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.

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How Clueless Can D.C. Bureaucrats Be?

Unfortunately this scenario plays out across our nation. In a country where standing among nations was built on the unique gifts and talents of individuals not fitting a “mold” our vision for progress has sorely dimmed.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Avery Gigliano recently turned 13. She is a world-class pianist who has won international competitions. To play in international competitions, it is necessary to travel. To the D.C. public school system, she is not a champion, she is a truant. I forebear from using the words that come to mind. The D.C. schools should be celebrating her success. Instead, they drove her out of the school system. Great story by Petula Dvorak in the Washington Post.

“The prodigy, who just turned 13, was one of 12 musicians selected from across the globe to play at a prestigious event in Munich last year and has won competitions and headlined with orchestras nationwide.

“But to the D.C. public school system, the eighth-grader from Mount Pleasant is also a truant. Yes, you read that right. Avery’s amazing talent and straight-A grades at Alice Deal Middle School earned her no slack from school officials…

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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!

Tending Gardens and Call for Teaching Memories

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

It doesn’t matter how long we have taught – there will always be moments that stay with us forever. Below is one of the moments that has stayed with me.


1990's 23

I wanted to scream! They were tugging at me all day. “Ms. Ellington, Ms. Ellington!” is all I could hear them say. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mind the tugging although it could be tedious at times. I just wished at some point some of the children would learn to raise their hand to get my attention. I know, I know… it’s hard for five-year olds to remember, especially when they need something. Besides, kindergarten children are like a “garden of flowers” and we all know flowers need tending.

Young children live in a world of ego. On this particular day, ego had overtaken our classroom and was increasingly trying. Riley soiled his pants. Jenny fell and scraped her knee. Kevin’s mom and dad argued while driving him to school – leaving him crying for home all morning. So many things to tend to and I still had to teach at some point.

To make matters worse, the art activity I planned for the children was harder than I thought. So there I was, running from child to child trying to help each complete their project. There they were, twenty little budding flowers all in need of nurturing at the same time.

As I frantically tried to attend to everyone, my thoughts flashed back to a Swedish friend named Heli who worked at a restaurant I sang at in my “singing” days. Heli was always smiling and pleasing everyone. One night patrons and coworkers were running her ragged. She looked at me and in her stealthy Swedish accent said, “If I hear my name one more time, I’m going to hit the ceiling!”

My thoughts of Heli were broken when Katey and Brittany at once yanked at my sleeve. “Ms. Ellington, Ms. Ellington!” they shouted. Hmm… Again I thought of Heli and looked at their faces. With hands on hips and one raised eyebrow I said, “If I hear Ms. Ellington one more time I’m going to hit the ceiling!”

The room fell silent and I could see some of my little ones, mouths open in awe, slump in their chairs like wilted flowers in need of a drink. It was an awkward moment, eyes meeting eyes and nothing to say. For that moment, the weight of my day subsided and I was able to catch my breath though regrettably, it now seemed hard for the children to catch theirs.

Then, as if in slow motion from the back of the room, Joanna tip-toed quietly to me. She approached, face aglow. In front of me, she deliberately placed her hands on her hips, raised one eyebrow, and with a missing front toothed grin said, “Oh, Ms. Ellington!”

We all burst into laughter and the moment of peace I thought I experienced gave way to a renewed sense of enthusiasm at being with these lively children.

These days, when I am caught up in classroom stress, I still see Joanna standing before me with that missing front toothed grin.


This is a good time to reflect on positive teaching memories.  I look forward to hearing about yours!  Thanks in advance for leaving a reply and sharing!

 

Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing – – Education Week Teacher

From Education Week Teacher Update

Obama Administration Sends Mixed Messages on Teachers and Testing – – Education Week Teacher.

What are your thoughts?

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!