Here are some Big Universe Learning titles that might be of interest especially around the time of Mother’s Day:
- A Mother’s Journey Acclaimed nonfiction author Sandra Markle presents the daring story of a mother emperor penguin’s struggle to reach the sea, find food, avoid predators, and make her way back to her mate and their newborn chick before they starve. Alan Marks’ luminous illustrations highlight the harsh conditions and stunning landscapes of Antarctica.
- A Zany Zoo Day Mom is in for a surprise when a trip to the zoo brings out the animal in everyone!
- Grandma’s Feather Bed Upbeat, funny and irresistibly singable, this song was made famous by John Denver and now made doubly delightful by Christopher Canyon’s illustrations. Especially if you listen along with Denver, kids will say, play it again! It is all about the cousins, the chicken pie, four hound dogs and a piggy, but as the song says, the best darn thing about Grandmas house was her great big feather bed.
- Emma’s Question A question scritches and scratches at the back of Emma’s throat.Emma is a curious kid. She loves to ask questions,and she loves the silly answers that her grandmother always gives. But now Emma has a very important question, one that she is bursting to ask, one that scritches and scratches at the back of her throat. Her grandmother is sick and has to stay in the hospital. Emma wonders if Grandma will still be able to read to her kindergarten; if she will still make up funny stories over bagels on Wednesdays; if she will still be able to watch her after school.
- We Like the Beach A girl and her mom go for a walk on the beach. They see some of their favorite things.
- Animal Mothers and Babies This book helps children learn to read with descriptions of animal mothers and their babies.
These are just a few of the publisher books about mothers. There are also many Member Books that have been created for and about mothers.
Just as all mothers are unique, each of these titles represents an individual and interesting book to read …
Maybe you will choose to read a book or a poem about mothers …
Maybe you will choose to write and create a book or a poem about mothers …
Find a way to celebrate and share!
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What do the subjects Math and English have in common? Not much? How about Venn Diagrams? John Venn, an English mathematician and logician, invented the Venn diagram in 1880, and although used often in illustrating mathematical concepts, the Venn diagram can be used in literacy lessons to help kids brainstorm and organize ideas.
First, let’s clear up the misconception that the terms compare and contrast are analogous (one and the same) words. Compare, in its strictest sense, means to focus on similarities. (Think of competitive parents who use their children to top the other’s child in a given category.) Compare is often mistakenly related to contrast. Contrast, clearly, means to focus on what makes it different. (So your child competed, my child won.)
Venn Diagrams can be used in the classroom as a visual organizational tool to illustrate the similarities and differences between two objects, characters, or groups in literature – or even topics raised during classroom discussions. Basically two intersecting circles, the left circle can be used to list traits of A, and the right circle can list traits of B. The circle sections that overlap, or are shared, become what they share in common. A handy way of reinforcing this for young children is coloring one complete circle in yellow pencil or crayon and coloring the other in red. Then the orange (more or less) center stands out.
After a Venn diagram is completed, a student has a ready-to-use outline for a compare and contrast discussion, using the diagram as a study tool or, for older students, begin writing a comparison (how they are alike) and contrast (how they are different) essay.
There are some great Venn Diagrams that ready-to-use, just print, copy and hand out to your students from educationaloasis.com, enchantedlearning.com and eduplace.com. Or you can create your own labeled diagram here or in Microsoft Word. And check out some sample lessons using Venn diagrams.
Do your students like to watch cartoons or animated movies?
Do they like to read comic books?
Have you student tried reading a graphic novel?
(There is a whole category full of graphic novels in Big Universe Learning)
Do you have students who like to draw?
Do you have students who doodle on papers, desks, books ….?
Using those interests may be a way to engage those students in learning!
Even the reluctant readers …
Even the struggling readers ….
There are so many visual clues t,hat can be used to help determine the words and the story …
I heard a teacher talking the other day about something interesting that was happening in her classroom.
She is a fan of Wonder Woman comics and her students know that.
Whenever students have time, either at school or not, many of them find ways to find things related to Wonder Woman or other comic strips they enjoy. The teacher was even showing comics students had created in their own time.
In these comics, we found fully-developed characters, settings, and plot lines.
And these creations were not from the students in her class who always exceeded …
By using different forms of expression, students were using various parts of the brain to really demonstrate what they had learned …. and many times without even realizing it!
By taking the time to create the comic images and add details, students were able to really focus on the story they were trying to tell …
Many found drawing a picture while thinking about or planning a story, writing a story became an easier mountain to climb …
My son has had pretty good teachers so far, but I’ve heard of great teachers who make parents of special needs children swoon. One is an elementary classroom teacher who began the first parent-teacher meeting with, “I just read your child’s entire file.” That’s not called getting off on the right foot. It’s getting off on the best foot possible.
As a former licensed teacher and mom of two school-aged children, I find that good teachers don’t deny or sugar coat issues; instead, they are proactive by anticipating problems and dealing with them. Like the ripple-effect theory, an effective teacher addresses and manages an issue before it grows. But instead of waiting for the first ripple to appear and then using classroom management skills to redirect the student and classmates, there are effective ways to begin classroom management from the beginning. Similarly, some teachers are willing to go beneath the water’s surface to see if a special needs child has kept his head above above water (aka on grade level); is doing the doggie paddle to stay afloat; or drowning – academically and socially.
That same teacher will have high expectation and teach him how to swim. It doesn’t mean that he has to learn the breast stroke correctly (some may never put their head in the water, thus the need for special education accommodations and modifications), but we as parents want to see measurable progress. And sometimes that progress begins with having a teacher who takes the time to better understand the diagnosis – digest huge files of test scores, evaluations and school to parent communications; attend a special needs-related conference; or ask for a recommended book from a parent. If I had such an parent-teacher experience, I might fall in love on the spot.
Here’s some exciting suggestions from Thomas Armstrong, a former special education teacher in both the US and Canada, who offers ways to “activate the strengths” of special needs students in Education Week’s “7 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Special-Needs Students”:
1. Discover your students’ strengths
Armstrong suggests ways to do this that would make any special needs parent excited: from talking with previous teachers, discussing strengths and abilities and focusing on the highest testing scores and positive teachers comments. This is why, in my opinion, when teachers tell me that my child is love of her life or write on a report card that he is a pleasure to have in class, it doesn’t make me happy. I need more. My child is above his years in oral retrieval and can repeat things that he has heard, even when looking 100 percent disengaged, and if a teacher knew how to tape into this strength, I would cartwheel. And if a teacher does this, I want to know. The author also recommends doing a strength-based inventory – and has one in his book, Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life.
2. Provide positive role models with disabilities
Suggests creating a curriculum unit for both neurotypical (NT) and special needs students, entitled “People with Disabilities who Changed the World,” including Carol Grieder, Steven Speliberg and Temple Grandin. Heck, I’d even do the research for my son’s teacher, and she could teach this as she finds appropriate. This is way to show special needs students that despite their challenges, they can be successful in life.
3. Develop strength-based learning strategies
Teachers can do this by combining strengths with a deficit and uses examples such as:
Strength + Deficit = strength-based learning strategies
Drawing + Reading = illustrating vocabulary words
Knitting + Place value in math = knit rows of ten
4. Use assistive technologies
Apps such as speech-to-text programs can help students who speak well yet struggle with writing skills.
5. Maximize the power of your students’’ social networks
Goes as far as suggesting teachers “create a graphic representation of a student’s peer network, identifying both strong and weak relationships,” and use peer teaching, cross age tutoring or another social-learning approach. Over and beyond? I’d gladly settle for a budding relationship to be paired up for class partner activities.
6. Help students envision positive future careers
By recognizing a particular strength, let’s say art, help students see where they can use a talent or skill in a career, like graphic design. This is something that I do at home, but if a teacher can also do this, results can be far-reaching. Recommendations can be used as early as age 15, when IEP transitions (from school to “real life”) begin. Parents are always looking for this information and would love to have a teacher’s insight early on.
7. Create positive modifications in the learning environment
Suggests a child with Down’s Syndrome “who loves to humorously mimic others, build a simple puppet theater where he can act out math word problems in front of the class and get positive feedback.” The point is creating a positive contribution to the class while increasing learning opportunities.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Join Us on Wednesday, April 24th from 3:30-4:30 EDT for a webinar that will overview the comprehensive learning platform from Big Universe.
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Please join us for a general overview of Big Universe. We will go over the basic features in our Read, Write, Share, and Manage sections. Also, benefits and common classroom uses will be discussed. Learn more about Big Universe in this 45 minute demo.
Title: Big Universe Overview Webinar
Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Time: 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
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Earth Day is a special day celebrated each year on April 22, designed to celebrate the Earth. Founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day was first organized in 1970 to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution. Every year more than 100 different countries join together in celebration of this special day. We can celebrate Earth Day by remembering to appreciate nature and protect our environment.
Earth Day is usually celebrated with outdoor performances, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to earth. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches. Teaching children to recycle can have a profound impact on our environment.
Big Universe can help you celebrate Earth Day in the classroom. We’ve selected a few titles from our online library that teach lessons about pollution, going green, and the environment!
- In The Clean Team by Anna Prokos children learn valuable lessons about keeping the Earth clean through the characters of Neat Nick and Sloppy Joe. Sloppy Joe learns the importance up picking up his trash and caring about the world around him.
- Our Footprint on Earth by Jeanne Sturm teaches students about the impact that humans have on the Earth, the environment, and also discusses ways to reduce damage. It also includes information on the dangers of pesticides and making the shift to clean energy sources.
- Rain forests are some of the most beautiful and resource-rich environments on Earth. Readers will discover the layers of the rain forest, the animals and plants of the rain forest, and how people interact with the rain forest in Rain Forests by Colleen Sexton that targets readers from six to eight.
- Eco-friendly energy is explained in Going Green by David and Patricia Armentrout. This book covers everything thing from fossil fuels and pollution, to solar, wind and hydrogen power. It also explains to kids how they can make a difference in our environment by making small changes like shutting off lights and unplugging small appliances when they are not in use.
- Did you know that the average person produces four pounds of trash each day? A Mountain of Trash by Loren I. Charles delves into how trash can be sorted, as well as ways you can help to keep the Earth a clean place.
- Plants and animals that need one another in an environment form an ecosystem. All ecosystems have energy pyramids that show the exchange of energy from one food source to another. Biomes are areas of the Earth that have their own climate and characteristics. Ecosystems all over the world are in danger due to pollution, hunting, and other factors. You can learn about conserving water, recycling, and reducing pollution, as well as how we can help protect Earth in Inside Ecosystems and Biomes by Debra J. Housel.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Suzanne Barchers the students in this book want to protect the environment. It also includes graphs to show the many ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle.
- From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals recycle all over the world. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves, and get food in Nature Recycles–How About You? by Michelle Lord.
Generally when people discuss literacy, they think of reading and writing, which are two things supported and encouraged by Big Universe Learning.
There are different types of literacy too.
Did you know April is financial literacy month?
Financial Literacy Month … ????
What is financial literacy?
Why does it have its own month?
Financial Literacy is the ability of one to make appropriate decisions in managing his or her personal finances.
Does that mean counting money?
Does that mean making and sticking to a budget?
Does that mean being able to compare prices?
Does that mean just making smart decisions when it comes to money?
It means that and so much more!
Financial literacy is an important life skill.
Sharing personal finance lessons with students will prepare them to be financially responsible adults.
The Financial Educators Council is just one of many places providing resources and helpful tips.
They are resources, ideas, and lessons for kids, teenagers, and adults. They also have some interesting PSA posters (that is where the one with this post came from).
Big Universe has some books from Marshall Cavendish Benchmark Books about money. The nonfiction books from this publisher are known to be visually appealing and authoritative. They strive to meet the needs of readers from kindergarten through high school.
Here are a few of the money-related books:
Thinkfinity also offers many finance-related lessons and interactive games.
Here are a few of their resources:
Big Banks, Piggy Banks
EconEdLink | Lesson Plan | K-5
Understanding the basics of savings and savings institutions.
Exploring Cost and Savings Using Children’s Literature
ReadWriteThink | Lesson Plan | 3-5
Students make sense of dollars and cents when they study the importance of saving and budgeting in this lesson.
The Cost of Being Late
Illuminations | Lesson Plan | 6-8
Learning how to calculate the impact of an outstanding balance and interest rates.
Buying vs. Renting
EconEdLink | Lesson Plan | 9-12
Learn about the basics of buying a home versus renting.