Inspire Learners to be Kind: 50+ Resources

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Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. – Bob Kerrey

This week is Kindness Week. People worldwide are spreading kindness through random acts of kindness. Valentine’s Day is also this week. These events make it an ideal time to inspire our learners to show kindness, compassion, care, love, and gratitude. These skills are important for their development and necessary to be successful in life. I am sharing activities, resources, tips, web tools and mobile apps that  will help your students spread kindness and care. These activities also ignite their creativity and integrate literacy skills.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Spreading Kindness

We can teach our students how to show kindness in simple ways. Giving a smile or leaving a nice comment on a social media post are quick ways to make someone’s day. Here are more ideas on how to teach kindness:

  • Make an advent calendar in which everyday you suggest a small way for your students to be kind. Here’s a post and template on how to make an advent calendar with Google Docs and ThingLink.
  • Here’s an online Acts of Kindness advent calendar that emails you suggestions or take ideas from a previous version.
  • Better yet, have your students create their own calendars in which they commit to showing kindness for a week. After they complete the act, they should write a short reflection and post a link to it on their Thinglink advent calendar.
  • Here is a lesson plan I created to get your students to keep a Random Acts of Kindness journal that they later pass on to another student. They also give a presentation on the experience.
  • Inspire them with this 6 minute 40 second presentation (Pecha Kucha) about Kindness. A business student shares how performing random acts of kindness transformed her life.
  • You could get students to post videos, images, audio, or posts that exemplify kindness on a sticky wall like Padlet or LinoIt.
  • Show them any of these videos of kids performing acts of kindness and have them brainstorm ways they can be kind to others. They can add these ideas to a class cognitive map with Popplet. Popplet also has a free IOS app.
  • Have students create a school campaign to inspire others to spread kindness. They can create multimedia posters with Buncee, Smore, Biteslide, Glogster, or Blendspace.
  • They can create a podcast about various acts of kindness. They can invite people around the school to share an anecdote then piece these clips together with an audio editor like Garage Band or Audacity. Find lesson templates and more information in this presentation about podcasting.
  • Read to them a story about kindness and have them share when someone was kind to them or when they witnessed kind acts. They can share these stories on Voicethread or make digital stories with StorybirdZooburstFotobabble, orLittle Bird Tales.
  • If you teach older students, have them adopt a younger class. They can pair up with the younger kids and teach them something new, read them books, or play games with them.

Valentine’s Day Resources

Students can create meaningful Valentine’s Day greetings with free web tools and mobile apps. Check out my webinar recording filled with activities and resources or this guest post, 14+ Activities and Resources for Celebrating Valentine’s Day.

  • Students can make their greetings extra special by designing them with origami! Discover how to make hearts, boxes, and more.
  • Students can create coupons that help the recipient in some way, such as help a peer study for a test, make lunch for someone, or do a chore.
  • Students can use mobile and web based apps such as Buncee,  Fotobabble, or Animoto to send Valentine’s Day messages. These are free and have templates related to the holiday.
  • Pic Collage (Android/IOS)- Kids can create photo collages of their best memories with a friend or relative. They have many frames and stickers to choose from that are related to Valentine’s Day.
  • Yakit for Kids (IOS)- This app allows kids to upload or take a picture with their mobile device and animate it with stickers, googly eyes, and other fun props. They draw mouths on their images to narrate them. There are many props for Valentine’s Day. They will love creating these for their friends and family. You can have multiple slides.
  • Chatterpix for Kids- (IOS)- Kids can upload, take a picture, or draw with their mobile device. They draw a mouth and add the voice to make the image speak. They can add text, stickers, filters, props, and frames. They only get one slide. Check out Rosco the Pug’s example here.
  • Kid’s Fingerpainting Valentine’s Day App (IOS)- Kids can choose to color 15 pages or create their own Valentine painting. They can choose frames, up to 15 effects, and personalize their masterpieces with messages. Activity ideas- Use this app to send greetings to family members who love when kids draw and paint.
  • Scrap Pad Valentine-s Day (IOS)- upload your photos to create a digital scrapbook with templates, background, stickers, and more. Activity ideas- students can create a memory book of adventures with friends, relatives, or a pet
  • Valentine Videogram (IOS)- Choose from 3 fun characters and backgrounds and create an animated video message. Activity ideas- Students send a greeting to another classmate with a kind message about what they like about them (make sure all students receive a greeting) or simply send to relatives
  • Cupid Booth Valentine-s Day (IOS)- upload your photos and decorate with speech bubbles, stickers, personalized messages, and more. 
  • RedStamp (IOS)- send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and upload your photos.
  • Holiday Cards by Sincerely (Android/IOS)- send free e-greeting cards with various free Valentine’s day templates and the ability to personalize
  • Discover more free mobile apps in my post, 15+ Apps and Activities for Valentine’s Day.
  • Valentine’s Day Sites and Activities by Cybraryman
  • Best Sites to Learn About Valentine’s Day by Larry Ferlazzo
  • Reasons for Buying Flowers- Great Lesson Plan by Jamie Keddie

Other Resources


Inspire your students to perform at least 5 simple acts of kindness and reflect on the experience.

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Vday Resources in English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

Check out all the apps in my PearlTree.

VDay Apps in Vday Resources / English Language Teaching / Shelly Sanchez Terrell (shellyterrell)

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Getting Schooled

Today, I’m taking part in  a discussion hosted by America Tonight, which has launched a special series, “Getting Schooled,” about the challenges in our education system, and what it would take to improve it. Every night, Monday to Friday, they share a new report looking at everything from the parents who risk jail time to send their children to better schools in other districts to an innovative plan to ‘flip’ classrooms in order to enhance performance. The series explores a range of issues, but there’s one theme that stands out: how to address inequality in the education system. Watch the series here and  this is the Branch discussion taking place now.

Guests include:

  • Soledad O’Brien, special correspondent, America Tonight
  • Shelly Terrell, #Edchat co-founder, author of “The 30 Goals Challenge”
  • Alexander Russo, education writer and editor who runs the This Week in Education and District 299 Chicago Public Schools blogs
  • Patrick Riccards, education advocate and editor at EduFlack
  • Mike Klonsky, educator and education blogger from the Chicago area
  • Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad, criminologist and assistant professor at Howard University
  • Gina Womack, executive director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children
  • Nancy K. Cauthen, sociologist and education author who writes about poverty and improving children’s odds for success at

A Trailer of the Series

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How to Implement Problem Based Learning with ICTs

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Part of the Effective Technology Integration Category

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.” -Earvin Magic Johnson

Kids and teens worldwide are currently using social media and ICTs to become heroes and solve real world problems. You can read about a few in this post, 10+ Kids Transforming the World Through Social Media. At the Bammy’s, I was privileged to meet one extraordinary 13 year-0ld, Mallory Fundora, who founded, an organization that provides food, medicine and education to women and children in Uganda. She raises awareness and gains support through social networks and web tools like Twitter, Facebook, a blog, and Youtube.

We have the opportunity to implement problem based learning and teach our learners how to use web tools and social media to solve real world problems. It’s learning that shows results in a meaningful way. The Prezi below shows the general parts of a problem based learning project that integrates ICT! Just click within the presentation to visit that resource or example.

Overview of the PBL Process

These are 4 basic parts of a PBL lesson with ICTs. I have highlighted these steps using Valerie Burton’s lesson, Teen Advocates Fight Against the Drop-Out Rate.

  1. Problem
    1. Introduce the problem
      1. Make it a powerful story that engages them or strikes an emotional chord.
      2. Ways to introduce the problem- through a blog post, show a video, take them through a case study, analyze an infographic, or have them play an online game or simulation. Valerie introduces the problem on her blog. In addition, students play a game at to learn about the drop-out rate.
      3. At this point, give students their mission with guidelines. Valerie’s mission is, “Create a website that hosts videos, blog posts, comics, PSAs, etc. to help decrease the dropout rate at our high school.” Keep it short and simple so students understand the task. You can include the solution product or leave that open and allow them to decide how to solve the problem. Most teachers will have a solution in mind, such as develop a safety poster or create a PSA.
    2. Give students time to reflect on the problem in pairs or groups. Find a variety of brainstorming tools here,
  2. Problem Research
    1. Options- Interviews, surveys, wikipedia, web quests
    2. Various online tools-
    3. Teach digital literacy, evaluation of online resources, bookmarking, curation, and annotation
  3. Solution
    1. You can give them the solution and guidelines when you introduce the problem. Examples may include, create a digital campaign or poster, make a Public Service Announcement (PSA), create an online game, create an ebook, organize an online project, create an advertisement, make a video, develop a product, design an app, host an event, create an infographic, or create a social network! Alternatively, you can give them a list of solutions to choose from like Valerie did.
    2. Generating solutions- in pairs/groups, students brainstorm possible solutions and the steps involved in implementing the solution
    3. Implementation
  4. Presentation
    1. Students present the solution, reflect on the process of implementing the solution, and discuss it’s impact
    2. Find various online presentation tools listed here,

This presentation was 1 of 6 sessions I gave at the #GAETC13 conference, which was held in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. The resources for all 6 sessions are here, I tried collaborative note-taking with the audience on one Google Doc. Access those notes here, Thank you to Javaye Stubbs, Aaryn Schmihl @aschmuhl, Penny Christensen, @pen63, Kristen Drake, Margaret @MGGunter, Amy Sutton, @daniellesherfey, Marisa Wesker @WeskerTeach, Jessica Burce @jessica_burce, Tracy Sayer, Robin, @jandrwalters, Danielle @daniellesherfey, Alicia Coffie, Ambe Olinga @AJOlinga, Andy Pike @ANDYPIKE4, Michelle Easley @measleyfcs, @roamy82, Mike Vigilant @mikevigilant and others who helped with the collaborative note-taking experience.


Use one of these resources or ideas and share with me how the experience went with your learners.

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Someone Once Told Me by Mallory Fundora

Guest Post: Someone Once Told Me by Mallory Fundora

Mallory Fundora, was one of the youngest keynotes at the Reform Symposium E-Conference this past weekend.

She is the 13 year old founder of Project Yesu, an organization that focuses on orphan/vulnerable children and women in Uganda. Through Project Yesu, Mallory is providing food, medicine and education to children in Uganda. Below is a poem she shared during her keynote, which you can catch here,


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Idea Makers, Creators, and Nurturers

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“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” – Charles Dickens

My bestfriend touched my heart with a beautiful experience she shared with me. It’s her son’s birthday. She told me how many people don’t realize that for her it’s a sentimental time because it takes her back to when she carried him in her womb. She didn’t have the best support. She was a single mom, finishing college, working, and struggling. At one point, she told me how without a car, she’d walk with him in one arm while carrying the grocery bags in her other arm. She described a beautiful experience of carrying him for 9 months. She almost didn’t want to give birth because she loved how each day she got to feel him move and react. They shared these special moments with the rest of the world oblivious. She was the only one who got to feel him grow and communicate with her throughout the process.

I began to think of ideas. We all have ideas. They stir inside us. We spend months with them as they kick, develop, and grow within us. We get to imagine their potential. We visualize the “what ifs” and no one gets to truly experience the idea the way we do, not even when we describe the feeling and details. I was inspired by my best friend’s experience but I walked away knowing I would never truly share her moment. It was hers.

At some point, we should choose those ideas that linger with us and give birth to them no matter the fear. We need to nurture them, support them in their development, then set them free to become what they have the potential to become. The process is painful, stressful, time consuming, yet so rewarding. It is the kind of once in a lifetime experience you get to be a part of if only you choose to commit to the journey.

In 5 days, I’ll be at The Bammy Awards. When your peers nominate you for such an incredible award, you begin to reflect on why you deserve this. You look at all your ideas and what they’ve turned into. And maybe, like me, you begin to reflect on where you were when giving birth. You look at the struggles, hardships, fears, insecurities. When I gave birth to my ideas I didn’t have a ton of followers, readers or support like now. I just began my journey with social media. I have described in this blog, how The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators#Edchat (the online chat I co-founded with Tom Whitby and Steven Anderson), and the free Reform Symposium Online Conference (which I co-founded with Kelly Tenkely and Chris Rogers), were all started when I was a newbie on social media. None of that matters when you have an idea that is created within you and wants to be birthed. And like any great parent you have to stick it out and nurture it. You have to watch it develop and guide it to its potential. You can’t draw expectations and give up when your idea doesn’t stick to the plan. Instead, you set it free, involve others (yes, it takes a community to raise a child), and bask in its manifestation.

Thank you for believing in my ideas and supporting me as they have developed and taken a life of their own in the last 4 years. I often wonder what the world would look like if we all just gave birth to our ideas and didn’t abandon them when they didn’t live up to what we anticipated. I often wonder what the world would look like if we committed our lives to ideas we believed in instead of wasting time with mediocre tasks that don’t make us happy anyway. I often wonder what the world would look like if we got over our fears and just truly lived the lives we had the potential to live. We have one life, that’s it. If we don’t do it now then eventually the day will come when we don’t get the opportunity to give our ideas birth and see how they might potentially improve lives.

visuallead rscon qr blockThe Reform Symposium e-Conference takes place October 11-13th. It is a free e-Conference in which we are inviting over 75000 educators in 188 countries. You can attend for free as long as you have an Internet connection. Our opening plenary is Dr. Sugata Mitra of the Hole-in-the Wall Project. We will also have a live performance from international electric violinist, Steve Bingham. Be inspired by speakers like Angela Maiers, Steve Wheeler, Chuck Sandy, Rafael Parente (Undersecretary of New Ed Tech of the Municipal Ed Rio, Brazil), Dr. Alec Couros, John Spencer, Jackie Gerstein, Pam Moran, Silvia Tolisano, Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby, Chris Lehmann, Sue Waters, Josh Stumpenhorst, Nicky Hockly, Nick Provenzano, Joe Dale, Jose Vilson, Mark Barnes, and more. German Doin, of Argentina, will talk about his viral documentary, The Forbidden Education, which got 8 million hits on Youtube. We might even get the opportunity to see Will Chamberlain’s student ukulele group play live. Be inspired. Surround yourself with passion for 3 days. Experience the power of over 100 teachers from around the world who gave birth to their ideas and how it transformed their learners. The organizers personally invite each presenter whose idea inspired us.


Give birth to your idea or don’t give up on one you have because it isn’t going as planned.

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