Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hot Lava

If you've been anywhere near an elementary school playground in the last fifteen years, chances are you've heard of "hot lava".  It's a game usually played on the playground at recess, however, it can also be played indoors at home.  I remember hearing my daughter talking about it and watching her jump from couch to chair in our family room with her BFF when she was younger.  The rules of the game are simple.  You pretend there is a boiling stream of hot lava flowing on the ground (or floor) and you have to stay above it by climbing across monkey bars, jumping over grassy areas, or leaping from furniture in your home. You are required to stay in constant motion.  As far as I know, if you do happen to touch your toe to the ground or (gasp!) fall into the pit of hot lava, nothing really happens.   You simply feign that you've fallen into hot lava by yelling, "Hot! Hot! Owwww!" and climb back out of it.  

I remember the first time I heard my daughter asking her friend one time at our house if she wanted to play 'Hot Lava'.  They skipped off outside to her play structure and stopped just for a moment to declare that "it" was coming.  [It = stream of extremely hot lava that apparently can appear at any time and out of nowhere.]  I watched fascinated from the back deck as they energetically escaped the invisible lava, laughing, climbing and just plain having fun. 

Of course, before long, I asked some of my stupid-mom-questions.  "Where does the lava come from anyway?  Don't you have to have a volcano? Why is it lava on the ground and not something else?"

Without skipping a beat they rolled their eyes at me and continued their play.  If I was too stupid to not be able to see that there was hot lava on the ground and they had to escape from it, there was no need for them to stop to explain.  They were gonna save themselves.

Whenever I have recess duty at school, I make a point of stopping near the play structures to listen in for the "Hot Lava" game.   Usually there are several students playing, but if not, I'll suggest to the nearest kid, "How about a game of 'hot lava"?  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but just saying it makes me laugh.

If you think I've been blogging way too much and now I've stepped over into Crazytown, google "hot lava".   Wikipedia even makes mention of it.  And if Wikipedia includes it, hey, it's real people. 

Wikipedia: Hot Lava Game

So, what does hot lava have to do with teaching you ask?  And positivity?  

Well, as a teacher, in an elementary school, at this point in time, with everything going on in the educational world, I sometimes feel like I'm in my own personal game of "Hot Lava".  I'm constantly moving to try to stay just a step ahead of imminent disaster.  I'm always "climbing" from one thing to another.  Like a player in the game, I have to be both agile and alert.  But also like the game, my job is fun, creative, playful, and of course, positive. 

One of these days, I just might see if you're all ready for a game.  If you hear me yelling, "Hot Lava!" in the hallway, or over the PA, for God's sake, climb up on top of your desk and watch the floor.  And don't forget to keep moving.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

True Story

One of my former bosses used to tell me that every day you should learn something new. I tried to take it to heart and through the years that saying has echoed through my mind often.  Early every year I share the concept with my students.  When they come across something surprising or new I tell them,  "Terrific!  You learn something new every day!  Every day is better when you are learning!"  I say it with the exuberance of a cheerleader which helps with the impact. 

By this point of the year, it's great to hear one of my students mimic me and tell another student, "Yep! You learn something new every day!"  It's almost like they expect it now and go out of their way to make a new discovery.  It could be as simple as learning how to turn on the document camera or as complicated as fixing an issue with one of the laptops.  It could be as generic as figuring out how to fix the pencil sharpener or as creative as making a new connection in their learning.  It doesn't have to be big.  It just has to be something new.    

The same wonderful boss I worked with that gave me the advice mentioned above, forwarded this quote to me one day years ago and it's always been one of my favorites.  I think it's great advice for a teacher.  

You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself. 

— Harvey S. Firestone

What about you?  Did you learn something new today?  Did you give the best of yourself?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A For Effort

In honor of first semester report cards, I thought I would write a report card for myself and reflect on my performance during the past five months.  

Teachers With An Attitude:  Miss Positivity
Report Card:  First Semester, 2013

C = consistently  F= frequently  O = occasionally  S = seldom

Demonstrates positivity


Strives to be positive daily

Helps others feel more positive


Puts positive spin on things


Updates blog at least three times each week


Completes blogs to the best of ability

Stays positive in the classroom                    

Walks the talk


Experiments with blog features, format, etc.

Demonstrates positivity to peers


Demonstrates positivity to students


This has been a very positive first semester for Miss Positivity.  She arrives early every day with a good attitude and a desire to be happy.   Miss Positivity is able to work cooperatively with others, and tries to keep a bright smile on her face.  Miss Positivity needs to continue to work on sustaining a positive outlook throughout the day, particularly during indoor recess days.   She should continue to help make others feel more positive around her by listening, helping, and occasionally dropping off little gifts. Miss Positivity has continued to learn more about blogging and has even learned how to insert HTML code into her blog.  Her writing has improved since September and she is using more powerful words and incorporating her own humor and voice into her blogs. Miss Positivity should continue to maintain a positive attitude, both with her students, and her peers.  I look forward to her continued positive attitude within the school, and reading her entertaining blogs.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

How To Enjoy A Snow Day

Be startled awake by the sound of your phone ringing.  Know that it will be good news on the other end of the phone.

Jostle husband from a sound sleep to give him the happy news. 

Try to go back to sleep after you receive the call at 5:13 a.m.

Toss & turn because you're so excited about the day off you can't go back to sleep.

Finally begin to nod off in your warm bed and the alarm sounds.

Toss & turn because you're determined to sleep in a little since you can.

Give up after about fifteen minutes and drag yourself out of bed.

Enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee while reading the paper and having the time to finish the NYT crossword puzzle.

Watch as they scroll through all the closed schools on the TV and show live camera shots of the roads and freeways, complete with cars in the ditch and accidents.  

Really enjoy the fact that you don't have to get out on the roads this morning.

Check the class schedule at Lifetime Fitness to try and motivate yourself to go exercise at some point today.

Check Facebook.  Comment and like anything related to snow day today.

Debate whether it would be better to stay home and walk on the treadmill in the basement.

Think about how much work you could get done if you go into school for a few hours today.  

Eat a big breakfast, since you're going to exercise later.

Bask in the luxury that you can do whatever you want today, whenever you want.

Check Facebook, email, and read some blogs. 

Realize that if you don't get moving soon, you won't get anything done today.

..... but wait a minute here.  Isn't that what a snow day is really for?

Here's wishing all my teacher friends a great day!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

50-50 Chance

My students and I talk about weather frequently.  We casually talk about nice weather days (when we get them!) and what we did outside to enjoy them.  We talk about the different seasons and our favorite part of each one. We excitedly talk about bad weather days and what problems they might cause.  We share stories throughout the year of losing power, waking up to loud storms of crackling lightning and booming thunder.  We talk about tornado season and practice drills during the spring.  

We talk about how meteorologists are wrong many times in their weather predictions.  I tell my students that if you worked in most other professions and were "wrong" that often, you wouldn't have a job for long.   We talk about all the fancy, smancy weather tools and Doppler radar that the weather people use to predict weather.  We talk about how even with all that  expensive equipment and satellites circling above earth taking pictures, weather can still do unpredictable things.  

So, today, in between doing some work at home I happened to catch the weather report online.  I had no idea that they are now naming any little storm that crops up in the west and travels east.  Apparently, storm "Luna" is headed for Michigan tonight and tomorrow morning.   I use the word storm loosely, as it just looks like a little snow and the possibility of some freezing rain. 

As teachers, weather can make for a very positive day in our school life.  Of course, I'm talking about snow days or any other "free" day we get unexpectedly off from school, like a power outage or other circumstance.  Now it's not that I don't want to go into school.  I love my job.  But trust me, teachers get just as excited about a snow day as the kids.  

I'm crossing my fingers that tomorrow Luna will create just enough ice and snow-mix, at just the precise time for us to have a snow day.  It's all in the timing. The beauty of it would be it is also a Monday.  A lovely, three day weekend.   

I think I'll do what the kids do when they want a snow day.   Tonight I'll wear my pajamas inside out and flush an ice cube down the toilet.  I'll make sure my phone is close and the fan out list is nearby.   No doubt I'll be awake before my alarm, in anticipation of "the call".  

Based on the weather predictions and reports, I'd say we have a 50/50 chance.   
And that's enough for me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reason #73

If I had to make a list, I'd bet there are at least one hundred reasons why I love being a teacher. I love my classroom, room 24.  I love that I still get to color.  I love paper and office supplies and staplers and magnetic boards. I love the sound of the bell ringing and children laughing.  I love the library and my mailbox in the office.  I love hearing singing when I walk by the music room.  I love freshly polished hallways and student work on display on the walls. I love sticky notes in bright colors.   I love the people I work with and the good friends I've made throughout the years.  I love that every day is different and every year brings new experiences.  But mostly, I love the personal little gifts I get from students throughout the year and the wonderful things they say.

This is what I found on my desk this morning:

Three things struck me when I saw it.

1.  How sweet of them to declare me "the best!"
2.  They used the correct spelling of "you're".  
3.  They were including support for their claim -  Why I am the best.   (see card above)

I dropped my school bag on the floor and quickly opened the paper card to see the messages.  Many had simply signed their name, so they obviously weren't aware that the front of the card stated "Why You're the best", promising me the reasons inside.  Several simply thanked me for teaching them.  They thanked me for being funny and kind.  They said I was nice. One little girl signed her name inside a heart that simply said "I love you".   

By the time the bell rang this morning and the students arrived I had prominently displayed the beautiful card on my desk for all to see. I thanked them all for the wonderful surprise card and all their nice words.  I told them it had made my day brighter just to see the special card.  They asked me if I had looked on the back of the card. I hadn't.  One little girl skipped over to my desk, picked up the card, and pointed to the back as she showed it to me, beaming ear to ear.   

Awwwwwwwwww.  They [heart] me.  Even after three days of indoor recess with a teacher who has been losing her patience with them and more than a tad bit crabby.

Chalk that up to one more reason I love my job --  I [heart] all of them too!     Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Today marked the third consecutive day of indoor recess.  It's been bitterly cold and the kids have not been allowed outside. This type of situation can be particularly trying for even the most experienced of teachers.   Three days of no outdoor breaks for kids to run around and burn off some energy combined with the small space we work in, creates a perfect storm.  Or maybe more of a tsunami.

As I traveled through the hallways today twenty-two little jumping, singing, humming, whistling, bouncing, sliding, twirling, hopping, flailing bodies followed behind me.  Well, sort of followed.  Two actually veered off in the wrong direction.  I lost track of the times I stopped in the hallway to quiet them or shush them.  All to no avail.

Teachers have their own ways of crowd control and classroom management.  We have no fear facing a crowd of fifty small children and taking control to quiet them down.  But honestly, there are only so many ways you can say, "Be quiet" or "Settle down" or "Stop that right now".  I tried to change up my expressions today to at least get their attention.  

"Simmer down!" I demanded at lunchtime when the noise level was becoming unbearable.  Didn't work, but it did get a few giggles. 

"Use your inside voices!" I directed.  Didn't work. 

"Turn it down a few notches!" I ordered next, miming like I was turning down a dial. For a few brief minutes, it did actually get a bit quieter.  

[five minutes later]  Student approached my desk.

"It's too noisy in here," she notified me.  As if I didn't already know that.  

"What?" I asked her, pretending I couldn't hear her. 

"It's too noisy in here," she repeated.  Loudly.

"Whhat????" I said again, teasing.

She walked away, not sure whether she should laugh or cry.    At this point I was beginning to feel like crying may not be such a bad idea.  But I opted for more maturity and determination.  I've been a teacher for almost fifteen years.  I've dealt with tougher situations then just indoor recess and noisy kids.

I turned on my microphone.  I cleared my throat.  I stood up and put on my most serious teacher face.

"Boy and girls!  Can I please have your attention?"  At just this precise moment, the secretary announced that it would be indoor recess.   Most of the kids groaned.  After all they don't like indoor recess anymore than the teachers do.
I continued.    "It's way too noisy in here.  I realize that you have been cooped up in here for three days without recess.  But you need to really try to talk quieter.  Please. Thank you.  That is all."

It worked for a few minutes.  (sigh)

I stepped out into the hall for some relief.  I noticed the rooms across from me seemed to be having the same noise problem I was having.  I peeked in and saw the teachers looked as exasperated as I was. 

I googled stir-crazy when I got home today and read this:

Stir Crazy is a phrase that dates to 1908 according to the Oxford English Dictionary[1] and the online Etymology Dictionary. Used among inmates in prison, it referred to a prisoner who became mentally unbalanced because of prolonged incarceration. It is based upon the slang stir (1851) to mean prison. It is now used to refer to anyone who becomes restless or anxious from feeling trapped and even somewhat claustrophobic in an environment, usually a confined space, perceived to be more static and unengaging than can any longer continue to hold interest, meaning, and value to and for them. 'Stir crazy' could be classified as a more specific form of boredom, but combined with elevated and often increasing levels of anxiety, frustration, agitation, figeting, manic depressive type mood swings, and accessory episodes of acting out violently or otherwise antisocially on those feelings, the longer the unengaging non-stimulating environment is persisted in.

I find it very funny that the word stir is a slang word for prison.  I think I speak for all of us teachers when I say that there are days when our classroom definitely feels more like a prison than a classroom and our job feels more like a warden or prison guard than an educator.  Just saying.  

The good thing about any storm is that it always passes.  Tomorrow is a half day of school.  And Monday's forecast is calling for high 30's, low 40's.  And you know what that means. 

The return of outdoor recess.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fly On The Wall

Sitting at my desk today during lunch, I overheard some students in an excited conversation a few desks away.

"I'm going to name my kid "Michigan", one boy was announcing to his table group between bites of his sandwich.  At this, one girl furrowed her eyebrows, an utter look of confusion on her face.  Another student opened her eyes in a wide stare, apple in her hand frozen in mid-air/mid-bite.  The  remaining student took the bait and played along.

"Are you going to call him "Mich" for short?" he questioned as he casually chewed on his cheese stick.  Like a kid called Michigan is common or something.  "Cuz I would call him that."

A few seconds passed as they all contemplated the name and resumed eating their lunches.

"Yeah, I would probably call him Mich, but with a "t", like Mitch. But everyone would know his real name is Michigan," added the future father-to-be. "That would be so cool."

"What about Michael?" offered one of the little girls.  "That's more like a real name. And what about if it's a girl?  You can't name a girl Michigan."

They all did some more thinking.

"I know!" proclaimed a girl.  "If it was a girl you could name her Michelle!  I have an aunt named Michelle." 

"That's it!" two of them agreed at once, smiling.

"We figured that out just in time," said one of them.  "It's recess in two minutes!"

And then, satisfied by their ability to solve this problem for their friend, they changed the topic to another major concern - which food is better - pizza or chicken nuggets.   

As the students picked up their lunch boxes and cleaned off their desks, I realized another reason I love my job.  Like a fly on the wall, I get to hear and see things that many times go unnoticed.   

It's easy.  All you have to do is sit back and listen.  You'd be amazed at the things you hear.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Think About It...

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” 

  - Mahatma Gandi

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You Deserve A Medal

I'm happy to report that my positive attitude has returned!  Not 100% completely returned, but a vast improvement since the start of the week.   So, yay me!  I have to be honest and admit I've had a lot of help around the school from all my teacher friends. Earlier in the week when I sought some of them out to tell them that I wasn't feeling very  positive they sighed and shook their heads.  Some even looked a little worried.  I was, after all, the school cheerleader for positivity this year, the smiley face mascot, the annoying cheerful face reminding them to have a good day.  

So, they offered help.  They popped into my classroom to chit-chat and share stories with me.  They asked about my daughter (which usually puts a smile on my face).  They tried to get to the root of the "problem" with my sudden lack of positivity, in the hopes we could solve the issue and get me back on track.  Every little bit helped.  Each time a friend stopped by or a kind word was shared, I simply felt better.  

Yesterday I even stopped by the office to declare that I was not feeling very positive lately and needed help.  As mentioned in an earlier post, Ready or Not, our office ladies are quite remarkable.  They smile under pressure, they laugh in the face of chaos, they answer phones like it's nobody's business, they buzz people in the building, sign people out of the building, make announcements, take care of sick children, interpret lunch counts, and remind teachers to do their attendance.  All at the same time.  All with a smile on their face.  They offered a few suggestions but their bright smiles were all I needed to feel a bit more positive.
"You're One in a Billion!"

 This morning I found this on my desk:

That was the final little nudge I needed!  Maybe it was the fact that in math we've been learning about large numbers, so this particular gift was uncanny.  It also could have been that it was a gift made of chocolate, hard to beat in my book.   

The bell rang and I knew it was going to be a better day.

And, turns out, it was.  We had a great day learning more about the trappers and traders in Michigan in the 1600's, exploring more with decimals, writing book club responses, reading in the library, and typing animal research reports on laptops.  

By far, the best part of the day was one of my students receiving a medal with the picture he'd drawn for the First Move chess contest declaring him a winner.  Over 650 kids entered across the United States and he was one of twelve selected for next year's chess calendar!  Fantastic!   I watched him as he touched the medal throughout the afternoon and repeatedly gazed at it.  The whole class clapped and smiled when I announced the good news. He proudly walked around to each desk as each student "ohhed" and "ahhed" over the shiny medal. 

If I could, I would award every teacher and staff member in my building their own medal today.  I would declare my school the winner of all the schools across the United States.   They are kind, and helpful, and caring, and fun.  They are smart, and good, and have a great sense of humor.  They are dependable, and hard-working, and are generous to a fault.  Each of them are truly one in a billion.  

So here's to you, teacher friends and staff friends. 
For all we do, every day we deserve a medal.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Crabby , Table For One

Was is Monday morning?  Was it getting up at 4:45 to drive my husband to the airport, driving back home to let the dog out, and driving to work?  Was it a Monday morning meeting (which means sub plans, extra prep)?  Was it remembering that I forgot to copy some important papers for today?  Was it that I didn't get enough sleep over the weekend? Was it finding out that I wouldn't be going to the meeting after all, due to lack of subs?   Was it the anticipation (not) of going to the dentist after school?  Was it my "to do" list, tucked in my planner, unfinished, mocking me?

What on earth was it that had me feeling crabby, cranky, and just irritable today?  I tried to figure it out.  In fact, I tried to alter my mood several times throughout the day today.    This year, I've been able to snap myself out of the negative and get back into a sunnier disposition.  But not today.  No matter what I did, I ended up crabbier.  This isn't good.  Especially when you work with little eight and nine year olds that count on you. When you're happy, they're happy.  And when you're crabby.... well.....  you know what that means. 

You'd have thought that my not-so-great-mood would have lightened when I told the class at 9:05 today that I didn't have to go to a meeting this morning.  They smiled and a couple squealed out with happiness.  Two little darlings even clapped.   

"I like it when you're here," explained one little sweetie.  "It's always better when you are here."  

Awwwwwww.....  I know.  Should have worked, right?    

Throughout the morning, I repeated directions, refereed disagreements, waited patiently when it became too talkative, and listened to stories about the weekend fun. I rushed to the copier, and the bathroom, and organized for the afternoon.  I mentally reminded myself that it is mind over matter.    But, it simply wasn't working today.   

I couldn't get the computer program to work in computer lab. I dropped an entire set of carefully sorted journals on the floor. I looked for some place value math manipulatives for fifteen minutes and couldn't find them.  By lunch time, I couldn't see my desk as it was covered with papers and assorted things to do, take care of, look at, file, or get rid of. I knew my night ahead would include a couple of hours of work. When I clicked on my email and saw thirty-two unread messages, I scanned it quickly for parent names (in case of an urgent email), and when I didn't see any, immediately closed out of it.  

And then at 1:10 the speaker in our room declared that we were in lock down mode. 

Eighteen little boys and little girls stopped everything they were doing and looked at me.  

"OK, class.  We need to get over by the cabinets and sit quietly on the floor.  Please move quickly," I informed them.  

Eighteen kids moved like one over to the cabinets and sat quietly on the floor.  I rushed around turning off the lights, computer screen, and locked the classroom door.  I sat down on the floor next to them.  Silence.   

I whispered, "You are all fabulous!  You are so quiet and so fast.  Now we are just going to sit here quietly and wait for [principal's name] to let us know when we can get back to work.  We're all safe and everything is o.k. We are practicing like when we have fire drills and tornado drills.  I know you have questions so I'll answer them when we are done."

For nearly twenty minutes we sat huddled together, quiet except for a few whispers.  Most times the kids were looking at me. 

"Did you lock the door?" one vigilant little one whispered, wide-eyed. 

I held my finger up, key dangling.  We all smiled. 

Of course, today I thought again of Sandy Hook.  I thought of the courageous teachers and the brave students.  I thought of the immense fear they must have felt. Even knowing that it was just a drill today, it was eerie. 

And, like the wind blowing away a pile of leaves, my mood lightened.  Not completely, mind you, but enough.  Enough to enjoy the remainder of the day more.  Enough to smile and laugh with the kids again.  Enough to realize that life is too short to not appreciate every little minute.  

I know I'll have more not-so-positive days in the year ahead.  But I'll keep trying to find ways to make them as positive as I can.  To not dwell in the negative but live in the positive.  And the times that I can't help it, I'll just wait for it to pass, try not to take it out on anyone else, and forgive myself.

After all, we're only human.   

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

Need a little pick-me-up?  Ready for the week to be over? 

Watch this video clip.  It proves that laughter really is the best medicine. And having a good belly laugh every day is important.  We can all benefit from laughing more every day.  Especially at ourselves. 

I'm not sure who this little baby is, but I sure would love to have him in my class.

Click here to watch video clip

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Click It

Let me preface this post by stating for the record I have over fifteen years of computer/technical support under my belt.  I have maintained mainframes, I've connected computers, and I've troubleshot the most difficult of problems.   I consider myself "technically conscious", up on most of the latest new computers/tablets and always willing to try new technology and see how I can use it to fit my needs. 

I am in a very serious relationship with both my iphone and my MacBook.  

Today, after watching a riveting BrainPop video on the layers of the earth, the students noticed something new called "Gameup" on the main page.  

The conversation went something like this:

Hand waving in the air while student simultaneously shouts out, "Hey! Hey!  Look at that!  What's Gameup?  Is it games?"  Evidently visualizing some sort of video game.  At school.  I don't think so.

"Hey!  Hey!  I don't know.  Do you think we should find out?" I countered.

Let's just say there was a resounding chorus of "Yes!"  The excitement was palpable. Oh the pressure. 

I clicked on Gameup.  

Dr. Bob (an avatar) appeared on the screen, welcoming the students to "Landform Detectives".  As you recall we were in the geology section of BrainPop, ergo Dr. Bob. 

"Hi Dr. Bob!" several excited students exclaimed.   Sheesh!  Really?  In just a few seconds I've been topped by an avatar!?  The students were fixed on the Promethean board as Dr. Bob continued in a crisp, techno voice.

"Your mission is to uncover the processes of nature that have shaped some of the most amazing landforms across the entire planet.  Can you solve riddles that span millions of years creating geological changes that affect entire continents?", I thought to myself.  I probably can't do that.

"Click on play!" ordered one student half out of his seat, hand out to grab the mouse out from under me.

"Don't we need to click on the "Learn More" before we just jump in?" I timidly asked.  

No need to answer that question. Their expressions said everything. I clicked play.   A large, spinning, planet earth appeared on the screen with specific locations marked with a dot.   

"Pick a dot!"
"Click one!"
"Can I do it?"

Seems everyone suddenly wanted to explore amazing landforms and solve geological riddles.  

No longer able to wait for my elderly reactions to this wonderful new found computer game, a student sitting near me just kind of gently moved closer, and ever so carefully, but assertively, took control of the mouse. I hardly noticed.  

When I did notice, it reminded me of the many times when I was in tech support and I would be standing beside a user, instructing them which icon to click on, when to double click, which response to click on and I would finally just gently ease them out of their chair and take the mouse and quickly click.

"I want to click on the one by Michigan," he declared as he swiftly manipulated the mouse and clicked on the dot near Michigan.  

Wow, I thought to myself.  Look how quickly he found Michigan on that map.  Maybe they really did hear all the stuff about geography and Michigan.  But, no time to congratulate myself.  Dr. Bob was back.  He was relaying facts about the Great Lakes and the glaciers and tectonic plates.  Yes, I did say tectonic plates.  And yes, they are eight and nine years old.   But they got it.   They helped each other as the one student clicked and dragged and played and manipulated time lines to answer the questions.  Students yelled out suggestions and congratulated him, and each other, as they completed the first round in the game.  I was impressed.  

Naturally, they wanted to do more.   They wanted to click on the dot in the Atlantic Ocean or discover how the Grand Canyon was formed.  Out of time, I promised them they could explore and play more during our computer time next Monday.  That seemed to appease then and they settled back into their seats, refreshed by our new discovery.  

Until we are replaced by avatars, or some new-fangled technology, I think we should do what kids are not afraid to do, what they do every day.  

I think we should just click on it.