20+ Quick Lesson Ideas For Any Classroom

It’s the beginning of the school year and you may not have had time to brush out the cobwebs yet from summer break. Fear not, Edudemic is to the rescue! Thanks to the Adobe Education Exchange, you now have hundreds of terrific last-minute digital resources that are perfect for a wide range of classrooms.

Want to be featured in this list? Submit your lesson or teaching resource to the Adobe Education Exchange for a chance to win some pretty snazzy prizes. From a new Macbook Pro with Adobe CS5.5 to tablets to other crazy digital goodies…it’s free to enter and helps teachers around the world learn from your know-how.

From using Wordle to student blogging to teaching variables, there are resources for just about any classroom and teacher. If you’ve added your resource to the Adobe Education Exchange and want to be featured on Edudemic, click here to get in touch. Now, on with the resources!

  1. Surrealistic Me Preview: Assembling the Pieces
    The folks who brought you Paint the World with Light and FLOAT! invite you to start thinking about the next global collaborative project in which your K12 students might partake: Surrealistic Me.
  2. The Joy of Type: Fontstruct
    Last year a few of my students began designing typefaces and dingbats using Illustrator and publishing with Typetool. A far simpler (yet less flexible) option is FontStruct, a Flash-based type design tool from the fine folks at FontShop.com. FontStruct allows students to design and export TrueType fonts for Mac or PC. Quite an instructive process as the students must think about every character and their relationships to one another.
  3. Introducing variables to non-technical students
    When teaching variables to students who are apprehensive about learning programming, I tell them that variables is something that they have know since they were 2 years old. They often look at me in disbelief, so I tell them to sing / write the 3rd line of “Happy Birthday”. That’s a variable. And this is how I’d write “Happy Brithday” in actionscript.
  4. The Grateful Dead Scientists: Resurrecting History
    We often ask students to write about persons, places, things, concepts, etc. But have you considered asking them to blog about them instead? Or to construct wikis, write resumes, CVs, or even job applications? Elsewhere on the Exchange others have suggested Fake Facebook Profiles or conceptual websites. Alternatives to traditional writing assignments can bring about deeper connections to the subject matter (see reference below).
  5. iPad Video Rotation Issue – Adobe Premiere to the Rescue
    I recently recorded a quick video in landscape mode on my iPad. Unfortunately, it came out in portrait mode. No problem. I pulled the video off the device and imported it into Premiere. Then, rotated the video 90˚ and exported to MP4. Voila! Priceless moment saved, and I didn’t have to rotate the TV/display everytime I wanted to watch it.
  6. Using Interactive Panoramas in Education
    Interactive panoramas are a wonderful way to experience a location without actually having to be there in person. By viewing a panorama full-screen on your computer or digital device you can click and drag on the image to move around and zoom in and out of any area of the panorama to see greater detail.
  7. Using wordle.net and Photoshop Elements
    This lesson uses www.wordle.net to create a word collage. After you finish your word collage save it as a pdf and bring it into Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. Create a mask and put picture underneath to meet your lesson requirements. For example, students could pick a famous inventor, make their word collage in wordle with diescriptive words about the person and then fill in the mask with pictures that reflect that person.
  8. Introductory Activity for a Video Project
    Before I start any video unit I like to get the camera equipment in the hands of my students, with very little instruction, and let them explore. This activity tells me several things about my students including how creative they are, how well they work  with others, what their video camera skill level is and I also find out if any students have any natural talent.  The students are put into groups of 4 or 5 with one video camera and one designated project manager. Before we go outside to practice using the cameras,  we have a brief class discussion on the film industry standards for shots and framing using this resource from mediacollege.com.
  9. Changing the Game: Assignments as Quests
    Rather than assignments, students will embark on Quests, earning Experience Points, Leveling Up, and eventually earning creative freedom, choosing a profession, embarking on multi-player Quests, etc. (Think WoW.) Yeah, you could argue they’re still just self-paced assignments but if the last nine years have taught me anything, it’s that the culture of the classroom has a profound effect on student involvement and achievement. I really believe this idea has serious potential.
  10. Raise Your Expectations
    I’m not sure how quick this idea is but I have a real problem getting some students to read and think. I believe some of them are trapped by preconceived notions. I hack away at this problem all the time but this is the first time I’ve tried packaging the message in a video. As freely admitted in Confessions of a Video Tutorial Junkie, this video, like most I make, is flawed and includes verbal bumbling and stumbling and unfinished thoughts and missed connections and… Well, you get the idea. It ain’t perfect! :)
  11. 1 of 12 boys is colour blind!
    Many of us try to teach color correction but forget to test if our students have color vision. Statistically one in twelve boys is has color vision deficiency (and one in 255 girls)
  12. Green Screen Studio for the Classroom
    Anybody can make a green screen studio in their classroom, even with a small budget.  Just use some green fadeless paper (or a green sheet) and some bright lights.  (any would do)  I set this up in an empty classroom at our school, and although it is not professional and perfect, it works well enough.
  13. Professional Development Models Using Connect Pro 8
    I have included four different ways to create a Professional Development opportunity using Connect Pro 8 and Presenter 7.
  14. Simple Multimedia Project Using Acrobat
    Students can work together on a quick presentation in which the final product can have images, video, links to related sites, and read aloud capabilities in one easy “slide.” This type of slide with video could also be very effectively used for foreign language classes. It is a great way for students to use videos of themselves demonstrating pronunciation or a process, an interview with an adult or other students, etc. Multiple slides can be created then put together in Acrobat.
  15. Contests and Competitions
    Since our students are creating fabulous projects with Adobe software, it would be nice to have a central location to post information about current and upcoming contests and competitions. A just-opened email from Behance sparked the idea (link below).
  16. Picture Yourself in Paris (or anywhere)!
    From Creative Commons, or a similar source of photos, find and save images from a country that your students are studying or that speaks the language your students are studying. Students will edit photos of themselves (best taken against a plain background) and paste themselves into photos that show interesting places, products or landmarks of another country. They will then do some research about that country. After students have researched the place they are “visiting”, they should write up a summary of that place, explaining where they are in the country, and what they have learned about the geography, culture, traditions, products, religions, and so forth. They should place their image in their report, with a caption, if desired, stating where they are. Finish reports with a citation of resources.
  17. Fun Family Field Trips
    This would be a huge year-long collaborative project that could be replicated in any region, and in any age group. Students, beginning with Grades 3-5 would plan a field trip /day trip with their families to visit a place where they would like to visit that would also tie into the curriculum of what they are learning in Social Studies/and or Science.  For example, they might like to visit a historic monument that ties into local history (in third grade) or in California history (4th) or U.S. history (5th.)  They would have to research information about the location, how to get there, price, etc. and “pitch” the ideas to their parents, and explain how it is educational and exactly how it ties into what they are learning in school.  (Much like what teachers do propose a new field trip to their principal.)
  18. Tell Your Story in 3 Minutes or Less
    Originally produced simply to satisfy an assignment for a class, I took the instructor’s advice and shared the video with my students. I honestly thought they’d be horrified or bored to tears but the class burst into applause at the end. The video, as low-tech as it is, has become an annual tradition in my classroom. I still can’t believe how many kids will come back and tell me that the video made them see me in a completely different light.
  19. Mind Your Metaphors
    Successful communication requires that we understand our audience. Beloit College has just released its latest Mindset List. In the list creators’ words: It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.
  20. Student Blogs
    Having experienced a certain degree of success with my own blog, it occurred to me that exceptional students might distinguish themselves by maintaining a record of their personal and artistic growth over the years. (Parental consent is required.) I see this as a potential benefit when applying for higher ed or when beginning their careers. I’ve linked to a few examples below.
  21. Blogging for Educators
    Though not for all teachers, the blog can be a transformative classroom tool. It can be a battle getting some students to engage (read #5), but I’ve found it more than worth the trouble. WordPress has worked well for me. If you have a host (mine’s on our district servers), go to wordpress.org to begin. If you need a host, wordpress.com is an easy way to test the waters. Both are free.