, we could set the value of one token at 3, and ask what the value of the remaining token is if: token + token = 7 given that one token has a value of 3. Here, students have to retrieve information and apply that knowledge (two critical learning skills) to solving the problem.

diskii HERE

posted on November 26, 2018

I was always concerned in my elementary classrooms when I realized that my students principally saw only finished product in their lives – film, novel, technology, building, business. When are young students these days ever exposed to process other than through concerted efforts on the part of educators to show, for example, how stories are deliberately constructed? Children meeting professional authors offers an essential insight into how ideas are formed, massaged, written down, and ultimately formed into a story through diligent effort and many re-writes. Such is another limited example of students seeing process. In previous times, children were directly involved in family businesses or farming where they were personally involved in the process of production. How does something start, and how do people get it to completion? Not knowing how to connect a topic of study to its practical outcome in the ‘real world’ could lead students to question its relevance to them.

Some of the steps involved in what I will call “the creation of something” are:

– the idea itself
– is it a good idea or not? What are its benefits to me or others?
– is the idea an adaptation? I need to draw information from various sources
– working the idea to a place where it can be explained to others
– seeing if the idea already exists, and if/how this impacts our moving forward
– ascertaining what we need to complete the project
– getting others to cooperate in the execution of the project
– assembling the resources to complete the project
– trying and failing
– trying again and failing
– not getting despondent and keeping resources focused on the project
– trying again, and hopefully succeeding

These are but a few steps in general idea and project conception, process, and completion.

In elementary mathematics, providing opportunities for students to use their hands and minds in a cooperative learning environment are somewhat limited. To that end, we have invented two products for elementary education which help children work physically towards solutions either individually, or in groups.

Aspects of our manipulative products are discussed below:

intooba – intooba HERE

This K-6 construction manipulative offers many lessons in both specific mathematical concepts such as shapes, estimation, and fractions and in engineering challenges. In math, we provide a spiraled program offering teachers instructional ideas in many math concepts. In engineering, we offer students over 25 construction challenges each with varying levels of complexity.
This is hands-on work asking for actionable solutions through construction and mathematics. Resource constraints such as assigning a project budget and input costs makes this learning very relevant.

diskii – diskii HERE

This K-4 manipulative offers students and teachers opportunities to explore mathematical concepts hands-on either individually or in groups. Our ten tokens (essentially representing 0-9) have unique names, faces, and colors offering many layers of complexity in problem construction. Instructional possibilities include logical reasoning, understanding the equals sign, and substituting a token for an unknown algebraic quantity x as in: token + 4 = 10 for lower grades.

Drawing on information to solve a problem is a critical skill. Using diskii, equations can be created where certain token values are given, and students have to use this information to solve for the unknown tokens.

We have created these advanced thinking manipulatives with lesson support to offer easy-to-implement hands-on group problem solving opportunities we feel are unavailable in many physical manipulatives available in classrooms today. We focus on fun, creative visual challenges making math relevant in concrete ways to elementary learners.

In our manipulatives, we are diligently focusing on process as an integrally important part of learning. Students work cooperatively with their hands and minds to solve challenges.
In this environment, drawing on spiraled learning, students have opportunities to produce increasingly complex product through their own efforts.

posted on October 28, 2018

Affordable access for teenagers to resources for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) provides such an enormous benefit to our society. I was recently introduced to the SEAD Program, a very affordable online resource. At the very least, it seems an excellent launching point for discussions on many issues of relevance and interest to teens:

SEAD Program here: