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Annenberg Learner Update
September 2011

Advance excellent teaching with Annenberg Learner.

In the Spotlight for September

Curriculum Focus: Developing Communication and Collaboration Skills

Current Events
    Salmonella Outbreaks
    Cyber Hacking
    Hurricane Season

Connecting Learning with Special Days
    Constitution Day (September 17)
    Their Eyes Were Watching God published (September 18, 1937)
    National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15)

Notable September Birthdays
    Upton Sinclair (September 20, 1878)
    T.S. Eliot (September 26, 1888)
    Enrico Fermi (September 29, 1901)

Annenberg Learner Announcements
    NEW! Neuroscience and Economics
    Print Catalog and Social Media
    Monthly Update Feedback
    California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum
    Journey North

Annenberg Foundation Update

Distance Learning Update

Curriculum Focus: 21st Century Skills - Communication and Collaboration Skills

Teaching Foreign
                                            Languages K-12The Partnership for 21st Century Skills offers explanations of the skills students need to be successful beyond high school. Throughout the school year, we will feature some of these skills in the monthly Curriculum Focus, along with our regular subject area focuses. This month the focus is on developing communication and collaboration skills.  Teachers from all discipline areas can find topics and activities that encourage students to work together, and to debate and discuss issues big and small in following resources:  

Elementary/Student Collaboration in Reading Circles

In Engaging with Literature: A video library grades 3-5, program 6, "Building Community," Latosha Rowley facilitates reading groups of 4th and 5th graders to learn to hold meaningful discussions. "[They have to] appreciate and accept other people's opinions and ideas, and at this age that's a challenge," she says. 

Middle and High School/Student Collaboration in Foreign Languages

In Teaching Foreign Languages K-12, "Politics of Art," students read a letter written by prominent Colombian artists and intellectuals to Spain's prime minister protesting a new policy requiring Colombians to obtain a visa to enter Spain. Students research individual artists' backgrounds and role-play them in a debate in Spanish about whether they should accept an invitation to an art exhibit in Spain.  In Russian, "Russian Cities, Russian Stories," advanced language students read an article and debate the role of Vladimir Putin in Russian history. 

High School/Student Collaboration in Social Studies

Do student drug tests reduce drug use? Do they violate students' rights?  Democracy in America, program 4, "Civil Liberties: Safeguarding the Individual," discusses colliding rights. The 2nd segment of the video, "The Fourth Amendment and Student Drug Tests: The Case of Lindsay Earls," follows a high-schooler who went to court contending she should not have to submit to drug testing in order to participate in her school chorus. The lesson includes discussion questions that serve as great examples for developing communication and debate skills.

Current Events

Rediscovering BiologyLiving with Microbes such as Salmonella

Make sure you wash that apple off before you eat it. Cook that hamburger thoroughly. Chop your chicken and vegetables on separate boards. Preventing Salmonella poisoning seems simple enough, yet we still have outbreaks. This year, Salmonella poisoning outbreaks have been caused by foods such as alfalfa sprouts, ground turkey, and cantaloupe. Explore the complex relationship between humans and microbes, including pathogens such as Salmonella.

In unit 12, "Microbes and Human Diseases," of Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology, the video explains our relationship with microbes, both good and bad, and explains how factors such as wars, famine, and changes in microbes themselves affect this relationship. 

Read an interview with Dr. Stuart Levy about how bacteria such as Salmonella can become drug resistant in Rediscovering Biology, unit 13, "Genetically Modified Organisms."

Cyber Hacking and Prime Numbers

Cyber hacking is a new reality. This year hackers have infiltrated organizations such as the United Nations, the Bay Area Rapid Transportation system (BART), and Google. How do data security experts keep information safe from hackers?

In Mathematics Illuminated, unit 1, "The Primes," you will learn how prime numbers are used in modern data encryption so that information may be sent securely when using the Internet. See 1.6,"Encryption" and 1.7, "RSA Encryption."

It's Hurricane Season
Habitable Planet
Do your students understand the difference between climate and weather? The Habitable Planet, unit 2, "Atmosphere," section 7, "Climate, Weather, and Storms" can help. The online text includes a labeled diagram of hurricane wind patterns.

Constitution Day (September 17)

Democracy in AmericaOn Constitution and Citizenship Day, September 17, the U.S. celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. In 2004, a law was passed establishing the holiday that honors both the signing of the Constitution and all individuals who have become citizens, whether born in the U.S. or by naturalization.

Here are some Annenberg Learner resources about the Constitution:
In the series The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, distinguished personalities in government, media, and law discuss constitutional issues such as criminal justice, personal freedoms, and presidential elections.
In Democracy in America, program 2, "The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?" topics presented include different interpretations of the Constitution and the relationship between the President and Congress when creating laws. 

More resources about the United States Constitution and citizenship:

Ethics in America
Ethics in America II
Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers
A Biography of America, program 5, "A New System of Government"
The Western Tradition: Program 5, "The Rise of Greek Civilization,"
program 6, "Greek Thought," program 37, "The American Revolution," and
program 38, "The American Republic."
American Passages archives. Search "Constitution" and other key terms.  

Other Annenberg Resources for Constitution Day
The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands was established by the Annenberg Foundation to advance public understanding and appreciation for democracy and to address serious issues facing the country and the world. Among its many activities, the Sunnylands Trust creates and distributes print, online, and video materials on the Constitution for use on Constitution Day in September and beyond. To use these resources, visit the Sunnylands' Constitution Project's site for teachers, Sunnylands Classroom.
More free video programs and other materials for your Constitution Day events can be found on the Annenberg Classroom Web site.

Zora Neale Hurston's
Their Eyes Were Watching God

American PassagesOn September 18, 1937, Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was published. The writer was a major voice in the early 20th century when the South was struggling with social change, but many of her peers, including Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, were critics of her work. Learn how her treatment of the African-American experience in the early 20th century differed from other writers' portrayal in American Passages, unit 13, "Southern Renaissance."

National Hispanic Heritage Month
(September 15 - October 15)

The Expanding CanonNational Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of Hispanic Americans.  Please take a look at the following resources to share more about Hispanic Americans with your students:

Pat Mora, a writer and activist from Texas and descendent of Mexican grandparents, works to preserve and celebrate Mexican American literature. Her work is featured in session 1 of The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School.  More Hispanic writers are featured throughout the program. 

In Biography of America, program 26, "The Redemptive Imagination," watch Esmeralda Santiago join in the discussion about the role of storytelling in creating identity. She explains what compelled her to tell about her experiences as a Puerto Rican coming to live in the United States. 

Middle school teachers, take a look at Teaching Multicultural Literature.  Authors and their works including Alma Flor Ada and Julia Alvarez and many others are featured.

More resources for Hispanic-Heritage Month:

American Passages: A Literary Survey 

Invitation to World Literature, program 11, "One Hundred Years of Solitude"

Notable September Birthdays

Upton Sinclair (September 20, 1878)

Upton Sinclair was most known for his novel, "The Jungle," in which he exposed the poor working conditions in the meat-packing industry, later inspiring the passage of federal food inspection legislation. He was considered a "muckraker" during the early 20th century, a writer who exposes scandal in politics and business. Learn more about him and other key American voices in American Passages, unit 12, "Migrant Struggle."

T.S. Eliot (September 26, 1888)
Voices and Visions

In Voices and Visions, learn more about T.S. Eliot's life, influence, and poetry in program 4. In this hour-long video, see archival footage and dramatizations while listening to his own readings of his poetry. 

Enrico Fermi (September 29, 1901)

Enrico Fermi was a nuclear physicist from Rome who developed a method of nuclear fission that eventually led to the development of Atomic bombs. Physics for the 21st Century, unit 2, "The Fundamental Interactions," explains one of the two fundamental components of the underlying theory of the physical world: interactions, or the forces between particles. Section 6, "The Weak Force and Flavor Changes," explains Fermi's theory of beta decay, or radioactive decay.  

Annenberg Learner Announcements

New Courses

Keep your eyes peeled for two new courses from Annenberg Learner out this Fall 2011! Neuroscience and the Classroom and Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition will be ready to view on the site in early October.

Neuroscience and the Classroom looks at research from the field of the mind, brain, and education and its implications for K-12 classroom teachers. It will also be useful for school counselors and college-level psychology and child development courses.

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 the federal deficits. The new course includes an accompanying Web site on  

Look for an announcement of the sites on in early October.

Print Catalog

To request a copy of our new Annenberg Learner catalog, please send an email to Be sure to include a mailing address in your request. Thank you!

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California's Education and the Environment Initiative

K-12 California teachers teaching about the environment will find valuable content and lesson plans in the California EPA's Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum. The curriculum is aligned to select state standards and covers topics such as water use, biodiversity, and food production. EEI teaches students about their relationship with the environment and how humans interact with natural systems.

Find out more information about the EEI curriculum and download materials by calling (916) 341-6769 or send an e-mail to

Fall's Journey South is About to Begin
Journey North
Journey North engages students in more than 23,000 schools to track the changing of the seasons. Though the internet-based learning adventure, students monitor migration patterns of monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, whooping cranes, and other animals; and changing sunlight, temperatures, and other signs of the seasons. Check the Web site now; the journey south is about to begin! 

Also, students all over North America will send ambassador butterflies to Mexico when they participate in the Symbolic Migration 2011-2012. This program is a great way to build relationships between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico and to learn about conservation and cooperation. The postmark deadline is October 11, 2011. The Web site contains materials and instructions to get your students started. 

Annenberg Foundation Update

Art Through TimeJust a few more months left to see The Annenberg Space for Photography's BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit, a daring, provocative, and at times, controversial exhibition that presents diverse viewpoints on beauty as it has evolved through the 20th and 21st centuries.

The series Art Through Time: A Global View complements the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit. Part 13, "The Body," explores how the body has been used for creative expression throughout time and cultures.

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

Upcoming conferences:

STEMtech, October 2-5, Indianapolis, IN
National Media Market, October 16-20, Las Vegas, NV
NC3ADL, November 6-8, Raleigh, NC
SLOAN-C, November 9-11, Orlando, FL