Happy Earth Day! In celebration of this important day, I'd like to share with you a couple of resources you can use to help bring Earth Day (or week!) into your classroom while still hitting the standards you need to teach.
What We do Adds Up (Grades 4-6) is an activity that allows students to use math to help them see the impact of how much trash we produce each day. When this is multiplied by the number of people in a classroom, a school, a city and so on, it can make a big impression on a group of students. (This would be a great activity to do after going on a trash pick-up walk. My students were dumbfounded when we filled an entire 20 gallon bag with trash today in only 45 minutes of picking up!) This activity targets multiplication skills.
The Trash We Pass (Grades 4-7) This activity gets students hands-on (literally!) with their trash as they examine and weigh the trash they have produced as a class. The point of the lesson? To teach students about waste and get them thinking about recyclable and disposable waste. It hits upon measurement standards for math and would fit some science and social studies standards as well.
Of course you can adapt these activities down for younger students or up for higher students. I was pleasantly surprised to notice our K-3 friends at school on a scavenger hunt this afternoon to find specific types of trash on the playground in order to do a graphing activity related to what they found. They were not only helping to clean up the playground area but the students were learning important math concepts through the graphing of the various items they found.
How do you integrate Earth Day with math?
April is Jazz Appreciation Month, in honor of this quintessentially American art form. Jazz up your lessons this month with some of these great resources.
Jazz in America
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz exists to offer jazz education programs in public schools. Their website, Jazz in America, is a treasure trove of resources to use to expose students to jazz music. Lesson plans are provided for 5th, 8th and 11th grades, and audio snippets, a timeline and a fairly comprehensive glossary can be used to supplement lessons for other grade levels as well. The site relies a bit too heavily on Wikipedia as a source; the biography section largely consists of links to Wikipedia articles. Other sections of the site are better sourced and highly recommended.
Jazz in the Schools
The National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz in the Schools website is a one-stop shop for teaching about jazz. The lesson plans are geared toward older students, but the resources provided can be used with any grade level. Within each lesson plan are links labeled Look and Listen, which lead to an impressive array of photographs and audio clips. On the main site, there’s a link to a comprehensive list of all of the audio clips provided, and don’t miss the Major Artists section, with biographies of some jazz greats.
Jazz in Time
The Kennedy Center has a great site for educators, ArtsEdge. All of the resources on the site deserve a look, but they’ve got a particularly great timeline of the history of jazz. It looks deceptively simple at first, but embedded in the timeline are pop-up boxes discussing different jazz elements and containing samples of jazz music. For more great jazz resources from ArtsEdge, check out Hear With Your Eyes: Jazz and Art.
Jazz by Ken Burns
Ken Burns’ PBS documentary miniseries Jazz is a rich, comprehensive history of jazz music. Unfortunately, its 20 hour running time makes it impractical to show in its entirety in a classroom setting. You can, of course, pick and choose clips to supplement your jazz instruction, and PBS has provided a wealth of resources on their website to make teaching about jazz a breeze. With biographies of all the major jazz greats and notes on history, the site is worth a look, but the true gem is the Jazz Lounge. Students can study the sounds of jazz, then put together their own compilation in the Jazz Lab. Burns’ documentary aired in 2001, and this site doesn’t seem to be actively maintained, as there are some broken links. Plenty remains, however, and what’s there is worth a look.
This week's tech tip is a helpful tool because it makes the purchase of AppleTV hardware unnecessary and instead uses software that is compatible for a Mac or PC. This application, called Reflector, allows the user to wirelessly AirPlay mirror their iPad or iPhone to a Mac or PC. For example, this application has the ability to capture the screen of your iOS device and then save it for review later. This application is very handy in the classroom because it allows the user to AirPlay their screen and simultaneously project it on another computer attached to a projection system. For security purposes, it is also possible to set up a password so that only an authorized user may connect to your computer. Finally, this application allows for selectable frames, which allows you to match the actual skin of your device.
In my classroom, I have an activeboard and I am able to use my iPad in many ways and then display it on my board through my classroom computer. If your school district like mine, has a classroom set of iPads you can have students connect to your computer in the classroom and display their iPad's or iOS device's screen with the class.
This application can be found at: http://www.reflectorapp.com and there is a trial version which runs for 10 minutes then shuts down or there are single user licenses $12.99 or multi-user options $54.99 for both Mac and Windows machines. There are several system requirements that must be met, please see below:
Requires XP or later and a compatible iOS device
April is one of my favorite months. Not only does it bring the promise of Spring but it is also National Poetry Month. As a child, I didn't "get" poetry and thought it would forever elude me. As a teacher, I was afraid I would never be able to help my students to "get" poetry either.
This is nonsense of course. No one really needs to "get" poetry anymore. At least not when you think about how much of the Common Core specificially ties into poetry. No longer do we need to ruminate over the poet's hidden meaning but rather we can focus on the beauty of the language and the detailed text to help us make meaning.
Meeting the Standards with Poetry
I found a great article about this as I was researching for this post. Ben Curran wrote for Education Teacher Week in January and stated that every grade level includes standards specific to poetry. Additionally, think of everything you can possibly teach through poetry! Some examples include inferring, figurative language, structure, theme, and compare and contrast.
These are all standards that must be taught anyway but now you have an excuse to pull out those fabulous poems you love because you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to be able to find a standard to fit the poem you want to work with.
How to teach Poetry
That's the million dollar question, isn't it? How do you teach this? I love Curran's advice in his article. He says that you can think of general questions to ask such as "what word surprises you?" or "how are images described?" or you can think of questions specific to the actual poem you are working with. Use these questions to simply guide a discussion with the students about the poem you are reading together.
My favorite question that he asks?
"What do you notice?"
This question puts students in the driver's seat to understanding, engaging with and using poetry. They get to begin the conversation and it can then be built upon simply by following the students' lead.
Adding in the Common Core
Of course one of the biggest pieces to the Common Core is students' ability to cite specific evidence they find in a text. This is very easy to do with poetry because as students notice and discuss, they can refer back to the parts of the poem that helped them come up with their answer. If students disagree with each other, they can also use the text to help them justify their disagreements.
Poetry should be celebrated in all classrooms since it provides so much opportunity to analyze text, increase understanding and support critical thinking. The Common Core makes it even easier to squeeze in that favorite poetry unit you have because it will, in fact, meet your standards.
April is National Poetry Month, which makes it a great time to tackle this amazing art form in the classroom. Here are some resources to help you teach your students all about poetry.
Poets.org is the website of the Academy of American Poets, which makes it a great first stop for teaching resources. Explore 30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month, read biographies of poets, and search for a favorite poem. Also available are transcripts of interviews with poets and a page dedicated to resources specifically for educators.
Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest for high school students, run by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation and state arts agencies. The national finals are at the end of April, so it’s too late to get involved this year. But, their website has many great lesson plans for teaching poetry, as well as a database of poems. Use their resources to teach this year, then contact your state arts agency to see about participating in next year’s competition.
Poem in Your Pocket Day
Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 18, and it’s a great way to get kids excited about poetry. Students, teachers and community members choose a favorite poem to carry in their pocket all day, ready to share it with anyone and everyone! My school participated last year, and it was a really fun and engaging day. You can find some pocket-ready poems at Poets.org, or you can use the cute accordion book template from Jimmie’s Collage and have students copy (or write) their own.
Many poets have interactive, engaging websites that you can explore with your students. Shel Silverstein’s site has the expected bio and promotional materials, but also really fun games and animations. Sharon Creech’s site doesn’t have many interactive elements, but it’s worth a trip for teachers simply for her teaching guide for Love That Dog and Hate That Cat, along with many of her other books. For older students, Maya Angelou’s website has a media section with links to photo and video galleries that give an amazing sense of her history and the impact she has had on American culture. Edgar Allen Poe died long before he would have had a website, but the Poe Museum has picked up the slack. Here you can read his bio and some of his most famous poems, as well as take a virtual tour of the museum, which has collections of Poe’s writings, personal items and Poe memorabilia.