VariQuest Blog

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

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VariQuest Super Schools | Project-based Learning | Career & Technology Education (CTE) | Academic Subject: Career & Technical Education

A Student-Run Print Shop Teaches CTE Skills at Higgins Middle School

By: VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools
May 1st, 2018

With an emphasis on CTE programs in schools on the rise, so too are student-based enterprises - where students can brainstorm ideas, design and develop products, market their offerings, monitor inventory, balance finances, and nurture patronage - covering many of the 16 Career Clusters and developing students' real world skills. Such is the case at Higgins Middle School in Peabody, Massachusetts, where the students are tasked with running a multi-service print shop fully equipped with VariQuest® Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Tools.

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Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Lessons/Activities/Templates

Using Text Dependent Questions for Deeper Comprehension

By: Carman Le
April 26th, 2018

For many years, comprehension strategies centered on students making connections to their texts. These may have included: Text-to-Self, Text-to-Text, and Text-to-World. However, this continued strategy seemed to only produce readers who wanted to talk about themselves. Very few times were they connecting with other texts or with world situations. Hence, a deeper understanding of the text became elusive. Having the experience of desperately pulling deeper understanding of a text from my students, I was introduced to the strategy of "close reading." Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey wrote a fantastic article in The Reading Teacher titled Close Reading in Elementary Schools, where they outline how to incorporate this "text dependent question" approach into your literacy time. The basics are:

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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

Maker Movement | Makerspace | Academic Subject: STEM | Funding | Kinesthetic Learning | STEM

[eBook] How to Build a Makerspace

By: VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools
April 19th, 2018

By now, you've probably heard about "makerspaces" and how they're being added in schools across the country - encouraging students of all ages to explore, create, build, tinker, and experiment through hands-on learning. (For a refresher, check out our blog, "What is a Makerspace?") STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) learning is important to us here at VariQuest, because we know it's important to you. And a makerspace is a great solution for creating an environment conducive to this methodology - with the space being as high- or low-tech as your imagination (or funds) can reach! As your first step, how about a free ebook, helping you consider what's necessary to build one in your school? Well, we've got that, right here for you! "How to Build a Makerspace: A Guide for Educators Striving to Build Student Success Through Hands-On Learning" will discuss...

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Lessons/Activities/Templates | Academic Subject: Mathematics | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Career & Technology Education (CTE) | Grade Level: Primary (PK-2)

[Lesson Plan] Counting Strategies Activity: Build a Fruit Basket

By: Carman Le
April 12th, 2018

As more and more schools expand their curriculum offerings to include Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs spanning the 16 Career Clusters, the need for resources to help these students has grown along with it. One of these clusters, obviously close to our hearts at VariQuest, is the Education & Training pathway - so along with supporting educators who facilitate this goal with students, we also want to support those students considering a career in the industry! So - do you have an Early Education Program with your secondary students? Or maybe you're a Pre-K or Kindergarten teacher looking for activities to help students learn about numbers and counting? We've got a free lesson plan for you, aligned with Common Core Math Standard K.CC.A.1-5: "Counting Strategies: Build a Fruit Basket!"

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VariQuest Tools: Motiva 400 | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400STP | Perfecta

VariQuest Launches New Educational Tools – the Perfecta® 2400STP Poster Design System and Motiva™ 400 Specialty Printing System for the K–12 Market

By: VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools
March 26th, 2018

The newest additions to the VariQuest suite of solutions provide endless options for creating on-the-spot school-wide communication, recognition, and student engagement materials. (Brooklyn Park, MN) March 23, 2018 — Varitronics, creator of the VariQuest® suite of solutions and leading provider of visual and kinesthetic learning tools for the K-12 market, is pleased to introduce two new products to its robust line of educational offerings to promote student achievement, student engagement, and further schools in their pursuit of STEM and CTE development – the Perfecta® 2400STP and Motiva™ 400.

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Lessons/Activities/Templates | Academic Subject: Mathematics | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Classroom Celebrations/Holidays | VariQuest Tools: Trifecta 800 3D Printer | 3D Printing | VariQuest Tools: Cold Laminator 2510 | Featured Topics: Common Core | Grade Level: Intermediate (3-6) | Grade Level: Secondary (7-12) | Common Core

[Lesson Plan] Order of Operations

By: Carman Le
March 15th, 2018

"Class, what is the Order of Operations?" My energetic class of fifth graders shouted out loud, "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally!" What? Who is Aunt Sally? When students initially learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, they are taught to perform those skills using two numbers and one operation. As they progress to the next levels, they begin to see numerical expressions with more than one operation and word problems that involve multiple steps. Introduce your students to the Order of Operations - and help them memorize the "PEMDAS" or "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" acronym as early as third grade. Putting this memory into practice can be more of a challenge - so we've come up with some tips and a fun lesson plan activity for your students to drive the concept home!

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Featured Topics: Funding | Funding

[eBook] Grant Funding Guide: How to Write a Grant

By: VariQuest Visual & Kinesthetic Learning Tools
March 1st, 2018

If we all held unlimited monetary resources, there's no end to what we would provide for "our kids." There are many professions far more lucrative than those in education - but for the most part, you aren't doing it for the money, you're doing it for the intangible reward of helping students learn. And with schools trying to provide so much with so little, choices are forced to be made. And that's why, according to a survey of 1,800 public and private school teachers following the 2015-2016 school year, the average American teacher spends $600 of his/her own money every year on basic supplies. With this in mind, we at VariQuest, being passionate about education, want to help. There are many federal, state, and private funding streams available for any number of projects in schools, and the process of applying can be intimidating, so we've developed a free guide to help you learn how to write a grant.

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Maker Movement | Makerspace | Academic Subject: STEM | Funding | Kinesthetic Learning | STEM

What is a Makerspace?

By: Carman Le
February 22nd, 2018

Engaging students in a meaningful learning experience is the ideal goal of an educator. Providing every learner with a hands-on, eyes-on, ears-on, and minds-on activity amplifies the learning process and ensures student achievement. STEM, or Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math - is the most talked-about education methodology today - an opportunity for students to envelop themselves in learning that not only teaches them core subject competencies, but also connects those teachings to real-world, meaningful applications. You may have heard the word "makerspace" mentioned in conversations around how to offer an engaging, hands-on learning experience. But what exactly is, a makerspace?

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Lessons/Activities/Templates | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Classroom Celebrations/Holidays

Valentine's Day Classroom Activity - Find who loves what you love!

By: Carman Le
February 12th, 2018

Are you looking for an easy, fun and inclusive Valentine's Day activity for your students this week? Or maybe you're looking for a classroom activity where students can learn about, and relate to one another. Either way, I've got the perfect, easy solution for you - including a free printable! Introducing, "All the Things I Love," A get-to-know each other activity best executed in grades K-5. Finding someone who loves what you love is a fun exercise for the entire class. This activity involves all students by asking them to locate others in the class fitting descriptions showing how similar their likes and interests are. This is a great way for students to learn something personal about their fellow classmates and build community in the classroom. Students will also enjoy the mobility and sociability of the activity!                                                                                                                                                                            

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Lessons/Activities/Templates | Academic Subject: Mathematics | Academic Subject: English Language Arts | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | Featured Topics: Classroom Celebrations/Holidays

[Lesson Plan] Celebrate the Chinese New Year!

By: Carman Le
February 1st, 2018

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has been celebrated for thousands of years. It is one of the most important holidays widely celebrated in many Asian countries and territories including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand. Usually falling between January 21st and February 20th, this year's start of the Chinese New Year will occur on February 16th, and is the Year of the Dog. The celebration lasts for about 15 days. Gung Hay Fat Choy is a common Chinese New Year’s greeting in Chinese Cantonese, which means “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” On Chinese New Year, the themes of happiness, wealth, longevity, luck and good fortune are celebrated. Some of the traditional celebrations include family gatherings, visiting friends and relatives (baai nin), exchanging “lucky money” contained in red envelopes (lai see), decorating homes with paper decorations and scrolls, lion dances, and fireworks. Chinese New Year is a special holiday to celebrate with your class while teaching them others’ cultures and comparing them to American traditions. I have put together a collection of fun, hands-on and Common Core-aligned lessons and activities, classroom decorations, and craft projects for you to explore and enjoy with your class, and I want to share them with you!

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