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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.

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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!

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.

 

Welcome Spring Fever Enthusiasm into your Classroom

Do your students have spring fever?  Here are 15 creative ways to use that extra energy in the classroom.

This time of year the earth is alive with bright splashes of color and exuberant sounds.  All around this great country from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Bend, Oregon and all the wonderful districts in between, students and teachers have Spring Fever! The excitement outdoors, along with warmer temperatures and the promise of summer vacation, can make it difficult for students to concentrate on classroom activities.  But, lessons need not on037ly occur through textbooks and worksheets.

Real learning should be as dynamic and changing as the seasons.  Instead of allowing spring fever to disrupt your classroom, use all that extra enthusiasm to spark some new discoveries, both indoors and out.

Get a Fresh Start!

Sometimes the best way to get students inspired is to make an adjustment in the environment.  Spring is the perfect time to do a thorough cleaning and re-organization of your classroom.  Check out these websites to find some innovative ways to cut down on classroom clutter and focus on learning.

1. We Are Teachers

This site has a great blog that offers ways to conquer classroom messes, help students keep track of their homework, create storage with items you already have, find tips of creating digital student portfolios and more!

2. Betterlesson.com– Kaleidoscope Eyes Lesson

If spring cleaning and a fresh new approach isn’t enough to keep students’ enthusiasm in the classroom, perhaps a change in perspective will do the trick.   This 8th grade math lesson posted by Mauricio Beltre incorporates materials from the dollar store, but we recommend finding some free replacements in nature! Your students will really get excited to experience a bright, hcolorful, shape-shifting view of the world around them while sneaking in some important math concepts like symmetry, reflection, and geometry.

3. Read Write, Think

This is a great time to freshen up your lesson plan catalog. What better place than a website that provides free lesson plans written by literary experts? Try this one: Multiple Perspectives: Critical Thinking Skills by Shannon Bradford! This gem helps students understand how the world can look through very different through different eyes. After reading Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, students will analyze the different perspectives and write a creative piece capturing another point of view. This lesson is filled with opportunities for outdoor exploration and adventure to aid the analysis and creative writing piece.

Bust a move!

Even with an organized classroom and a new perspective, students may still be reluctant to stay at their desks this time of year. So, get them up and moving!  Here are some sites designed to give your kids a “brain break” and get them re-energized to learn.

4. Minds in BloGroup Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Togetherom

This site made our list for two reasons: (1) Their slogan is, “Because Learning should be Fun,” AND (2) They have a host of great resources for teachers that need a quick infusion of creativity and motivational push to get them through the last few months of the year. Check out their blog, 20 three-minute Brain Breaks by Rachel Lynette for a few fun short games that get your kids moving and focused.

5. TeachTrainLove.com

Bevin K. Reinen’s website is devoted to innovative teaching tips and online resources for teachers and students. We want to feature their blog on 20 best brain-break videos. Bookmark these videos and have them on hand for the moment your students need help to fight their fidgeting!

6. GoNoodle

We can’t overlook the leader in brain-break websites. Students of all ages (though geared towards elementary) will love the goofy custom-made videos designed to keep students moving, track their progress and quickly get them back to learning.

Go outside!

No matter how energized and inspirational your classroom is, when the sun is shining and the birds are singing, kids will long to be outdoors.  So…. Take them out! And, bring your lesson plans with you.

7. The National Wildlife Federation Lesson Plan Page

This site is not just devoted to preserving our nation’s habitat, but educating our nation’s youth as well.   Featured lessons include, Habitat Hunt, Sensory Discovery Walk, and Tree Detective. All Science lessons are designed for grades K-8 and are aligned to the National Science Education Standards.

8. Geoec.orgGarden 4

The Global, Environmental, & Outdoor Education Council also offer some fun and engaging lessons for outdoor learning. Check out their lesson plan section, organized by grade, make a quick print and get your students outside tomorrow!

9. The Teacher’s Academy- Creating a School Garden Course

School gardens are all the rage, but finding the resources, getting support, planning and executing such a task is difficult to take on by yourself. If you need professional development and are interested in proposing a school garden to your school, this course is an excellent option. Learn how to plan, implement and teach with a garden to provide authentic learning in your unique space.

10. Growing Minds, Farm to School

Spring is the perfect time for experimentation and observation in nature’s greatest gift: our farms. For those of you that already have a school garden or access to local farms, check out this site and browse the many lessons on integrating farming and gardening into the classroom.

Learn about transformations!

Spring is a time for change. It makes sense since it happens after about 7 months of school, everyone is ready for a change! Since change is happening naturally all around us Monarch with caterpillarthis time of year, it’s easy to integrate the concept of metamorphosis into the spring science curriculum. Here are three websites that offer great lessons on the classic metamorphosis concepts:

11. ScienceNetLinks.com/lessons

This site provides teachers with background information, planning ahead tips, motivation, content, hands-on activities and varied assessment options for the classic lesson, Parts of a Plant.

12. USDA Monarch Education Site

Lessons on metamorphosis aren’t just for 3rd graders! The USDA has lessons and resources to discuss life cycle changes for all levels K-12. Science teachers, use this site for the best Monarch Butterfly lesson this spring!

Stare out the window…Seriously!

The weather in the springtime can be unpredictable.  Clear days are the perfect time to introduce lessons about the sun and solar energy.  But, even rainy days can provide learning opportunities. NASA has created some incredible lesson plans about precipitation, 147climate, and weather.  But our honorable mention in this list goes to…

13. WeatherWizKids

On days when your kids are particularly restless, use this site to find loads of amazing weather information, projects, and lesson plans.

Take a break!

Even with all that extra springtime energy, your students will still need to take some time to relax and reflect. Wait for a rainy spring day and hold an impromptu Read-In! h

14. A Mighty Girl

This adorable site is a massive book organizer. They even have a section dedicated to celebrating spring! Don’t let the sweet vibe fool you, books for students of all ages are recommended and available for purchase.

15. YALSA

This site is designed for young adult readers. Check out the list of recommended books and suggest a few for your students to start over spring break! (Yeah, right!)! In any case, it’s a great resource for parents looking to get that perfect book for their growing student.

 

Look forward to summer!Garden 3

Even as we celebrate spring, we are looking forward to summer vacation and the extra time that it brings.  Summer is a great time to catch up on those necessary Professional Development courses that you have been putting off all year.  The Teacher’s Academy is a convenient, affordable way to obtain the credits you need in a way that won’t put a damper on your summer fun.  Our classes can be completed wherever your summer plans take you!  Check out our online catalog today to find an extensive list of Act 48 approved courses to handle your professional development needs at your convenience.

10 Ways Your Class Can Help Save the Earth

Make room for environmental education!sunflower

Environmental concerns will have a huge impact on our students’ futures.  And, yet, with so many mandated assessments and time constraints, teachers often feel forced to focus most of the school day on reading and math lessons. Remember, administration wants us to teach our students how to read, write, and do math but generally, there is room for creative content. Environmental awareness is a theme that can easily be integrated into the day’s lessons and still meet performance objectives of even the strictest standards.

Studies have shown that a lack of environmental education comes at a detriment to our students.  Learning about the environment is not only important on a global scale, it can have a profound effect on the future of each child.  The No Child Left Inside Organization has found that Environmental Education (1) Increases student success across the curriculum by integrating literature and math into meaningful lessons; (2) Improves the overall health of students by getting them outside and moving, and (3) Provides them with critical tools for the 21st century workplace.

Earth Day is the perfect time to start making environmental education an integral part of your classroom curriculum.  Here are 10 creative, fun ideas that will get your class excited about this amazing planet of ours.

Celebrate and protect our earth with these incredible resources!

1. Have a party! Cookouts are a great way to celebrate the springtime warming of the earth.  Even better if you can make them a learning experience for your students.  Scholastic’s “Host a Solar Cookout” Lesson combines math, science, and community involvement to give kids an in-depth understanding of solar energy.  Students will learn about the importance of renewable energy, sun safety, and engineering, all while creating tasty treats to be enjoyed with their friends and community members.

2. Start a compost pile! School lunches and snacks generate a ton of waste.  Allow students to witness firsthand how “garbage” can be turned into valuable organic soil which can then be used in school gardens, or even sold to raise money for class projects.  Organic Lesson provides a clear, colorful guide to composting to help you get you started.farmer

3. Host a swap! We all have things that we don’t need or use anymore.  Holding a classroom swap shows kids how what might seem like trash to them, can be treasure to someone else…. And it’s a ton of fun!  Planet Pals has some good tips on how you can use a swap to teach kids about conservation and upcycling.

4. Take the Catalog Cancel Challenge! Over 19 billion catalogs are sent out yearly and less than 2% are used.  This unnecessary waste results in the destruction of thousands of trees, the use of billions of gallons of water, and an enormous amount of pollution.  The Catalog Cancel Challenge has already saved 1,400 trees and 1.4 billion gallons of water.  Check out their website to see how your classroom or school can join and do your part to save the earth.

5. Conduct a role play! Role plays create an opportunity for students to do research and have meaningful conversations about environmental issues.  They help build communication skills and encourage out-of-the-box thinking.  Asia Society offers two excellent lesson plans to help you bring environmental role-play into your classroom.

turtle6. Adopt a Species! We are experiencing the worst species extinction rate since the time of dinosaurs.  Up to 99% of these extinctions are caused by human activity.  If nothing is done to stop this, as many as 30-50% of all species could be extinct by mid-century. These are alarming statistics.  Fortunately, there are things we can do to slow down this mass extinction. Learning to Give provides a lesson plan that shows how you can make adopting an endangered species a meaningful class project.

7. Make something interesting!  Science teachers add the extra challenge of creating the rube Goldberg with items found in nature! Nature is full of beautiful and unique items. A simple hike outside can get your creative juices flowing to revamp a lesson to include flowerMother Nature’s gifts. Want specific ideas? Tinker Labs has collected an incredible list of online resources you can use to create a wide variety of things using objects found in nature.

8. Cut down on packaging! Packaging accounts for a large amount of the waste that we create. Doing a self-audit can really help students become aware of excessive packaging and ultimately empower them to purchase without such waste. These are the types of lessons that trickle home and have the greatest impact. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has created a lesson plan that helps kids understand the dangers of excessive packaging and some key waste reduction techniques that they can employ in their own homes.

9. Learn about sustainability! Population growth is a crucial component to many of the environmental issues we face today.  Population Education provides a wealth of resources to help your students understand how we can create a sustainable living environment for our growing world.  Their website offers comprehensive packets of lesson plans for various age groups that can be used on Earth Day or any day!Garden 2

10. Grow a garden! Whether you have a big or small, indoor or outdoor, space available… School gardens offer an interactive, authentic way to get your students involved in nature.  The Teacher’s Academy offers an online course that will show the basics of creating a classroom garden, as well as how to use gardening to create meaningful, interdisciplinary lessons.

The Creating a School Garden Course is only one of the many valuable courses that the Teacher’s Academy offers.  All of our course fulfill Pennsylvania Act 48 requirements and can provide you an economical, convenient way to earn professional development courses from home.  Sign up for your first class today!