Advance excellent teaching with Annenberg Learner.



*** In the Spotlight for January ***



New Homepage and Name


Notice anything new about us? We've amended our name slightly and updated our homepage. Beginning January 1, 2011 Annenberg Media will be known as Annenberg Learner.  Millions of visitors to our Web site,, and those who have called our 800 number already know us as "Learner," so it is the logical evolution of our name - like Federal Express moving to FedEx and National Public Radio to NPR. We've changed the name on the newly designed homepage of (check out our new look!) and we will add it to new and existing materials in the coming months. One thing will stay the same, however; we will continue to bring you excellent educational resources.


--Linking to Current Events

— Cyberwar Over Wikileaks

— Red Sea Shark Attacks

— Autobiography of Mark Twain

— Dylan Thomas Prize

— Focus on Geography


-- Connecting Learning with Special Days


— Martin Luther King Day (January 17)

— International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)

— Notable January Birthdays (Newton, Franklin, Poe)


-- Licensing and Sales Update





-- Cyberwar Over Wikileaks


As classified U.S. documents are released, the Wikileaks story has escalated, and now supporters of Wikileaks are launching cyber attacks on companies and Web sites of those who have taken steps to shut down the Wikileaks site.  This situation raises many questions about the freedom of the information vs national security, as well as protection of sources, and journalistic ethics. 


Annenberg Learner has excellent resources to use when discussing these important topics, including four courses for high school teachers and their students, and one professional development workshop for high school teachers.


Begin with two series produced by the Fred Friendly/Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society -- The Constitution: That Delicate Balance and the more recent Ethics in America II.  In The Constitution,  you'll find program 8 particularly relevant, "National Security and Freedom of the Press." Ethics, program 2, "War Stories: National Security and the News" uses a case study similar to the Wikileaks story to discuss journalists' responsibility to report the news and protect sources versus the potentially negative impact on government security. 


News Writing, a journalism and communications course covers a number of topics related to this story.  In program 1, "What is News?" reporters from several publications examine how journalists determine what the public needs to know. In the second half of program 5, "Dealing with Sources," journalists share their differing opinions on using off-the-record comments and anonymous sources.


Democracy in America, program 10, "Understanding Media," examines the power of the press and provides provocative discussion questions regarding access to classified material, press leaks, and anonymous sources.


In the professional development workshop, Making Civics Real, workshop 5 explores "Patriotism & Foreign Policy," and introduces a lesson from the Constitutional Rights Foundation to help you lead students through a very timely simulation entitled, "America Responds to Terrorism: Press Freedom versus Military Censorship."$1.html


-- Red Sea Shark Attack


Experts are investigating a series of shark attacks at a Red Sea resort in Eqypt that killed one tourist and badly injured four others. Neither of the two species of shark that were involved - oceanic whitetip and mako - are known for stalking and killing humans. Experts posit the  likely cause for the attacks is a disruption of the sharks' local environment. These events present the opportunity to discuss these fascinating creatures, using resources from our general science, physics, and environmental science resources. Teachers of grades K-6 can look at unit 6 of Essential Science for Teachers, which studies the evolution of vertebrates versus more primitive species such as sharks that have skeletons made of cartilage. Continuing with the theme of evolution, the online text for our Physics for the 21st Century, unit 6, "Biophysics," includes a discussion of the mechanics of the evolutionary principle of na!

 tural selection by examining shark cartilage. Compared to other species, sharks are an "evolution dead-end," because they've evolved little in 300 million years.

In the environmental science course, The Habitable Planet, unit 9 looks at the mass extinctions of species, both due to natural and human causes. Read an interview with Jeremy Jackson, professor of Oceanography at the University of San Diego, who discusses his research about the degradation of marine ecosystems. Read an interview with Daniel Pauly, director of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, whose research focuses on the future of global marine ecosystems.


-- Autobiography of Mark Twain


Mark Twain dictated a lengthy memoir in the last years of his life.  Even though parts of the work have been published before -- including some by Twain himself -- the first of a three-volume uncensored edition was published in November on the 100th anniversary of his death, as he stipulated. For a comprehensive look at Twain, his times, and his work, go to the course, American Passages: A Literary Survey, unit 8 "Regional Realism." Be sure to link to the Mark Twain activities for teaching tips, author questions, and selected readings.


-- Dylan Thomas Prize


A young U.S. poet, Elyse Fenton, is the third winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for her collection of poetry inspired by her correspondence with her husband serving in Iraq. Learn more about the man behind the prize with two literature resources.  For teachers grades 6-12, look at the Conversations in Literature professional development workshop, unit 6, "Objectifying the Text," where you'll read one of his most popular and moving poems. In the course, American Passages, unit 15, "Poetry of Liberation," discusses the Beat Generation and the influence of such writers as Dylan Thomas on those poets.


-- Focus on Geography


Annenberg Learner has a rich collection of resources for teaching geography at all grade levels. Not only do they provide you and your students with a global perspective, they also cover many of the important issues that are in the news year around: immigration, the environment, ethnic and racial tensions, economics and health.


Grades 7-12

Teaching Geography is a workshop for grades 7-12 teachers that provides geography content and inquiry teaching strategies as outlined in the National Geography Standards.


Grades 6-8

Unit 17 from Social Studies in Action: K-12 Library, "Exploring Geography Through African History," helps you teach this large and culturally diverse continent while highlighting several NCSS standards-based themes.


Grades K-5

The Arts in Every Classroom: A Video Library K-5, unit 3, features a class learning West African dance as part of a school-wide unit on Africa.  They study maps, as well as the cultural context of the dance and its rhythms.


High School

The Power of Place: Geography for the 21st Century includes 50 case studies in 36 different countries presented using interviews, video footage, maps, animations, and academic commentary.


Human Geography: People, Places and Change features governments and communities around the world that are grappling with major socioeconomic change.


Artifacts and Fiction: Workshop in American Literature devotes unit 6  to "Cultural Geography," and illustrates how teachers can use geographic artifacts (photos, maps, illustrations) to help students better understand the spaces represented in literary texts, such as "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros.


Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers features a lesson on civics in a human geography class. Here, students become engaged with their community to find a solution to a local problem, combining academic learning and civic responsibility.






-- Martin Luther King Day (January 17)


"Egalitarian America," unit 20 of America's History in the Making, looks at the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. from the 1940s to the 1970s. Be sure to fully explore the unit's rich video, audio, and text resources.


Look back at the social movements of the 1960s and the work of Dr. King with A Biography of America program 24, "The Sixties."  This program covers King's leadership in both the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War protest.


View a picture of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom from the American Passages archive.


Grades 6-8

Find an engaging lesson for teaching the book "The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963" by Christopher Paul Curtis. Look at workshop 5 of Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades, and another lesson on the same novel in Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8.


Grades K-5

In Social Studies in Action: A Teaching Practices Library, K-12, elementary teacher Cynthia Vaughn shows how the concepts of equality and fairness can be incorporated into a general social studies lesson in the session "Leaders, Community, and Citizens." The session "Unity and Diversity" introduces ways of teaching students to overcome their differences and develop a sense of community.


Observe teachers introducing their 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-grade students to literature about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement in Engaging with Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5 in two programs "Building Community," and "Finding Common Ground."


-- International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)


After viewing Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane, students will gain a personal connection to the implications of the Nazi Holocaust through the lessons developed by Facing History and Ourselves. Resources include classroom videos, historical notes, a downloadable guide, musical selections, and more.


A Biography of America program 22, "World War II," offers a broad overview of the historical context of the Holocaust.


History professor Eugen Weber, host of The Western Tradition, considers the role of nationalism and ideology in the genocide of World War II in program 48, "The Second World War." For more background on the subject,  see the preceding program, "The First World War and the Rise of Fascism."


In Death: A Personal Understanding program 3, "Facing Mortality," Ibi Gabori, a woman who lost her family in the Holocaust, recounts her own experience in the Auschwitz death camp. To view the segment about Ms. Gabori, forward to 10 minutes into the program.


Grades 6-8

"Finding Your Voice," program 12 of Connecting with the Arts: A Teaching Practices Library, 6-8, features an 8th-grade interdisciplinary visual art unit on the theme of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the Holocaust.

Click on "Additional Resources" for links to the lesson outline and an overview in PDF format.


-- Notable January Birthdays


Isaac Newton (January 4,1643, per the modern calendar) is the subject of program 6 in The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond, "Newton's Laws." In our newest physics course, Physics for the 21st Century, Newton is discussed in the video and online text in unit 3, "Gravity." 

Look at Mathematics Illuminated where Newton is discussed in the context of "Concepts of Chaos," program 13. 


Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706) is featured in Biography of America's program 3, "Growth and Empire."  Be sure to visit the Web site for links to additional materials about his life and writings. Franklin's autobiography is discussed in program 4 of American Passages, "Spirit of Nationalism."


Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809) is cited in American Passages, unit 6, "Gothic Undercurrents." Among the Web resources you'll find biography of Poe, teaching tips and discussion questions on his works, and bibliography of critical analyses. In Artifacts & Fiction, a workshop for high school teachers, view a 19th century drawing of the room described in Poe's "The Raven," and read how he used architecture to set the scene for his dark stories. In Conversations in Literature, a workshop for middle and high school teachers, program 2, "Envisioning," includes an activity based on Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher."


***Licensing and Sales Update ***


FREE Distance Learning License opportunity! For schools currently using Earth Revealed, Planet Earth, or 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.


NEW: The coordinated Web site for Destinos, one of our most popular courses. 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.


NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE: Courseware content in digital file format as an additional purchase option through our shopping cart. Our top courses are now available.  Look for an extended list by late spring 2011.


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. 


Winter/Spring term enrollment reports are now due.


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, or to find out more about our distance learning licensing and possibilities for you and your students, contact Nancy at



American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), January 9-11, Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel, Jacksonville, FL. Visit us at booth 216 and pick up a preview disc from our newest resource, Physics for the 21st Century.


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


USDLA, May 1-4, 2011, St. Louis, MO,


Joanne Grason,

Nancy Williams,


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