Xin Nian Kuai Le: Celebrating Chinese New Year

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Jan 27, 2017 12:01:00 PM

The phrase "Xin Nian Kuai Le"  is Happy New Year in Mandarin.  The new moon closest to the start of spring dictates the beginning of the year in their culture, and each year i)s combined with elements of the earth (gold, wood, water, fire, earth) with twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig/boar).  This is the year of the fire rooster, and here at Big Universe, we want to give you some idea as to ways you can use to help in celebrating this popular time for so many people around the world.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Literacy

Poetry and the Inauguration: How Poets Participated in this Presidential Ceremony

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Jan 20, 2017 11:43:00 AM

Today is Inauguration Day, a celebration and ceremony signifying the start [or continuation] of a president's administration.  Recognized on the 20th of January every four years, many entertainers, dignitaries, and American citizens participate in the festivities during and after the inauguration.  What is intriguing, however, is the relatively few poets involved in the ceremony.  It was only in 1961 that Robert Frost read his poem "The Gift Outright" at the late John F. Kennedy's first inauguration.  Since then, four other poets share this honor with him: Maya Angelou's 1993 reading of "On Pulse of Morning", Miller Williams read "Of History and Hope" in 1997, Elizabeth Alexander's 2009 reading of "Praise Song for the Day", and Richard Blanco's 2013 reading of "One Today."  How then, did these poets represent the attitudes and political climates of their day?


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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing

More than a Dream: Using King’s Legacy to Foster Civil Responsibility In Students

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Jan 13, 2017 11:55:00 AM

In just a few days our nation will celebrate Martin Luther King Day, which recognizes the contributions that famed Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. made to advancing racial equality through non-violent means.  Since 1986, the third Monday in every January people take part in various activities--speeches, marches, community service projects, or visiting sites that highlight King's life and legacy.  As educators seeking to create independent, conscious thinkers, how can we get them to use their words and knowledge to affect change in their schools?  As King wrote as a junior at Morehouse College, “...Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction" (as cited in The Seattle Times, n.d.).  I'll share with you some ways to get your students and school to maximize the day's significance.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing, Literacy

Using Novels to Engage

Posted by Kristie J. on Dec 13, 2016 12:08:00 AM

There are a variety of ways to teach literacy skills. You may have tried every one of them or stuck to a proven method. There is no certain way to teach literacy. Students benefit from our varied teaching styles since we are individuals just like them. For my classroom, I love using novels to teach literacy. I am a self-confessed bookworm, so being able to teach using a novel is a delightful addition to my teaching. There are so many ways that you can incorporate literacy and differentiation into teaching novels. You just have to use your imagination!

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing, Literacy

Celebrating Bill of Rights Day

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Dec 9, 2016 11:52:00 AM

On December 15th, many places across the United States celebrate Bill of Rights Day. Intended to remind Americans of the rights granted to them by the Constitution—freedom of the press, religious rights, and due process to name a few, the potential for students to truly grasp the importance of these rights are virtually limitless. Incredibly, these 10 amendments were chosen and voted on from over 80 contenders proposed by states who ratified the Constitution in the early years of our nation. These rights served to protect our freedoms and deter government overreach, two concerns many of our founders had during the early days of our country. For more facts, view the Bill of Rights Chapter in The US Constitution & Bill of Rights by Charles Pederson, one of several books found in Big Universe’s digital library!

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists

Simple Ideas to Build Student Read Aloud Confidence

Posted by Teresa Marchant on Dec 7, 2016 12:00:00 PM

As educators, we understand the value of reading aloud. It provides students with opportunities to increase their own fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. However, for some students it is a terrifying event.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Literacy

7 Strategies for Teaching Close Reading

Posted by Rachel Tapling on Nov 24, 2016 12:00:00 PM

 If we untangle the term "Close Reading" from the unfamiliar title and the tie-in with the contentious Common Core Standards, we see that the strategies are not new and also are very useful, even essential, to critical thinking and learning. 

Here are 7 helpful strategies to use across the curriculum:

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Literacy

Celebrating Thanksgiving Through Reading

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Nov 18, 2016 12:04:00 PM

This is my favorite time of year for many reasons, with one of them being the Thanksgiving season. Many families join together for special meals, watch sporting events on television and bond over things for which they are thankful. As a teacher, I always sought to bring multiple perspectives for my students about cultural events and history, and Thanksgiving was no exception. Big Universe, with its choice of ebooks, has a similar approach, and I look forward to sharing with you a little more about some of the titles available in our library as well as some lesson "seed" ideas for using these books in your classes in the upcoming days.

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Topics: Reading Lists, Writing, Technology, Literacy

Honor and Respect: Celebrating Veterans Day

Posted by Rashawnda Atkinson on Nov 4, 2016 12:00:00 PM

With Veterans Day approaching--and a day where students are often out of school, educators are looking for ways to commemorate this important day in American history. Originally designated as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War 1, the day as we know it became officially celebrated in 1954. 

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reading Lists, Writing, Technology, Literacy

Ideas for Struggling Readers

Posted by Teresa Marchant on Oct 26, 2016 12:00:00 PM

As a school librarian, I often interact with frustrated parents. Whether in person, at conferences, phone calls or even when they see me at the grocery store they want recommendations for their child so they will enjoy reading or to become better readers. I gladly give them some exact titles, but there is a method behind my madness.  I am constantly reinforcing these ideas with teachers as well. Students need to READ so they can become better READERS!  I feel, it doesn’t matter so much as what they are reading, but they enjoy it.

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Topics: Classroom Ideas, Reviews, Reading Lists, Literacy

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