Annenberg Learner Update
      March 2012

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In the Spotlight for March

Curriculum Focus:  Arts Across the Curriculum

Current Events
    The Energy Challenge
    Stem Cell Research

Connecting Learning with Special Days
    Women’s History Month and
    Expanding Girls’ Horizons in Science and Engineering Month
    Brain Awareness Week (March 12-18)
    National Wildlife Week (
March 19-25 )
    Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770)
    National Grammar Day (March 4)
    Harriet Tubman Day (March 10)
    Pi Day (March 14)

Notable March Birthdays
    Robert Lowell (March 1, 1917)
    Theodor Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss (March 2, 1904)
    Gerardus Mercator (March 5, 1512)
    Michelangelo Buonarroti (March 6, 1475)
    Ralph Ellison (March 1, 1914)
    Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879)
    Tennessee Williams (March 26, 1911)
    Robert Frost (March 26, 1874)
    Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853)
    René Descartes (March 31, 1596)
    Walt Whitman (March 31, 1819)

Annenberg Learner Announcements
    New! Learner Log Blog
    Journey North NEW Mobile App!
    Video on Demand FAQ

Annenberg Foundation Update
   The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands Opens
   Annenberg Space for Photography Presents “Digital Darkroom”
Distance Learning Update

Curriculum Focus: Arts Across the Curriculum

Art is a valuable tool for students to learn how to express themselves, work through a process, work cooperatively, and gain respect and understanding for others. How can we teach art in all subject areas so that students benefit from the learning opportunities that art affords them? For more ways art instruction benefits students, read “Ten reasons why teaching the arts is critical in a 21st century world” by Elliott Seif.

Below are examples of the arts blended with other curriculum areas, helping students to draw out a deeper understanding and appreciation for both familiar and unfamiliar concepts.

See art as a tool to make meaning of our relationship with the natural world in Art Through Time, program 10, “The Natural World.”

Seventh graders combine science, dance, and language arts as they compare the anatomy of a frog and a human and then debate whether a frog could join a ballet company. Connecting With the Arts Library, program 11, “Can Frogs Dance?” has the video and student materials.


                                                          IlluminatedMathematicians understand symmetry differently than the rest of us, as a fundamental aspect of group theory. Learn more in Mathematics Illuminated, unit 6, “The Beauty of Symmetry,” which includes a symmetry interactive. Students can manipulate a wallpaper design to practice common geometric motions such as rotation and reflection.

Language Arts

Students explore Greek myths using puppets in Connecting With the Arts Library, program 2, “Breathing Life into Myths.”

Artifacts & Fiction, session 1, “Visual Arts,” shows how visual art, paired with literature, can be used to enhance students’ understanding of the predominant culture and historical setting of a work of literature.

                                                          K-12Foreign Languages
Latin students learn the difference between translating and interpreting the language using music and literary works of Mozart, Vergil, and Cicero. See Teaching Foreign Languages K-12, program 24, “Music and Manuscripts.”

In Teaching Foreign Languages, program 29, “Interpreting Literature,” students discuss “Dos caras” (Two faces) by New Mexico author Sabine Ulibarri. They act out scenes and make comparisons to a painting by a local artist.  In program 27, “Interpreting Picasso’s Guernica,” students write and deliver radio newscasts interpreting the scene in the famous painting. 

Arts in
                                                          ClassroomSocial Studies
Fifth graders in The Arts in Every Classroom, program 6, “Teaching Visual Art,” view portraits, looking beyond the face for historical cues. They continue the lesson by creating new portraits that reveal clues to the lives of their subjects through clothing, expressions, and background.

Additional Resources:
To learn more about why arts education is important and how to connect the arts with big ideas in other subject areas, view Connecting With the Arts, program 2, “Why Integrate the Arts?”  and program 5, “What Are Connecting Concepts?

Current Events

The Energy Challenge

Energy is a hot topic of debate in the United States. The government examines alternative energy sources for various reasons, including environmental impact, political relationships with other countries, and economics. New Scientist reports that the U.S. plans to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind turbines by 2030 and has approved construction of new nuclear reactors
for the first time since 1978. Give students facts to help them debate the pros and cons of usHabitable
                                                          Planeting these energy sources.

The Habitable Planet, unit 10, “Energy Challenges,” section 10, Wind Power, explains how wind turbines work and the benefits and challenges of using these strange-looking harnesses of energy.   Section 6, Nuclear Power, explains how nuclear reactors work and also weighs the benefits and the challenges of using nuclear energy.

Stem Cell Research

Ophthalmologists at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute, in an experimental treatment, used human embryonic stem cells to partially restore the sight of two women.  Markus Grompe, MD, explains what stem cells are in an interview in Rediscovering Biology, unit 7, “Genetics of Development.”   Watch the video from 17:05 to learn about how stem cells work and what researchers hope to find in their studies of stem cell uses.

Connecting Learning with Special Days

Women’s History Month Theme: Women's Education -- Women's Empowerment
Expanding Girls’ Horizons in Science and Engineering Month

In honor of both Women’s History Month and Expanding Girls’ Horizons in Science and Engineering Month, we share the stories of inspirational women scientists. Introduce your students to women who are making great contributions in science. Three of the scientists, Lene Hau, Deborah Jin, and Nergis Mavalvala, whose work is featured in Physics for the 21st Century, are MacArthur Foundation fellows, winners of the “genius award.”

                                                          for the 21st
                                                          CenturyIn Physics for the 21st Century, unit 10, “Dark Matter,” section 2, Initial Evidence of Dark Matter, learn about Vera Cooper Rubin, one of first astronomers to measure the rotational velocities of interstellar matter in orbit which led to the current understanding of dark matter.

Unit 7, “Manipulating Light,” features Lene Hau, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics at Harvard University and known as “the woman who stopped light.” Dr. Hau explains how she first became interested in physics and quantum mechanics. 

Unit 6, “Macroscopic Quantum Mechanics,” features Jenny Hoffman and Deborah S. Jin. Hoffman, an assistant professor of physics at Harvard University, talks about how she explores ideas before she develops her hypothesis as part of the scientific process. Jin, a physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), talks about the history of the Bose-Einstein condensate and her related research. 

More inspirational profiles and interviews with women biologists and physicists:

Elizabeth Blackburn (won 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine) Rediscovering Biology, unit 8, “Cell Biology and Cancer” 

Anne Camper Rediscovering Biology, unit 4, “Microbial Diversity” 

Rita Colwell Rediscovering Biology, unit 13, “Genetically Modified Organisms” 

Eleanor Sterling Rediscovering Biology, unit 12, “Biodiversity” 

Ayana Arce Physics for the 21st Century, unit 2, “The Fundamental Interactions” 

Bonnie Fleming and Natalie Roe Physics for the 21st Century, unit 1, “The Basic Building Blocks of Matter” 

Nergis Mavalvala Physics for the 21st Century, unit 3, “Gravity” 

Brain Awareness Week (March 12-18)

Brain Awareness Week, organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the Society for Neuroscience, promotes the public and personal benefits of brain research. It is a great time to explore Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections, our newest course for teachers. This course empowers teachers to improve instruction by understanding brain research, including how emotions factor into learning. Parts of this course can also be used in psychology classrooms.


                                                          & the
                                                          ClassroomEmotions play a role in our memory, learning, and problem solving. In unit 2, “The Unity of Emotion, Thinking, and Learning,” section 5, Emotional Thinking, discover how students are more engaged when solving problems connected to their lives and, ultimately, their emotions. See a video on how emotion can enhance learning in a math class.

In unit 5, “Building New Neural Networks,” Harvard professor Kurt Fischer explains the plasticity of the brain and how students truly understand concepts when they build them into their neural networks and are able to use the concepts in new contexts and in creative ways.

What happens when one half of your brain is removed? See fascinating case studies of Brooke and Nico, two young men who have learned to live with just one hemisphere of the brain in unit 1, “Different Brains,” section 4, Succeeding with Half a Brain.

For more resources related to the brain:

The Brain Teaching Modules
Discovering Psychology, “The Human Brain,” program 3 “The Behaving Brain,”  program 4, “The Responsive Brain

National Wildlife Week (March 19-25)

National Wildlife Week, initiated in 1938 by the National Wildlife Federation, aims to connect families and communities to nature, help them raise healthier kids, and inspire a life-long appreciation of wildlife and the environment.  The following resources provide expert information on ecosystems, wildlife diversity, and the effect of humans on those systems.

                                                          PlanetIn unit 4, “Ecosystems,” of The Habitable Planet, review energy flow, population growth, and natural selection.  Build your own ecosystem using the Ecology Lab Interactive and see how interrelated living species are when you add or take away just one species. 

Also in unit 4, “Ecosystems,” read an interview with scientist Robert Crabtree, founder of Yellowstone Ecological Research Center. The center specializes in long-term studies in the Yellowstone ecosystem.

How do scientists study diversity and human trends that might cause extinction? The Habitable Planet, unit 9, “Biodiversity Decline,” answers these questions.

Life Science, session 7, “Energy Flow in Communities,” defines producers, consumers, and decomposers and looks at the way energy moves through a community.   In the Children’s Ideas section of this course, see common ideas elementary-age students have about energy flow in a community to inform your instruction.

Rediscovering Biology, unit 12, “Biodiversity,” explains how experts study biodiversity in the field.

Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770)

Paul Revere’s engraving of the “Boston Massacre,” in the video transcript of A Biography of America, program 4, “The Coming of Independence,” shows redcoats shooting at unarmed civilians. Boston at that time was in conflict with England and refused to be bullied by the armed soldiers of the British government.   Watch from 8:10 in the video for expert commentary on this event.

More Commemorative March Days

For resources on National Grammar Day (March 4), Harriet Tubman Day (March 10), and Pi Day (March 14), see the March 2011 Update.

Notable March Birthdays

                                                          and VisionsRobert Lowell, poet (March 1, 1917)

Robert Lowell shifted the focus of his poetic work from historic commentary to one more typical of confessional poets at his time. See a video of his life and work in Voices and Visions, program 7, “Robert Lowell.”

Theodor Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, writer (March 2, 1904)

Learn about the finer points of literacy instruction on Read Across America Day, in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, with the resources Teaching Reading K-2 Video Library and Teaching Reading 3-5 Workshop.

Gerardus Mercator, cartographer (March 5, 1512)

The geographic information on maps can provide insights into historical points of view. For example, in 1569, Gerardus Mercator created a world map that projected the Northern Hemisphere as much bigger than it is, leading Europe in its ideas of self-importance in the world. Read about maps created by Mercator and other cartographers and watch the video segment, Cartographical Constructs, in Bridging World History, unit 1, “Maps, Time, and World History.”

                                                          Through TimeMichelangelo Buonarroti, artist (March 6, 1475)

St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square is a featured work in Art Through Time, program 11, “The Urban Experience.” Michelangelo became the architectural supervisor of the basilica in the 1540s. Its looming presence demonstrated that the church was regaining power in Rome.

Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” is one of the most popular segments of ceiling art in the Sistine Chapel. See the painting with its depiction of the human body and traits that mirror the god-like body in Art Through Time, program 13, “The Body.”

Direct students to the Renaissance Interactive to learn about artists such as Michelangelo and the characteristics of the art and architecture they produced from their studies in Florence.

Art of the Western World, program 4, “The High Renaissance,” part I, shows how Michelangelo and others raised the artist’s status in Italy. 

Additional March birthdays:

Ralph Ellison, writer (March 1, 1914)
American Passages, unit 14, “Becoming Visible

Albert Einstein, physicist (March 14, 1879)
For resources on Albert Einstein, see the March 2011 Update.

                                                          PassagesTennessee Williams, writer (March 26, 1911)
American Passages, unit 13, “Southern Renaissance

Robert Frost, poet (March 26, 1874)
Voices & Visions, program 5, “Robert Frost
American Passages, unit 10, “Rhythms in Poetry

Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853)
Art of the Western World, program 7, “A Fresh View — Impressionism and Post-Impressionism,” part II

René Descartes, mathematician and philosopher (March 31, 1596)
Learning Math: Geometry, session 6, part C, “Applications of the Pythagorean Theorem
The Mechanical Universe, program 15, “Conservation of Momentum

Walt Whitman, writer (March 31, 1819)
*Voices & Visions, program 12, “Walt Whitman
*This program contains nude images that might not be appropriate for all students. Please preview video before showing in the classroom.
American Passages, unit 5, “Masculine Heroes


Annenberg Learner Announcements

NEW! Learner Log Blog

Learner Log, our new blog space, is up. Blog topics relate to strategizing how to improve instruction based on how students learn and building content knowledge in specific subject areas. We encourage you to use Learner Log to reflect and broaden the discussion of your teaching practice as you create excellent learning environments. Click on Blog on our homepage to read and start commenting.

Journey North has a NEW Mobile App

Coming this spring! Take Journey North outdoors with a new mobile app.

Video on Demand FAQ

VoD FAQQ: How do I make the Video on Demand (VoD) screen larger?

A: If you're using Windows Media Player, simply right-click with your mouse on the video screen, and once the video starts playing, select "zoom" to enlarge the picture to full screen mode. While viewing a Flash video, [see image] click on the small square in the lower right-hand corner of the video screen. If you're using Internet Explorer and can't zoom to full screen, install the latest version of Adobe Flash (ver or higher) and then close and restart Internet Explorer.

Annenberg Foundation Update

The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands Opens

Opening March 1, 2012, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, the home of the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore, will present and host conferences, retreats, and seminars on issues of national and international importance. Working with global leaders from fields including government, philanthropy, education, and the arts, staff will develop programs designed to have an impact on society.  Click on this LA Times blog to learn more about key points in the history of the Sunnylands estate.


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.

Distance Learning Update

Reminder! Distance learning licenses for spring 2012 are now due. We have flexible licensing options to include licensing by the program as well as by the full series. 
Economics U$A has been updated as Economics U$A: 21st Century Edition. We are extending a 20% discount off our 'per year license fee.’ Contact distancelearning@learner.org for more information. 
Join us March 29 through 31 at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Indianapolis. Stop by booth 973 to talk about our professional development and student resources related to environmental science, physics, and more.

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