VariQuest Blog

The VariQuest Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Suite Blog contains resources on classroom ideas, lesson plans, industry news, events, and offers throughout education.

Margo Ensz

Blog Feature

Grade Level: Primary (PK-2) | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | Academic Subject: STEM | VariQuest Tools: Design Center Software | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | VariQuest Tools: Poster Maker 3600 | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Academic Subject: Mathematics

K-5: Math is Everywhere!

By: Margo Ensz
March 31st, 2015

April is Mathematics Awareness Month! This year's theme is "Math Drives Careers." Math can be an engaging and intuitive subject for some students, but often it is a dry subject for others. These students ask, "When will I use this in real life?" One way to answer that question and engage learners is to demonstrate that math is all around us. 

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Grade Level: Primary (PK-2) | Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | Academic Subject: Social Studies and History | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Still Need Resources for Women's History Month?

By: Margo Ensz
March 19th, 2015

"The trouble with Women’s History Month—with all these special months—is that they encourage people to think that problems have been solved. The female heroes of yesterday are acknowledged, the debt paid and the slate wiped clean." -Maureen Costello, "The Trouble with Women's History Month" Use this quote and the resources below to discuss the past, present, and future of women's history in the context of Women's History Month. 

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How to Write a Grant eBook

How to Write a Grant eBook

This helpful guide includes an explanation of the grant process, including a checklist (with samples!), and useful links and resources to find funding!

Blog Feature

Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | Academic Subject: Social Studies and History | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

Women's History Month: Interactive Biography Lesson (3-12)

By: Margo Ensz
March 17th, 2015

March is Women's History Month! While the month is half over, there is still plenty of time to engage students of all ages in the history, struggles, and triumphs of women. Below is a brief, customizable lesson using images from Smithville Elementary Library's public blog. Images of notable women in history paired with one actionable word provide groundwork for biographical research and discussion leading into the contemporary.

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Featured Topics: Industry News and Trends | Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Academic Subject: Special Education

Response: Where Ed Tech is Failing Special Education

By: Margo Ensz
March 12th, 2015

EdSurge recently published an opinion article titled: "Where Edtech is Failing Special Education." Kara Brooks-Odom, a teacher of 16 years, outlines her experiences with the education technology industry in how it meets, or, in this case, doesn't meet, the needs of her students and her classroom.

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Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Student Engagement

Differentiated, Personalized, Individualized: What's the Difference?

By: Margo Ensz
March 4th, 2015

The education community has an increasingly diverse and vocal channel for discussing best practices, teaching and learning styles, and other hot topics and buzz words. These concepts can quickly become muddled and confusing if not properly defined and discussed. For example, differentiated, individualized, and personalized learning sound like they could be synonymous and interchangeable. However, there are clear distinctions between them. Let's start with differentiated instruction and personalized learning:

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Featured Topics: Character Education | Featured Topics: Student Engagement | Academic Subject: Interdisciplinary | Featured Topics: Templates for FREE download

5 Colorful Classroom Management Posters

By: Margo Ensz
February 25th, 2015

What is your classroom identity? What do teachers and staff expect of students? What do students expect when they walk in the classroom? Classroom management is important for every teacher, regardless of subject and grade level. Teachers want to spend their time teaching, so an effective classroom management strategy can help minimize disruptions. 

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Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Professional Development

Helping ELL Students Retain Content with Classroom Visuals

By: Margo Ensz
February 19th, 2015

One of the cornerstones of teaching ELL students is vocabulary. Vocabulary is not only vital to reading,writing, speaking, and listening, but also to understanding broader concepts and making connections between subjects. The introduction of these new words and phrases are usually well received by students, but difficulties can arise in terms of retention. We recently attended the national Title I conference in Salt Lake City, and noticed that a number of sessios focused on engaging students, and specifically sessions on engaging ELL students to help them retain content. Joanne Billingsly, in her presentation "Making Content Sticky," outlined ways to build academic vocabulary and increase retention among ELL students: "The availability of color illustrations and teaching diagrams that support student understanding and retention of new words."

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Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | Academic Subject: Career & Technical Education

Not Just for Science Fairs: High School Poster Sessions

By: Margo Ensz
February 16th, 2015

While poster sessions may seem reserved for post-secondary and professional conferences, high school students can benefit from the opportunity to present their research and projects in such a succinct way. These events allow students to "get their feet in the water" and work on communication skills by presenting their research in a condensed "elevator speech" format rather than a full-scale presentation.

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Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Academic Subject: Career & Technical Education

Students Develop Confidence & Career Skills with Indian Ink (Video)

By: Margo Ensz
February 10th, 2015

Last month Venice High School in Venice, Florida, entered the Follett Challenge which "showcases and rewards educators who are aligning their curriculum and approach in order to teach the skills needed in the 21st century, and who are implementing a collaborative program with others in their school."  The in-school graphic design class and business Indian Ink is a stellar example of a student-empowering program that readies students for the 21st century workplace and culture using VariQuest Visual Learning Tools. 

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Grade Level: Post-secondary (12+) | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | Featured Topics: Professional Development

Supporting Future Educators with VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

By: Margo Ensz
February 3rd, 2015

"The Cutout Maker has been one of the best resources to use as a teacher-to-be." Freed-Hardeman University, a private liberal arts university in Henderson, Tennessee, supports its students pursuing education degrees in a unique way by providing them hands-on teaching and learning tools. Because of the school's committment to future educators, it was selected as this month's VariQuest Super School! We spoke with Sarah Ridinger, a Librarian at Freed-Hardeman’s Learning Resource Library. This library itself is a unique collaboration between the university’s library and the School of Education, and part of its mission is to "ensure Education students and faculty have library resources to successfully learn and teach.”

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