Annenberg Learner Update
      June - July 2012

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In the Spotlight for Summer (June and July)

Summer Camp for Adult Learners
    Choosing Writing Topics
    Understanding the Electoral College
    Understanding Basic Astronomy
    Learning Practical Physics
    Identifying Birds and Butterflies

Connecting Learning with Summer Activities

    Independence Day, July 4
    Summer Movies
    Carnivals and Casinos
    Field Trips and Museums
Annenberg Learner Announcements
    This Month on the Learner Log Blog
    Learner Express: Modules for Teaching and Learning
    Journey North Mobile App

Annenberg Foundation Update

In this special summer edition of the Annenberg Learner monthly update, you will find a summer camp for adult learners. Why should the kids have all the fun? Learn things you’ve always wanted to know but haven’t had time to study.  Also, find resources related to summer activities and field trips you can do with friends and family.  Relax, recharge your educator batteries, learn something new, and enjoy your summer break.

Summer Camp for Adult Learners

Welcome to our adult version of summer camp. We asked friends to tell us what types of information have eluded them over the years, and we point them to the resources below. Learn something new from this sampling of their inquiries and continue this conversation by posting more questions on our blog

Phyllis: In composition class, I could never find anything to write about.

In Search
                                                          of the NovelIn Developing Writers: A Workshop for High School Teachers, workshop 7, “Learning From Professional Writers,” teachers and professional writers give strategies for finding your writer’s voice. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones are recommended to help you observe the world with a writer’s eye and get that pen moving on the paper.

Science fiction writer, Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game series) and Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) share insights on using plot, character development, and cultural references in good storytelling in In Search of the Novel, workshop 2, "What’s the Story?".

Laurie: How does the Electoral College work?

In The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, program 3, “Nomination, Election, and Succession of the President,” Edmund Muskie, Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter, and various party officials discuss the role of the Electoral College in presidential elections.

I want to know basic astronomy.

                                                          ModulesIn Planet Earth, program 4, “Tales From Other Worlds,” scientists analyze meteorites in Antarctica to piece together how our solar system formed. See footage of Mars, Venus, and Jupiter and hear what scientists have learned from observing these planets.

Learn about the Giant Impact Model, which proposes that a Mars-sized object once crashed into the Earth creating the Earth and the Moon, in the Learner Express Modules, “The Moon was Formed From a Collision.”

Teach me practical physics.

Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science
explores practical physics.   For example, in session 3, “Physical Changes and Conservation of Matter,” learn what happens to matter when it is dissolved or evaporated.  In session 7, “Heat and Temperature,” forecaster Bill Babcock answers “Why do we need heated towel racks?” as he explains how heat is transferred from your skin to water on your skin after a shower.

I want to learn about bird and butterfly identification.

Start with the birds and butterflies in your own back yard (and learn how to attract them) by tracking migrating species with Journey North, a global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change. Citizen scientists (like you!) track the coming of spring through animal migration patterns and seasonal changes like daily sunrise and sunset. Take the Creature Quiz and identify species of birds, insects, and mammals by sight and sound.  Follow Journey North news updates to locate hummingbirds, monarchs, and other species as they migrate.

Connecting Learning with Summer Activities

Independence Day, July 4

                                                          History in the
                                                          MakingAs you are enjoying your holiday picnics, parades, and fireworks, reflect on the history behind Independence Day. "Revolutionary Perspectives," of America's History in the Making, reveals the political wrangling that led up to the Declaration of Independence and other state constitutions.

Watch A Biography of America, “The Coming of Independence,” to see how English-loving colonists were transformed into freedom-loving American rebels. Program 5, “A New System of Government,” presents the outsized personalities that came together to hash out new systems of government for the American people.

Do you know the lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner beyond the first stanza? If not, go to the American Passages archive to read the words, hear the music, and sing along!
Other resources for Independence Day include:

The Western Tradition, program 37, "The American Revolution" and program 38, "The American Republic"
American Passages: A Literary Survey, unit 4, Context Activities

Spring and Summer Movie Connections

On the Road (opened May 23, 2012)

The characters and scenes of the book On the Road by Beat writer Jack Kerouac are based on the travels around the U.S. of Kerouac and Neal Cassady on their search for “It.” Read the book, see the movie, and learn about the Beat Generation with these Learner resources:

                                                          PassagesBeat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, (b. June 3, 1926) was a voice of transformation in the 1960s, writing prose-like poetry about living on the fringes of society. See and hear him read in American Passages, A Literary Survey, program 15, “Poetry of Liberation.”  This unit also includes Beat poet Gary Snyder and information on the Beat movement.

The Key Events timeline in Biography of America, program 23, “The Fifties,” and program 24, “The Sixties,” provide historical and cultural context for the literature of the Beat Generation.


                                                          to World
                                                          LiteratureThe Avengers (opened May 4, 2012)

Comic book writer Roy Thomas, one of the writers of The Avengers series and X-Men, also wrote a comic based on The Odyssey. In Invitation to World Literature, Thomas comments that he immerses himself in The Odyssey as he does in the stories of Batman and Captain America. Watch the video, read The Odyssey, and make comparisons between Odysseus and your favorite heroes.

                                                          SourcesAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (opens June 22, 2012)

While Seth Graham-Smith may have fatuously added “vampire hunter” to Abraham Lincoln’s resume, take a look at the skills of the real sixteenth president of the United States (“slavery slayer”?). American Passages, unit 7, “Slavery and Freedom,” provides biographical information on Lincoln.  Read the speeches that rallied at least half of the nation around seemingly impossible causes in A Biography of America, program 12, “Reconstruction.”

Join the debate about whether Lincoln was solely responsible for emancipation of slaves with “Concerning Emancipation: Who Freed the Slaves?,” workshop 4 of Primary Sources

Carnivals and Casinos

                                                          SourcesFerris Wheels

George Washington Gale Ferris, an American engineer and inventor, invented the Ferris Wheel for the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The first Ferris Wheel, built specifically for the fair, was 250 feet in diameter and could carry 40 passengers in 36 coaches. See a picture of the first Ferris Wheel and related questions in Primary Sources, “World’s Fair Photograph.”

Students practice trigonometry by developing functions to describe the height of a Ferris Wheel rider. Watch this lesson unfold in Teaching Math: A Video Library, 9-12, program 7, “Ferris Wheel.”

Roller Coasters

The first roller coaster in America opened on June 16, 1884. In Science in Focus: Force and Motion, workshop 5, "Keep on Rolling," first grade students build on their prior experience with rolling objects as they design, build, and experiment with roller coaster models. After watching, try out the activity with your kids.

Kids learn about the history and physics of roller coasters and design their own ride while considering both fun and safety using the Amusement Park Physics interactive.

Coin Tosses and Gambling

Whether you are trying your luck at carnival games or sitting at a blackjack table in a casino, the mathematics of chance is at play. Are you confident you can beat the odds at a game of roulette? Do you always win a coin toss? Math in Daily Life interactive, “Playing to Win,” explains how the math of probability works when betting on the odds of winning.

Get a feel for statistics and probability related to games of chance such as rolling dice and tossing coins in Learning Math: Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability, session 8, “Probability.”


On those rainy summer evenings, pull out the familiar childhood games of cards, Mousetrap, and Rubik’s Cube. Or learn the mathematics behind game theory in unit 9, “Game Theory,” of Mathematics Illuminated.  Why is poker considered an imperfect game? How do different cultures define ‘fair’? How can language use work like a game?


                                                          in Focus:
                                                          EnergyEver wonder where the concept for the original Mousetrap (published in 1963) game came from? It was inspired by Rube Goldberg (born July 4, 1883) a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, sculptor, and author known for his drawings depicting complicated and comical contraptions that perform simple tasks.  In workshop 3, “Transfer and Conversion of Energy,” of Science in Focus: Energy, see if you can tell where the energy comes from as you move through different stages of the Cat-Traption, a Rube Goldberg-style machine.  Try making your own Cat-Traption at home.

Rubik’s Cube

Erno Rubik, born July 13, 1944, is the Hungarian inventor of the Rubik’s Cube. Physics for the 21st Century, unit 9, “Biophysics,” section 5, Free Energy Landscapes, explains hierarchical states using a Rubik’s Cube. In biology, the distance between these states can explain, for example, how far two species are apart on the evolutionary tree.

Summer Olympics

                                                          World HistoryJuly 27 marks the opening ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  While rooting for athletes and countries, also reflect on the rich historical and cultural significance of the games. Bridging World History, unit 25, “Global Popular Culture,” explains the history of the Olympic games, the influences of global events, and how the games reflect the social and political struggles of the 20th century.

Students make cultural comparisons between Germany and the United States and learn German sports vocabulary while talking about the Olympics in the series Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices, unit 20, “Sports in Action.”

Field Trips and Museums

Impress your family and friends as you visit museums, historical sites, and even the Grand Canyon with your insider’s knowledge of architecture, nature, and history.

Field Trips

                                                          RevealedThe Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Headed to the Grand Canyon? Learn how the extraordinary forces in the Earth's crust shaped landscapes such as the Grand Canyon. Geologists study rock deformations within these landscapes as evidence of events in Earth's history. After watching Earth Revealed, program 8, "Earth's Structures," explore the Canyon from a geologist’s perspective.

Fallingwater (Bear Run, Pennsylvania)

Take a trip to see the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater house in Bear Run Nature Reserve in Pennsylvania.

                                                          Through TimeArt Through Time, program 7, “Domestic Life,” reveals Frank Lloyd Wright’s fascination with both form and function in nature. See a photo and descripton of the stunning Fallingwater home Wright built for the Kaufmann family in the '30s.

Learn more about Wright’s interest in Japanese architecture in the unit 10 archive of American Passages. Choose Unit 10 and search on Frank Lloyd Wright to see Wright’s home and studio near Chicago for an example of how he used Orientalism in his architecture. 

Museums of Natural History

                                                          PlanetGoing fossil hunting outdoors or visiting museums of natural history? Rediscovering Biology, unit 3, “Evolution and Phylogenetics,” reveals how ancient and current species are connected by looking at molecular data and fossil evidence. See how fossil evidence informed an artist’s rendering of an archaic whale

As you’re eating your cherry snowball, think about the entire Earth as a snowball. The Habitable Planet, unit 1, “Many Planets, One Earth,” section 5, Testing the Thermostat: Snowball Earth, explains the possibility that the last occurrence of a Snowball Earth may have influenced the adaptable species in the Cambrian Explosion, the period of time over 500 million years ago.  Scientists have found fossil evidence of the first appearance of multicellular animals dated to this period.  Section 8, The Cambrian Explosion and the Diversification of Animals, provides more information on this period of time. 

History Museums, Historic Sites, and Memorials

The Hands on History section of each unit in America’s History in the Making provides a behind-the-scenes peek at how museums are curated and how artifacts are studied and used. Here are a few highlights.

Archeologist Carol Berkin examines the history of colonial women by studying artifacts and documents women made and used during their time period. In this interview in unit 4, “Revolutionary Perspectives,” Berkin talks about how she studies these artifacts and what the artifacts teach her. 

                                                          History in the
                                                          MakingRetired high-school teacher David Cope examines artifacts from the 1893 World’s Fair and talks to curators of the exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago to gain an understanding of how the U.S. presented itself to the world in the Columbian Exhibition. Watch the video for unit 16, “A Growing Global Power.”

Donovin Sprague, director of education of the Crazy Horse Memorial in Black Hills, South Dakota, explains why memorials are important primary and secondary sources of historical information in unit 20, “Egalitarian America.” 

In unit 9, “A Nation Divided,” Colonel Keith Gibson, head of the Virginia Military Institute’s museum, frequently consults with the creators of feature films and documentaries to make sure that history is represented accurately by firearms, speech patterns, and social conventions. 

Curate your own exhibit of artifacts related to “Conflicts in American History” using America’s History in the Making interactive, “Curating an Exhibit.” 

Annenberg Learner Announcements

This Month on the Learner Log Blog

This month, continue adult education summer camp by asking us questions about topics you wished you had learned in school. We will do our best to provide links to our resources that will help you build new neural networks.  Look for the post titled, “Learner Summer Camp,” in the In Your Own Words section of the blog.

                                                          ExpressLearner Express: Modules for Teaching and Learning

Learner.org premieres a new feature for teaching STEM curriculum and adopting Common Core mathematics standards. Learner Express is a curated group of short video clips drawn from Annenberg Learner science and math series and workshops.

Journey North has a NEW Mobile App

The Journey North app is here for iPhones and iPads! Take Journey North outdoors and report sightings of migrating animals and ecosystem changes. Keep an eye on the Journey North site for the Android version out this summer.

Annenberg Foundation Update

Did you miss Woodstock? Get a backstage look at iconic rock and roll performers by great photographers in Who Shot Rock & Roll. The Annenberg Space for Photography exhibition opening June 23 features images from over 100 photographers. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Gail Buckland, the exhibit spotlights the collaborative role that photographers have played throughout the history of rock music from Elvis to U2. A short documentary features interviews with Ed Colver, Henry Diltz, Jill Furmanovsky, Lynn Goldsmith, Bob Gruen, Norman Seeff, Mark Seliger and Guy Webster.

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