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*** In the Spotlight for February ***


      Journey North Begins Spring Investigations

      2011 Heineman Prize for Astrophysics to Robert Kirshner

      New Dinosaur Species Discovered

      Aftermath of Arizona Shooting

      Curriculum Focus: Music

      Annenberg Foundation Update

      Connecting Learning with Special Days

            International Year of Chemistry

            Black History Month

            Abraham Lincoln's Birthday (February 12)

            George Washington's Birthday (February 22)

            Other Notable February Birthdays

   Distance Learning, Licensing, and Sales Update

            Amazon Reseller Alert






Journey North Begins Spring Investigations


February 2, Groundhog Day kicks off the new season of Journey North, the online investigation of seasonal change. More than 900,000 students across the continent at more than 40,000 sites take part in activities like the Mystery Class, in which they observe and measure changes in the sun's photoperiod through late April in a global challenge.  Students get weekly clues to locate 10 mystery locations around the globe by tracking each location's daily change in photoperiod. At the end of the 11-week contest, classes submit their lists based on careful data analysis and learn how close they were to the actual sites.  This and several other engaging and educational activities show students the reasons for the seasons.



2011 Heineman Prize for Astrophysics to Robert Kirshner


kirshner.gifThe 2011 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics (awarded jointly by the American Astronomical Society and the American Institute of Physics) was given in January to Robert P. Kirshner of Harvard for his sustained and enduring contributions to our understanding of supernovae and cosmology.  Professor Kirshner authored the text chapter on dark energy for the Annenberg Learner course Physics for the 21st Century.  In this program, he examines two major questions in contemporary physics and cosmology: What is the universe made of? How has dark energy shaped our universe?



New Dinosaur Species Discovered


Last month scientists discovered skeletons of a new species of dinosaur in Argentina -- the deadly, dog-size Eodromaeus. It's believed to be an early ancestor of the larger theropods (meaning "beast footed"), such as Tyrannosaurus rex.  The skeletons, dated at 230 million years old, provide further evidence that theropod dinosaurs evolved into today's birds.  For context on this new discovery view The Habitable Planet online text, unit 1, "Many Planets, One Earth." It discusses the Triassic period, which saw the evolution of the first birds from dinosaurs. See a model of one of the transitional species with both avian and dinosaur features.


Rediscovering Biology, unit 3, "Evolution and Phylogenetics" provides a history of taxonomy and advances in classification and comparative biology in the online textbook.

It explains how DNA and genomic evidence help biologists connect living species to ancient ancestors.



Aftermath of Arizona Shooting


The recent shooting at a Tucson political rally left six people dead and many others critically injured, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. This event has prompted a national discussion about a range of issues including civility in politics, Constitutional rights, and how people with mental health problems are dealt with in the justice system. Annenberg Learner provides resources to better understand the ramifications of the event and to prepare for discussions of these important topics in civics, history, and psychology classes.




Find out how to moderate discussions about controversial topics with a lesson plan from the workshop series Making Civics Real. Unit 7, "Controversial Public Policy Issues," includes a lesson on civil discourse.


As a background resource, look at Democracy in America. Program 2, "The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?" presents the contrasting views of the Constitution through the ages. From the course Web site, download the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution and its amendments.


This and other public shootings have fueled the debate about gun control. The Constitution: That Delicate Balance includes a fascinating discussion between politicians, judges, and philosophers about the second amendment in program 9, "School Prayer, Gun Control, and the Right to Assemble."




Several Annenberg Learner resources in psychology help us understand criminal behavior, violence, and aggression.  The World of Abnormal Psychology looks at how people diagnosed with psychological disorders behave, using case studies and commentary from experts.


Discovering Psychology examines how beliefs and behaviors can be manipulated by others in program 19, "The Power of the Situation."


In The Brain: Teaching Modules, module 24 looks specifically at "Aggression, Violence, and the Brain."


The Arizona event has brought renewed interest in the insanity defense, which was tightened significantly after John Hinckley Jr. was acquitted of charges of the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Look again at The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, where program 5, "Crime and Insanity," uses a hypothetical, but very similar, case to discuss the insanity plea from the standpoint of philosophers, judges, and politicians.



Focus on Music


dancers.gifOn February 3, 1959, 23-year-old singer and songwriter Buddy Holly died in an airplane crash; on February 7, 1964, the Beatles arrived for their first U.S. tour. In recognition of these two notable February events in contemporary U.S. music history, this month we're highlighting the rich collection of resources for teaching and appreciating music, including courses for high school teachers, and professional development resources for K-12 teachers.



High School


Exploring the World of Music gives you and your students a global musical perspective, and shows how elements such as rhythm, melody, and texture create a variety of sounds and also express culture.


The professional development workshop, The Art of Teaching the Arts, examines how principles of good teaching are applied to teaching the arts, showing examples from music classrooms in each program.


Explore the connections between mathematics and music in Mathematics Illuminated, program 10, "Harmonius Math" and the accompanying text chapter online. Then use the interactive, which simulates the correlation of a metronome's ticking to a sine wave.


For a fascinating exploration of the physics of music, view The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond, program 16, "Harmonic Motion."


Middle and High School


The Children of Willesden Lane is the true story of pianist Lisa Jura, who traveled to London through the Kindertransport to escape Nazi persecution. Teaching the Children of Willesden Lane provides teachers with video and curriculum resources to discuss the book, as well as classical music selections performed by Lisa's daughter and the book's author, Mona Golabek.


English language learners can improve their language comprehension with Connect with English. The course highlights the story of Rebecca Casey, a young woman who dreams of becoming a songwriter and travels across the country to pursue that goal.


Teaching Foreign Languages: A Library K-12 features several classrooms that incorporate music into language learning. Look at the following programs to find musical connections: "Chicken Pox" (French, kindergarten); "A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco" (French, grade 8); "Music and Manuscripts" (Latin, high school); and "Routes to Culture" (Spanish, high school).


Connecting with the Arts: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers shows teachers why and how to integrate the arts (music, dance, theater, visual arts) with other subjects.  In program 5, "Making Connections," a band teacher coordinates with a social studies teacher to connect a unit on World War II with military band music.  Also check out the coordinated teaching practices library for more classroom footage.


Grades K-5


The Arts in Every Classroom: A Workshop for Elementary Teachers and its coordinated library of classroom videos follows a group of teachers as they explore the nature of music, theater, dance and visual arts. and



Annenberg Foundation Update


The Annenberg Space for Photography, located in Los Angeles, is presenting Extreme Exposure through April 17, 2011. This group exhibit celebrates five photographers -- Clyde Butcher, Michael Nichols, Paul Nicklen, and Donna and Stephen O'Meara -- who thrive in environments that few dare to explore, braving dangerous conditions in order to capture rarely seen moments in the life of our planet.  Learn more about the Space, the current and future exhibitions, or view digital versions of the exhibition.







International Year of Chemistry


Industry and professional associations throughout the world are celebrating the International Year of Chemistry in 2011. You can use Annenberg Learner resources to highlight aspects of the history of chemical discoveries and modern breakthroughs at all grade levels of science.


High School


The World of Chemistry, one of our most popular series, connects laws and theories to practical applications.  Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman guides viewers through intricacies of molecules and forces, while demonstrator Dr. Don Showalter shares his excitement for powerful chemical reactions from the lab bench.


The Habitable Planet, an environmental science course for high school teachers, helps teachers of chemistry, biology and Earth science provide more content in your classrooms.


Reactions in Chemistry is a professional development workshop for chemistry and physical science teachers that combines chemistry content, history and technological applications in lessons for high school teachers.


Grades K-6


Chemistry related topics are also taught in middle school and elementary classrooms. Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science, program 4, "Chemical Changes and Conservation of Matter," includes a look back at the history of chemistry.  Shedding Light on Science, unit 5, "Sunlight to Starch," looks at the often misunderstood chemical process of photosynthesis.



Black History Month


The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has chosen the theme, African Americans and the Civil War for 2011.  Be sure to watch program 11, "The Civil War," from our American history course, A Biography of America. It explains how the Emancipation Proclamation allowed for more than 180,000 African Americans to serve in the Union Army.  The newly-formed black units were especially effective against the Confederate Army in battles of the pivotal Vicksburg campaign.



Lincoln's Birthday (February 12)


The Web site for the high school course American Passages offers a biographical sketch of President Lincoln as an author. Search the archive to find photos and portraits of President Lincoln, as well as other Lincoln-related artifacts.

Who freed the slaves? This question is asked and answered in Primary Sources: Workshops in American History (for high school teachers) workshop 4, "Concerning Emancipation."  Much of the focus is on Lincoln, who played a major role. Click on "Before You Watch" for links to several of Lincoln's speeches and letters.

See the Evaluating Evidence interactive on the Web site for America's History in the Making.  The interactive features Lincoln's first and second inaugural addresses, the Gettysburg Address, the "House Divided" speech, and Lincoln's open letter to Horace Greely, as well as other artifacts from the era.

Washington's Birthday (February 22)

Explore units 4 and 6 of America's History in the Making to gain a better understanding of George Washington and his times. Link to an audio clip of a radio program about Washington and learn how he came to grant his enslaved workers their freedom upon his death. Also see this teaching unit on George Washington from the National Center for History in the Schools, which includes the first published account of the myth of Washington chopping down his father's cherry tree. 

Read George Washington's "Letter to Thomas Jefferson" in the readings for Democracy in America, unit 12.

"The Coming of Independence," program 4 of A Biography of America, looks at Washington's role in securing America's freedom from British rule. The next program in the course, "A New System of Government," looks at the earliest years of the American presidency.

The Western Tradition considers the meaning of Washington's presidency as it contrasts with the heredity-based monarchies of Europe in program 38, "The American Republic."



Other Notable February Birthdays


Susan B. Anthony - civil rights activist, suffragist (February 15, 1820)

American Passages: A Literary Survey

Democracy in America

Frédéric Chopin - composer, pianist (February 22, 1810)

Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane

Nicolaus Copernicus - astronomer (February 19, 1473)

The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond 

Earth Revealed


Charles Darwin — naturalist (February 12, 1809)

The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science
Rediscovering Biology: Molecular to Global Perspectives

Essential Science for Teachers: Life Science
Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology

Earth Revealed

Charles Dickens - writer, social critic (February 7, 1812)

In Search of the Novel

Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5

W.E.B. DuBois - civil rights activist, writer, editor, sociology professor (February 23, 1868)

A Biography of America

Democracy in America

Frederick Douglass -civil rights activist, writer, and social critic (February 14, 1818)

American Passages

Artifacts & Fiction

Primary Sources

Galileo Galilei - physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher (February 15, 1564)

Mathematics Illuminated

The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond  

Langston Hughes - poet, writer (February 1, 1902)
Voices & Visions 
Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8

Toni Morrison - writer, professor (February 18, 1931)

In Search of the Novel


Gertrude Stein — writer (February 3, 1874)

Art Through Time: A Global View

American Passages: A Literary Survey

Alice Walker - writer, feminist (February 9, 1944)

Conversations in Literature

Literary Visions



AMAZON RESELLER ALERT: Several individuals have contacted us recently asking us to track an order they made through Amazon.  The seller was listed as "AnnenbergCPB."   Please be aware that we do not offer our products for purchase through  This seller has no affiliation with us and we are working with Amazon to have the seller change its name on the Web site, and, if necessary, to remove the listing.   While it is legal for an individual to resell an original program that he or she purchased, it is NOT legal to make copies of that original program and resell the copies.   If you choose to purchase products originally sold by Annenberg Learner through Amazon, you may get a used product.  However, you run the risk of getting a poor quality bootleg copy or even no product at all; plus the headaches of trying to get a refund.  To ensure getting good quality materials, (that you can return if you are dissatisfied) order them through our phone sales 1-800-LEARNER (532-7637) or order online.


work_004.gifNOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE: Courseware content in (wmv) digital file format is an available purchase option through our shopping cart. Our top courses, including American Passages, Art of the Western World, Art Through Time, Destinos, Discovering Psychology, French in Action, The Habitable Planet, The Mechanical Universe, The Power of Place, and The Western Tradition are now available.  Look for a more extensive list by late spring 2011.


REMINDER: Winter/Spring term enrollment reports are now due.

FREE DISTANCE LEARNING LICENSE OPPORTUNITY!: For schools currently using Earth Revealed, Planet Earth, Unseen Life on Earth, we are offering a free semester to use The Habitable Planet. If you are using Mechanical Universe I or II, we are offering a free semester of Physics for the 21st Century. If you are using Literary Visions or Voices & Visions, we are offering a free semester of Invitation to World Literature. All of our new courses come with resources that may include the textbook, faculty guide, course reader, and related materials to enhance the learning experience at no additional cost. Email and request a free preview DVD that includes a series overview.

COORDINATED WEB SITE FOR DESTINOS: Travel the world with lawyer Raquel Rodríguez as she solves a mystery for a dying man. Watch the complete Destinos series, improve your comprehension, and find new resources for learning and teaching Spanish.

UPDATE IN PROGRESS: Economics U$A will have new content, a refreshed look and a full Web site, currently slated to premiere in fall 2011.

REMINDERS: Our distance learning license options have expanded to include our Professional Development collection. We now have more 100 courses and workshops and 1,500 individual programs for use within your course. Our licensing options are flexible to meet your needs: by the term, by the year, multi-year, or by the program.

VISIT: where you can sign up for our monthly newsletter, view our online VOD, and review our course related materials.  To request a free DVD preview for any of our series, find out more about our distance learning licensing and possibilities for you and your students, or schedule a virtual presentation for you or your faculty contact Nancy.


League for Innovation, February 27 - March 2, 2011, San Diego, CA

National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) — March 10-12, 2011, San Francisco, CA, Moscone Center, Booth 708.

USDLA, May 1-4, 2011, St. Louis, MO


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