Teaching Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I believe it may be impossible to NOT be inspired by the words and actions of Martin Luther King, Jr. Next week is a moment that we, as a nation, take a moment to look back and be inspired to reflect and consider - even act upon - how we can affect change for the better. When celebrating his life in the classroom, we've rounded up resources to help teachers do just that.

On Our Minds @Scholastic blogger Lia has a quick 8 resources to share. From book lists, lesson plan inspiration, contests and more, it is a great list! 

You can find even more on Scholastic.com which has an "Everything You Need" feature and a collection of articles.


Not that we don’t love Mary Poppins

"I'm not a Mary Poppins kind of person," says Carmen Fariña in a profile in today's New York Times.

Fariña, who became New York City's schools chancellor on January 1, began her career as a teacher in Brooklyn. Tough with both students and parents, she drew upon "poetry, puppet shows and international cuisine" to immerse kids in history, culture and the arts.

Fariña was also known to have dressed as Peter Stuyvesant, using a toilet plunger as a wooden leg. What would Stuyvesant make of the fact that a woman has been chosen to lead the country's largest school system? In an age of, well, ageism, it's also refreshing that the new chancellor is 70 years old. Why not draw on her wisdom and years of experience?

"I think of her as a woman who has the gift of leadership," says Marie Arnold, who was a teacher at Manhattan's coveted P.S. 6 in 1991 when Fariña took over as principal.

Fariña, whose parents fled the Spanish Civil War, cares not only about children, but also about their teachers. She has already shared some inspired ideas for easing anxiety about the Common Core Standards, whose implementation thus far has been rocky.

In her letter to the city's principals, Fariña promised to "emphasize holistic instructional practices and enhance professional development for teachers and school leaders" and "move aggressively to increase parents' involvement in their children's education."

Her own immigrant father, according to the Times, "helped nurture her rebellious streak."

I hope that the same spirit of adventure will pervade the hallways of the city's schools this year, where many children face unimaginable challenges. A little Mary Poppins magic could go a long way.


A picture perfect classroom

Advances in technology have brought new appeal to photography. Platforms like Instagram, which has over 150 million active users, offer endless options for color enhancements, special effects and cropping. And let’s not forget about the 2013 Word of the Year: “selfie.”

It should be no surprise that many teachers are incorporating the use of photography into their lessons. As Sue Pimentel, a lead writer of the ELA Standards, told us, “The observation skills that it takes to look at a picture and to find out what’s going on in it are some of the same skills we’re asking students to do in close reading. We’re asking them to pay attention to the details as you would in a picture, and also for students to be able to express what’s going on.”

In an article featured in T.H.E. Journal, fourth grade teacher Ms. Dalesio, from the Pleasanton Unified School District in California, schedules "iPhoneography" days with her students (this idea is not limited to just the iPhone, of course). On these days students are encouraged to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and incorporate their photographs into their work.

In the article, Ms. Dalesio offers 9 tips for using photography with your students. Here are my two favorite tips she offers:

Combine Photos with Writing: Integrating photos with writing projects as part of digital story-telling allows students to look at an image and write a story around it. Students can also read a story and then find an image that illustrates what they just read.

Use Photos to Help Students Learn Geometric Shapes: "You could have them take a picture of an acute angle or intersecting lines or parallel lines or a square or a cube," Dalesio explains. "It really makes the learning they're doing in the classroom so much more meaningful, because then they can see it in a real-life setting."

Are you using photography in the classroom? Tell us how in the comments below.

Three ideas for teaching students digital citizenship

With the growing prevalence of devices, both inside and outside the classroom, today’s students begin carving a digital footprint from an early age. Teaching students about appropriate, responsible use of technology plays a huge role in their development as “digital citizens.” 

An important part of digital citizenship is digital etiquette, the code of conduct for appropriately interacting with others online. Here are some ideas to help students understand the importance of being respectful digital citizens.

  • Relate online actions to how we behave in person, reinforcing that you should treat others the way you want to be treated (both online and offline).
  • Model digital etiquette for students by creating a class account on social media and working as a class to determine what to post.
  • Show students this video about digital etiquette on the BrainPOP website, and follow up with the quiz and related activities.

For more guidance on teaching students about their digital footprint, check out this post.

What else do our students need to know to be good “digital citizens”?

The importance of ‘show and tell’

When I think about my early education experience my mind immediately wanders to the days of ‘show and tell.’ Nothing was more exciting than bringing in my favorite book or toy or a photo of my pet bunny and telling my classmates about it. However, what I didn’t realize was that show and tell was more than just having fun; I was gaining useful skills through the activity.

Show and tell sets the stage for children to become comfortable when speaking in public. When presenting during show and tell, students are expected to talk about a variety of topics, organize their thoughts and convey main ideas, all of which are skills that I use as an adult in my job.

The Common Core State Standards place an emphasis on students' speaking and listening skills and effectively communicating what they've learned. So what better way for students to practice those skills than with show and tell? After all, show and tell helps students with planning their presentation, public speaking, using different types of vocabulary and descriptive language, and fielding questions from their classmates.

In addition, show and tell can be a great tool to help English Language Learners, giving them a chance to practice academic vocabulary, pronunciation and other basic skills they need to succeed.

What else do children learn from show and tell?


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