Category Archives: Lesson Planning

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!!

9/11- Feeling safe in the classroom…

Vector - Skyline US NewYork by DragonArtI was with first grade students on 9/11, that tragic morning the Twin Towers went down. Within what seemed like minutes parents were rushing to school to sign their children out early. There sat twenty curious children wondering why everyone was leaving class so early in the day.  I decided to speak with the children about what was happening before they left me. Knowing the time constraints on most parents, I wanted to ease as many fears as I could. I briefly explained the situation. I ended the discussion by telling my students that their parents might be upset. I told them if they were calm and well-behaved it would help their parents. I reassured them they would all be fine and we’d all be back together in the morning. The next day began with further discussion. Most of the children had seen the news and needed to talk more. We did. I felt they all handled the information very well and then one of my students raised her hand. “Yes Jenny?” I asked.

“Ms. Ellington, why do I feel safer here in the classroom than I do at home?”  Other children nodded. This question has played over and over in my mind since, while the world has become increasingly unsafe. For many students – the classroom is their only safe place.

How can teachers make children feel safe in an unsafe world? Communication is key. Being honest with children instills trust. Withholding information creates mistrust. Encourage classroom discussion on current events – tempering topics discussed with age appropriateness. This is easily accomplished by providing social studies curriculum as part of an integrated classroom experience.

There are many other ways to make sure that your classroom is a safe place for students. What strategies do you use in your classroom?

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!

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…

What about the child?

In 1918, a special commission of the National Education Association presented a set of goals on the “purposes of school”.  The list included:

  • providing the child with a sense of ethics
  • teaching the child responsibility for his/her own health
  • teaching the child sensitivity toward the responsibilities of citizenship
  • mastery of the three “R’s”
  • teaching the child to use leisure time well
  • encouraging worthy human relationships with family and friends
  • teaching the child to make a living

We have come to teach a new generation of students and the goals these days seem to focus on teacher quality and offering great schools for students to learn in. While the Common Core Standards stress highest student achievement for all I have to wonder – wouldn’t the goals presented in 1918 be practical for our students today and if so – why are we not paying more attention to them?

Thoughts anyone?

Thoughts for Black History Month – “I Am”

segregated

I remember the ’60’s as a time of turbulence – a time of triumph.  At the age of seven, my mother, siblings and I climbed the steps of a Greyhound Bus in Connecticut to join my father in Florida. My first image of “those” water fountains remains etched in my mind.  With no previous discrimination experience, I approached the “colored” fountain at one of our first southern layover stops.  I remember people glaring as Mom led me to the “white” fountain. I remember her fearful look as she hurried me back on the bus.

The sixties were an emotional time, but also, a time of great growth.  I reflect on those years often – especially when my students and I celebrate Black History Month each year.  Though happy “those” water fountains no longer exist – I regret that some in society too easily slip back into “water fountain” thinking.

At my first multicultural teacher training, participants were asked to share their thoughts in writing.  My thoughts drifted back to the ‘60’s…

“I Am”

I am thoughtful and loving – two traits you would know

If you’d take time to see what life’s lessons will show

I marvel at kindness imagined and real

I hear glorious harmonies, world echoed with zeal

I see hands held united in colorful hues

I see joy for each person – joy lasting, joy true

I am thoughtful and loving – two traits you would know

If you’d take time to see what life’s lessons will show

I see unity, caring throughout humankind

Immense rays of hope at the thought in my mind

I pity those left untouched by one’s plight

I’m troubled to think that this wrong won’t be right

I am thoughtful and loving – two traits you would know

If you’d take time to see what life’s lessons will show

I discern you are you and I am me

If love’s unconditional – why can’t we see?

I dream of the day when all equal will be

All loving you – all loving me

I am thoughtful and loving – two traits you would know

If you’d take time to see what life’s lessons will show

Nancy

multicultural students

Black History Month links –

http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/black-history-month.htm

http://www.history.com/topics/black-history-month

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/black-history/

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/black-history-month/teacher-resources/6602.html

http://www.thinkport.org/Classroom/FEATURE/black_history.tp

Six Teaching Tools for Black History Month | Edutopia

Great resources!

Six Teaching Tools for Black History Month | Edutopia.

Remembering Dr. King, Dad, and life lessons from both.

MLK

He sat at the edge of the sofa, glazed eyes fixed on the TV screen, tears streaming down his face. My brother and I watched silently with our father as the body of Martin Luther King was pulled by two mules on a mule cart. Thousands of people marched in tandem. My father wept, not ashamed to cry in front of us. “Why did they kill him?” we asked.

“Come close,” Dad said. “Never judge anyone by the color of their skin. There are good and bad people in every group,” he said. “Look to the person, and not the group they belong to. Consider everyone as an individual – an equal – remember that.”

08-06-2009 11;44;31AM

This would be one of the many life lessons I learned from my Italian father. Like King, Dad sought fairness for all in a time when it was not a popular thing to do. Similar to Dr. King’s life cut short at the hand of an assassin, Dad’s life was cut short in a car accident. I would only realize the meaningful extent of both of their legacy’s through their deaths.

Today, I can see my father on the sofa and the images of King’s funeral procession as if it was yesterday. I take comfort knowing the lessons I learned from both that year are handed down to each new group of students that enter my classroom.

The significance of today – the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the historical second inauguration of President Obama will be meaningful to some though not all. We have come a long way but the road is long and we still have a way to go.

For the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech illustrated…

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8961639&pid=8961633

How to keep talented teachers from leaving

A must read for anyone interested in preserving the integrity and vitality of the teaching profession.

How to keep talented teachers from leaving.