Art Students Honor Victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing; Lesson blends history, creativity, and compassion
When I was a senior in high school, a month away from graduating, I sat in my Physics class and watched the breaking news of a federal building blown apart. In the early moments of the tragedy, my classmates and I thought this event was unfolding in the nation’s capital. After all, to us "federal" was synonymous with Washington, D.C. But a few minutes into the coverage we realized that this nightmare was in our state of Oklahoma, a hundred miles away. Kids cried and classes were dismissed as we drove home in a world without cell phones to check on family and friends. It was the first time that my innocence was shattered. The first time I watched my community reel from pain. I remember the first nights were sleepless as I mourned people I didn’t know but to whom I felt connected. A few weeks later, we graduated wearing ribbons to honor victims, a somber shadow cast over my home state, an uneasy feeling in our each of our hearts. If this could happen in Oklahoma, no one was safe.
Our large school system has just implemented a new regulation for students in grades 7 through 12 granting them a partial school day off -- excused -- to participate in "civic engagement activities." These activities can include any number of things such as advocating on behalf of an issue or campaigning for candidates. Our secondary students take both Civics (8th grade) and Government (10th or 12th grade) during their academic careers and, due to our location just outside of Washington, DC, have many opportunities to understand and connect with elections and issues on both the local and national levels. But given how the news media has largely emphasized this as a "day off to protest" (WTOP | The Washington Post | CNN | NPR ), I got to thinking about resources to support a better understanding of activism and the history of protest in America
Recently, our reading team approached my co-librarian and I with a request for a lesson on setting. They wanted their students to understand the big picture in the setting of a story -- primarily realistic/historic fiction or non-fiction settings -- in terms of geography, climate and terrain, as well as distance and scale. Whew. A lot to cover in a 47-minute class period. But after brainstorming and planning (as well as some consultation with Corey), we pulled together a fun lesson with lots of posibilities. We headed out into the world with our reading classes using Google Earth.
It's the season of gift giving and we're back with on of our annual posts: Our Favorite Things! You can use our list for classroom teachers, librarians and other specials teachers, or anyone else in your life! Some of the ideas here would even be great gifts from the whole class.
Most importantly, we hope you enjoy the season!
This week's Take5 serves up a little of everything, kinda like the Thanksgiving Dinner you are all hopefully about to enjoy later this week. For a main course, we're offering up discussions starters to help reluctant learners explore why school matters and teacher strategies for improving student talk and student assessment. Looking for a side dish to accompany those strategies? Explore the history of Thanksgiving (the history teacher in me couldn't resist). And for dessert, a little time with one of our favorite Sesame Street Characters, Cookie Monster. So Take5 teacher friends and then enjoy your very well earned Thanksgiving break!
Last week I attended the Virginia Association for School Librarians (VAASL) Annual Conference. It's always hard to get away from school for a few days, but I think it's worth it if I am able to collect take-aways that really upgrade the work I do every day in my library program and my learning as a professional. And, as I am heading out this week to attend our big national conference, the American Association of School Librarians, I thought I'd pull together some of my tips for turning a good conference experience into a great one.
This week's Take5 is all about using different forms of "play" to enhance student learning and engagement. From the importance of recess to the value of integrating the latest craze into classroom instruction, this post offers ideas for meeting kids where they are. So Take5!
Sharing love of sports is a powerful tool for building relationships with students. My town of Washington, DC is currently obsessed with the Washington Nationals and their winning streak in the playoffs. Like so many other fans, I've on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Standing in silent frustration in a hushed stadium as we lost to the Dodgers 10-4 in Game 4 to jumping up and down in my living room multiple times in recent weeks as we managed to do what seemed impossible earlier in the season, including winning the Wildcard and advancing to the NLCS for the first time ever in the 10th inning with a grand slam (Howie is my hero). For baseball neophytes, the Nats are one game away from clinching a spot in their first World Series (not that it is going to happen - I don't want to jinx it). It's been such a fun ride for fans but one of the things that has brought me the greatest joy this season is the connection that this epic streak by the Nats has allowed me to make with my students. Believe me: sports moments like these are magic for classrooms. It's lightning in a bottle for relationship building.
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