Category Archives: education creativity

United States (U.S.) Constitution for Kids — Activities, Quizzes, Puzzles, & More | Constitution Facts


Us Constitution Pictures

Today is Constitution Day.  Are you teaching about the U.S. Constitution in your classroom today?  At a time when many – including adults – have no idea what the U.S. Constitution is or means to them, it’s more important than ever to include time in lesson planning for meaningful social studies instruction.  Include it in your reading time, math time, or anytime that a teachable moment presents itself.  Too late for today?  Not to worry!  There are still two more days in this school week and more teaching days in the months ahead!  Need ideas?  Click below.

United States (U.S.) Constitution for Kids — Activities, Quizzes, Puzzles, & More | Constitution Facts.

Parents, community, and STEM

Looking for a jumpstart with STEM integrated instruction?  Think about involving parents and the community in classroom activities. 
Surveying parent talents and skills is a great place to start. You can actually find a place for all parents regardless of past work experience.  Be creative!  Enlisting parents as STEM helpers includes community workers naturally.  So – how to enlist these helpers?   A note explaining STEM and the need for parent involvement in STEM instruction will help.  List some talents that could help students and STEM learning in the classroom. Some might be:

  • Engineer
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Hospital worker
  • Homemaker
  • Mechanic
  • Artist
  • Teacher
  • Writer
  • Researcher
  • Office worker, etc.

Parents may feel that their abilities won’t help in the classroom but a brief description of how they can serve is a real motivator to get all involved. Don’t forget Career Day in November! This might just be the perfect day to STEM recruit!!

End of the year? Let your students “shine”!

This is my favorite time of year!  Students work so hard throughout the year (regrettably – intently focused on test taking) that they deserve to have opportunities to “shine” while enjoying the activities (once considered best practice) that they should have learned with throughout the year.

children

Some of the activities in my classrooms have been:

  • Survey students – ask them what they would like to learn about in the last weeks that you may not have touched on during the year.
  • Review favorite stories and/or units taught throughout the year using the arts and hands-on activities that scheduling may not have allowed time for during the year.
  • Presenting plays
  • Creating scenery backdrops
  • Puppetry
  • Create puppet stages using file folders, pvc pipes, and cardboard boxes
  • Writing songs that review content learned
  • Storytelling
  • Publish a class magazine featuring student writing and illustrations
  • Plan a concert for grade levels featuring individual classroom presentations
  • Involve parents – invite parents to an end-of-year pizza or ice-cream party
  • Plan interesting field trips – unique to your school’s geographic area
  • Plan unit instruction unique to geographic areas – i.e.: Ocean/sea life studies, mountain/wildlife studies, desert habitat studies, etc.

Closing out your school year with enjoyable learning activities will leave you and your students eager to come to class the last few weeks and looking forward to returning in the new school year.  Enjoy!

Why kids need more music in schools

In his postlude to The Mozart Effect author Don Campbell shares miracle stories of treatment and cure through music.   Excerpts recount music and its role in the treatment and healing of abuse, pain, aggressive and antisocial behavior, attention deficit disorder, depression, developmental delays, high blood pressure, etc.  The benefits of music are limitless.

As the American educational system seeks to cut the arts from classroom experience, we see children and adolescents seek out more available forms of art – usually portraying the more violent and dark side of life.  Young people perceive, and then opt to imitate the art that fuels their imagination.

Education can offer a positive approach to fueling that imagination leading toward the productive lives we want our children to meet by providing a healthier experience.

There are those trying to do that.  Be sure to watch as CBS’s 48 HOURS presents The Whole Gritty City, Saturday, February 15th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Some say society is ill and we need to do something to heal it.  Will we help? 

“Each illness has a musical solution.  The shorter and more complete the solution, the greater the musical talent of the physician.”

–  Novalis

Learning Disabilities – a second look

I’ve taught for many years in a system that I have often questioned when it comes to students and learning disabilities.  As an outside-of-the-box thinker, I’ve always hoped for more freedom in teaching to reduce the necessity for a child being labeled as learning disabled when I thought there might be a better way.

In my opinion, schools need to offer a more “balanced” curricula including both visual and performing arts as well as extended opportunity for inquiry and exploration. If offered, I believe we would have a much smaller ESE population.  Walk into any ESE class and you will find talented students in these areas.  If not, you’ll find students who lack focus because their minds are sparked with imagination and their personalities are bursting at the seams from the skill and drill activities they take part in.

Google search famous people with learning disabilities and you’ll find less than average students who had the tenacity and intrinsic abilities (not valued by education) to prove their teachers wrong.  I share a list and a YouTube presentation.  Both are inspiring and encouraging.

Famous people with learning disabilities:

ADD/ADHD

Will Smith, Jim Carey, Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Jordan, Bruce Jenner, Magic Johnson, Terry Bradshaw, Babe Ruth, Greg Louganis, Vince Lombardi, Pablo Picasso, Ansel Adams, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, Robert Frost, and Edgar Allen Poe, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Malcolm Forbes, Andrew Carnegie, William Randolph Hearst, Henry Ford, FW Woolworth, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Alfred HitchcockHenry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, Wilbur Wright, Alexander Graham Bell, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Cher, Buddy Rich, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, President John F. Kennedy, President Thomas Jefferson, President Abraham Lincoln, President Dwight Eisenhower, President George Bush, and President George W. Bush, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Nicolai Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton…

The list goes on.  What were some of them told and what did they share?

Sydney Smith said, “The real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupation that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.”

Reading, writing, and math are all important but there has to be more if we are to help our students actualize the above realities.

If you’re still with me – thanks for reading and listening!!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

Take a creative break

nancy 2011-2012 K    I love to teach and  I’ll admit, new education trends find teaching tasks taking up most of my wakeful time.  A recent lengthy bout with pneumonia however, forced me to take time to rest.  It also found me taking up a creative passion from long ago – crocheting.  I found the break from “thinking” about teaching, expectations, and test scores refreshing and I believe it helped me heal quicker – both physically and mentally.

The link between creativity and mental and physical health has long been established.  How are you feeling these days?  Does your health or mental state need a lift?  As George Lois stated, “Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.”

Teacher work loads and stress seem less cumbersome when balanced with a creative activity.  What’s your creative passion?  Not sure what it is?  Listen to Sir Ken Robinson discuss “Finding Your Element”.

Are you finding time for your creative passion?  Remember – you have a life outside of work that only you can make fulfilling.   Find time for a creative break today!

Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley

Is education a mechanical or human system?  How do we develop a culture where teachers and students thrive and excel?

Here is the latest from Sir Ken Robinson with a challenge for educators and administrators alike.

Sir Ken Robinson – always thought-provoking ideas worth listening to and following!

TeachBytes

TED Talks are great resources for inspiration in the classroom, but sometimes my students struggle with focusing their attention on one person talking for so long. So, when I found this clever animation that visually articulates the information from a TED talk, I had to share! This one was given by Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert.

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Transforming society and lives through music

cello players    Looking at the work of Jose Antonio Abreu in Venezuela we see how the arts can transform society by bridging the gap between rich and poor while increasing intellectual and emotional capacities in children. From an original group of 11 impoverished children Abreu built the more than 300,000 student El Sistema, a nationwide organization of more than 100 youth orchestras made up of students from poor and middle-class neighborhoods. As Abreu states: “It is evident that music has to be recognized as an element of socialization, as an agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values: solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion.”

Is it time to implement a proactive approach to our societal dilemmas by providing all our children means for a better way?  Some think so as is evidenced by El Sistema groups forming around the world.  For information on the USA group go to http://elsistemausa.org/.

Music and its importance to learning

I was once asked what my greatest personal accomplishment was.  My answer was a no-brainer.  My greatest personal accomplishment was
overcoming a birth defect to go on to make a living for many years as a
professional vocalist, then teacher.

I was born with a hemangioma under my tongue which prevented me from speaking normally until after surgery at the age of five. The doctors said surgery would be too dangerous to attempt before then.  It turned out that the age of five was almost too dangerous.  As doctors were about to do a tracheotomy due to swelling, I began to breathe normally.  I suspect God had a long list of things for me to carry out with my voice!  🙂  Healing wasn’t easy and I had just come through years of being teased by other children.

The taunting left me embarrassed to speak so my parents encouraged me to sing to use my voice.  That I did! After surgery, my singing and a short stint in speech class found me off and running! (Or I should say “talking and singing”!)

Though my shyness remained, my junior high school music teacher helped me realize I had talent and encouraged me to use it. Because of his encouragement, I held many leading roles in high school and college theatre productions and went on to earn a living as a professional vocalist for many years before becoming a teacher.

MB900184975I have long shared with colleagues the importance of using music in the classroom – no matter student age.  I was thrilled to meet with my neurologist to review an MRI of my brain after falling and badly hitting my head weeks earlier.  He shared the pictures stating,  “All is well – you have a highly developed brain – especially your cerebellum.”

I knew the reason immediately.  “I have been a musician all my life!” I shared trying to contain my enthusiasm.

“We see this development in people having experiences in music from an early age on,” he shared.

Music has great significance to learning – especially to children who may lack self-esteem or sit through class day in and day out trying to fit a “one size fits all” educational expectation.  Learning is hard to without being provided creative experiences which create neurological connections that enhance learning.

One of the most important books on this subject is This is your brain on music written by Daniel J. Levitin.  For more information you may want to explore –

Cover of "This Is Your Brain on Music: Th...

http://daniellevitin.com/publicpage/books/this-is-your-brain-on-music/

Enjoy and be sure to listen to music!