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Important Black Leaders To Introduce To Your Class Year-Round

BlackHistory_pstrSince 1976, American educators have officially recognized February as Black History month.  However, if February is the only time you mention the contributions of people of color in your classroom, then it’s time to reevaluate. Black history is integral to the story of America, a history that has for too long been skewed to reflect a white European perspective. And, while most Americans are familiar with the names of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, there are many other African American leaders who made an enormous impact on our country’s history.

Below you’ll find a short list of some of these leaders and suggestions of how to incorporate their contributions into your curriculum.  Remember that the lessons that are most meaningful to students are those that are given all year long, not just during one designated month.

7 African American Leadersx-hughes-langston-3hr-jpg

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a writer and social activist.  He was particularly known as an innovator of jazz poetry and for his role in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s.  Hughes was one of the few black writers at the time to express pride in his heritage.  He wrote of both the joys and the pain of being black in America. Check out  Read, Write, Think for a in-depth lesson centered around his poetry.

Samuel Kountz (1930-1981) grew up in one of the poorest towns in the poorest state of Arkansas.  Although the odds were against him, Kountz became the first African American to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School. He was a pioneer in the field of organ transplants. And, in 1961, he performed the first kidney transplant between a recipient and a donor who were not identical twins. Consider using Samuel Kountz on this timeline lesson about American inventors.

Fredrick Dougwho_is_fdlass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave who became a leader of the Abolitionist Movement, eventually rising to power as the first African American to hold a high US government rank. Besides fighting for equal treatment for African Americans, he was also a champion of women’s rights. In 1848, he was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York. Urban Dreams has created a lesson plan that ties the biography of Fredrick Douglas to lessons about freedom and social development.

Emmet Chappelle (1925- ) is recognized as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th Century.  His work was primarily in the field of medicine, philanthropy, food science, and Astrochemistry. Some of Chappelle’s most influential advancements were in luminescence, or, light without heat. He was able to show how satellites can monitor luminescence levels to monitor the growth rate and harvest timing of crops.   Laser Classroom has an interesting lesson about fluourescence that can be linked to a study of Chappelle’s contributions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) grew up in the streets of NYC. His difficult childhood fueled an anger in him that he channeled towards graffiti art. His cutting edge artwork propelled him to the forefront of the Neo-Expressionist movement. Graffiti Art provides a lesson plan to show students how artists like Basquiat make art accessible to everyone.

Faith Ringgold (1930 -) is a Civil Rights activist, author, and artist.  Her s999b787fd04a50ea2772189b9955c105eries of paintings-American People-capture the racial tensions of the Civil Rights Era.  Her gorgeously illustrated book, Tar Beach, gives a unique perspective of Harlem in the 1930’s through the eyes of a young girl. Here you will find a rich series of lesson plans geared towards grades 3-5 about Ms. Ringgold’s work that integrates reading, writing, social studies, and art.

Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) was a singer, songwriter and music producer. He helped shaped Motown, a rMarvinGayeecord company owned by African Americans that played an important role in the racial integration of popular music. His hit song, What’s Going On was a reaction to police violence towards protestors marching against the Vietnam War. What’s Going On Now is an excellent project that uses history and music to compare the time period that Marvin Gaye sang about to current day issues.

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to provide affordable, convenient Professional Development courses for educators. Our Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom course features a TED talk by Rita Pierson, a prominent African American teacher and speaker. Check out this class and many others in our course catalog!

Getting Creative with Field Trips

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear brown bag lunches, matching t-shirts, bus rides, and chaperones? FIELD TRIP! The yearly field trip is a chance for freedom and a time to get away from the day-to-day and experience something nSchool Trip - Berlinew. Many teachers fall into a rut, going to the same place every year. Incorporating art is a great way to jazz up your field trip! Art-based field trips can often be cheaper and more inspirational than more traditional outings.

Here are some destinations that will provide your students with a whole new perspective on life!

MUSEUM

Viewing great works of art can inspire an interest in even the novice critic.  Many Pmuseums have programs specifically designed for field trips that guide groups through designated areas and point out interesting facts. These can be very helpful and require almost no work for the teacher, but there are ways to make them even more stimulating! Consider making a student scavenger hunt for featured pieces. Divide all kids into groups and give each group a different list of art to locate and report back on. You could even theme each group (find landscapes, portraits, sculptures, etc.) and have them solve a riddle or puzzle. To assist you in creating a scavenger hunt, reference the museums’ website for a list of their inventory and any special exhibits or upcoming features. Parents.com offers a list of the best art museums for kids, along with a description of what makes each of these museums accessible and interesting to the younger crowd. If you don’t have an art museum near you, any museum will do.  In college, I was assigned to go to the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh and design a sculpture from a dinosaur bone. I had never considered such a thing and it really opened my eyes to a whole new place of inspiration. There is art everywhere!

SHOW

What do drama, dance, and music all have in common? They are all forms of art in motion. Having students draw the climax or major turning point in a play can help them remember it. If you are going to see the Phantom of the Opera as a class, coordinate with the art teacher to provide extra credit opportunities for students to do research on the theater or draw an interesting architectural detail they found in the opera house. Have students create an abstract work inspired by one particular song from the musical. They could design alternate costumes for a modern day ballet or make a flip book showing movement from a stack of post-it notes. The possibilities are endless. Check out our Teaching Drama Across the Curriculum Course for some ideas of how to make the performing arts an integral part of your lessons.

NATURE

YIn every state and every town in America you’ll find parks and green spaces to explore. Some of the best and most famous painters got all the inspiration they needed from the great outdoors. Impressionists like Claude Monet made their life’s work outdoors. They experienced certain challenges when creating art outdoors with temperature and light changes, along with wind and rain. Giving your students a few hours to explore and create awesome things in nature will heighten their awareness of the beauty all around them. Team up with the history teacher and do some research on how your local park started or do a joint lesson about the majestic landscapes that the early American painters like Thomas Cole created. Don’t forget to have each student bring a sketchbook and pens to take notes and make drawings of something interesting they’ve found. The Minnesota Department of Art Resources provides a helpful list of ideas to interweave art and music with nature and environmental studies.

INDUSTRY

My favorite episode of Mr. Rogers was when they went to the Crayola Crayon factory to see how crayons are made. There are tons of factories and plants that invite kids to come check out how things are built or processed. Team up with your science teacher and see how water is treated in your local city or take a trip to the recycling center. Bring back what you learned by creating a bulletin board summarizing the process for the whole school. Another great idea is to make your next art project out of all recyclable materials. Try making beautiful Chihuly inspired sculptures out of painted water bottles. (Look at all of these projects for kids inspired by Chihuly on Pinterest). Check your county website for interesting ideas about the industry that surrounds you.

VIRTUAL

Not every art teacher or classroom can afford to go somewhere for a field trip, but that shouldn’t limit your learning. There are tons of online resources to check out and explore a kids computerfaraway place. No public school can afford to send all of their students to Paris to see the Louvre and the amazing pieces of art it holds, but why not look at the Mona Lisa right in the museum from the computer lab? Almost every museum website features some sort of online gallery. A great place to start is by taking a virtual tour of the National Gallery of Art.

Whatever route you opt for, incorporating art into your next field trip will enrich the experience for your students.  The Teacher’s Academy is a proud supporter of the arts in education.  Check out the Art/Music section of our course catalog to find a list of classes to help you weave the arts into your classroom.  Start earning Professional Development classes the affordable, convenient way with The Teacher’s Academy.

Why Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature is important to many educators…

Last month, Bob Dylan became the first singer/songwriter to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.  Dylan’s career has spanned more than 5 decades and crossed multiple musical genres.  His lyrics run the range from romantic to political and have had a major IMG_7716influence on other artists, including Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, and even the Beatles.

Dylan influenced more than just the musical world.  His song, Blowin’ in the Wind became the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights movement, he was the impetus behind Farm Aid, a major benefit concert to help farmers and their families, and his soulful lyrics were the stepping stones that led many young people towards poets like Rimbaud, Verlaine, Ginsberg, and Ferlinghetti.

Despite the tremendous impact that Dylan has had on American history, his Nobel Prize win has come under criticism.  Traditionally the Literature Award has been given to novelists.  Many question the importance of song lyrics in literature.

As educators, we understand the heavy influence that music has on our students.  Music has a way of reaching even the most reluctant readers.  Lyrics such as Dylan’s can IMG_7711open up students’ minds to diverse perspectives and make them understand cultural and political narratives different than their own, as well as lead them towards other great works of literature.

To learn more about Bob Dylan and other icons of rock n roll, check out the Teacher’s Academy course on Rock History.  The Teacher’s Academy is a proud provider of online professional development courses for teachers.  Our classes are affordable and convenient.  Check out our catalog to find a course that is right for you.

The Best Teacher-Generated Ideas of 2016

The Best Teacher-Generated Ideas of 2016

The teachers at The Teacher’s Academy are lucky enough to meet hundreds of teachers every week from all over the country.  Even if we don’t actually have the pleasure of getting to know all the teachers in person, reviewing their coursework gives us a window into their creative minds.

Each week, projects are uploaded for our Review Team to assess and award professional development hours.  Our professional development courses emphasize teacher creativity and customization of the projects so that teachers get a chance to develop something functional. As a result, we get to see fantastic lesson plans, design projects, video creations, hands-on activities and countless other completed assignments from some extremely talented teachers. Not only do we get to see what these teachers can create for their own professional use, we also get a peek inside classrooms all over the country.

We’ve gathered a few of these amazing ideas for you to check out:

 New York Teachers Emphasize the Arts!

Leave it to New York teachers to incorporate the arts into their classrooms! The Common Core Standards have allowed teachers the freedom to choose the medium in which to deliver instruction. Music happens to be the choice of many New York teachers.music note

These high-interest activities are designed to engage students in learning and developing critical analysis and writing skills. They also lend themselves to teaching literary devices such as rhyme, personification, metaphors, similes and more. See for yourself which ones you may like to try in your own classroom:

Critique Writing – Students are able to choose a song to critique. After careful examination of the lyrics, students read other critiques of the song. The final project is an in-depth, written critique of the song.

Song Development – Students are given the opportunity to craft their own lyrics to music. They are able to listen to several samples of instrumentals and poetry. Students are responsible for a written reflection of the symbolism of the lyrics, and their connection to the song, as well as the completed song. Presentation of song could be optional!

Album Cover Design Students are given samples of albums. They are asked to pick a theme for the album and then create 12-16 original song titles that fit the theme. The final project is a completed (front and back) album cover and a written essay that explains the design and song titles and how they are connected to the students’ life and/or other current events being studied.

Oregon Teachers Create Future Engineers!

A few Oregon teachers have figured out a cool way to emphasize “Engineering” in their K-kids computer5 curriculum. STEM is becoming more commonplace in many classrooms around the country. Much of the activities students are doing are focused on Science, Technology and Math concepts. Even engineering strategies are ideal for young learners. See if you can imagine your students turning into creative engineers with these activities:

 Bridge Building – Oregon students are super engaged when their job is to solve a problem by building a bridge. Students are given a scenario where a bridge needs to be built to connect two important things. They could be asked to connect a mama duck to her baby ducks, kids to their tree forts or villages to each other. Real world problems could be introduced as scenarios too! After analyzing different types of bridge structures, students work in small groups to design and test their own bridges. Students learn about forces, motion and balance and how bridges redirect those forces. Pretty soon you’ll have some really smart civil engineers in your classroom! Check out Engineering is Elementary for more cool engineering ideas.

 Engineer Exploration –Free access to the Engineering Go for it website allows students to discover the many different engineering careers. After exploring the different types of engineers, students choose one to write about and present the information to the class. Real-world connections with engineering careers make dream jobs like working on a movie set or exploring shipwrecks a real possibility for students!

Colorado Teachers Encourage Problem-Solving!

Curiosity is the name of the game for these lucky students. The many benefits of Inquiry-based learning have not gone unnoticed in this state.  By starting a lesson with a question or a problem, students become engulfed in the process of finding a solution. See if you can expand a few of your lessons to include these Inquiry-based approaches:

Town Improvement –Young learners in Colorado were asked the question: How would you make your town better? Each student was given a variety of picture books to reference helpful places in a community, such as schools, hospitals, post offices, police colorado signstations, farm land, restaurants, stores, housing, etc. They were also given books that depict fun activities like playing at a play ground, gardening, fishing, playing sports, doing arts and crafts, etc. A teacher-led discussion using the picture books helped to guide students to answer the question.  The conversation naturally turned to focus on what things might need to be fixed in their towns such as empty lots, damaged streets, broken streetlights, dangerous intersections, etc. The teacher listed the “good” and “bad” items on a chart for students to use as a reference. Students were then asked to draw their towns and all of the things they believed would make their town better.

Heroic Traits – Colorado students in the middle grades were asked the question: What makes a hero? Students used characters in the books as well as real people to develop a list of traits. Each student was asked to design a hero by listing physical, mental and emotional traits. Afterwards, students developed a presentation for an audience of teachers and parents to present their results. Every student had a completely different idea of what made someone a hero. Some heroes wore uniforms while others were in wheelchairs. Some heroes were very old, some were very young, but all contained the traits of what these students believe makes a hero.

Not all inquiry-based questions need to involve math or science! Check out these great resources for inquiry-based lessons: Edutopia.org and Teachthought.com.

 For even more ideas…

Look for more great ideas from across the nation in our next blog! We will include ideas from Texas, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and more!

The Teacher’s Academy is always looking for creative ideas to develop new courses. Our professional development courses are relevant, affordable and created by teachers like you! Have an idea for a course? Fill out a Contact Form! Or check out our course catalog to find a course that inspires your next great idea.