Reading for Fun and Relevant Science

Topics for this week include reading for pleasure, making science relevant, and the beauty of brain breaks.

Reading for Fun and Relevant Science
Photo by Terry Vlisidis / Unsplash

TGIF Teacher Newsletter


TGIF Teacher Gadgets and Gifts
Every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day. Here are some teacher-approved gifts and gadgets that will bring smiles in and out of the classroom.

Happy Friday!

For most teachers, a vacation is on the horizon, and you most certainly deserve it. Teachers remain persistent and hopeful even when they often don’t get to see the true impact of their hard work.

"Perseverance is the act of true educators who never give up, and who never let the fear of failure defeat them." - Unknown

I'm writing this on a Thursday night after finishing our first round of student-led conferences. Before I hit the "schedule to send" button I thought I'd share a highlight. There were three different conferences where students shared publicly in front of their parents and teachers that it was important to them that they make their parents proud.

First, their declarations made me smile. Then I thought what an awesome responsibility the teachers, parents, and adults of the world have to show children the right ways to make us proud.

Teaching is tiring work. It's important work. Thank you for doing it.

Have a great weekend!

In today’s newsletter…

  • Making time for personal reading
  • Focusing on how science shapes the world
  • Using brain breaks to help students recharge and focus

The News

Here are some articles and resources that grabbed my attention.

  • Reading for Fun - Teachers play a critical role in cultivating students' love for reading, but it is important not to overlook your own reading habits and needs. A recent study found that nearly half of teachers do not read for pleasure regularly. To rediscover the joy of recreational reading, take a moment to reflect on your reading journey, consider embracing diverse reading formats, and find a reading community. We are fortunate enough to have twenty minutes set aside where students can read books of their choice. Being able to read with them during this time is one of the highlights of my day.
  • Relevant Science - In a recent interview on Wisconsin Public Radio, School of Education faculty member John Rudolph discussed his new book, "Why We Teach Science (and Why We Should)," which challenges the current approach to science education in the United States. Rudolph argues that the focus on content memorization should shift towards fostering a deeper understanding of how science shapes the world. He emphasizes the need for a curriculum that engages students and highlights the relevance of science in their daily lives. Relevancy can often be the hook that boosts student engagement. You can listen to the entire interview here.
  • AI Prompts - If you are interested in testing out how artificial intelligence might help you in your teaching practice, this PDF, "40 Proven AI Prompts for Educators," will get you started. The more I learn about AI, I can see that there are time-saving benefits that it will offer to teachers. Recently, I used Magic School AI to create a rubric for a student project, and it worked amazingly well.
  • Brain Breaks - Incorporating brain breaks into classroom routines can help students recharge and maintain focus. These breaks, which can include physical activities, mindfulness exercises, and short walks, can improve overall well-being and reduce stress and anxiety in students. Here are 12 brain-break ideas. This year, I have used them regularly. These breaks have been enjoyable and have had a positive impact on our classroom culture.
STRONG Teacher Toolkit
Here are some of my favorite resources, ideas, tools, services, and miscellaneous gadgets and goodies that keep me STRONG in both my personal and professional life.

Ideas, resources, tools, and free downloads to make your teaching life easier and more enjoyable.


Personal Development and Wellness Resources

  • How Hard Should You Push - What’s the right balance between pushing yourself while avoiding the harmful effects of chronic stress? It can be helpful to have a plan in place so that when you feel the negative effects you know what to do. Just having the plan in place reduces the negative impacts. In addition, building a strong social support system can help you put your stressors into perspective.
  • Unconventional Advice - Maintain mental liquidity. Wrong turns make for magic. Make time to work on your top goals. Here are six more unconventional pieces of advice. The 1-1-1 journal practice is worth looking into.
  • What to Leave Alone - Simplicity can help you experience life more fully. Taking time to get rid of the unnecessary extras reveals the important things. One of my favorite quotes is, "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." - Henry David Thoreau


"Comfort is the world’s greatest producer of anxiety. Because it’s a lie.” - Evan Thomsen

Teacher Commuter Playlist: Keep It Simple by Keb' Mo'

Favorite Things

  • Conversation Cafe - My teaching partner organized a wonderful conversation cafe for our 8th graders to discuss their self-selected Civil War books. My other partner baked homemade chocolate chip cookies for the students, and the school provided hot chocolate. Peaceful music was playing in the background while the students asked and answered questions about their books. It was a joyful teaching moment.
  • EL Education - I am proud of my connection to EL Education, both as a teacher at an EL Education school (Go Muskies!) and as an ELfluencer. At the end of this month, I will be attending the National Conference in Denver. I'm always impressed by how involved students are in various leadership roles. According to Jessica Wood, EL Education's Director of Experiential Marketing and Student Ambassador Liaison, "At the heart of EL Education's vision and mission lies a profound belief in the transformative power of student voice and presence.” I look forward to sharing my experiences from this year's #ELNC23 adventure. #sponcon
  • Hat - Highly Caffeinated Teacher - I created the design for this hat and really like how it turned out. If you are like most teachers a good jolt of caffeine is part of your daily routine.

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