Annenberg Learner Update
      March 2014

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In the Spotlight for March

Curriculum Focus: The Arts: Visual Art

In the News
    Kindergarten Readiness Testing
Connecting Learning With Special Days
    National Women’s History Month
    Brain Awareness Week (March 10-16)
    National Wildlife Week (March 17-23)
    National Grammar Day (March 4)
    Pi Day (March 14)
    The Vernal Equinox (March 20)
Notable March Birthdays
    Leslie Marmon Silko (March 5, 1948)
    Philip Roth (March 19, 1933)
    Walt Whitman (March 31, 1819) 
    More March Birthdays
Annenberg Learner Announcements
    Upcoming Conferences
    New to Learner.org
    Graduate Credit and CEU Opportunity

Annenberg Foundation Update  

Curriculum Focus: The Arts: Visual Art

Arts in Every
                                              Classroom LibraryMost kids love to draw and paint. This month we’ll look at the visual arts in education on its own and as a support to learning in other disciplines.  For resources in music, check out the March 2013 update.

Houston kindergarten teacher John Sinnett uses his students’ drawings as a starting point for helping them plan their writing.  See his approach in “Writer’s Journal,” one of the classrooms in Teaching Reading K-2.  Read the article, “Drawing on Experience: Connecting Art and Language,” in the connections section for a discussion of these two modes of expression.

The Arts in Every Classroom: Video Library K-5 program “Teaching Visual Art” shows two teachers who structure their lessons to promote creative thinking.  “Visual art gives students a time to wind down and express themselves,” says 5th-grade teacher Pamela Mancini. See how her students develop visual literacy and analytic skills by comparing portraits from two eras.  Teacher MaryFrances Perkins aligns mask-making with academic subject matter, including vocabulary, social studies, and geometry. Children gain skills and confidence with the art form as they identify common characteristics of masks, and relate the shapes of eyes and noses to geometrical shapes they have learned.

Each of the eight programs in the high school professional development workshop The Art of Teaching the Arts includes a segment on visual arts. Explore the videos to see how good teaching not only promotes students’ artistic sensibilities, but also helps them become leaders, and fosters genuine communication and independence.

In the News

Kindergarten Readiness Testing

The Whole ChildValerie Strauss of the The Washington Post responded to an op-ed in The Oregonian, pointing out the problems with readiness testing in kindergarten.  (The Oregonian reported that tests show kids are not academically prepared to start kindergarten.)  Consider both sides of the debate as you watch children in preschool settings.  Are they playing or learning, or both?

The Whole Child: A Caregiver’s Guide to the First Five Years, program, “Creativity and Play,” explains the importance of providing young children time to think creatively and express themselves. By nurturing children's creativity, we foster emotional growth in children. At this age, children also grow intellectually by learning new ways to think through ideas and solve problems.

Literacy development does not have to be separate from play time. Program 12, “Let’s Talk About It,” of The Whole Child, looks at the process of language acquisition. Watch children in a variety of early childhood programs practicing language skills as they play.

Professor Herbert Ginsburg of Columbia Teachers College observed the play of preschool children and found that they were building important mathematical understandings.  The documentary “Surprises in Mind” reveals students’ abilities to learn mathematical principles in surprising ways. (Segment starts at 9:30 into the video.)

Connecting Learning With Special Days

National Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment

Who comes to mind when you think of great women in history? Harriet Tubman? Sacajawea? Marie Curie? These women are certainly inspiring, and there are many more to be found in Learner.org in the arts, sciences, and across the disciplines. This month we’ll focus on women collectively as a force for positive change and add a few fictional women, as well. Check out the 2014 honorees who are women of character, courage, and commitment at the National Women’s History Project. You can also check on the progress of the proposed National Women’s History Museum. If you’re in the Los Angeles area on March 8, you can hear a panel discussion by four leading women in photography and journalism. Look for details in Annenberg Foundation Update below.

During the Industrial Revolution, labor for textile mills in the northeast was provided by young women working for low wages. Unit 3 of Primary Sources, “The Lowell System,” includes documents, personal narratives, and news items about this era of labor history. After watching the video lecture, use the linked documents and analysis questions with your students to determine if the Lowell system was a life-changing opportunity or a dead-end for women. This is an excellent exercise for Common Core skills of close reading and making an argument.

Bridging World
                                                    HistoryThe mothers of the “disappeared” or Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo protested relentlessly against the military junta that ruled Argentina in the 1970s. The military government had arrested, kidnapped, and murdered the sons and husbands of these women, who it deemed to be a threat. Watch the video (from 16:18 minutes on) of unit 23, “People Shape the World,” from Bridging World History to understand how a large number of committed individuals can face down a powerful government. Compare the actions of Las Madres to current protests from the Arab Spring and the Ukraine.

Although women have made economic strides in the workplace, their wages still lag behind those of their male counterparts. The female clerical workers of Colorado Springs, CO campaigned in 1980s for comparable wages for comparable work, and fought the battle using statistics. Watch the video module, “Measures of Center,” from the new Against All Odds to see how using numbers to back up your argument can carry the day.

Get to know Raquel Rodriguez, Mireille Bellieu, and Rebecca Casey, three women who take risks and seek answers in Annenberg Learner’s language learning series, Destinos: Introduction to Spanish; French in Action; and Connect with English.  Check out the online practice Web sites for Destinos and Connect with English and help Raquel and Rebecca find answers to family mysteries.

Brain Awareness Week (March 10-16)

                                                    PsychologyBrain Awareness Week, organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience, promotes the public health and personal benefits of brain research. The following resources from Learner.org offer intriguing insights into the brain and the mind. Resources help you teach about this organ and explore how brains work to help you maximize students’ learning potential.

In Discovering Psychology, program 3, “The Behaving Brain,” neuroscientists study abnormal brain functions related to amnesia in order to determine normal brain patterns. Also try the Human Brain interactive to test your knowledge of the brain’s role in human activity.

The brain can be incredibly resilient. For example, many children born with hydrocephalus, a childhood disorder of excess fluid in the brain, can lead normal lives. Discover how in module 7, “Brain Anomaly and Plasticity: Hydrocephalus,” from The Brain: Teaching Modules.

The series Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections shares what brain research tells us about learning. For example, in unit 5, “Building New Neural Networks,” Harvard professor Kurt Fischer describes the plasticity of the brain and how to incorporate new concepts into neural networks. 

More resources for Brain Awareness Week:

Discovering Psychology, program 4, “The Responsive Brain” and program 13, “The Mind Awake and Asleep

Rediscovering Biology, unit 10, “Neurobiology

The Mind: Teaching Modules

National Wildlife Week (March 17-23)

Time to get out the waders, but don’t get too close to the wildlife! The theme for this year’s National Wildlife Week is “Wildlife and Water: From the mountains to the rivers to the oceans.” Help your students appreciate the relationship between water and animals using the following Learner.org resources:

Journey NorthWander over to the Journey North Web site to safely observe grizzly bears in the natural Alaskan habitat on the Explore.org live cams. Grizzlies depend on rivers for their food source. The accompanying viewers guide provides activities to turn your students into observant citizen scientists.

Journey North also introduces students to the wet world of Gray Whales, who make one of the longest mammal migrations on earth. Students can see photos, track migrations throughout the year, and connect the whales’ migration to the theme of seasonal cycles.

Dive into The Habitable Planet, unit 3, section 6, Biological Activity in the Upper Ocean, to learn about microbes called phytoplankton, whose precarious relationship with the oceans where they live can cause population blooms that can be harmful to humans.

For resources for National Grammar Day (March 4), Pi Day (March 14), and The Vernal Equinox (March 20), see the March 2013 update.

Notable March Birthdays

The following March birthday celebrants encourage social studies and literature students to examine different views of the American identity, and the values and challenges of living in a multicultural society.

Leslie Marmon Silko (March 5, 1948)

                                                    PassagesLeslie Marmon Silko believes that the art of storytelling, passed down through generations of Native American people, is an important part of Natives’ identity. Her novel Ceremony challenges readers to understand that change can be empowering and that individuals can have more than one cultural identity. Watch  American Passages, unit 1, “Native Voices.” Start at 18:22 in the video.

Find a lesson plan for Ceremony by humanities teacher Sharon Madison in In Search of the Novel. Students read and understand the novel in the context of a monomyth, or hero’s journey. The protagonist Tayo, of mixed heritage, returns home after fighting in World War II and struggles to find peace among other Native American veterans. From the lesson plan page, click on links to Silko’s biographical information and works.

Philip Roth (March 19, 1933)

Older students can explore the theme of American identity through authors of the 1950s and ‘60s. American Passages, unit 14, “Becoming Visible,” features writer Philip Roth, who explored morality related to the Jewish identity and sexual identity. Shuffle to 11:06 in video.

Unit 16, “Search for Identity,” Author Activities includes a discussion comparing narratives of Leslie Feinberg's gender identity and Roth's Jewish American identity.

Walt Whitman (March 31, 1819)

Voices and
                                                    VisionsWalt Whitman redefined American poetic identity by breaking away from tradition and creating his own style of free verse. Voices and Visions, program 12, includes a video on his life and works and links to his poems and related resources. Please note, this program contains nude images that might not be appropriate for all students. Please preview video before showing in the classroom.

Whitman introduced this new poetic voice in Leaves of Grass, which he self-published in 1855. Whitman’s upbringing did not foreshadow his future as a revolutionary poet. He nursed wounded soldiers in the Civil War and wrote about the experience and about President Abraham Lincoln. Learn more in American Passages, unit 5, “Masculine Heroes.”

For additional birthdays in March, including Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and René Descartes, see the March 2013 update.

Annenberg Learner Announcements

Visit Annenberg Learner at Upcoming National Conferences

Join us at upcoming education conferences to learn about our professional development and classroom resources for ESOL, math, and science. We look forward to talking with you.

TESOL 2014 International Convention and English Language Expo, March 26-29, Portland, OR, booth 312.  We’ll highlight our new Web site to accompany the Connect with English series.

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), April 3-6, Boston, MA, booth 702. We’ll premiere our new course Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions.

NSTA Sessions:
Literacy in Science and Science in Reading: A Two-Way Street
Friday, April 4 3:30–4:30 PM
Seaport Hotel, Lighthouse I
For middle and high school teachers. Professor Diane Lapp will present guidance on building student literacy in complex and discipline-based texts using video examples from an upcoming resource for science teachers.

Untidy Science: Learning About the Nature of Science from Scientists in Nature
Sunday, April 6 9:30–10:30 AM
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, 158
For elementary teachers. Witness the nature of science through video case studies of working scientists. Participants will be guided on how to use them in their classrooms.
Presenter(s): Alex Griswold (Harvard-Smithsonian CFA: Cambridge, MA);

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), April 9-12, New Orleans, LA, booth 1031. 
Come and check out the updated Against All Odds with an accompanying Web site.

New to Learner.org

New! Learner Express: English Language Arts multicultural modules present a diverse group of writers correlated to the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts. Writers include Christopher Paul Curtis, Edwidge Danticat, and Laurence Yep.

                                                          Language Arts

Connect with English Web Site

Our Connect with English series, for English as a second language instruction, now has a Web site with grammar, dictation, and comprehension activities and quizzes to go along with the series videos.

Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions

Check out our new course Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions online. Produced by the Science Media Group of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, this course teaches general concepts using large-scale challenges in energy, materials development, biochemistry, and the environment. This multimedia course for introductory high school and college chemistry includes a Web site, online interactives, and online text. To purchase a DVD copy of the videos with a bonus disc of lab demonstrations, call 800-LEARNER. 

Graduate Credit and CEU Opportunities

Teachers, are you looking for affordable and flexible professional development opportunities? We can help. Advance your career, sharpen your teaching skills, and update content knowledge in the subjects you teach. Graduate credit and CEU opportunities for Annenberg Learner courses are offered through PBS TeacherLine and Colorado State University. Please check out our Web site's professional development page to learn more. You can register for credit or CEUs to be earned this summer beginning March 15th.

Print Catalog

For a copy of our full catalog, send an email to [email protected]. Be sure to include a mailing address in your request. Thank you!

Annenberg Foundation Update

On March 8, International Women’s Day, the Annenberg Space for Photography hosts a free panel discussion by photographers and journalists Penelope Spheeris, Margaret Aguirre, Mireya Mayor, and Marissa Roth. The event takes place at Skylight Studios beginning at 7 p.m. Register for free tickets (while they last). 

                                                          Women's Day

A few of us at the Learner office recently got a chance to see the beautiful and inspiring exhibit The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. If you are in the LA area, stop by this exhibit before it closes April 27th. Admission is free. Click on the education link in the top right corner of the page if you are interested in bringing students.

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

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