Articles Tagged with: teachers

Holiday Gift Guide for Teachers

Holiday break is just around the corner, and everyone at school is likely looking forward to having some time at home to relax. Before students can take their well-earned break, however, think about showing your teachers a little appreciation with a holiday gift. Tell them you’re looking forward to the rest fo the year!
This isn’t just for students! Teachers can offer support to other teachers, or parents can pick something up for their children’s instructors. The important thing is that these gifts show support!

Useful Gifts for Teachers

Gifts for teachers- school supplies is a good idea

1. A water bottle or travel mug
Hydration and caffeination are essentials for keeping a teacher going through the day. Make it a little easier for them with a fun new thermos or water bottle. 
2. Classroom supplies
Have you noticed the classroom running low on tissues, gluesticks, or extra pencils? Bring in a box or a few boxes to help your teacher restock.
3. A donation
Give a gift to a charity that would be important to your teacher, whether that be an education fund or something more specific to the topic they teach. Send them a card to let them know that you made it in their name!

Fun Gifts for Teachers

wrapped presents full of gifts for teachers

1. Tea or coffee
We know we already mentioned the travel mug, but it’s also nice to get a selection of great coffee or tea. Think about offering a sample pack or picking out a few flavors that they might love. Parents may need to help with this one.
2. A small plant
A succulent or a cactus make for good decoration. This gift works especially well for science teachers, and then the best for environmental science teachers. If you know your teacher gardens, replace this with seeds. 
3. A gift card
Pick somewhere that you know your teacher will appreciate. If they really do love coffee, go for the coffee card. If they’re always very stylish, maybe pick a clothing store. A gift card is a good bet for when you’re not sure what else to do, but still try to put some thought into it!

A Gift That’s Both Useful and Fun!

Get your students into archaeology with Excavate!

Think about giving the gift of one of our educational games! Social studies teachers, especially, will love the Excavate! series while STEM teachers may like to  try out Exotrex. Convince them to bring game-based learning into the classroom with just one small purchase!

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World Teachers’ Day – Take Time to Thank Your Teachers!

Tomorrow, October 5th is World Teachers’ Day, also known as International Teachers’ Day. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendations concerning the status of teachers which addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world. It focuses on appreciating, assessing, and improving educators the world over.

You can spend World Teachers’ Day making your teachers feel appreciated. We’ve listed a few simple suggestions for how you might show your teachers that you care about them.

Say Thank You

say thanks to teachers on world teachers' day

Little words can go a long way. Sometimes, saying thank you is enough! Go see your teachers, current or past, and tell them clearly how much you appreciate what they do. If you can, be specific! Recall a particularly moment where they helped you grow and recount that story. Teachers don’t get to hear praise from their students enough!

If you’re too nervous to do it face to face, or the teacher you want to thank is at a different school or retired, do it through email! Just make sure your appreciation reaches them somehow.

A Small Gift

Presents , even simple ones can help your teachers see how much you appreciate them. Don’t go too overboard- a small token is enough to communicate how grateful you are. Think about a small gift card or a trinket you know they’ll appreciate. 

Nominate Them

World Teachers' Day nominate your teachers

If there’s a teacher that you have found to be particularly impactful on your education, nominate them for an award! Most school countries have a Teacher of the Year, and many schools do this process on that smaller level as well. Ask at your school office about the process of nominating a teacher for that award.

Honored’s teacher honoree program stresses that studies have shown that teachers who se a tangible positive impact of their work stay in the classrooms longer. Make sure your teachers know they make a difference.

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Find out more about World Teachers’ Day on the UNESCO website.


Hispanic Heritage Month: Resources for Teachers

What Is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of Americans whose ancestry can be traced to Spain, Mexico, or other Hispanic countries. The festival lasts from September 15 to October 15, starting in the middle of a month since September 15 marks the independence day of five seperate Hispanic countries. Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate on that date.

The month particularly focuses on the arts and culture of Hispanic Americans, highlighting important figures from history, hosting music festivals, and even working with the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, and more organizations in DC. You can find out more about it and the events that comprise its duration in the DC area by looking at the official website. If you’re not from the DC area, don’t worry. This calendar features events from all over the country. So you can put something on your schedule no matter where you are!

Hispanic Heritage Month Resources

National Hispanic Heritage Month at the Smithsonian

Photo credit: Detail of Maíz Flor Serpiente/ Flower Maize Serpent commissioned digital art work by the Indigenous Design Collection, 2015.

While homeschools could consider scheduling a field trip to one of the events you can find above, teachers in the classroom might not be able to find time to bring their students out and about to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. However, thanks to how long the festival has been an established part of the calendar, there are already plenty of resources for bringing Hispanic Heritage Month into the classroom. Both the websites linked above bring you to plenty of helpful classroom resources.

The government site has links to resources from the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Archives, National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution. Check them all out. On the other one, you can find many articles about Hispanic culture, scholarships, social impact, and more. While not all of them may be great for all classrooms, the resources can expand your knowledge as well.

For more traditional lesson plans, you can also find resources on the National Education Association site and on Scholastic. See how to bring in multi-cultural education into your classroom in celebration.

Excavate! MesoAmerica

Excavate! games MesoAmerican screenshot

While Excavate! MesoAmerica doesn’t cover every Hispanic ancestry, it’s a great, fun way to get students interested in the history and cultures of ancient MesoAmerica. Explore the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations through interactive archaeology. Students can discover more about these MesoAmerican sites by deeply examining artifacts and stretching their critical thinking skills. Excavate! MesoAmerican also includes a Spanish language option!

Until September 30, all our Excavate! games are 30% off with the code BACKTOSCHOOL18, so snag yourself a copy during Hispanic Heritage Month to bring Hispanic history to your classroom.

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Educational Conference Calendar Highlights

Conferences can be a great way to meet new peers and keep up with the latest in educational trends. Here, we highlight just a few educational conferences from this school year that you might consider paying attention to or even attending. Also, we provide links to more complete calendars for even more options to choose from

iNACOL

educational conference Inacol for transforming learning

The Symposium is an annual conference and a leading event for “K-12 competency based, blended and online learning.” By attending the conference, you will gain access to expertise in these areas, along with many networking opportunities. Within the symposium’s programming, attendees choose a specific track to help guide them through the more than 200 available sessions to what they need. It’s a great educational conference to pick up new ways to teach material!

This year, iNACOL takes place in Nashville from October 21-24. You can still register for this year’s conference, although the early bird deadline passed in July. Find out more on the website.

FETC

FETC educational conference logo

FETC tailors itself to the needs of “an increasingly technology-drive education community.” While attendees may come from different backgrounds and possess different skills, they all come to the educational conference to meet with others interested in ed tech. Like other conferences, FETC offers specialized tracks to get you to sessions that align with your professional goals.

Registration is open for the January 27-30, 2019 conference in Orlando, FL. Find out more on the website

SXSW EDU

SXSW educational conference poster

While SXSW might be better known for its film or music festivals, they do also hold a conference for educators. It features presentations and programming with educational thought leaders, traditional sessions, films and more. Some of the sample thematic tracks include language learning, accessibility & inclusion, emerging tech, and student agency. No matter your own educational goal, SXSW EDU is an educational conference that can provide you with resources to get there.

This school year’s program is being held in Austin TX from March 4-7, 2019. Registration rates increase on September 14, 2018, so think about reserving your place ASAP! Find out more details on the website.

More Educational Conferences

While these lists provide dates mostly for 2018, the conferences listed are yearly events, and you can find more information by going to the linked websites for each one. 

Check out these lists from The Edvocate, Getting Smart, and Where Learning Clicks.

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National Read A Book Day: What to Read

September 6th is National Read a Book Day! However, with so many books, finding something to read can be hard. So, we put together a list of book suggestions! Even though we’re a game-based learning company, we know the importance of reading regularly as part of continuing education. Make reading a part of your daily routine. 

Get Motivated

When: a suggestion for Read a Book Day

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing teaches you all about how motivation levels rise and fall throughout the day. Pink helps you identify your “chronotype” in order to best predict when you’ll be most ready to work and when you’ll get nothing done. Knowing this makes getting things done in a timely fashion much easier.

Learn how to get the most out of your day by finding the motivation to read this book. If you need more convincing, read this review from The Guardian.

Creative Teaching

Wild Card: suggestion for national read a book day

Whether you think that you’re a naturally creative person, The Wild Card guides you through the process of reaching that creative breakthrough as a teacher. Draw on yourself and your strengths to offer engaging lessons that draw in students to the course work in a more personal manner.

If you’re getting started as a teacher, or you just want a new perspective, this gives a lot of useful advice! If you need to know more about it first, check out this review from The Inspired Apple.

Game-Based Learning

Play to Learn: a suggestion for Read a Book Day

Play to Learn bridges the gap between instructional and game design to give insight into what makes a good game-based learning product. While it focuses itself towards designers like us, knowing the process helps when using these products in the classroom as well. Also, it provides a good starting point for anyone interested in game-based learning.

Learn more about what this book has to offer with this review from eLearning Industry.

What Are You Reading for Read a Book Day?

Let us know what books you’ve been loving recently! What we shared here makes up only a small sample of the plethora of amazing resources out there for all topics. Do you have a reading goal for the year? Let us know by leaving a comment or replying to us on any of our social media channels.

Literacy is incredibly important, so make sure you keep reading whether you’re a teacher, student or neither.

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Game-Based Learning in the Classroom: How to Use Our Excavate! Games

As the new school year begins, think about adding something new to the curriculum. Game-based learning can be intimidating if you’ve never used it before, but it can also be extremely effective. Our biggest game-based learning product, the Excavate! games, offer detailed of archaeological explorations into several different ancient cultures. 

If you’re interested in our Excavate! series, but you aren’t sure how to go about incorporating them into your classroom, we understand! Read on for a summary of how the games work, how to teach them, and why you should use them.

Six Excavate! Games, Six Civilizations

Excavate! games Rome screenshot at baths

Excavate! comes in six civilizations, all covered within world history curriculum, meaning that the series can be used throughout the year. Each game focuses in on 3-4 important spots for students to engage in virtual archaeology. Each of these locations reveals something new about the culture and practices of that civilization.

After choosing a location to start, students use a variety of archaeologist’s tools to uncover the artifacts from beneath the ground. They must be careful not to break artifacts by using the wrong tool; otherwise, they will need to start the dig again. When a stratum (or layer) is completely excavated, students examine their discovered artifacts. Through a series of questions, they determine what each artifact must have been used for and what the artifacts say about that society. With this done, students submit a fill-in-the-blanks report, summarizing their findings.

The process repeats for each stratum, uncovering artifacts deeper in the ground. When a location is finished, the students make a final report on the location as a whole and what they learned. From there, they move on to the next location.

Not only do these games allow students to have fun pretending to be archaeologists, they also reinforce learning through multiple methods. This ensures students understand the key points from each location. By the end of the game, students have gained a basic understanding of a culture as a whole. 

All six civilizations- Rome, Egypt, Greece, the Byzantine Empire, MesoAmerica, and Mesopotamia– can be bought separately or together in a bundle. Excavate! MesoAmerica can also be played in Spanish.

Complete Lesson Plans

Excavate! games Egypt city screenshot

Each Excavate! game comes with complementary guides and lesson plans to use in conjunction with the game. Game-based learning offers the greatest benefit when paired with a knowledgeable and capable teacher and more traditional lessons. 

The basic Excavate! guide walks you through how the game works while the game specific guide provides answers and explanations for the questions asked in the game. This makes sure that teachers are prepared to answer any question that students may have while they play through the game. Along with the guide, we also offer two accompanying resources.

The Inquiry Analysis and Artifact Based questions offer supplementary learning to the digital games. The products work with or without the digital game. Incorporate them, before, duing or after playing the game based on recommendations in the Teacher Guide and what works for you. With these lesson plans, you won’t have to come up with your own. At most, you’ll simply be adjusting what already exists.

Links to all of these can be found on each game’s download page.

For Rome and Egypt, the Excavate! Card Game is also available to help test student knowledge retention. Students find connections between people, places, and artifacts of the ancient civilization, using what they learned during playing the Excavate! digital game. 

Not Just for Social Studies

Excavate! games MesoAMerican screenshot

While the obvious place for the Excavate! games would be in a social studies classroom, that’s not the only place that they’ve been used in schools. Teachers from gifted and special ed classrooms have also used our games and given us positive feedback.

Susan Honsinger (a teacher from Florida) used Excavate! in her gifted classroom to pair with their explorations of ancient cultures. The students engaged with the lessons and dived deep into exploring the artifacts.

“I see that the Excavate! games are embedded in student memory, and the facts and images they found there are being referred to in subsequent classes.” 

Samantha McClusky (a special education teacher from Arkansas) used the Excavate! games with her class as well. She found that the interactive learning experience helped her students get engaged in the class and work together as a group.

“Learning through the game based format really connects learners of the 21st century to education, and helps them discover things that they may not have been interested in…”

Even if your curriculum doesn’t directly relate to learning about ancient cultures, Excavate! helps teach critical thinking and analysis skills that are useful in any class.

Back to School Special

Screenshot Excavate! games

If you’re considering using Excavate! in your classroom, there’s no better time to grab yourself a copy. Use the discount code BACKTOSCHOOL18 on our online store to receive 30% off any and all Excavate! products. If you’re looking to buy in bulk for a whole set of classes or a whole school, feel free to contact us at info@dig-itgames.com so we can help set up bundle pricing that works for you.

The Excavate! games also are available to purchase on Apple, Android, and Amazon products in addition to working on the computer. Check out the official page for all options, and contact us for any information you need.

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First Day of School: Ideas & Activities

The first day of school can be scary…for both students and teachers! You meet new people, assess which classes might cause trouble or might be easy to manage, and get used to waking up early again. So, how can teachers make the first day of school clear and manageable for both themselves and their students? 

Learn Names

first day of school learning

For younger students, seating plans definitely help with learning names. Choose an order that works for name memorization at the beginning, then switch up the seats as problems arise or just as the year continues. Alphabetical by either first or last name can be a huge help when trying to remember. When calling attendance, make sure to look up and notice the student that answers after each name. 

For older students, you may choose to have a seating plan as suggested for younger students, but it can be good to let them have a bit more freedom within the classroom. If you choose to forgo seating plans, consider letting the students make their own nametags for the first few weeks of school.

Spend some time letting the students decorate their nametag. As long as the name is legible, their decorations may also help you learn about each student’s personality. Letting them personalize it also gives them a sense of ownership over it. They can leave it in the classroom at the end of the period and pick it up when they return. 

Whatever you teach, learning student names is essential. Student surveys have indicated that knowing an instructor knows them is very important. Additionally, studies have shown that knowing names increases community, accountability, and trust.

Get to Know Each Other

first day of school icebreakers

Break the ice! Not only can ice breakers help you learn names from the first day of school, it also lets members of your class get to know each other. Ice breakers can also help you recognize personality types among your students, allowing you to get a basic understanding of how to treat each of them to facilitate their learning.

For younger kids, it may help to get their nervous energy out through an ice breaker that involves physical activity. Here’s a list of ice breakers that involve some moving around on the part of the students.

For older students, particularly ones who have begun having many teachers, try to come up with something unique! They’ve probably spent all day playing classics like Two Truths and a Lie. Check out these two lists for some ideas that can serve as bouncing off points for discussion.

Lay Out the Rules

first day of school rules

It seems like this would be the most boring part, but it’s also important. Students who know expectations from the beginning won’t violate them accidentally. Making sure there’s a clear place where rules are laid out can be helpful for those who need reminders.

For older classrooms, particularly in discussion-heavy classrooms, have your students express their expectations. How do they want a discussion to be run in the classroom? If a student feels comfortable within rules, they may share their opinion more often. Consider taking some time to discuss a code of conduct for the classroom that works for everyone. If they need a jumping off point, here’s a list of basic rules.

Game Based Learning

While Excavate! might not be the ideal way to start the school year (although, why not?), now is the best time to buy the series. Using the code BACKTOSCHOOL18, get 30% off on all the Excavate! games in our online store. These can be used on Chromebooks or other school issued laptops to teach critical thinking, analysis skills, and facts about six unique ancient civilizations. Dig into the series today!


Back to School: Advice for Teachers

Back to school season is here in full force! There’s a lot that teachers need to get ready, even before students start entering the building. The checklist can include everything from setting up the classroom, to finalizing the year’s overall curriculum, to making sure that each student and their particular needs are accommodated. On this post, we’ve collected many resources that will help you start the school year right.

Preparing the Classroom

back to school classroom

Making sure that the classroom provides both a welcoming space and is optimized to help students learn is a difficult balancing act. Of course, some teachers deal with keeping their class on a cart and going from room to room. But if you happen to be lucky enough to get your own space, there are plenty of tips for making sure it’s the best space it can be.

Edutopia recently published an article on flexible classrooms. While research on their impact on learning remains scarce, what research exists shows promising results. Flexibility and ownership of the room are important tools to help academic progress, right up there with basics like air quality and temperature. 

If you can’t change the space itself, you can at least give the room a bit of decoration. Not only does it make the room more interesting for students, it makes the room a more welcoming environment for you too! You might consider posters with good inspirational quotes or famous historical figures from your subject. If you’re feeling crafty, decorate your classroom with some DIY tips to make the room all your own. 

Getting Ready for Students

students back to school

The best offense is a good defense. To put that another way, the best way to be prepared later down the line is to be ready to go from the start. Know what students you have coming in and prepare for any special accommodations they require. Know your general classroom policies ahead of time too and remember to communicate these rules to the students. How will you deal with absences, late work, or snow days? Have answers to these questions before they come up!

These may seem basic, particularly if you’ve taught before, but take some time to reflect on how your policies worked last year. If they seemed to work, great! However, if they could improve, give some thought on how to change them up to be best for you and the students. Taking the time to reflect on the previous year during the summer can be incredibly useful.

The First Day Back to School

back to school advice for teachers

The first day is a teacher’s chance to make a good first impression and also set students on the right path towards collaboration and respect. Icebreakers can be a great way to, well, break the ice! Depending on the age, students might respond differently to this strategy, but it’s all a matter of offering an icebreaker that fits their maturity level. Check out Icebreaker Ideas to find one that’s right for you.

If you have trouble learning names, making nametags can be an easy, relaxing activity for the first day back to school. Try to keep quizzing yourself to get the names down pat. No matter the age and no matter the size of the class, students appreciate it when instructors know their name.

Think About GBL

Summer Gaming List 7: Dig-It! Games

If you’ve yet to jump on the game-based learning train, there’s no better time to find out more about it than back to school time! We have a whole host of game-based learning products. Consider switching up your lesson plans to incorporate active learning and foster engagement in students.

Social studies teachers, take a look at our Excavate series and Roman Town 2. Science teachers, head over to the ExoTrex series. Even Spanish teachers can hop on board with our Spanish translation of Excavate! MesoAmerica.

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Here’s a very thorough checklist that goes over even more ways to be prepared for the school year and save yourself time down the line.


Fractured Fairytales: Twisting Up Familiar Stories

We all love fairy tales. The sheer number of beloved Disney movies based off these ancient stories can attest to that. We love to see the heroic prince slaying dragons or the plucky princess pursuing true love. Sometimes though, we wonder what if. What if Cinderella had been more rebellious or Red Riding Hood more observant? Because of that curiousity, we make fractured fairytales.

What is a Fractured Fairytale?

At its most basic, it’s a rewritten fairytale. Simply put, a fractured fairytale takes an existing story and, literally, fractures it. Instead of following the plot to the letter, the rewritten story changes point of view, certain events, time period, or even the ending. Fracturing the fairytale provides new perspectives on the story through considering how else the story could have gone.

Examples of Fractured Fairytales

The video above comes from a segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (19959-1964) dedicated to fractured fairytales. On the show, everything from Rapunzel to Little “Fred” Riding Hood to every pun on Sleeping Beauty you can think of is covered. Despite its age, the charm and comedy remain timeless. Collections can still be found online or single episodes can be found on YouTube.

For more literary examples, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs transforms the Big Bad Wolf’s story into a true crime drama (for kids). However, all it takes is a quick web search to find a copious amount of other delightful examples.

Fractured fairy tales fit well into many language arts curriculums, particularly in elementary school. Read Write Think has several great ones, including this resource which walks groups through analyzing the common elements of a fairytale. Then, groups use that information to make their own fractured stories. Education World and Teachers Pay Teachers also offer a selection of different ideas for teaching these offbeat stories. These include both reading and writing exercises.

Roterra: A Fractured Fairytale Puzzle

Roterra is inspired by fractured fairytales among other influences

Roterra eschews the traditional structure of the fairytale. Princess Angelica takes destiny into her own hands instead of waiting for a huntsman or fairy godmother to give her a hand. While it’s not a true fractured fairytale, since it doesn’t retell any particular story, it retains the ethos of giving more agency to the heroine. A better term might be “flipped” or “upside-down” fairytale. It gives Princess Angelica a role she might not usually fill in other fairytale stories.

You’ll be able to step into the role of Princess Angelica this year when Roterra releases. Until then, keep yourself up to date with the development by signing up to the newsletter on the game page or giving the teaser trailer a watch. We’re very excited to be giving you an awesome female protagonist in a fairytale setting. If you want to know more about the development of Roterra, keep an eye on the blog! We’ve got some inside looks into the world, characters, and development process coming up!

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Summer Advice for Teachers!

One of the perks of being a K-12 teacher is that long break over the summer! But it can also be a lot to handle at the same time. Not sure what to do with yourself over the summer? We’ve got some advice for teachers on what to do in terms of professional development and having fun over the break. 

Get Reading

Summer advice for teachers 1: get reading

Summer is the best time for reading, whether at home, at the beach, or anywhere else. Also, reading is one of the easiest ways to keep learning over the summer whether you’re reading about new educational strategies or just curling up with a good novel. Summer learning is as important for teachers as it is for students! Maybe you picked up a book already, but the internet offers tons of teacher suggestions if you haven’t. 

While it’s an older list, Teach for America suggests several books from classroom management tips (Like See Me After Class and Real Talk for Real Teachers) to simple beach reads. The Washington Post also offers a list based on teacher recommendations for books in many different categories. However, if you want to grab a few newer titles, join Education Closet’s 2018 summer reading challenge for teachers. They list a good variety of genres from the fictional drama of Little Fires Everywhere to the step-by-step guides of The Design Thinking Playbook.

Your reading doesn’t have to just come from books either. Educational blogs feature new ideas and research on a regular basis. Some of our personal favorites include Edutopia, Mindshift, and, of course, our own blog right here!

Learn from Others

Teacher advice for the summer 2: learn from others at conferences and workshops

Summer is full of small workshops and conferences with educational organizations and thought leaders in the community, both in-person and online. For instance, PBS TeacherLine hosts a lot of workshops for teachers at all grade-levels. Some have the added benefit of being self-paced, meaning you can break up your learning across the summer as it works for you.

Going out to learn from others can be as simple as a trip to a museum! Find an interesting museum in your area and make a day of it. This directory should be helpful when it comes to finding something interesting that’s within a reasonable distance.

Dig-It! attended the Games for Change Festival back in June and will be attending the Serious Play Conference. Come see us at the latter conference if you happen to be in the area!

Take a Break

Teacher advice 3- make sure to relax during the summer break

After a long school year, you’ve earned it! Make sure to take a few days to spend time with family or enjoy some precious alone time. Plan a vacation or a staycation, if you’d rather stay at home. Try cooking more or exploring nearby cities. Summer gives you plenty of time to plan and do whatever you want. Take advantage of it!

If you happen to be a gamer, make sure to check out our summer gaming list for suggestions or just click over to our games page for tons of educational products to test out. Have fun and plan for next year- that’s two birds with one stone!

Mostly, however, our advice for teachers is this: make sure you’re doing stuff you enjoy while you’ve got the time! That’s the important thing.

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