Thursday, March 30, 2023

Pacing Group Activities With Focusable

A few weeks ago I ran a workshop in which I changed up the way that I paced the session. What I've almost always done is give a little instruction then time to try and complete a little practice activity. Then I'll hold a little debrief before moving onto the next activity. It's a pretty common format that I'm sure you also learned in one of the methods courses that you took at some point. 

What I did differently in my workshop a few weeks ago was to use Focusable to pace the workshop. Specifically, I used Focusable to keep track of the blocks of work time. When the time was up I then had everyone follow along with the breathing exercise that Focusable suggested before we did the debrief. I then summarized the debrief in a video in Focusable before moving onto the next workshop activity. 

I found that having everyone participate in the Focusable breathing and recharge activities was a better way of getting everyone's attention than using the old method of saying something like, "okay, let's talk about this." Perhaps it was just the novelty of following along with the breathing exercise, but it worked well for refocusing the group for a short discussion. It's definitely something that I'll do again in future workshops. 

Speaking of workshops, I'd love to run a workshop at your school this summer. To learn more about that, please visit this page or send me an email at richard (at)

Video - How to Use Focusable

Math, Science, and Search Baseball Lessons

Today is the home opener for my beloved Boston Red Sox. Hope springs eternal for a great season. So until at least the first pitch is thrown I'll set aside the pessimistic New Englander in me and get excited because this is the year! On that note, here are some baseball-themed lesson ideas and resources. 

Just this week I finished reading Odd Man Out. It's a great story about a Yale graduate who spent a year pitching in the minor leagues before going to medical school. It's a book I'd recommend to any adult interested in baseball and to any high school student who has aspirations of playing professional baseball. 

One of my favorite instances of Wikipedia being wrong was when the entry for former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe stated that he maintains a science blog. It provided a good lesson in using context clues and fact checking

The Baseball Hall of Fame (which I enjoyed visiting last summer) offers free lesson plans that are aligned with the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts. There are lessons for math, social studies, science, the arts, and character education.

Exploratorium's the Science of Baseball has some nice resources that can help students understand how a bit of science and mathematics is involved in every baseball game. The Science of Baseball includes video and audio clips of baseball players and scientists explaining how the weather affects the flight of the ball, the physics of various pitches, and reaction times to thrown and batted baseballs.

The Physics of Baseball is a PBS Learning Media lesson for students in high school. Learn about motion, energy, aerodynamics, and vibration.

Perfect Pitch is a nice little game produced by the Kennedy Center's Arts Edge. Perfect Pitch uses the backdrop of a baseball diamond to teach students about the instruments in an orchestra through a baseball game setting. The game introduces students to four eras of orchestral music and the instruments used in each. Students can create their own small orchestras and virtually play each instrument to hear how it sounds. After building an orchestra students then test their knowledge in short quizzes about the instruments and their sounds.

And if you're looking for an explanation of the fundamental rules of baseball, this video provides a fairly concise explanation. 

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