Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Bill of Rights Enacted (December 15, 1791)

2020078 - grunge style background with bill of rights

In 1791, three-fourths of the States ratified the first ten amendments (authored by James Madison) to the U.S. Constitution that now make up the Bill of Rights. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed December 15 as “Bill of Rights Day” in 1941, marking the 150th anniversary of its ratification.

Start by having your students read the Bill of Rights, found in America’s History in the Making, unit 6, “The New Nation.”

Try the critical thinking activity in Democracy in America, unit 4, “Civil Liberties: Safeguarding the Individual,” to learn about what happens when the exercise of our rights infringes upon the rights of others.

Watch as Wendy Ewbank and her students engage in two simulations – a press conference and a town hall meeting – examining the role of the Supreme Court in sustaining individual rights. Social Studies in Action, Grades 6-8, “Landmark Supreme Court Cases,” also includes ideas to try in your own classroom.

More resources for teaching about the Bill of Rights:

Democracy in America, unit 5, “Civil Rights: Demanding Equality

Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers

Image Copyright: Marti157900 / 123RF Stock Photo

Be a Part of “THE GREAT THANKSGIVING LISTEN”

athyumbqt_j410wsirlegk9b13neuqn1yz-50ygfnuqgofjoeaah__dq94qmepxpzxsgnqs190Annenberg Learner is pleased to partner with StoryCorps and to announce The Great Thanksgiving Listen. 

PRESENTED BY STORYCORPS

On Thanksgiving weekend 2016, the acclaimed oral history project StoryCorps will work with U.S. history teachers across America to ask their students to record an interview with a grandparent or another elder using the free StoryCorps app. With permission from the participants, each of these interviews will be uploaded to the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Also, download the free The Great Thanksgiving Listen Teacher Toolkit to find program details, including guidelines and recommendations that can easily be made into lessons that address state standards for social studies or history curricula.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen will use near-universally accessible smartphone technology to foster meaningful connections within families, communities, and the classroom while also creating a singular and priceless archive of American history and wisdom. This 2016 event is expected to result in the single largest collection of human voices ever gathered.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen 2016 follows StoryCorps’ highly successful inaugural effort in 2015. More than 100,000 participants took part in the drive to preserve the stories and voices of an entire generation over the Thanksgiving weekend. In a 2016 TED Talk, StoryCorps founder and president Dave Isay addressed a global audience to talk about the 2015 pilot, sharing some of the stories it generated and the lessons it taught.

Watch David Isay, the founder and president of StoryCorps, talk about The Great Thanksgiving Listen!

CONDUCT GREAT INTERVIEWS

Watch Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, provide useful tips for students who are conducting interviews.

ABOUT STORYCORPS

Founded in 2003, the nonprofit organization StoryCorps has given more than 100,000 Americans the chance to record interviews about their lives, pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for the future. StoryCorps shares edited excerpts of these recordings with millions each week through popular weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. StoryCorps helps us recognize that every life and every story matters.2015_05_01_StoryCorps_012

Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps, is the recipient of the 2015 TED Prize, awarded to an individual with a creative, bold vision to spark global change. With the proceeds of the TED Prize, StoryCorps released an app that walks users seamlessly through the StoryCorps interview experience, from recording to archiving to sharing their story with the world. The StoryCorps app, and its companion social media platform at StoryCorps.me, make a large-scale and historic undertaking like the Great Thanksgiving Listen possible for the first time ever.

STORYCORPS ON TED BLOG

Read about the impact that storytelling has on students and teachers in “How telling stories can transform a classroom” by Amy S. Choi on TED Blog.

Constitution Day: Opening the Door to Civic Understanding and Engagement

35288847 - american constitution and us flagThe law establishing September 17th as Constitution Day was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment proposed by Senator Robert Byrd to that year’s Omnibus Spending Bill. The law renamed the observation formerly known as “Citizenship Day” and before that as “I Am an American Day.” Whatever its moniker, the day is devoted to celebrating the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. The 2004 law not only renamed the day, it also mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions provide instruction on the history of the Constitution on that day.

I doubt that anyone would argue that one day is sufficient time for achieving full understanding of the four-page Constitution crafted in secret by 55 men during a hot Philadelphia summer. However, it could be just enough time to instigate further explorations that lead your students to understanding the document’s historical context, and its connection to current issues and events. That’s an excellent step toward civic engagement.

Annenberg Classroom, presented by The Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics, offers several points of entry to hook your students on the Constitution. For example, the first segment of the video Key Constitutional Concepts is a lively look at the state of the nation in 1787 that led the Framers to that stuffy hall in Philadelphia. It explodes the heroic mythologies that have grown up around the Constitution’s authors and portrays them as ordinary people who were trying to resolve ongoing conflicts within our new nation that the Articles of Confederation failed to resolve. The states were at odds over issues such as state sovereignty, taxation, land claims, and slavery. States threatened each other with war and behaved as sovereign nations. The Federal Convention participants went into Independence Hall thinking they were going to do a bit of tinkering with the Articles to make them more durable. Instead, they essentially threw out the existing, failing government and, through statesmanship and compromise, developed the document that defines our current system of government.

Another approach is to look at the Constitution within the context of current issues. A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. tells the story of Lilly Ledbetter, who sued her employer when she discovered that she had for years been receiving lower wages than her male counterparts. Her fight for equal pay is a compelling case study of the three branches of government. During the 2012 election campaign and the Democratic convention, Ms. Ledbetter spoke at the convention and the law that has her name on it–the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009—was frequently cited as a victory for Obama’s first term in office. (Editor’s Note: According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “in 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent.”)

Constitution Day is a good time to involve students in current conversations on Constitutional issues. Annenberg Classroom’s Speak Outs feature provides blog posts on topics from who decides where refugees settle to whether or not our primary election system works. The blog posts provide background on controversial topics that are making news or being considered in the courts. Students are then invited to share their views. Many of the student posts could serve as models of expository writing for your students.

Search learner.org for even more resources for Constitution Day. Your students might enjoy diving into an aspect of the Constitution that keeps judges, pundits and the rest of us up all night—the vague language that is open to interpretation and fuels ongoing arguments about immigration reform, gun control, and health care reform. Many of today’s court rulings, Senate debates and Facebook rants are based on how individuals interpret the language in the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional amendments. View the first segment of Democracy in America, program 2, “The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?” with your students about what American society might look like if our Constitution was not open to interpretation.

Constitution Day can be the day your students begin lifelong study of and participation in civic life. What will you do to get them started?

Image Copyright: larryhw / 123RF Stock Photo

What does great teaching look like?

TM K-4 students1

from Teaching Math Library, K-4, program 46 “Buffalo Estimation”

Are you new to teaching? Do you want to refine your teaching strategies after reflecting on your practice? One of the best ways to improve is to watch veteran teachers guide their students in the learning process. We encourage you to observe teachers in your school and to look to Learner.org for great classroom moments you can watch on your own time. Take ideas from our workshops that show real teachers effectively engaging with their own students. Here are a few highlights with additional resources listed below by subject:

Making Meaning in Literature
shows teachers facilitating discussions to create a literary community in their classrooms. For example, in program 4, teacher Tanya Schnabl’s students develop discussion questions and connect their experiences with the dilemmas in the assigned texts as they explore “government limits and personal freedoms.”

See examples of every step of an inquiry-based lesson, from fostering a learning community, to designing how students will explore the materials, to collecting and assessing data, in Learning Science Through Inquiry. In workshop 6, “Bring It All Together: Processing for Meaning During Inquiry,” watch the teacher draw out meaning from students’ observations of their soil decomposition experiment. Shuffle to 8:42 in the video.

Find ideas for teaching about civic engagement in Making Civics Real.  Teacher Matt Johnson leads his Constitutional Law 12th graders in applying what they’ve learned to new hypothetical cases that mirror actual students’ rights cases presented to the Supreme Court in workshop 8, “Rights and Responsibilities of Students.”

Other examples of effective teaching:

Language Arts and Literature Classrooms-

Reading & Writing in the Disciplines

Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades

Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School

Mathematics Classrooms-

Reading & Writing in the Disciplines

Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4, 5-8, 9-12

Insights Into Algebra 1: Teaching for Learning (high school)

Science Classrooms-

Reading & Writing in the Disciplines

Science in Focus: Force and Motion (K-8 teachers)

Reactions in Chemistry (high school)

Foreign Language Classrooms-

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

Social Studies/History Classrooms-

Reading & Writing in the Disciplines

The Economics Classroom: A Workshop for Grade 9-12 Teachers

Social Studies in Action: A Teaching Practices Library K-12

Arts Classrooms-

Connecting With the Arts: A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8

The Art of Teaching the Arts: A Workshop for High School Teachers

Lessons for Independence Day

Chemistry_fireworksAs you are enjoying your holiday picnics, parades, and fireworks, reflect on the history and science behind Independence Day.

Revolutionary Perspectives,” of America’s History in the Making, reveals the political wrangling that led up to the Declaration of Independence and other state constitutions.

Watch A Biography of America, “The Coming of Independence,” to see how English-loving colonists were transformed into freedom-loving American rebels. Program 5, “A New System of Government,” presents the outsized personalities that came together to hash out new systems of government for the American people.

Do you know the lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner beyond the first stanza? If not, find the words and an audio clip in the American Passages Archives.

What causes the different colors of light in fireworks that make us ooh and aah? Find out in Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions, unit 3, “Atoms and Light.”  Click on the video link and start at 12:05 to see a colorful demonstration of various metals throwing off different colors of light when burned in The Flame Test segment.

Great Outdoors Month: Parks, Oceans, and Gardens

Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park. © luckyphotographer / 123RF

There’s no doubt we all benefit from outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. Leisurely strolls in woods and along the beaches, while observing nature, help us relax and inspire meditation. Physical activity, including gardening, also sends endorphins to our brains, warding off depression, and makes us fit and healthy. During Great Outdoors Month, get moving and explore some of the U.S.’s national parks, urban centers, oceans, or even your back yard. The following resources offer some suggestions for appreciating the outdoors:

Ecosystems in National Parks

In any trip to a national park or forest you are likely to encounter flora and fauna that comprise an ecosystem. Get a better understanding of how all these organisms—predators, prey, and producers—interact and coexist. Try keeping an ecosystem in balance with the Ecology Lab from The Habitable Planet.

Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

Find pictures of Yellowstone in the archives for America’s History in the Making, unit 13.  For example, see a painting done by Thomas Moran as part of a U.S. Geological Survey expedition. Moran’s watercolors of Yellowstone were later used to convince Congress to establish Yellowstone as a national park.

Central Park (New York City)

Escape the hustle and bustle of New York City by ducking into Central Park. Learn about how Central Park was designed in 1857 and the design’s influence on urban natural spaces throughout the United States thereafter in Art Through Time, program 10, “The Natural World.”

Oceans

Oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface. As the school year ends, many head to the seaside to relax in the sun and frolic on the beach. Explore and appreciate the ocean using the following resources:

phytoplankton

Marine phytoplankton. © United States Geological Survey. Image from The Habitable Planet, figure 12.

What is the structure of the ocean and what causes that painful “ear squeeze” in scuba divers? See The Habitable Planet, unit 3, “Oceans,” section 2.  Sections 6 and 7 describe the biological activity of the tiniest forms of ocean life, plankton, that form the base of marine food webs.

Dive into Earth Revealed, program 4, “The Sea Floor,” to learn how scientists use technology to study the geology and biology of the bottom of the sea.

Explore the relationship between rocky landmasses and the energy of the ocean. See illustrations of wave movements and their impact on the shores in Earth Revealed, program 24, “Waves, Beaches and Coasts.”

Use cyclic functions to track the height of tides as they come in and go out in Learning Math: Algebra, session 8, part A, Cyclic Functions, Tides. At the bottom of the page, watch the video clip to see a “real world” example of how to calculate tides from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Peer into the future of energy by examining how experimental ocean power systems harness energy and the challenges of using such systems in The Habitable Planet, unit 10, “Energy Challenges,” section 8, Hydropower and Ocean Energy.

Gardens

Do you have a green thumb? Why not use that thumb to help track the migration of monarch butterflies? Journey North provides schools and individual citizen scientists tools and information for planting butterfly gardens and monitoring butterfly activity. The data collected and posted on the Journey North website is used to track seasonal change.  This page lists the types of plants you will need to host both monarch caterpillars and butterflies.

You can also attract hummingbirds by growing plants with their preferred nectar. Find instructions on the “Unpave the Way for Hummingbirds” page of Journey North.

Visit a virtual garden in Art Through Time, program 10, “The Natural World.” Find a photo of the gardens created by Henry Hoare II and Henry Flitcroft at Stourhead Estate in Wiltshire, England. Be inspired by the symmetrical arrangements that reflect a nature-taming approach to gardening.

How will you enjoy the great outdoors this month and this summer?

Food: Cooking Up a Tasty Lesson

Chem_10_cakeWhen you think of bringing food into your classroom, go beyond birthday cupcakes and end-of-year pizza parties by using the fascinating science and history behind our food and drink on Learner.org.

Brewing an aromatic cup of coffee requires the right amount of solutes in your solution, without releasing evil bitter flavors at the same time. Learn from baristas and coffee roasters the trick for making an excellent cup in “When Chemicals Meet Water: The Properties of Solutions” from Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions.

A proper balance of acids and bases is essential for baking a light and airy cake, making cheese, or avoiding poisoning by an overdose of lemonade. Find out how the pH scale works as we create and consume our favorite foods in “Acids and Bases: The Voyage of the Proton.”

The quest for exotic spices and foods spurred exploration and mixing of cultures. Food historian Jessica Harris explains that what we eat reveals our history and the culinary trends that were intertwined with major economic shifts. See the Hands on History segment in “Mapping Initial Encounters” from America’s History in the Making.

Harry S. Truman: Term and Controversies

Harry TrumanLOC

[Harry Truman, half-length portrait, facing front] c1945 June 27, LC-USZ62-117122 (b&w film copy neg. of detail) .

Harry S. Truman, born May 8, 1884 and the 33rd President of the United States, saw the U.S. through the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. His term was marked by the controversial decisions to drop two atomic bombs in Japan and send U.S. troops to fight in the Korean War.

Students can participate in an activity to decide “Should U.S. Military Forces Be Sent to Korea?” by taking on the roles of President Harry Truman, General Douglas MacArthur, or journalist Walter Lippman. See Primary Sources, workshop 8, “Korea and the Cold War.” A link to The Truman Doctrine is included in this resource.

Grapple with Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the interactive in A Biography of America, program 23, “The Fifties.” In the video, academics also discuss Truman’s decision to drop the bombs and the perspective of Truman and the American public.

Case 2 in the video for Democracy in America, unit 2, “The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?” examines what happens when Congress and the President are at odds. This case looks specifically at Truman’s veto of the Taft-Hartley act of 1947, which permitted states to legislate right-to-work laws that prohibited “closed shop” contracts that excluded non-union workers from unionized plants.

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.