Annenberg Learner Update
      April 2014

Follow Us:

Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Learner Log Blog  YouTube Google Plus
Advance excellent teaching with Annenberg Learner.

In the Spotlight for April

Curriculum Focus: Mathematics Awareness Month-Mathematics, Magic, and   

Current Events
    Astrophysicists Announce Evidence of First Moments of the Universe
Connecting Learning With Special Days
    National Humor Month
    Civil War Began (April 12, 1861)
Notable April Birthdays
    Christiaan Huygens (April 14, 1629)
    Glenn Seaborg (April 19, 1912)
    Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26, 1822)
    More April Birthdays

Annenberg Learner Announcements
    Upcoming Conferences
    New to Learner.org
    Graduate Credit and CEU Opportunity

Annenberg Foundation Update  

Curriculum Focus: Mathematics Awareness Month-Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery

The theme for Mathematics Awareness Month is Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery, echoing the title of a 1956 book by renowned math writer Martin Gardner. Mathematical brain-teasing challenges “promote creative and rational thinking” and are a good way to hook all students into mathematical topics.  Learner.org has many resources and activities to challenge students to think mathematically.

                                                IlluminatedMathematics Illuminated, unit 4, “Topology’s Twists and Turns,” explains the mysteries of the Möbius Strip. High school students can make their own strips and explore the curious properties of this non-orientable geometric surface.

Gardner introduced the idea of the polyomino, a plane geometric figure formed by joining one or more equal squares edge to edge. Watch fifth-graders create their own polyominoes in Teaching Math Library, Grades 5-8, program 2, “Hexominoes.” 

Use the activities described in Teachers’ Lab, “Shape and Space in Geometry,” to teach elementary and middle school students about symmetry, coordinates, and proportion (the core properties of shapes), and visualization skills when solving three-dimensional shape and space problems.
Even kindergartners can get into the act. Play “Think of a Number” with your students and challenge them to devise similar algebraic magic tricks using the prompts at the bottom of this page for Mathematics: What’s the Big Idea?, “Pre-Workshop Assignment for Workshop 7.”

Current Events

Astrophysicists Announce Evidence of First Moments of the Universe

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics recently announced that the BICEP2 collaboration (its research partnership with Caltech/JPL, Stanford/SLAC, and UMinn) had observable evidence to prove how the expansion of the universe got started from the point of the Big Bang: through cosmic inflation. 

Physics for the 21st
                                              CenturyPhysics for the 21st Century at Learner.org provides explanatory text, images, and video to help you make sense of the discovery and the theories that led to it. Start by looking at the text for unit 4 on String Theory to understand how cosmic inflation is responsible for the structure of the universe as it is today.

Short of running backwards the movie of all time, the Cosmic Microwave Background or CMB is the best link to the first moments of the development of matter. The CMB is the detection of the relic gas radiating from the Big Bang. 

Astrophysicists also have been able to find in their data the finger prints of gravitational waves, which are described as ripples in space-time. Dr. Nergis Mavalvala of MIT explains the relation of gravitational waves to today’s astronomy. Watch the segment of the video Gravity beginning at 14:30 through 16:21 to learn how these waves are propagated.

Connecting Learning With Special Days

National Humor Month

Knock knock… You know how everything feels a little better after a good laugh? Humorist Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month in 1976 “to heighten public awareness on how the joy and therapeutic value of laughter can improve health, boost morale, increase communication skills and enrich the quality of one's life.” The following Learner resources will help you bring humor to your classrooms:

Watch interviews with some of America's wittiest journalists including Dave Barry and Andy Rooney in News Writing, program 12, “Column Writing and Editorial Writing.”

Experts discuss the humor associated with public art related to The Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico in Art Through Time: A Global View, program 6, “Death.”

Biography of
                                                    AmericaAnalyze the use of humor in political cartoons about the Stamp Act crisis of 1765 with the Image as History interactive in A Biography of America, program 4, “The Coming of Independence.” 

Romantic comedies have been a part of American culture since the 1930s. American Cinema, program 5, looks at how this film genre uses humor to explore themes of gender and sexuality.

And don't miss the Cinema interactive, which compares the actual script of a scene from Nora Ephron's comedy, "When Harry Met Sally," with those of aspiring screen writers.

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. 

Learn how to analyze the authenticity of historical photos by examining Alexander Gardner’s “Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter” taken in 1863. See the activity in program 11, “The Civil War.” 

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

During the 19th century, authors used slave autobiographies and abolitionist fiction to engage readers’ emotions in order to promote social change. American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom,” features influential writers Federick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, and more.
Find resources for teaching about National Poetry Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Environmental Education Week (April 13-19), and more, in the Monthly Update Archives for April and follow us on Facebook

Notable April  Birthdays

Christiaan Huygens (April 14, 1629)

Dutch physicist and mathematician Christiaan Huygens was the first to document evidence of spontaneous synchronization, in which two devices such as metronomes fall into sync. See Mathematics Illuminated, unit 12.7, “Mechanical Sync.”

Also, in Physics for the 21st Century, unit 7, "Manipulating Light," read how Huygens's theory that light is a wave was vindicated. 

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.  Seaborg's colleague, Darleane Hoffman (born 1926), tells this story in program 4, “Organizing Atoms and Electrons—The Periodic Table,” of Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions.

Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26, 1822)

Art Through
                                                    TimeIn 1857, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed Central Park in New York City as a work of art, a space distinct from the urban life. Learn how this park was deliberately designed and constructed with a sensitivity to nature in Art Through Time, program 10, “The Natural World.”

See the “Lagoon Bird’s-Eye View” photo of Olmsted’s design of the Chicago World’s Fair site in Activity 2: Campaign for World’s Fair 2010 of Primary Sources, workshop 5, “Cans, Coal, and Corporations.” Consider how this city design and the design of Central Park have inspired future urban landscape plans. 

Frederick Law Olmsted was also a writer. He wrote about the differences between Northern and Southern societies during the 1850s, and critiqued the slave labor practices of the South vs. the paid labor of the North. Watch the video for A Biography of America, program 9, “Slavery.”

For additional April birthdays, including Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830) and Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (April 30, 1777), see the April 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 math and science. We look forward to talking with you.

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, Room 158
For elementary teachers. Witness the nature of science through video case studies of working scientists. Participants will be guided on how to use these studies 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 and its accompanying Web site.

New to Learner.org

Learner Express: English Language Arts

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. 

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.

Against All Odds: Updated Edition

                                                          All OddsAs this school year winds down, we want to remind you that the original Against All Odds series will stop streaming on Learner.org on June 1.  If you wish to purchase a DVD copy of the original series for 60% off the original price, you can do so by calling 1-800-LEARNER (532-7637). We will continue to sell the original series as long as supplies last.  The newly updated Against All Odds: Inside Statistics for high school and college-level instruction is here! This series features 32 10-minute videos showing people from all walks of life using statistics in their work, a coordinated new Web site, 3 online interactive tools, and faculty and student guides. To order a copy on DVD, call 1-800-LEARNER. 

ChemistryChemistry: 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 1-800-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 now register for credit or CEUs to be earned this summer. 

Print Catalog

For a copy of our full catalog or our new Science and Mathematics discipline catalog, send an email to order@learner.org. Be sure to include a mailing address in your request and indicate FULL CATALOG or SCIENCE AND MATH CATALOG. Thank you!

Annenberg Foundation Update

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

Sign up to receive messages highlighting the news, events, and programming of Annenberg Learner, as well as ideas for using our resources in the classroom.

Join Mailing List