Annenberg Learner Update
      February 2013

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In the Spotlight for February

Curriculum Focus: Psychology/Neuroscience - Emotions and Learning

Current Events
    Einstein Award Recipient
    President Obama and the Congress Tackle Big Issues

Connecting Learning with Special Days
    International Year of Water Cooperation
    Black History Month
    National Engineers Week (17-23)
    More Historic Days

Notable February Birthdays
    Harriet Jacobs (February 11, 1813)   
    Thomas A. Edison (February 11, 1847)
    Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818)
    John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902)
    More February Birthdays
Annenberg Learner Announcements
    Monthly Update Questions
    Blog Grand Relaunching
    Learner.org Now iPad Compatible
Annenberg Foundation Update

Curriculum Focus: Psychology/Neuroscience - Emotions and Learning

Emotions can drive or block the motivation to complete tasks in school, work, and everyday life. By engaging students’ emotional responses rather than dismissing them, teachers can make lessons meaningful and help their students learn more effectively.

Neuroscience & the
                                            ClassroomMaking a subject relevant is a key factor in motivating students to learn. Neuroscience & the Classroom, unit 2, “The Unity of Emotion, Thinking, and Learning,” looks at the role emotions play in helping humans survive, acquire knowledge, and think rationally.  In section 4, Making the Case, Professor Abigail Baird explains that adolescents engage in risky behaviors by overthinking dangerous scenarios. Her findings help teachers understand their students and respond appropriately to their perplexing behaviors.  Section 5, Emotional Thinking, looks at how to engage students’ social emotions in guiding them through math lessons.

The Learning ClassroomTap into emotional intelligence and create emotionally safe learning environments for your students with ideas from The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice, session 5, “Feelings Count - Emotions and Learning.” A fifth-grade and an eighth-grade classroom are featured. 

Psychologists consider environmental, physical, political, and psychological factors in Discovering Psychology, program 12, “Motivation and Emotion.” What motivates people to perform good or bad deeds?

Next month’s update for March will focus on the Arts.

Current Events

Einstein Prize to Annenberg Advisor

Congratulations to Dr. Irwin Shapiro of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, recipient of the 2013 Einstein Prize from the American Physical Society "for his contributions to experimental solar system tests of relativistic theories of gravity, and in particular for proposing and measuring the Shapiro time delay effect."

A Private UniverseDr. Shapiro used his expertise in science and science education as an advisor for the series, Essential Science for Teachers: Life Science for K-6 teachers. Study “big ideas” about life science and perform Bottle Biology, hands-on activities to explore plant growth.  You can also hear Dr. Shapiro talk about the making of A Private Universe, the film that underscores how student misconceptions can block new learning.

President Obama and the Congress Tackle Big Issues

As President Obama transitions to his second term, he and the new Congress continue to tackle difficult and long-running issues. Help your students engage in rational, civil debates about some of these issues including the U.S. budget, immigration, and gun control.

Balancing the U.S. Budget

Economics U$AThe moratorium on the debt ceiling puts the issue on ice, for the moment. But the questions remain: Who should be taxed at what rate? What programs should be cut (or added)? Learn how taxes and the government deficit are connected in Economics USA: 21st Century Edition, unit 18, “Fiscal Policy.”  Unit 24, “Federal Deficits,” looks at how deficits can be harmful and helpful to the overall economy.

Challenge your students to balance the U.S. budget by making tough choices with the Control the U.S. Debt interactive.

Lead classroom activities that will help your students understand how the Federal Reserve adjusts the money supply and how, in turn, the money supply affects interest rates in The Economics Classroom, workshop 7, “Monetary and Fiscal Policy.”

Gun Control

The ConstitutionWitness a fascinating debate between politicians, judges, and philosophers about the second amendment in program 9, “School Prayer, Gun Control, and the Right to Assemble,” in The Constitution: That Delicate Balance.

Students learn about the power of the Constitution in Democracy in America, program 2, “The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?” by studying the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution and its amendments. How immutable is our second amendment, “The Right to Bear Arms?"

Making Civics Real, workshop 7, “Controversial Public Policy Issues,” shows strategies that help students build on their own opinions and experiences to develop a deeper understanding of key public policy issues. Students in JoEllen Ambrose’s 12th-grade Law class study the role of government in protecting citizens while allowing them to enjoy their civil liberties.  Find the full lesson plan.


Teaching Reading
                                                3-5In the series The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, program 11, “Immigration Reform,” hear the U.S. Court of Appeals judge Arlin Adams, other academics, and government officials discuss the rights of legal and illegal immigrants.

Students look at migration trends from six Latin American countries and discuss why people migrate to the U.S. in Social Studies in Action, grades 9-12, “Migration from Latin America.”

Take a literary approach to the topic of immigration. Teacher Maria Ruiz-Blanco and her students discuss the novel My Name is Maria Isabel as part of a year-long conversation on immigration. Watch them share their experiences and insights in Teaching Reading 3-5, classroom program 10, “Fostering Book Discussions.” 

Connecting Learning with Special Days

International Year of Water Cooperation

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2013 as the U.N. International Year of Water Cooperation. Its objective is “to raise awareness, both on the potential for increased cooperation, and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services.”  Annenberg Learner resources help you look at the issue of competition over water from a ground level.

The Power of PlaceTwo series address the tricky question of fresh water allocation. Program 26, “Regions and Economies, Part 1 Oregon: A Fight for Water” of The Power of Place addresses the environmental costs of diverting the Columbia River for agricultural use.  The battle over the use of water from the Truckee River Basin pits government, farmers, and other community groups on the California-Nevada border against one another. See Human Geography: People, Places, and Change, program 7, “Water Is for Fighting Over.” 

Examine the stress on global water sources in The Habitable Planet, unit 8, “Water Resources.”  Scientists determine how much water humans actually use in section 5, World Demand for Water.  Follow the U.S. and the United Nations’ attempts to regulate water use and improve water conditions in section 10, Major Laws and Treaties

Can a price be put on clean water? Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition, unit 8, “Pollution and the Environment,” asks you to consider the economic costs of balancing “optimum” levels of pollution, including in water, with environmental and human health risks. 

Black History Month 2013

This year, the theme for Black History Month is “At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.”  This theme looks at two eras of African-American history: The emancipation of slaves under Abraham Lincoln and demands for black civil rights under John F. Kennedy. While these presidents were in the national spotlight, individuals and leaders pressured them to act on behalf of African Americans. Let’s get to know some of these voices better:

America's History
                                                in the MakingFormer slave William Carney joined the first African-American regiment of the Union Army in 1863. Hear his story (beginning at 15:30 mins. into the video) and those of other African-American men eager to enlist in America’s History in the Making, unit 9, “A Nation Divided.”

Activists and writers James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were the forces behind turning John F. Kennedy’s attention from the Cold War to civil rights in America. See A Biography of America, program 24, “The Sixties.”

Writer Langston Hughes believed that art should be accessible to all. Biographer Arnold Rampersad wrote of Hughes, “His art was firmly rooted in race pride and race feeling, even as he cherished his freedom as an artist…” See Teaching Multicultural Literature, workshop 6, “Historical and Cultural Context - Langston Hughes and Christopher Moore.” Stanlee Brimberg’s 7th graders learn about the experiences of African slaves in early New York, examine texts by Hughes, and create postage stamps to commemorate the African Burial Ground Memorial. 

More resources for Black History Month:    

American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom” 

Primary Sources, workshop 4, “Concerning Emancipation: Who Freed the Slaves?

A Biography of America, program 9, “Slavery,” unit 10, “The Coming of the Civil War,” and program 11, “The Civil War,” transcript section The Emancipation Proclamation 

America’s History in the Making, unit 14, “Industrializing America,” part 3, Hands on History (black inventors)  

National Engineers Week (February 17-23)

Engineering is the “E” in STEM curriculum and can prepare students to work in a broad range of fields, from design and construction of massive buildings to manipulation of microscopic molecules and biological processes. During National Engineers Week, help your students appreciate the work all engineers do and inspire some budding engineers in your own classes with resources on learner.org. For engineering events in your area check out these activities.

Sience in Focus:
                                                Force and MotionSee how a fourth-grade teacher engages her students to think about forces acting on one another in “Force Against Force” from the workshop series Science in Focus: Force and Motion

Putting on the lab coat of a genetic engineer, you can see how drug design exploits the structure of a protein that causes a disease. Work through the case study from Rediscovering Biology, “Designing Cancer Drugs.”

An engineering lesson would not be complete without a ride on a rollercoaster... after you design it.  Will your coaster be thrilling or dangerous? Try it out using our wildly popular interactive: Amusement Park Physics.

Celebrate the birthday of an American inventor/engineer on Feb. 11, Thomas A. Edison.  See the birthday section for related resources.

More Historic Days

For resources on Ferris Wheel Day (February 14), Presidents’ Day (February 18), the anniversary of the Montgomery Boycott Arrests (February 22), and Iwo Jima Day (February 23), see the February 2012 update

Notable February Birthdays

American PassagesHarriet Jacobs, abolitionist and author (February 11, 1813)

Harriet Jacobs, featured in American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom,” led a tumultuous life, being forced at one point to hide in an attic for seven years. She wrote Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, a personal narrative that appealed to readers’ emotions to promote social change. See her story at 12:35 in the video.  

Use the American Passages resource above and Jacobs’s narrative as part of a social history approach to understanding literature in Artifacts & Fiction, workshop 3.

Hold thought-provoking classroom discussions to help all students feel included using ideas from workshop 2, “Encouraging Discussion,” of Making Meaning in Literature. “Letters From a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs” by Mary E. Lyon is a featured text.

Thomas A. Edison, inventor (February 11, 1847)

In 1878, Thomas Edison patented the phonograph and in 1879 he developed the first practical light bulb. He went on to patent more than 1300 inventions. See a timeline of technological innovations of a post-Civil War United States in A Biography of America, program 14, “Industrial Supremacy.”

Thomas Edison projected the first motion picture on a public screen on April 23, 1896. Cinema soon joined radio in effecting the spread of mass culture. American Passages, unit 13, “Southern Renaissance,” Mass Culture Invasion: The Rise of Motion Pictures examines the relationship between mass culture values and values of the South.

Frederick Douglass, civil rights activist, writer, social critic (February 14, 1818)

American PassagesFrederick Douglass, born into slavery, resisted slave life and worked his way to freedom with the help of future wife Anna Murray, a freed black woman. He became an influential figure in government and advocated for emancipation of slaves and for all human rights. View his biography in American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom.”

Frederick Douglass is also included in the social history lesson, along with Harriet Jacobs, in Artifacts & Fiction, workshop 3.

Primary Sources, workshop 4, “Concerning Emancipation,” asks, “Who Freed the Slaves?” While the common answer among school children is Abraham Lincoln, this workshop recognizes the important contributions of abolitionists like Frederick Douglass.

John Steinbeck, author (February 27, 1902)

American PassagesCompare differing images of migrant workers as they are portrayed by authors John Steinbeck, Helena Maria Viramontes, and Carlos Bulosan in the video for American Passages, unit 12, “Migrant Struggle.”  Steinbeck, a Nobel Prize winner, wrote prolifically about the outsiders and underprivileged in early 1900s United States.

For resources related to the following birthdays, click on the February 2012 update

Langston Hughes - poet, writer (February 1, 1902)
Gertrude Stein - poet and essayist (February 3, 1874)
Charles Dickens - writer, social critic (February 7, 1812)
Charles Darwin - naturalist (February 12, 1809)
Galileo Galilei - physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher
(February 15, 1564)
Susan B. Anthony - civil rights activist, suffragist (February 15, 1820)
Nicolaus Copernicus - astronomer (February 19, 1473)

Annenberg Learner Announcements

Monthly Update

Share your ideas for a topic or teaching strategy for us to cover in an upcoming issue of the monthly update.  Send us a note including the relevant grade level(s) at info@learner.org

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LearnerLog.org has a new, refreshed look and more regularly updated posts. Check out our blog for in-depth discussions on teaching and learning, and share your thoughts in the comments section of the posts. Give us feedback for ways we can support you more through the blog at blog@learner.org.

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Annenberg Foundation Update

“No Strangers” Exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography Runs through February 24

See "No Strangers: Ancient wisdom in a modern world," curated by Wade Davis, at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles through February 24, 2013. This photo exhibit is about world cultures and indigenous people and a good fit for social studies, photography, and art instruction.
No Strangers

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