5 New Years Resolutions for Teachers

As the new year rolls around, it’s natural that we all start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. A chance for a fresh start and revitalized energy. Unfortunately, we can all be guilty of setting resolutions that aren’t quite realistic, and while dreams of grand changes for the year ahead can feel inspiring, we can’t always follow through. To help make this year different, here are some more realistic New Year’s resolutions for 2022…


1. Declutter, refresh, and reorganize.

When is there a better time to refresh the classroom, if not in January? You could donate some of your old stuff and get rid of anything broken or completely worn out. Reorganize your files and ask yourself what you really need to keep. You don’t need to do it all in a day—try to set yourself a task one week, another the next, and perhaps take advantage of the post-holiday sales to buy some new storage. You’ll be surprised at how much an organized space can positively affect your mindset.

2. Drink enough water, and make time for a proper lunch!

We commend teachers for always putting their students’ needs first, but to be at your best you also need to take care of your own needs. We know that you’re busy, and some days it can be hard to find time to even go to the toilet, but staying hydrated keeps us healthy and helps your body work better.

It’s recommended that adults drink 2 (yes, 2!) liters of water per day. To help you get closer to this goal, why not set an alarm or buy a bottle with time markings to remind you to take a few extra sips of water than you usually would.

You also need fuel in your tank for it to run, so if you struggle to make time for a hearty lunch during your working day, why not set the goal of starting your day with a good breakfast and make sure you have your favorite snacks at hand for when you do get the chance to take a break.

3. Silence the inner critic.

That little voice at the back of your head nitpicking at everything you do… tell it to be quiet. We criticize ourselves far too easily and often expect absolute perfection, but it just isn’t realistic. You don’t need to be perfect all of the time (or even any of the time)—you’re allowed to make mistakes or have a bad day and know that you’re still a great teacher. Be kind to yourself!

4. Celebrate the little moments.

Celebrating the little moments—yours and your students—is so important. Sure, it’s great when we have an important observation, and it goes spectacularly, but what about those every day aha! moments? A student understands that tricky concept they’ve been struggling with, or—and it really can be as small as this—you managed to finish your morning coffee while it was still hot! Celebrate all of those moments because they’re all worthy of celebration.

5. Remind yourself often why you became a teacher.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the stress of being a teacher and lose the passion and drive that motivated you to teach in the first place. Why not try writing down all of the reasons you became a teacher in the first place or make a note of things that make you smile in the classroom. Find any way to remind yourself why you started and what inspires you to keep going.


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Topical Science—January 2022

Happy New Year! We are excited to start a new year and we look forward to all that is to come. As always, our goal is to share quality science education with as many students from around the world as possible. As part of this, we will continue to share current scientific content each month. Let’s take a look at what’s coming in January!

Monday, January 1

National Blood Donor Month

National Blood Donor Month has been celebrated since the 1970s, with the aim to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation. Blood transfusion can save lives, but during the Vietnam War, doctors learned that sometimes, the body needs time to heal itself first…

Monday, January 4

World Braille Day

This day celebrates braille—a writing system that allows visually impaired people to read by touching a series of raised dots. At Twig, we believe in making science accessible, so we have created 145 sets of NIMAS files, enabling braille and large print versions of our K-6 Twig Books and Readers to be made. Find out more.

Tuesday, January 5

National Bird Day

This annual event celebrates birdwatching and the study of birds—while also supporting wild bird habitat conservation programs and bird rescue organizations. On this day, why not find out more about the nutcracker and the important role it has in maintaining the biodiversity of Yellowstone National Park? Learn more.

Thursday, January 7

Old Rock Day

On this day, geologists and rock enthusiasts celebrate the study of fossils, minerals, and rocks. Why not join their celebration and learn more about different types of rocks? Learn more.

Saturday, January 9

Static Electricity Day

Static Electricity Day encourages us to learn more about this strange type of electricity. We’ve probably all experienced it, but what exactly is it? Let’s find out:

Tuesday, January 19

National Popcorn Day

This day celebrates one of the world’s most popular snacks. But why does popcorn pop? Find out more.

Wednesday, January 20

Penguin Awareness Day

Did you know that there are as many as 20 species of penguin? They don’t all live in the cold places like Antarctica—in fact, they can be found on many of the world’s continents! On this day, why not learn more about the Fiordland crested penguin? Learn more.

Sunday, January 24

International Day of Education

This UN Observance Day celebrates the importance of education for peace and development, and recognizes education as a human right. This is a sentiment we share at Twig Education, which is why our goal is to provide quality science education to students across the globe. Learn more about our products.

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Topical Science—November 2021

This year has flown by, and we’ve already reached November. The days are getting darker and colder… at least in the Northern Hemisphere! Thankfully, we’ve got lots of fascinating science content to inspire your class. Below, we’ve collated some notable days of this month, along with related topical science videos and articles. Let’s dive right in.

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Friday, November 5

World Tsunami Day

World Tsunami Day encourages countries and communities to develop strategies for coping with tsunamis, with the aim to reduce the damage when they happen. Find out more about tsunamis:

Saturday, November 6

National Bison Day

Did you know that the bison is the largest land mammal in North America? It’s also the official National Mammal of the US. Bisons live on temperate grasslands, which they share with various other animals. Find out more about temperate grasslands:

Sunday, November 8

National STEM/STEAM Day

National STEM/STEAM Day inspires kids to explore STEM subjects and encourages them to pursue these subjects both in school and in their future careers. We’ve collated 10 exciting STEM careers to get your students excited: Discover now.

November 15-19

Geography Awareness Week

Geography Awareness Week was first introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, with the aim to encourage people (especially young people) to study geography. This week, why not learn more about time zones? Watch now.

Wednesday, November 10

World Science Day for Peace and Development

World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the importance of involving the wider public in discussions about scientific issues—including younger people! The recent NGSS Framework has changed how science is taught in schools in the US. Theoretical physicist Helen Quinn chaired the National Research Council committee that created A Framework for K–12 Science Education—the foundation of the NGSS. In this blog post, Twig Education CEO Catherine Cahn speaks to Helen Quinn about the importance of science education: Learn more.

Sunday, November 14

World Diabetes Day

Diabetes has become increasingly common around the world—in 2014, 422 million adults lived with the condition, compared to just 108 million in 1980. Find out more about diabetes and how it’s treated in this video:

Sunday, November 15

America Recycles Day

On this day, people across America are encouraged to learn more about the importance of recycling, with the hope that more people will get into the habit of recycling daily. But even more important than recycling is reducing and reusing. Find out more about the three Rs:

Saturday, November 20

World Children’s Day

World Children’s Day is a UN observance day that has been celebrated since 1954, with the aim to improve children’s welfare worldwide. On this day, why not find out more about how children’s brains develop, and how they learn to recognize themselves in a mirror?

Wednesday, November 24

The Origin of Species

On this day in 1859 “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” by Charles Darwin was published. Charles Darwin was a British scientist whose theory of evolution changed the world! Find out more.


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4 Reasons You Should Practice Student-Centered Learning in Your Classroom

Did you know that after listening to a lecture for 10–15 minutes, students start to disengage from a lesson?1 Student-centered learning is a pedagogical approach that moves away from this more traditional method of teaching—where teacher instruction is the focus—to putting student interests first. Let’s take a closer look at some key reasons you should integrate student-centered learning into your classroom…

1. Student-centered classrooms foster student autonomy

In student-centered classrooms, students take ownership of their own learning—taking an active role in decision making, goal setting, and lesson planning. Of course, this doesn’t mean that students can choose not to participate in math or geography if they don’t find those subjects interesting. Instead, teachers should find ways to intertwine individual interests with the key learning points of a lesson. In essence, the educator is no longer a lecturer but a facilitator, constantly assessing how they can better create learning opportunities.2

In practice, it can be as simple as giving your students a few options on how a topic could be taught and taking a class vote. Alternatively, where possible, plan a few different activities that approach the topic from different angles and ask your students which they would like to take part in. Give them the choice and autonomy to let you know how they learn best.

2. Students learn to communicate and collaborate

Communication and collaboration is at the core of all student-centered classrooms. As students are encouraged to voice their needs, they are learning how to effectively communicate with their teachers and peers. The classroom becomes a space for problem-solving and working together—students aren’t reprimanded for asking questions, they’re encouraged to.

3. Student-centered learning approaches can increase positive attitudes in the classroom

It’s much easier to absorb information and even find learning fun when the relevance of what is being taught is clear. How can we expect young people to stay positive and focused in the classroom if, frankly, they’re bored and disengaged? Student-centered learning encourages students to be intrinsically motivated, explore real-world problems that relate to their own lives and recognize that their ideas are worthy of respect.3 The result is a classroom full of students who are excited to learn, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

4. Students develop better resilience

It can be remarkably unmotivating to feel as though we aren’t succeeding, even as adults. Now, imagine how this must feel to a young person, in an environment where they know they’re supposed to be learning, watching their peers excel while perceiving themselves to be a failure. Unfortunately, this is commonplace in today’s classrooms—where the emphasis on summative assessment strategies can result in pupils comparing themselves with one another.4

Feedback in student-centered classrooms centers around formative assessment—for example, ongoing feedback and goal-setting—enabling students to identify gaps in their own knowledge and understand where they need to develop. An abundance of evidence has shown that this type of assessment cultivates long-term resilience as the students learn that, whether or not their work is correct, it is part of their learning process.5


  1. https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/The_Routledge_International_Handbook_of/MujyDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=child+centered+learning&printsec=frontcover
  2. https://potatopirates.game/blogs/learning/why-student-centered-learning-matters-and-how-to-apply-it
  3. https://stemeducationjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40594-018-0131-6
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241465214_Student-centred_learning_What_does_it_mean_for_students_and_lecturers
  5. https://suitable-education.uk/systematic-review-confirms-that-assessment-damages-motivation-to-learn/


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Interview with Paul Downie, Royal Society of Biology’s UK Biology Teacher of the Year Award Winner

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Paul Downie. I’m a biology teacher based in Glasgow, where I’ve been faculty head of science. I’m currently on secondment developing West OS [part of the National e-Learning Offer in Scotland providing recorded video lessons created by teachers] and the creator of the Higher Biology Podcast.

You have just won the Royal Society of Biology’s UK Biology Teacher of the Year Award – the first Scottish teacher to have won. Can you tell us about the award, and why you won?

The award seeks to identify and celebrate the UK’s leading secondary teachers. For me, it provided an opportunity to reflect on my practice and share the work that I’ve been involved in over recent years. Hopefully, that work has played an important role in educating and inspiring the next generation of biologists – it’s not an award that I could have won without being surrounded by some fantastic colleagues.

What made you decide to be a biology teacher?

I like my subject, I’m passionate about it, but the biggest thing was that I wanted to leave work at the end of the day – or week – and feel like I’d made a difference. There is a lot of hard work involved in teaching, but it’s a special career, in that you get an opportunity to make a difference to others every single day, and I don’t think that there are many jobs that can give you that feeling.

Can you tell us about your teaching philosophy?

Primarily, my teaching philosophy is to enthuse young people about the subject. To ensure they understand why we’re learning something and why it’s relevant to their life. We need our young people to leave school as both responsible and informed citizens, equipped to participate in debates around global issues which will impact their lives and also to have an understanding of the world they live in.

You took a class of students on an expedition to the Galapagos a few years ago. What gave you the inspiration to do this and what was the primary goal of the trip?

I was lucky enough when studying at the University of Dundee to participate in a research expedition to Trinidad led by Professor Steve Hubbard. It had a big impact on my studies and the direction that I took after that.

It was an incredible experience. It allowed me, at the time, to play a very small part in what I believe is now the largest data set of its kind, looking at the survival rate between tropical and temperate bird species. I always said that if I had the opportunity to give pupils even a little taste of that experience, it was something I’d try to do. 

A young person in an S3 class had asked the question “could we go on a school trip to Galapagos?” and the rest of the class laughed, but the thought in my head was “why not?”

Two years of preparation, two years of fundraising and a lot of hard work by the students and everyone else who was involved, and we got the Galapagos. We wouldn’t have been able to have that experience if it hadn’t been for a range of partners, all of whom played a big role in supporting the trip and we were incredibly grateful for that support, especially our fantastic expedition shirts which were provided by Twig.

Any advice you would give to teachers planning on undertaking such a big trip in the future?

It’s certainly going to be more challenging, given the ongoing pandemic, but what I would say is that you don’t have to travel across the world to find excellent learning opportunities. It was a fabulous trip and a fabulous experience, but there are loads of great places to visit in Scotland, with amazing learning experiences, right on our back doorstep.

Tell us about The Higher Biology Podcast, and the inspiration behind starting it?

I created the Higher Biology Podcast during the first COVID-19 lockdown, really as a response to my own frustration and trying to be able to deliver a more engaging learning experience for young people at that point. Myself and my wife listened to a lot of podcasts, and I started wondering if it was possible to produce something with educational value and add depth to their learning. 

There was a lot of learning [for me] as I went and a bit of DIY, but it was good fun, and hopefully it has provided young people a platform to be able to access really interesting and fantastic subject experts from across the planet to add a little bit of depth and insight into different areas of the higher course, which has been really exciting. 

One of my own students summed it up really well, saying it’s far more interesting than just listening to me talk.

You’ve been a Twig user for a long time. What attracted you to the program?

The quality of the videos on Twig are excellent, simple as that.

How do you use Twig in your lessons?

I’ve used Twig in lots of different ways. The materials can be really good for putting a learning point into context, sharing as part of an example in a lesson, or summarising a piece of learning. They can also be useful for supporting revision as well.

There’s a lot of different ways you can use the videos, depending on what they are. I’ve certainly utilised the heart dissection videos, for example – the class can do a live dissection along with the video and we just stop and pause it on the projector and it gives a really clear visual explanation of the steps involved in the process. Then we might bring the class together to discuss different bits and have a closer look at what we’re doing, and then break back into pairs to do the dissection and get that hands-on practical experience.

You’re also a regular Twig Science Reporter user. What do you like about the news updates?

The quality of the weekly Twig Science Reporter updates are fab. They give really good weekly topical news stories and they never fail to capture the imagination and interest of my classes, particularly in the BGE. 

[I use them] at the end or the start of the week to stimulate a little bit of conversation around topical science stories that are in the news. Equally, I’ve found myself using them in assemblies or in other circumstances with larger groups of young people to take that 3, 4, 5 minute spot in the day and just focus on some different stories from around the world and use it as a stimulus to spark some curiosity and discussion. 

What is a piece of advice that you would give to young people who want to go into a career in teaching?

If you are enthusiastic about your subject and you’re passionate about it, and you’re looking for a career that you can make a difference in, then there is no better thing than teaching. There’s a lot of hard work, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

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Topical Science—September 2021


The back-to-school season is upon us, and it’s time to get inspired. We’ve collated another month of fun topical science content that hopefully inspires a great start to the new school year.

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Saturday, September 4

National Wildlife Day

First founded in 2005 to honor wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin—famously known as the “Crocodile Hunter”— National Wildlife Day brings attention to the world’s endangered animals and celebrates animal sanctuaries for their preservation efforts. Today, why not learn about Global Positioning Systems (GPS), used to track the movements of wild animals in Namibia, Africa? Learn more.

Tuesday, September 7

International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies

This day, facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme, aims to raise awareness of the importance of clean air and encourage actions to improve global air quality. Watch this video and learn why our sky is blue: Watch now.

Thursday, September 16

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

The ozone layer is a vital part of Earth’s atmosphere, absorbing almost all of the Sun’s ultraviolet light. In the 1980s, scientists discovered that a deep hole had developed in this protective layer, attacked by harmful greenhouse gases used to make products such as hairspray. 

This UN day commemorates the signing of an agreement between 197 countries to minimize the use of ozone-depleting substances. Learn more about the ozone layer:



Saturday, September 18

International Coastal Cleanup Day

International Coastal Cleanup Day is a global movement that encourages people to remove trash from their beaches and waterways. Since the event’s conception 30 years ago, over 100 million volunteers across the globe have contributed to the cleanup of more than 300 million pounds of trash. On this day, take the opportunity to teach your students more about keeping Earth tidy: Learn more.

Wednesday, September 22

World Rhino Day

There are five species of rhinos and, fun fact, their horns are made of keratin, a protein that also forms the basis of human hair and fingernails. World Rhino Day celebrates rhinos and aims to bring international awareness to how critically endangered they are. Today, why not learn about ecotourism ventures in Namibia? Learn more.

Monday, September 27

World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day brings awareness to the myriad benefits that international tourism has societally, economically, and politically—from bringing cultures together to having a global contribution to GDP of 2.9 trillion US dollars in 2019 alone. Today, why not learn about Butler’s Tourism Model? Learn more.

Wednesday, September 29

World Heart Day

Heart disease is one of the world’s leading causes of death—tragically, however, up to 80 percent of cardiovascular deaths could be avoided. World Heart Day aims to bring attention to cardiovascular diseases and educate people on the factors that can increase the risk of developing such a disease, such as tobacco use and unhealthy diets. Learn more about the heart: 

Wednesday, September 29

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

Did you know that an estimated one-third of all food produced goes to waste? Designated by the United Nations General Assembly, this day aims to generate awareness of this problem and makes a call to action for both public and private businesses to increase efforts to reduce food waste. Today, let’s watch a video about the cities implementing innovative policies to reduce food waste: Watch now.

Thursday, September 30

International Podcast Day



First celebrated in 2014, International Podcast Day highlights the power of podcasts and gives an opportunity for podcasters, and podcast enthusiasts, to connect with one another. Today, why not listen to Twig’s podcast: Twig Education On..? Listen here.

Thursday, September 30

World Maritime Day


World Maritime Day celebrates the seafarers of the world and brings attention to the importance of the shipping industry, which accounts for the transport of around 80% of international trade. Did you know that shipping is one of the oldest industries in the world, with a history that dates back thousands of years? Today, why not learn how sailors in the 18th century first mapped the sea? Learn more.

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