Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Celebrate National Dance Week (April 22-May 1)

ConnectwArts_frogThis National Dance Week, get your students dancing to the rhythm of learning with the following ideas:

Teacher Kathy DeJean’s students use dance to brainstorm where they will travel, and Scott Pivnik’s young students learn a West African dance as part of a school-wide study of Africa in The Arts in Every Classroom, “Teaching Dance.”

Middle school students use dance to explore the laws of motion, and math students interpret the idea of circles using dance movements in program 3, “Two Dance Collaborations,” of Connecting with the Arts: A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8. Watch a science teacher and a dance teacher engage students in a lesson on anatomy as they attempt to answer the question, “Can Frogs Dance?” in program 11.

Share how you will keep your students moving in the comments below!

Share How You Are Teaching About Refugees and Immigration

Refugeewords123rf

How are you teaching about the topics of refugees, displacement, and immigration? Are your students discussing current events? Are they undertaking research to understand and debate causes and solutions? Are they thinking about how these issues affect their local and larger communities, and what it means to be a global citizen?

It isn’t always easy to discuss current events with students. There are many different feelings and approaches to bringing potentially controversial topics to the classroom. We are interested in hearing about this from you, and sharing your insights and ideas with other teachers. Submit your writing to blog@learner.org for consideration, and check back often to read, support, and comment on posts by other teachers.

What Can I Write About?

Here are some ideas for topics for your blog posts, but you are not limited to these topics. We recommend the posts stay between 250 and 600 words.

  1. Describe a lesson plan or activity that you implemented in your classroom about refugees or immigration that went well.
  2. What is an activity you tried that resulted in unexpected or rich student conversations or personal insights?
  3. How do you address community concerns (whether from parents, students, or administrators) and support multiple points of view?
  4. How do you talk about current events, such as a refugee crisis, with elementary students?
  5. How have you taught students about the differences between migrants and refugees?

Some additional requests and notes:

  • Don’t forget to proofread your submissions, and include links to resources if any are mentioned.
  • It is helpful but not necessary to submit a photo to go along with your post. If you submit a photo of students from your classroom, please confirm that you have asked and received permission from their parents/guardians to post the photo on the Learner.org blog site. (We will not post their names or the name of their school.)
  • We reserve the right to edit posts for clarity and length.
  • We will let you know if your post is selected for publication on our blog via email.
  • Please include the following information with your materials:
  1. Your name
  2. Title for your post
  3. Subject/Class
  4. Grade level
  5. School location (city or state)

We look forward to hearing from you!

Image copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Death (April 15, 1865)

Lincoln_EmancipationIllustrationOver one hundred and fifty years ago, actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. Lincoln was officially pronounced dead the next morning. On this anniversary of his death, we remember his legacy.

The website for the high school course American Passages offers a biographical sketch of President Lincoln as an author. Search the archive to find photos and portraits of President Lincoln, as well as other Lincoln-related artifacts.

Who freed the slaves? This question is considered in Primary Sources: Workshops in American History (for high school teachers), workshop 4, “Concerning Emancipation.” Much of the focus is on Lincoln, who played a major role, as well as other factors including enslaved people themselves. Read “Before You Watch” for links to several of Lincoln’s speeches and letters.

The Evaluating Evidence interactive on the website for America’s History in the Making features Lincoln’s first and second inaugural addresses, the Gettysburg Address, the “House Divided” speech, and Lincoln’s open letter to Horace Greely, as well as other artifacts from the era.

Civil War Began (April 12, 1861)

1871_H copyWhat were the events that led up the U.S. Civil War? “The Coming of the Civil War,” of A Biography of America, outlines the incidents leading up to the war between the North and the South. An animated map shows how the legal status of slavery changed across the U.S. between the Revolution and the Civil War.

Learn how to analyze the authenticity of historical photos by examining Alexander Gardner’s “Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter” taken in 1863. See the activity in program 11, “The Civil War.”

America’s History in the Making, unit 9, “A Nation Divided,” provides both soldiers’ and civilians’ perspectives of the Civil War.

During the 19th century, authors used slave autobiographies and abolitionist fiction to engage readers’ emotions in order to promote social change. American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom,” features influential writers Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, and more.

National Poetry Month: Grab Your Quills and Start Writing

POETRY123rfIt’s Poetry Month! Grab your quills (or laptops) and start writing. When the Academy of American Poets started National Poetry Month in 1996, one of their goals was to assist teachers in bringing poetry to their classrooms. Find activities and resources on the Poets.org site.

Start laying the foundation for young writers by encouraging them to keep a writer’s notebook. Students learn to record their thoughts about their experiences and choose the formats (including poems) to deliver those thoughts. See Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5, workshop 2, “Reasons for Writing.”

Teach students to distinguish between poetry and prose. One way to do this is to have students write in layers of drafts until a poem starts to emerge. Find this 5th-grade lesson plan in Write in the Middle, workshop 3, “Teaching Poetry.”

Use poetry to help students connect personal experiences and feelings to themes they are reading about. In a technique called “copy-change,” students follow the form of a published poem, and insert their own words, ideas, and emotions. View the lesson in this classroom video for Teaching ‘The Children of Willesden Lane.’

In program 12, “A Sense of Place: Setting and Character in Poetry,” of Literary Visions, hear readings and discussions of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, and listen to Maxine Kumin discuss capturing New England landscapes in her poetry.

Emily Dickinson used her science training to write poetic observations of nature. Her life and work are discussed in Voices & Visions.

Students can compare how poets use images of a city to describe the human condition. See question 5 in American Passages, Context Activities for unit 10, “Rhythms in Poetry:” How do Eliot’s London, Sandburg’s Chicago, and Hughes’s Harlem all represent particular interpretations of the city and the modern condition?

For additional poetry resources:

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School, session 1, “Reader Response: Pat Mora and James Welch

Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5, program 3, “Starting Out

Image Copyright: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo

Resources for National Autism Awareness Month

autism awarenessreport issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2014 concluded that autism now occurs in 1 in 68 births in the U.S. Take time during Autism Awareness Month to learn about the strengths and challenges associated with this brain disorder.

The World of Abnormal Psychology
, program 11, “Behavior Disorders of Childhood,” looks at challenges and solutions for families who have children with behavior disorders. Autism is discussed specifically at 42:06.

Gain a historical perspective of autism and learn current beliefs about why autism occurs by watching The Brain: Teaching Modules, module 29, “Autism.” Also, hear Dr. Temple Grandin talk about overcoming the challenges of her autism by focusing on her strengths.

Students with autism often have trouble paying attention. Learn how to minimize distractions in the classroom environment that demand students’ attention so that they can focus more on learning in Neuroscience & the Classroom, unit 4, “Different Learners, Different Minds,” section 5, What teachers can do.

Share success stories with your students. The video page for unit 4, “Different Learners, Different Minds,” includes video and audio clips of Dr. Stephen Shore and Dr. Temple Grandin talking about their abilities as individuals with autism. Temple Grandin was the opening keynote speaker for #SXSWedu16. You can watch her speech “Helping Different Kinds of Minds Solve Problems” here. Also read our blog post “Think Like an Animal” on Dr. Grandin’s accomplishments.

Image Copyright: vectorfusionart / 123RF Stock Photo

Mathematics: Math Drives Careers

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Learn how statistics is used to study diseases in Against All Odds.

Show how mathematical innovations influence career opportunities. The following resources illustrate the importance of math in fields related to music, health, and the environment.

There’s math in music? Show students who are interested in music that a mathematical understanding of how sound waves work and can be manipulated plays an important role in modern sound engineering and digital technology. See Mathematics Illuminated, unit 10, “Harmonious Math.”

Researchers trying to unravel the genome of the Ebola virus depend heavily on statistics. Learn how this area of math is used to explore humans’ possible genetic resistance to an Ebola-like strain that causes deadly Lassa Fever in Africa. Pardis Sabeti talks about her research in Against All Odds: Inside Statistics, unit 29, “Inference for Two-Way Tables.”

Math provides a key to understanding and developing new technologies to harness energy. Students interested in environmental science can learn about advances in engineering that influence the growth of old and new energy technologies, from fossil fuels, to wind, to water. Go to unit 10, “Energy Challenges,” in The Habitable Planet.

Frederick Law Olmsted: Urban Planning as Art

Frederick Law Olmsted / engraved by T. Johnson ; from a photograph by James Notman. LC-USZ62-36895

Frederick Law Olmsted / engraved by T. Johnson ; from a photograph by James Notman. LC-USZ62-36895

In 1857, Frederick Law Olmsted (b.4.26.1822) and Calvert Vaux designed Central Park in New York City as a work of art, a space distinct from the urban life. Learn how this park was deliberately designed and constructed with a sensitivity to nature in Art Through Time, program 10, “The Natural World.”

See the “Lagoon Bird’s-Eye View” photo of Olmsted’s design of the Chicago World’s Fair site in Activity 2: Campaign for World’s Fair 2010 of Primary Sources, workshop 5, “Cans, Coal, and Corporations.” Consider how this city design and the design of Central Park have inspired future urban landscape plans.

Frederick Law Olmsted was also a writer. He wrote about the differences between Northern and Southern societies during the 1850s, and critiqued the slave labor practices of the South vs. the paid labor of the North. Watch the video for A Biography of America, program 9, “Slavery.”

Eadweard Muybridge: Photography Pioneer

Eadweard Muybridge portrait, by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston, LC-USZ62-33083 (b&w film copy neg.)

Eadweard Muybridge portrait, by photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston, LC-USZ62-33083 (b&w film copy neg.)

English expatriate Eadweard Muybridge, born on April 9, 1830, took daring steps, cutting down trees and venturing into dangerous places, to get landscape photographs that would distinguish him from his contemporaries. See the story of his shot, Falls of the Yosemite, taken in 1872 while on a six-month trip West in Art Through Time, program 10, “The Natural World.”

Read how Muybridge developed photography techniques that captured human and animal movements in new ways in American Passages, unit 8, “Regional Realism.” Muybridge also invented the zoopraxiscope (image #8245 in the archives), a device that projected a moving image from still sequences.

In the video for workshop 6, “Possibilities of Real Life Problems,” of Private Universe Project in Mathematics, ninth graders are asked to solve how fast a cat, captured in a series of photos by Muybridge more than 100 years ago, was moving in frames 10 and 20.

Find a slideshow of 17 of Muybridge’s images of Guatemala in Teaching Geography, workshop 2, “Latin America.” Below each slide is information about the content of each photo and questions to compare the past with the present.

Bring Humor to Your Classroom

Day of the Dead artwork in Mexico, from Art Through Time, "Death"

Day of the Dead artwork in Mexico, from Art Through Time, “Death”

Knock knock… You know how everything feels a little better after a good laugh? Humorist Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month in 1976 “to heighten public awareness on how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one’s life.” The following Learner resources will help you bring humor to your classrooms:

Watch interviews with some of America’s wittiest journalists including Dave Barry and Andy Rooney in News Writing, program 12, “Column Writing and Editorial Writing.”

Experts discuss the humor associated with public art related to The Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico in Art Through Time: A Global View, program 6, “Death.” (Watch the first part of the video.) Also view artwork by José Guadalupe Posada.

Analyze the use of humor in political cartoons about the Stamp Act crisis of 1765 with the Image as History interactive in A Biography of America, program 4, “The Coming of Independence.”

Romantic comedies have been a part of American culture since the 1930s. American Cinema, program 5, looks at how this film genre uses humor to explore themes of gender and sexuality.

And don’t miss the Cinema interactive, which compares the actual script of a scene from Nora Ephron’s comedy, “When Harry Met Sally,” with those of aspiring screen writers.

Share how you bring humor to your classrooms in the comments section.