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Freedom Writing: Students Expressing Ideas About Current or Controversial Events

to-write-774648_1920.jpgHow can we support kids as they process their feelings about current or recent events happening in our world? Today’s students had a front-row seat to school shootings, terrorism events, political conflict, and drug-related deaths for example within recent years, and they might have feelings of confusion, fear, or frustration. Educators have to navigate discussing these conversations and encourage students without promoting their personal views. Though it may be challenging to do, you can take these moments that have real impact students’ lives and make it a teachable moment for students.  Here’s how I’ve done this in the past when working with my students.

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Activities for National Opposite Day

nrm3.jpgI love quirky holidays and celebrations! On January 25th, set your sights on a day filled with National Opposite Day activities. Research done by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock (2001) have created discussions on the benefits of comparing and contrasting. This concept provides the basis for effective instruction. I have included fun activities to boost students reading and writing skills in the classroom for National Opposite Day while still meeting the demands of your standards.

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

the-white-house-1623005_1280.jpgToday 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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More than a Dream: Using King’s Legacy to Foster Civil Responsibility In Students

non-violence-1158317_1920.jpgIn 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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High Achieving Students

iStock_000016012136Small.jpgIf you are like me, you are in the middle of progress monitoring for your end of quarter comparisons. Do you have students that haven’t progressed at all? If you look closely, some of those students are your “bright” students. So what can you do to help those high achieving students to engage in your classroom?

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Primary Sources in the Science Classroom for Lower Elementary: Primary Sources Across the Curriculum Pt. 2

Working Hard-2.jpgNot everyone thinks about primary sources when planning science lessons for students in lower elementary.

However, teaching students to rely on facts and evidence as close to the reference point as possible is an incredible way to build critical thinking early on.

The good news is that science primary sources are everywhere:

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Write About It: Celebrating National Letter Writing Week


Every year during the second week of January, our country celebrates National Letter Writing Week. The art of letter writing may seem foreign—or antiquated—to a generation surrounded with instant messaging, texting, and social media platforms that make communicating with people across the world almost instantaneous. Once you review the basic parts of writing—heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature, students can write letters of all kinds to anyone! Check out the ideas we have below as you celebrate National Letter Writing Week!

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