Annenberg Learner Update
      April 2012

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In the Spotlight for April

Annenberg Learner Announcements
    Journey North NEW Mobile App!
    Series News

Current Events

    More G-Protein-Coupled Receptors Solved
    Bilingualism Makes the Brain Stronger
    Banks Pass Fed's Latest Stress Test

Curriculum Focus: Statistics

Connecting Learning with Special Days
    National Autism Awareness Month
    National Poetry Month
    Jazz Appreciation Month
    National Environmental Education Week (April 12-18) & Earth Day (April 22)
    Spring Astronomy Week (April 23-29)
    Civil War Began (April 12, 1861)
    Kindergarten Day (April 21)

Notable April Birthdays
    Washington Irving (April 3, 1783)
    Edward Everett (April 11, 1794)
    Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743)
    Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452)
    Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867)
    Glenn Seaborg (April 19, 1912)
    Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899)

Annenberg Foundation Update
   Annenberg Space for Photography Exhibits

Annenberg Learner Announcements

                                                          North App
Journey North Has a NEW Mobile App

Take Journey North outdoors with a new mobile app allowing you to report sightings from the field. For information, go to the Journey North Web site.    

Learner Express: Modules for Teaching and Learning

Learner.org premieres a new feature later this month for teaching STEM and adopting Common Core mathematics standards. Learner Express is a curated group of short clips drawn from Annenberg Learner science and math series and workshops.  Look for an announcement and link to the resource at learner.org later this month.

The Africans

The 1986 series and course The Africans will no longer be in distribution due to expired rights to the original footage.  Although Annenberg Learner is not able to distribute the series, we have other series that include more current information on Africa. Check out Bridging World HistoryThe Power of Place: Geography for the 21st Century Human Geography: People, Places, and Change, and Teaching Geography.


Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL), Marriott Baltimore Waterfront, Baltimore, MD. April 21-22. Stop by booth #212.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Conference 2012, Philadelphia, PA. April 25-28. Stop by booth #1321.

Current Events

Neurobiology:  G-Protein-Coupled Receptors Solved

Nature.com reports that two groups in California, one at the Scripps Research Institute and the other at Stanford, have solved the atomic structure of two opioid receptors. Understanding the molecular structure of these receptors is crucial for designing drugs that exert the beneficial actions (pain-killing) of opioids (morphene and oxycontin) but lack the unwanted side-effects (being highly addictive).


                                                          BiologyIn Rediscovering Biology, unit 10, “Neurobiology,” John Williams explains the functions of opioids and G receptors in drug use.

Also in Rediscovering Biology, see the case study, “Designing Cancer Drugs: The Development of Gleevec,” to learn how cancer drugs are created to exploit the structure of the protein that causes the disease.

Bilingualism Makes the Brain Stronger

In the article “Why Bilinguals are Smarter” in the New York Times, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee writes that research shows bilingualism makes the brain stronger.  "There is ample evidence that in a bilingual's brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language…giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles."

                                                          Reading K-2
In Teaching Reading K-2 Workshop, session 2, “Supporting the English Language Learner,” you’ll see strategies for supporting emerging literacy in both English and students’ native languages.

Build on your students’ native languages and life experiences to develop literacy. See strategies in Teaching Reading 3-5, session 6, “Teaching English Language Learners.”

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 Workshop, session 6, “Valuing Diversity in Learners,” provides ideas for creating safe classrooms where cultural and language skill differences are valued and supported through differentiated instruction.

Banks Pass Fed's Latest Stress Test

The New York Times recently reported that “the central bank said that 15 of the 19 largest financial firms had enough capital to withstand a severe recession.” See the article, “15 of 19 Pass Feds Latest Stress Test,” by Peter Eavis and J.B. Silver-Greenberg.

                                                          U$AUnderstand how banks are tied to the U.S. economy and how government agencies ensure that the U.S. avoids a banking crisis in Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition, unit 20, “The Banking System.” 

Help your students understand how money flows through the banking system using 100 pennies and a simple classroom exercise. See teacher Ted Hartsoe guide students through the exercise in The Economics Classroom, workshop 7, Monetary and Fiscal Policy, beginning at 28:40 minutes into the video.

Curriculum Focus: Statistics

This year, the theme for Mathematics Awareness Month is “Mathematics, Statistics, and the Data Deluge.”  The following resources provide you with content and lesson ideas to teach mathematicians of all ages the usefulness of statistics.

Students can explore the relationship between poll results and election results while working through the Statistics interactive

Understand exponential growth and other growth-related statistics in the context of world oil production and growth delays in children in Against All Odds: Inside Statistics, program 7, “Models for Growth.” 

                                                          Math: DataIn session 2, “Data Organization and Representation,” of Learning Math: Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability, learn how to analyze data in order to answer statistical questions. 

In Teaching Math: A Video Library K-4, program 10, “Marshmallows,” students estimate the number of marshmallows they will need for their class camping trip.  In program 29, “Woodpecker Habitat,” first and second graders use statistics concepts to study the habitat of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.

In program 26, “Probability,” of Algebra in Simplest Terms, we see how casinos use probability to ensure players win often enough to keep gambling without cleaning out the house.

Connecting Learning with Special Days

National Autism Awareness Month

Autism causes difficulties in social interaction and communication, but is also associated with strengths in areas such as music, math, and art. Whether you are a teacher of a student with autism or a parent of an autistic child, the following resources provide information to help these children focus on their talents while overcoming the challenges of this brain disorder.

                                                          & the
                                                          ClassroomNeuroscience & the Classroom
, unit 4, “Different Minds, Different Learners,” section 5, What teachers can do, provides techniques teachers can use to help students decrease their stress and increase attention in the classroom.  Go to the video page for section 4 and hear Dr. Stephen Shore and Dr. Temple Grandin talk about their abilities as individuals with autism.” 

Dr. Grandin is also featured in The Brain: Teaching Modules, module 29, “Autism.” This program provides both a historical perspective of autism and current beliefs about why autism occurs.

The World of Abnormal Psychology, program 11, “Behavior Disorders of Childhood,” looks at challenges and solutions for families who have children with behavior disorders. Autism is discussed specifically at 42:06.

National Poetry Month

Watch your students’ love of poetry blossom this April as you use ideas from the following resources.

Students read and discuss their personal interpretations of works by Pat Mora and James Welch in session one of The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School.

High school teacher Chris Mazzino uses the poem "Will They Ever Learn?" to help his students understand the experience of being "the Other" in "Gaining Insight Through Poetry" of Teaching The Children of Willesden Lane.

Literary VisionsLiterary Visions presents expert analysis and dramatizations on setting and character, words and images, rhetorical figures, and other poetic devices. Poets include Gary Soto, Anne Sexton, and Lucille Clifton.

For additional poetry resources:

Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5, program 3, “Starting Out

Voices & Visions

American Passages, unit 10, "Rhythms in Poetry," and unit 15, "Poetry of

Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers, workshop 3, “Teaching Poetry

Jazz Appreciation Month

Explore jazz music’s rich past, including its revolutionary influence on the literature and aesthetics of the 1950s and ‘60s by reading "Jazz Aesthetics" in American Passages: A Literary Survey.

Unit 11, “Modernist Portraits,” of American Passages provides the historical context of the Jazz Age and influential writers of that time, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway.

Search the American Passages archives (keyword: jazz) to view photos of jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, The Machito Orchestra, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and others. 

Art of
                                                          Teaching the
                                                          ArtsA vocal music teacher works with an advanced jazz ensemble in The Art of Teaching the Arts: A Workshop for High School Teachers, workshop 2, "Developing Students as Artists." 

More resources for Jazz Appreciation Month:

American Passages audio clips of "The Jelly Roll Blues" and the ragtime piece "Trombone Johnson"

Exploring the World of Music, program 1, “Sound, Music, and the Environment,” program 4, “Transmission: Learning Music,” program 9, “Harmony,” and program 11, “Composers and Improvisers” 
Voices & Visions, program 6, “Langston Hughes

National Environmental Education Week (April 12-18) & Earth Day (April 22)

                                                          PlanetWhat can we as individuals and as a global community do to solve current and future environmental problems? The Habitable Planet, unit 13 video, “Looking Forward: Our Global Experiment” provides thought-provoking views and research findings from experts in the field, including entomologist E.O. Wilson.

Two interactives in The Habitable Planet allow you and your students to manage an energy crisis. The Carbon Lab explores how human influence on carbon output affects the future health of the Earth’s atmosphere.  In the Energy Lab interactive, try developing a portfolio of energy resources that cuts back on CO2 and considers the pros and cons of multiple sources of energy. 

In Teaching Reading 3-5 Workshop, classroom program 13, “Reading Across the Curriculum,” Gage Reeves asks his 5th graders to relate their reading about global warming and climate change to events and products in their community.
Additional resources on the environment:

The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature, session 7, “Critical Pedagogy,” “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler 

Earth Revealed, program 26, “Living With Earth, Part II” 
Planet Earth, program 3, "The Climate Puzzle," and program 7, "Fate of the Earth"
Economics U$A, unit 8, "Pollution and the Environment
The World of Chemistry, program 17, "The Precious Envelope"

Spring Astronomy Week (April 23-29)

See the November 2011 update for Astronomy resources.

Civil War Began (April 12, 1861)

Program 10, “The Coming of the Civil War,” of A Biography of America outlines the incidents leading up to the war between the North and the South.  An animated map shows how the legal status of slavery changed across the U.S. between the Revolution and the Civil War.

In program 11, “The Civil War,” understand the war through the photographer’s lens. 

America’s History in the Making, unit 9, “A Nation Divided,” provides both soldiers’ and civilians’ perspectives of the Civil War.

Kindergarten Day (April 21)

Kindergarten Day recognizes the importance of play, games, and creative activity in children’s education. In 1837, Friedrich Froebel, born April 21, 1782, established the first kindergarten in Germany. German immigrants brought the idea to the U.S. in the 1840s. In 1873, the first public kindergarten was started in St. Louis, MO. We present to you the following Learner resources in the spirit of Friedrich Froebel.

                                                          Reading K-2Students learn to appreciate different cultural backgrounds as they explore holidays such as the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day in Teaching Reading K-2 Library, program 3, “Building Oral Language.” Sensory activities and crafts are combined with reading and writing activities to help students make connections.

Chuck Walker pairs kindergartners with 6th graders for counting activities located inside and outside of the classroom in Teaching Math, A Video Library, K-4, program 3, “Math Buddies.”

Students learn about story structure and engage their imaginations when theatre artist Birgitta De Pree visits the classroom in The Arts in Every Classroom: A Video Library, K-5, program 10, “Bringing Artists to Your Community.”

More Kindergarten resources:

Teaching Reading K-2 Library, program 4, “Thalia Learns the Details

Teaching Math, A Video Library, K-4, program 7, “Cubes and Containers,” program 12, “Dino Math,” and program 43, “Beans, Beans, Beans”

Social Studies in Action, A Teaching Practices Library, K-12, program 6, “Making Bread Together,”  program 8, “Celebrations of Light

Teaching Foreign Languages, K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices, program 4, “Chicken Pox

The Arts in Every Classroom: A Video Library, K-5, program 11, “Students Create a Multi-Arts Performance

Notable April Birthdays

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783)
Best known for his stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Irving captured both pre- and post-revolution America in his prose. American Passages, unit 6, “Gothic Undercurrents,” features information on the writer and questions to guide student reading of his short stories in The Sketch Book.

Edward Everett (April 11, 1794)
American statesman Edward Everett delivered the main address at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 9, 1863. American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom,” includes an activity comparing Lincoln’s and Everett’s speeches.

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743)
Historian Joseph J. Ellis said, "The best and worst of American history are inextricably tangled together in Jefferson." Read about Thomas Jefferson in American Passages, unit 4, “Spirit of Nationalism,” to find out what Ellis meant.

Art of
                                                          the Western
                                                          WorldLeonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452)
Part I of program 4, “The High Renaissance,” of Art of the Western World, looks at the extraordinary work of da Vinci and his peers.

View and read about da Vinci’s iconic “Vitruvian Man” in Art Through Time, program 13, “The Body.”

What were da Vinci’s findings from studying friction? Da Vinci wears his scientist hat in Science in Focus: Force and Motion, workshop 3, “When Rubber Meets the Road.”

Wilbur Wright (April 16, 1867)
The Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC is listed with writings and other firsts of the early 1900s. See American Passages, unit 9, “Social Realism.”  See a photo of an early flight in December of 1903 in the American Passages archive.

Glenn Seaborg (April 19, 1912)
In 1944, American chemist Glenn Seaborg rearranged the Periodic Table when he discovered that elements might be displaced. Watch his explanation of the change to the Periodic Table and how his friends tried to talk him out of publishing his findings in World of Chemistry, program 7, “The Periodic Table.” Seaborg went on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1951. See 14:28 through 17:25 in the video.

Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899)
See several photographs of Duke Ellington in the American Passages archives.

To see resources linked to mathematicians with April birthdays, check out the 2011 April monthly update.

Annenberg Foundation Update

The Annenberg Space for Photography’s exhibit film 'BEAUTY CULTURE' will be part of the Tribeca Film Festival in April. For information on the film and event, see the Annenberg Foundation Web site.


The Annenberg Space for Photography currently presents “Digital Darkroom,” featuring the work of 17 artists from around the world.  Compare their images created using Photoshop with more traditional paintings and sculptures of dreamscapes and personal fantasies by past artists, from aboriginal artists to surrealists in program 2, “Dreams and Visions,” of Art Through Time.

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

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