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If you’re looking for ideas for classroom pranks, these are a few of our favorite April Fool’s Day resources and teaching ideas.
I still remember April Fool’s Day when I was a fourth grader. A reading comprehension worksheet went out to the class, and in minutes, we were all dumbfounded. The story and questions were incomprehensible, written in complete gibberish. But our teacher went along with the joke. We had a half hour to finish it, and it was going to be worth a substantial amount of points.
I don’t remember how long the gag lasted exactly, but I do remember all of us sitting there, mouths agape, wondering if the assignment was serious. Then, once we’d all thrown our hands up, our teacher let us in on the joke: “April Fool’s!”
April Fool’s Day is the perfect time to play some light-hearted pranks on your friends, family, and co-workers; and if you’re a teacher, pulling an unexpected fast one on your students can be entertaining — and memorable — for everyone. So if you’re looking for ideas for classroom pranks, or you’re hoping to bring a humor lesson into the classroom, these are a few of our favorite April Fool’s Day resources and teaching ideas. Plus, we’ve also added some more general resources for using humor to reach students. First, check out this incredible prank pulled last year:
Do you have other ideas for classroom pranks? What resources are you using to bring April Fool’s Day into your class?
Tips, Strategies, and Resources for Using Humor to Engage Students
The research is clear about using humor in the classroom — humor is an extremely engaging tool. But for educators, it can be a challenge to bring a little levity into lessons. Where should you begin? What types of humor are the most effective? And how exactly is humor best incorporated into lessons? Here are a few articles that provide ideas, tips, and strategies for engaging students with humor.
Humor in Education Resources, the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH): The AATH database of humor resources offers tons of useful content and will provide ideas for incorporating humor into many different subjects. In their “Humor and Education” section, you’ll find articles that cover a range of topics related to humor in the classroom, as well as a long list of books dedicated to humor in education.
Tips for Using Humor in the Classroom: Here’s a great article from the National Education Association that highlights effective strategies for incorporating humor into your lessons. There are a few examples that teachers have used in their classrooms, as well as a short video Q&A with humor researchers and a teacher who doubles as a stand-up comedian.
Lesson Plan: Comedy in the Classroom: The New York Times’ The Learning Network put together this resource for teachers looking to bring to humor to their lesson plans. There are some great ideas for teaching the history of humor, writing and performing fake The Daily Show-style newscasts, and analyzing political cartoons. There’s something here for teachers of every grade level.
Quick Links From Edutopia for Getting Started
You're reading April Fool’s Day In The Classroom: 8 Resources For Teachers
When teachers feel free to be themselves at school, it has a lot of benefits for them and their students.
Popular movies with teacher characters cover the spectrum from dryly professional (Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher) to inappropriately candid (Miss Halsey in Bad Teacher). The media is constantly sending us the message to be ourselves with maxims such as “You do you” and “Keep it real,” but should we bring our authenticity to a room full of young people? In an article on authenticity at work, McGill University professor Patricia Faison Hewlin writes, “When we experience authenticity—when we feel that we’re living out our personal values and perspectives—we feel a greater sense of well-being.”
When we bring our true selves to our classrooms, we enhance the learning environment and improve our overall job satisfaction.
4 Ways to Be Yourself at School
1. Share your home life… with boundaries. My middle school students have seen photos of my family and pets. They know that I’m obsessed with peanut M&Ms and that I earned two Ds my first semester of college (this is part of a purposeful lesson I give on productive failure). What they don’t know is how I vote, my favorite wine, and a myriad of other personal details that are off-limits. I tell family stories occasionally, but I’m careful to not share information about someone that the person wouldn’t want me to share.
As an example, I used to tell funny toddler stories about my daughter, but as she grew older and eventually attended the same middle school where I taught, these personal stories came to an end. And I might casually bring up the fact that my feet are sore from a long hike but not mention that I have a strange rash that I need to have checked out.
2. Confront challenges to being authentic. In an episode of Adam Grant’s WorkLife called “Authenticity Is a Double-Edged Sword,” journalist Alicia Menendez says that employees who identify with a nondominant group at work, which could mean being a person of color on a predominantly White faculty or a member of the LGBTQ community, can find authenticity in the workplace to be especially challenging. In her book The Likability Trap, Menendez suggests that those who are not of the dominant culture seek out a sponsor to help push through. Does your school offer affinity groups for faculty and staff? Is there someone in leadership who can help promote a culture of authenticity for everyone?
Cornelius Minor, author of the book We Got This: Equity, Access, and the Quest to Be Who Our Students Need Us to Be, writes about being our authentic selves in the classroom to promote student learning. In an interview with education podcaster Angela Watson, Minor challenges the hero narrative that teachers are often held to. Those held to the hero label can’t have imperfections, fears, or struggles. “I think the term ‘being there for the kids’ in many ways is divisive. It is my work as a teacher to walk right into that division and stand for children. I always say that it is my role as a teacher to initially create opportunities for children and to eventually teach them how to create opportunities for themselves.”
3. Be inspired but not a carbon copy. When I first started teaching a new course, I literally copied every lesson from the veteran teacher next door. I mistakenly believed that if I did everything he did, I would be a successful teacher like he was. Wrong! Every day, I felt defeated and lost because I wasn’t bringing my personal touches to the class.
After some reflection and coaching from my department head, I rebalanced by committing to stay in step with the timing of the units and closely aligned assessments. Everything in between was open space for my personal teaching style.
It’s tempting to emulate a master teacher, but Lisa Dabbs reminds us in an Edutopia article to “be that unique teacher you were born to be, and share your experience and passion with your students. Try out those great ideas that are percolating, and watch the magic happen in your classroom.”
4. Smile (and frown) well before Christmas. If you’ve been teaching for quite a while, you might have heard, “Don’t smile till Christmas.” In fact, you should smile, laugh, frown, and maybe even cry well before December. We are humans. We have emotions, and our expression of emotions serves as a model for our kids. It’s OK for kids to see you cry in response to a tragedy, frown when you’re frustrated, and light up when they walk in the room. I still vividly remember my teacher crying when we learned of the Challenger tragedy in 1986.
Try verbally labeling your feelings for your kids. “I’m frustrated that the classroom was left messy yesterday” or “I’m really sad today because my uncle isn’t well.” Heather Wolpert-Gawron encourages teachers to think aloud: “Let the kids into your thinking process, and you will have shared both your personality and your expertise.” When you make a mistake, laugh about it, demonstrate how you’re correcting it, and if needed, apologize.
Another option for bringing realness to the classroom is through humor. What if you’re not the slapstick or stand-up routine type? Explore ways that resonate with you personally that may bring some levity to the classroom. There are many brands of humor: Some teachers use cringey puns, some wear quirky ties or socks, some use dry irony (especially with older students), and some welcome the lighthearted self-deprecating variety.
If you find yourself distinctly switching from your teacher self to your real self, take some time to reflect on how these suggestions might help you bring your true self to school. Small shifts in how you show up, how you speak, and how willing you are to open up will help the kids get to know you as a real person.
Immigration remains one of the most contentious issues facing America. Social studies teachers, therefore, need to bring the conversation about immigration to our students. One way we can do this is to bring immigrants and new Americans into our classrooms, be it as guest speakers or through the use of testimonials, books, or videos.
Incorporating immigrant voices in the classroom offers two important benefits. First, students consider the American experience from new perspectives. Why is our Constitution different? Why do people risk their lives to come here? Second, it provides a compelling springboard for conversations on difficult questions about who our nation should accept into its ranks as citizens.
A Personal Story
Last year, my friend Ferki, who immigrated to the United States from Kosovo as a 16-year-old refugee, spoke to my class about his experiences.
Ferki, an Albanian Kosovar, watched as the government of Slobodan Milosevic sought to destroy Kosovo’s independence movement in the 1990s. As the repression intensified, the country descended into bloodshed. Ferki and his family made the journey to Macedonia, where they settled in a refugee camp before entering the U.S. in 1999 and moving to Erie, Pennsylvania.
Despite initial obstacles, Ferki grew to love the U.S. He and the other refugees from the Balkans began to shed old identities and become Americans.
Ferki emphasized to my students that liberty and pluralism are not natural elements of a society. They must be cultivated and protected. Creating a society in which people and opinions are universally respected, Ferki explained, demands that we talk to one another, meet our neighbors, get involved in our communities, and take an interest in the well-being of our institutions and ideals. Because he had personally witnessed what happens when the rule of law and civil society erode, his words carried extraordinary weight.
Ferki recalled one story my students found particularly chilling. Before the outbreak of the war, administrators at Ferki’s school enacted a new policy: students were to make regular visits to a “counselor” who would quiz them on their beliefs, their home life, and their family’s politics. Ferki described how his parents meticulously prepared him for these meetings. One slip-up could mean arrest or worse for him and his loved ones. My students expressed astonishment at such a policy, the horrific consequence of a government criminalizing thought and expression.
Personal stories humanize the topic of immigration and open up discourse concerning immigration history, law, and concepts such as economic migration, legal and illegal immigration, and refugee rights. My class talked mainly about the refugee experience.
Though Ferki came to America under the specter of war, he managed to infuse his story with humor. Asked by an American aid worker in the refugee camp where they wanted be relocated, Ferki’s family said they would like to live near New York, a city they had seen in the movies. Several months later, Ferki found himself in Erie, only minutes from the border of New York state. “I didn’t know there was a New York state!” he explained. Such intimate moments—funny or poignant—drew the kids into the discussion in an engaging way. In the future, I plan to use other personal stories for other types of immigrant experiences.
Personal Narrative As a Springboard for Conversation
Depending on the testimonial or speaker, teachers may focus the classroom conversation on any number of difficult topics. If educators couple firsthand accounts of migration with concerns about border security and undocumented immigration, for instance, students may begin to recognize the challenges lawmakers face in trying to address people’s desire for a better life with the mission to uphold existing law.
How should lawmakers balance the safety and well-being of American citizens with our country’s ideals and historic role as a place of sanctuary and opportunity for newcomers? How do we decide who gets to come here and how? How should our nation humanely enforce the law on its southern border, while not incentivizing a journey in which many are killed or exploited? What, ultimately, is America’s responsibility to its own people, and to the people of the world?
These are tough questions that draw as much upon ethics as political theory.
Though our classes likely will not arrive at answers, hearing from people whose lives have been affected by immigration policy may illustrate how seemingly intractable and morally fraught these questions remain. It helps our students to empathize with the immigrant, as well as the politician who must think with both the head and heart.
Ferki eventually earned his EdD and now serves as president of a community think tank in Erie. His observations about the meaning of citizenship in a democracy resonated with my class, motivating us to discuss many important issues: What makes America different from many other places in the world, and why do millions of people want to live here? What issues in our local community demand attention? And, lastly, how can we get involved, even in small ways, with safeguarding what we most love in our neighborhoods and cities?
While Ferki is only one individual and his experience does not represent the entire complexity of the immigration system, he offered a concrete example of an immigrant who achieved the American dream. His talk made the promise of America come alive for my students.
Mindfulness isn’t a cure-all for an over-full schedule, but these apps can help teachers interested in trying it to pause and refocus their energy.
Mindfulness is about being present and engaged in the moment—paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in a nonreactive and nonjudgmental way. Certainly, it’s not a cure-all for stress or burnout, but it can be quite effective when you consistently practice it. For example, for eight weeks, Kitty Ka Yee Tsang and her colleagues engaged teachers in varied mindfulness activities—body scanning, cognitive exercises, self-reflection, and mindful eating. At the end, participants reported higher levels of life satisfaction, positive emotion, and general health and lower levels of insomnia, stress, and negative emotion.
Understandably, with a busy schedule, it may be challenging to make mindfulness part of your routine. However, with the following easy-to-access apps, you can pause for just a minute or two and self-calm, refuel, and refocus in time for your next class.
Once you download the app, you can select your focus—sleep soundly, reduce stress, eat mindfully, etc.—and activities that are so aligned will be automatically generated. You may opt for one or multiple foci, as I usually do, and find your way to a happier and healthier personal and professional life.
Of course, if you are looking for something free, there are other apps to explore. I have been fortunate to find a few. They are the ones that follow.
2. Smiling Mind
At the onset of the pandemic, I discovered Smiling Mind and quickly signed up using my existing Facebook account. It offers guided meditations to help one detox (emotionally), channel positive thoughts, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude. There are on-the-go meditations, as well, if you’re walking or on a flight. You can easily reconnect with yourself and the space around you.
3. Healthy Minds Program
To get started, you can take the Healthy Minds Program self-assessment to find your wellness baseline. This takes three to five minutes to complete, and it measures your responses to a series of self-focused questions. The results indicate your level of self-awareness and attentiveness, empathy, and compassion. You can also assess your interpersonal skills, self-knowledge, adaptability, value system, and clarity of purpose.
There are meditations in this program for cultivating kindness (toward yourself and others), appreciation, and compassion. Others can assist you with finding greater meaning in life and embodying the values you hold dear. The stress- and overwhelm-relieving activities can help you regain your focus, passion, and enthusiasm, and remain calm when chaos abounds.
Importantly, you can also use the well-being chart on the app to monitor your progress over time. You can see the sessions you’ve completed, the total time spent on the activities, and how aware, connected, insightful, and purpose driven you have become.
4. UCLA Mindful
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Mindful Awareness Research Center has a free mindfulness app, called UCLA Mindful, for Apple and Android users. It has basic and podcast-type wellness meditations. You can choose depending on your need and availability. There are sessions to help you work through difficulties, improve your sleep, and harness positive emotions.
If you wish, you can also register for UCLA’s six-week online classes for more in-depth and comprehensive mindfulness training. Classes look at forgiveness, navigating difficult emotions, reframing obstacles, and practicing self-care. These sessions come at a small charge, but if the basic meditations are sufficient for you, then you can continue to access them for free.
5. Mindfulness Coach
Like the aforementioned apps, Mindfulness Coach has many meditation exercises to help you find your zen. You can set mindfulness goals, maintain a mindfulness log, and track your progress. But the app doesn’t stop there. You can use it to build your expertise in mindfulness. For example, you can learn about the benefits of mindfulness, types of mindfulness, and strategies for cultivating inner calm and peace.
Choose any of the above apps that suit your needs, and start or continue your mindfulness journey. Remember, mindfulness practices can enhance and support your overall health and productivity. Moreover, we are no good to our learners if we don’t take care of our mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Now the human resources are also using AI
As you may know, artificial intelligence uses a combination of machine learning and deep learning to simulate human thinking and solve specific problems.
AI-based tools can access and analyze vast volumes of data to make intelligent decisions. As artificial intelligence continues to become more sophisticated, it is sure to revolutionize our lives in countless ways over the next few years. And AI is already transforming the human resources field in many ways.Employee Training and Engagement
HR professionals are already
leveraging the capabilities of an engagement software
to improve employee retention and job satisfaction.
Employee engagement software or
But artificial intelligence is helping to improve staff training even more, which will lead to better employee engagement and retention.
There are lots of AI apps currently in production that HR departments will be able to make use of soon. For instance, one AI-powered app in development is Ellen, which connects employees with mentors.Scanning Resumes
To find the top talent, HR professionals need to go through the challenging process of looking through countless resumes.
Being able to scan resumes quickly is a skill that all people in human resources recruitment need to master. However, the process can now be sped up and made more reliable by using digital AI-powered tools.
For example, when you ask potential candidates to enter information online instead of forwarding a paper or digital resume, a natural language processing-based tool accesses the structured data to quickly find the candidates who stand out from the crowd.
AI-powered resume scanning is the way forward for ensuring companies get the best new talent on board.Data Aggregation
Today, it is not enough for HR members of staff to simply look at resumes and conduct interviews. They also need to scour the internet to see what candidates’ social media profiles are like and whether any red flags are being raised.
With machine-learning and AI-powered data aggregation, it is simple and quick to automatically scan through endless repositories on social media platforms and other internet sites.
Companies like eBay and IBM already use AI-based tech to scrape through countless sources and collect data about potential job candidates and analyze the experience and market value of each.Employee Referrals
AI is also enabling human resources departments to better understand employee referrals.
By analyzing the types of employees that are being referred and gaining insights into which ones are successful at being accepted for new roles, it is easier and quicker to ensure the best referrals are hired.
AI tools can also analyze data from previous referrals and identify candidates who are similar to successful employees, too.Employee Retention
When onboarding new employees, you want to make sure as much as you can that they are going to stay with your company.
can help to reduce employee churn and attract the best talent.
By processing information about prospective employees and their activities, AI tools are able to identify the people who are more likely to leave their current workplaces and commit to your company long-term.
For example, IBM has an AI-based system that is able to predict with 95% accuracy which employees will actually leave their current positions. Furthermore, the system is now performing 30% of the tasks that IBM’s human resources employees used to do.Learning and Development
The future of learning and development is sure to be fueled by AI over the coming years.
With technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning, employee training and development will become more agile to meet employees’ individual needs.
Learning will become more personalized, taking a broad range of things into account, such as an individual worker’s existing skills and future goals and proactively addressing any skill gaps.
Content matching and recommendations can then be based on the relevancy of individual employee needs.
Chatbots will also be used more in employee learning processes, allowing workers to receive coaching and get responses to frequently asked questions in real-time.Chatbots
More and more businesses are using
for numerous tasks.
In human resources, chatbots can be used to answer online questions, thus giving HR professionals more time to focus on other important jobs.
Chatbots with AI technology can also be used to support contact with potential job candidates and help augment internal operations.
One example of a chatbot being used in the human resources field comes from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
Recently, the NHS started using a chatbot called CoachBot. It can perform short interviews with prospective candidates and come up with ways of improving team performance.
Employee engagement software or offering an employee recognition platform can include training tools, a notification system, survey and feedback options, employee incentives and recognition, and a performance evaluation system.
“Since the pandemic …” is a phrase that is often used when describing the differences in the world since COVID-19 turned our lives upside down and inside out. This was felt in the education world like a tsunami. Thrusting teachers — whether they wanted to or not, whether they were prepared or not — into a completely new, technology-based “classroom.” When we all entered back into our schools, it felt different.The evolving digital landscape
I taught middle school English language arts (ELA) for 10+ years. When our school went 1:1 in 2023, we handed them their shiny new Chromebooks along with a “contract” of Don’ts to be signed by parents and students before they could take them home. We also filed them into the auditorium for a speech from the principal as well as their homeroom teacher.
All of this was to warn them of the perils of the internet, the longevity of your digital footprint, the pitfalls of the World Wide Web, stranger danger and firewalls. This was not to frighten them, and in our defense, there wasn’t a great deal of information on how to prepare students for their foray into the digital forest while dropping digital breadcrumbs along the way.How to power the inclusive classroom
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When I returned to research the topic recently, the world of information on being a good digital citizen and digital literacy had grown extensively. While I scrolled through the extensive information on the topic, I was thrilled there was so much information and so many free resources available to teachers and schools. It was also daunting. I had to ensure I was on vetted sites, comb through research and compare approaches.
I set out to compile the information that would define, clarify and provide easy access to free created content from venerable, trusted resources. Educators feel the pressure to provide their students with the necessary skills to communicate and collaborate online safely and responsibly. The resources and information discussed below give teachers access to content backed by data-driven scientific research that can be embedded across content and grade level without sacrificing hours of their ever-dwindling time.
I concentrated my focus on three main resources: ISTE DigCit, Common Sense Media and a 2023 study on digital literature from the Journal of Educational Technology and Online Learning (JETOL). There are links to other resources as well, which I thought were content-rich and easy to use.Resources for teaching digital citizenship
JETOL’s full literature review can be found here. It is a deep dive into how digital skills need to be embedded into our content to prepare our students for life in school and beyond. JETOL started its research with ISTE’s definition of what constitutes a “good digital citizen.” This is an informative springboard of background knowledge before analyzing resources to use in your classroom.ISTE DigCit
ISTE’s standards for technology in education are the accepted standards schools follow. They also have printable posters to display in your classroom, which are helpful reminders to students while using technology.
ISTE’s website provides classes, lesson plans, strategies and created content to use with your students. They hold an annual conference solely about digital citizenship with speakers that share resources and techniques. Their site on YouTube has videos from their past DigCit Connect Conference with further resources.Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media worked with Project Zero from the School of Education at Harvard. They created a Digital Citizenship Curriculum that’s free for K-12.
Most of us are already familiar with Brain Pop. Along with their content-rich videos, games and quizzes, they also offer an entire section about building 21st-century skills in our students.Be Internet Awesome by Google
Many of Be Internet Awesome’s games and curriculum have the ISTE seal of approval and follow ISTE guidelines. They focus on vetting sources, keeping yourself and your identity online secure and safe, and being kind to those we interact with online.Additional resources
All of the resources provided are free or have free trials. They are backed up by the technology standards all of our schools follow. The amount of information can be overwhelming because it is so plentiful. With the majority of our students being 1:1, teachers need to work with family and community to help them navigate the technological world. I’ve included some alternate resources below.
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