Annenberg Learner Update
December 2011

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In the Spotlight for December

Curriculum Focus: Writing Across the Curriculum

Current Events
    Exchange Rates and the Euro
    Failure of the Super Committee to Reach Consensus
    Personal Responsibility: The Penn State Scandal

Connecting Learning with Special Days
    NAFTA Signed (December 8, 1993)
    Wounded Knee Massacre (December 29, 1890)
    “A Streetcar Named Desire” Opens on Broadway (December 3, 1947)
    Mayflower Docks in Plymouth Harbor (December 18, 1620)
    Spiritual Literacy Month
Notable December Birthdays
    Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830)
    Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856)
    Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865)
Annenberg Learner Announcements
    NEW! Neuroscience and Economics
    Print Catalog

Annenberg Foundation Update

Distance Learning Update

Curriculum Focus: Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing is a crucial skill we rely on daily. We write to communicate, entertain, inform, and persuade. Finding ways to include writing, revising, and sharing in and outside language arts classrooms can be challenging. The following resources support teachers who want to incorporate writing across disciplines and grade levels, and give them tools to create writing communities in their classrooms.

                                                          Reading K-2
                                                          Workshop In Teaching Reading K-2 Workshop, session 5, “Teaching Writing as a Process,” learn why it is important to allow students to create their own writing topics. 
Also, watch as a kindergarten teacher models the use of an illustration as a writing prompt.

Inside Writing Communities: Grades 3-5, “Activities,” prompts you to examine your attitude towards writing, analyze lesson plan ideas, learn to generate writing ideas, and develop writing schedules that allow students to write about any topic.  Session 7, “Learning to Revise,” provides tools on incorporating revision and shows why revision is fundamental to the writing process. 

In workshop 1, “Creating a Community of Writers,” of Write in the Middle, learn how to turn your classroom into a safe place for students to share their writing. Watch teacher Jack Wilde explain how he uses read-alouds to encourage mutual support among students.  In workshop 5, “Teaching Multigenre Writing,” 7th graders prepare a portfolio of multi-genre pieces based on personal experience.


                                                          WritersDeveloping Writers: A Workshop for High School Teachers, workshop 6, “Providing Feedback on Student Writing,” shows teachers how to give feedback that helps students grow as writers. Create your own feedback form with the “Build a Rubric” interactive.

Habitable Planet, when used as a classroom resource, includes many topics that can inspire student writing. In unit 10, “Energy Challenges,” Professional Development Guide, essential questions, such as “What are the benefits and drawbacks of current energy sources?”, serve as great prompts for students to access prior knowledge and for you to assess what they have learned after the lesson. 

More resources for teacher writing:

News Writing
Includes tips from well known writers such as Dave Barry and Bob Woodward.

Teaching Math: Grades 3-5, session 2, “Communication
Students use writing to expand their understanding of mathematical concepts.
                                                          of a Story
                                                          interactiveSocial Studies in Action: A Methodology Workshop K-5, session 5, “Using Resources” 
Kindergarteners write advertisements after reading a book on making pasta.

Literature” interactive
What makes a good short story?

Elements of a Story” interactive for elementary students

Current Events

Exchange Rates and the Euro

During Thanksgiving week, the New York Times posted an article titled “Credit Risks in Europe Push Stocks Downward.”  Why does the global market spook our economy and cause these dramatic slides? In unit 28, “Exchange Rates,” of Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition, learn how the U.S. and global economies are interconnected. The video shows how the current economic turbulence in the Euro zone, particularly Italy, Portugal, and Greece, puts stress on the value of the Euro and the global stock market. 

Failure of the Super Committee to Reach Consensus

Economics U$ASolve the U.S. debt crisis. If you were part of the congressional super committee, what programs would you trim to reduce the federal deficit? Understand the process by completing the “Control the U.S. Debt!” interactive on Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition.

Personal Responsibility: The Penn State Scandal

News of the child sex-abuse allegations and response from the athletic staff and administration at Penn State have left a wake of shock, anger, and confusion. The question of personal responsibility vs. moral judgment is an age-old dilemma that resurfaces throughout history. Teachers can use history, literature, and social psychology to examine the question, and lead a discussion on how their students might and should react in a similar circumstance.

In Teaching ‘The Children of Willesden Lane,’ program 11, “Upstanders and Bystanders,” a class explores the difference between being a “bystander” who chooses to look the other way and an “upstander” who witnesses a wrongdoing and speaks up, regardless of the consequences. The 8th graders examine these choices in the context of their lives, history, and the memoir with Jewish persecution as a backdrop. 


                                                          to World
                                                          LiteratureThe Bhagavad Gita,” from Invitation to World Literature relates the conflict of warrior-prince Arjuna as he weighs the requirements of duty with his moral principles. 

Each of us thinks we know what we would do in the situation of the Penn State staff and administrators, but research into human behavior tells a different story. Watch “The Power of the Situation,” program 19 from Discovering Psychology, to see how good people can be influenced to do bad things. 

Connecting Learning with Special Days

NAFTA Signed (December 8, 1993)

Power of
                                                          PlaceThe Power of Place: Geography for the 21st Century
, unit 9, “Latin America,” program 21, “Population Geography,” explores the reasons why people migrate within Mexico and north to the United States. Debate the pros and cons of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after watching this video segment. 

Learn how international trade agreements such as NAFTA are increasingly becoming important tools for foreign policy in the series Democracy in America, program 15, “Global Politics: U.S.A. and the World.”

Wounded Knee Massacre (December 29, 1890)

In the late 1800s, a Paiute man named Wovoka fell ill with scarlet fever and awakened with visions of a new peaceful world for the Sioux and an apocalyptic ending for the European invaders. He spread the prophecies by way of Ghost Dance songs, making U.S. officials nervous. These tensions culminated in the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. See connections between history and literature such as “Black Elk Speaks” in American Passages, unit 1, “Native Voices.” 

A Biography of America, program 16, “The West,” details the struggles, including the Wounded Knee massacre, Native Americans faced in the 1800s when they tried to hold onto their culture and their land.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” Opens on Broadway (December 3, 1947)

In American Passages, unit 13, “Southern Renaissance,” get ideas for activities your students can do together as they read “A Streetcar Named Desire,” written by Tennessee Williams. Help students move beyond their gut reactions to characters Blanche and Stanley by using discussion questions provided. 

Mayflower Docks in Plymouth Harbor (December 18, 1620)

Learn how early European settlers, Puritans and Quakers, envisioned their missions and their relationship to Native Americans by watching American Passages, unit 3, “Utopian Promise.” Authors featured in this unit include William Penn, Anne Bradstreet, and Samson Occom. 

                                                          of AmericaA Biography of America, program 2, “English Settlement,” explores how the American character evolved from very distinct settlements in New England and Virginia. The program describes several settlements, including the Pilgrims’ arrival by the Mayflower in Plymouth in 1620.

Spiritual Literacy Month
December, a time of holidays and observances of different faiths and cultural traditions, is also Spiritual Literacy Month. Religion is in the political news with a Mormon presidential candidate. Broadening our understanding of religions and cultures from around the world and throughout history can give us a better understanding of students’ diverse backgrounds and help us promote respect in our classrooms. The following resources at Learner.org can help:

In program 8, "Celebrations of Light," of Social Studies in Action: A Teaching Practices Library, K-12, watch as Eileen Mesmer teaches her young students the traditions of St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucia Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa and correlates these traditions to a Cherokee legend about the winter solstice.

                                                          The Children
                                                          of Willesden
In "A First Impression of Judaism," of Teaching ‘The Children of Willesden Lane,’ Rabbi Meir Feldman introduces a 6th grade class to Jewish spirituality before they read the memoir.

High school students compare Japanese and U.S. New Year's celebrations in program 22, “Happy New Year!” of Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

More resources related to spirituality and cultural practices around the world:

The Western Tradition, program 29, “The Wars of Religion” (development of European spirituality)

Art of the Western World, program 2, “A White Garment of Churches—Romanesque and Gothic”

                                                          World HistoryBridging World History, unit 5, “Early Belief Systems” (Shinto, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and the ethical and philosophical codes of Confucius and Greek thinkers)

Bridging World History, unit 7, “The Spread of Religions” (Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam) 

Artifacts & Fiction, unit 8, "Ceremonial Artifacts" (Native American culture) 

Out of the Past, program 7, "The Spirit World" (ancient Maya)

Notable December Birthdays

                                                          DickinsonEmily Dickinson (December 10, 1830)   

Emily Dickinson’s training in science is evident in her poetic observations and experimental attitude. To learn about this self-isolated woman and hear dramatic readings of her poetry, see Voices and Visions, program 3, “Emily Dickinson.”

Woodrow Wilson  (December 28, 1856)

Discover what made Woodrow Wilson, known also as “The Minister,” a powerful president in the early 20th century. See how he examined and acted on his beliefs in A Biography of America, program 18, “TR and Wilson.”

Rudyard Kipling  (December 30, 1865)

Uncover the historical significance of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” in America’s History in the Making, unit 16, “A Growing Global Power.”

Annenberg Learner Announcements

                                                          U$AHave you seen our most recent courses yet?

Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections looks at research from the field of the mind, brain, and education and its implications for K-12 classroom teachers. 

Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition brings this popular course up to date with new stories and interviews on current economics topics including the banking crisis and federal deficits.

Print Catalog

To request a copy of our Annenberg Learner main catalog or our subject catalogs in Science and Math, Humanities, Literature and Language Arts, and Social Studies, please send an email to order@learner.org. Be sure to include a mailing address in your request. Thank you!

Annenberg Foundation Update


Opening December 17, 2011, The Annenberg Space for Photography will present “Digital Darkroom, An Exploration of Altered Realities,” featuring the work of 17 artists from around the world. Compare their images created using Photoshop with more
traditional paintings and sculptures of dreamscapes and personal fantasies by past artists, from aboriginal artists to surrealists in program 2, “Dreams and Visions,” of Art Through Time

Keep up with news and information about the Annenberg Foundation by subscribing to one or more of the Foundation newsletters.

Distance Learning, Licensing, and Sales Update

                                                          ZimbardoUpcoming conferences:

NCSS: National Council for Social Studies, December 2-4, Washington, DC
Discovering Psychology host Philip Zimbardo will speak on Friday, December 2.

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