Annenberg Learner Update
      March 2013

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In the Spotlight for March

Curriculum Focus: The Arts: Music to Students’ Ears

Current Events
    Found: New Largest Prime Number
    Russia Takes a Meteor Hit
    Warming Trends Affect Hummingbird Migrations

Connecting Learning with Special Days
    National Grammar Day (March 4)
    Pi Day (March 14)
    The Vernal Equinox (March 20)

Notable March Birthdays
    Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879)
    Robert Frost (March 26, 1874)
    René Descartes (March 31, 1596)
    More March Birthdays
Annenberg Learner Announcements
    New to Learner.org
        Author interviews for In Search of the Novel
        Nuevos Destinos now streaming
        Backstory of A Private Universe
Annenberg Foundation Update
    Annenberg Space for Photography Presents “War/Photography”

Curriculum Focus: The Arts: Lessons that are Music to Our Students’ Ears

Learning ClassroomIn March, we celebrate Music in Our Schools Month. Varying the way we present lessons to students helps keep the classroom interesting and alive. Maybe you are looking for ways to make lessons resonate with students identified as musically gifted. (See The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice, session 4, “Different Kinds of Smart - Multiple Intelligences" for information on Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and how to apply this information in the classroom.) Or maybe you want ways to tune up your lessons for every student. The following activities are examples of fresh ways to engage students using music.

Early music provides an echo of the past, allowing students to connect to people, cultures, and arts from long ago. Using The Middle Ages interactive, students test their ears by determining which of the instruments used by medieval musicians match the sounds they hear. 

Elementary music specialist Sylvia Bookhardt teaches students about Renaissance society in The Arts in Every Classroom, "Teaching Music."

Going back to the ancient world, Latin teacher Lauri Dabbieri uses music in Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 to guide students in translation and interpretation of manuscripts and to make historical connections to Roman culture.

                                            IlluminatedHigh school and college students can study how the Greeks applied mathematical thought to the study of music in the video and online text for Mathematics Illuminated, unit 10, “Harmonious Math,” section 2, The Math of Time.  Section 3, Sound and Waves, looks at how sound waves move through the air and section 6, Can You Hear the Shape of a Drum?, asks if it’s possible to deduce what object makes a sound based on the frequency content of the sound.

More resources for bringing music into the classroom:

Exploring the World of Music
Teaching ‘The Children of Willesden Lane’
Neuroscience & the Classroom, unit 3, “Seeing Others from the Self

Current Events

Found: New Largest Prime Number

Curtis Cooper of the University of Central Missouri has found the new largest prime number.  Discover how mathematicians, going back to Euclid and Mersenne, investigate prime numbers. Learn how prime numbers are used for data encryption in the video for Mathematics Illuminated, unit 1, "The Primes."

Continue a mathematics tradition begun by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276-194 B.C.E.), also known for accurately estimating the diameter of the Earth based on the shadow cast by the Sun's light, by searching for prime numbers using grids. See Learning Math: Number and Operations, session 6, “Number Theory,” part B, Looking for Prime Numbers.

Russia Takes a Meteor Hit

On Friday, February 15, 2013, a meteor exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people and blowing out windows in the frigid Ural Mountain town.  The chances of being hit by a meteor or asteroid are slim, yet very real to the people in Chelyabinsk. It’s on many minds now: when will the next one hit and where?

For information about meteors and their larger asteroids, and their impact on Earth, visit the following Learner.org resources:

Habitable PlanetWhat stories do the meteorites tell us? Dr. Ursula Marvin demonstrates how meteorites are used to find clues for the birth of our solar system in Essential Science for Teachers: Earth and Space Science, session 8.

How do astronomers study swiftly moving comets and meteors? Planet Earth, program 6, "The Solar Sea," includes footage of astronomers tracking the brief appearance of a comet in Earth's atmosphere. 

What does a meteor look like? See a photo of the 15 ton Willamette Meteorite in The Habitable Planet, unit 1, “Many Planets, One Earth,” section 2.

How is mathematics used to describe the unpredictable behavior of planetary bodies moving in space? Mathematics Illuminated, unit 13, “The Concepts of Chaos,” looks at how philosophers and scientists such as Newton have attempted to explain planetary motion, including how two bodies in space affect each other. 

What’s the worst-case scenario? Rediscovering Biology, unit 12, “Biodiversity,” details the impact of a ten-kilometer-wide meteor on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago, believed to have led to mass extinction of the dinosaurs and other animals. 

Warming Trends Affect Hummingbird Migrations

Journey NorthFor over a decade, volunteers have contributed spring migration sightings of ruby-throated hummingbirds to Journey North. These data were recently analyzed by biologist Jason Courter of Upland University in Indiana and his colleagues, and the findings were published in the scientific journal of the American Ornithologists Union. "A project of this magnitude would have been impossible without the contributions of thousands of Citizen Scientists throughout North America - we particularly thank observers from Journey North for their faithful reporting of hummingbird arrivals for more than a decade," says Courter. A detailed migration study description is posted on the Clemson University Blog entitled, "Warming trends bring earlier migrating Ruby-throats; will flowers and small insects stay in sync?"

For the original study and blog, a summary of the findings, and what these findings could mean for other migrating species, see the Journey North Web site.

You and your students can participate in Journey North’s ruby-throated hummingbird research. Visit the Journey North site to learn about how to contribute data as citizen scientists.

Connecting Learning with Special Days

National Grammar Day (March 4)

"I never made a mistake in grammar but once in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it." - Carl Sandburg, from the poem "The People, Yes"

Grammar is a topic with many rules and more jokes. Get tips from well-known writers and expert educators on making grammar lessons fun and functional. The poet Carl Sandburg celebrates the loosely grammatical vernacular and John Ashbery challenges readers' expectations by taking liberties with grammar. See American Passages, unit 10, “Rhythms in Poetry,” and unit 15, “Poetry of Liberation.” 
Developing Writers"Usage and Mechanics," workshop 5 of Developing Writers: A Workshop for High School Teachers, reviews effective strategies for teaching grammar. See a lesson plan for using more active verbs and hear thoughts on revision and grammar from writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Ruthanne Lum McCunn.
Dave Barry (aka Mr. Language Person) provides humorous views on grammar and Andy Rooney quibbles on word choice and usage in News Writing: Interviews.
Workshop 8, “Teaching the Power of Revision,” of Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers, is “where the magic happens” according to teacher Velvet McReynolds. 

Explore sentence syntax as it relates to math and patterns in our Teacher's Lab, Patterns in Mathematics Syntax Store

Psycholinguists have found that children don’t learn languages by simply imitating what they hear and that grammar and patterns in language are hard-wired in the brain. Learn how children build language skills in Discovering Psychology, program 6, "Language Development."  

Pi Day (March 14)

Celebrate the value of pi, approximately 3.14, with the following resources:
Math in Daily LifeWe usually consider pi to be a universal constant, and it can be, but that depends on which universe we are talking about. Mathematics Illuminated unit 8, "Geometries Beyond Euclid," explains why in a discussion on curvature and higher-dimensional space. 
Session 7, “Circles and Pi,” of Learning Math: Measurement investigates the properties of pi and its relationship to the measures of a circle. 
What do carpets have to do with pi? See practical applications of pi in the Math in Daily Life interactive. This section of the interactive demonstrates its value in home decorating
Elementary students use string and tape measures to approximate the value of pi in the lesson "Round About Pi."  

The Vernal Equinox (March 20)

Science in Focus:
                                                Shedding Light on
                                                ScienceSpring is approaching quickly and that means changes in daylight, temperature, and animal and insect behavior. Track how seasonal changes in sunlight affect the entire web of life with Journey North, a Web-based program for exploring seasonal change.  

A Private Universe investigates why even Harvard and MIT graduates can remain uninformed on the most basic facts of science. The program looks at celestial movements, the seasons, and how these are taught in school. 

What causes the changes in daylight and ultimately Earth’s seasons? Find out in workshop 7, “Sun and Seasons,” of Science in Focus: Shedding Light on Science

For resources for Women’s History Month, the Boston Massacre (March 5, 1770), Brain Awareness Week (March 11-17), and National Wildlife Week (March 18-24), see the March 2012 update.


Notable March Birthdays

Albert Einstein, physicist (March 14, 1879)

                                              IlluminatedSee Mathematics Illuminated, unit 8, "Geometries Beyond Euclid," for a discussion of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Also see unit 5, "Other Dimensions," for a discussion on time as the 4th dimension.  

Appreciate the scope of Einstein's impact on physics and related fields with The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond. In particular, watch program 25, "Kepler to Einstein," and program 43, "Velocity and Time." 

Get a simple explanation of Einstein's famous equation in Science in Focus: Energy, workshop 3, "Transfer and Conversion of Energy." 

Robert Frost, poet (March 26, 1874)

Voices and VisionsAmerican poet Robert Frost showed in his work that nature is the clearest window into human personality. Poets (including Frost himself) and academics read and comment on his poetry and life in Voices & Visions, program 5, “Robert Frost.” 

What are the poetic characteristics of Frost’s work? See American Passages, unit 10, “Rhythms in Poetry.”  Ask students to write a Frost-like poem in which they describe a job and think about the relationship between physical work and reflection

René Descartes, mathematician and philosopher (March 31, 1596)

René Descartes was the first to use algebra to solve geometry problems. Use Cartesian geometry, or coordinate geometry, to solve the distance between two points in Learning Math: Geometry, session 6, part C, “Applications of the Pythagorean Theorem.” 

Descartes’ Law of Conservation of Momentum is the idea that the total quantity of motion in the universe is fixed, that if one thing slowed down and came to rest, another had to speed up and start moving. This law is the focus of The Mechanical Universe, program 15, “Conservation of Momentum,” which answers the question “What keeps the universe ticking away until the end of time?” 

For additional March birthdays, including Robert Lowell, Gerardus Mercator, and Tennessee Williams, see the March 2012 update

Annenberg Learner Announcements

New to Learner.org

How does a writer learn about point of view? Writer Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon, says “by learning about love… Part of my job as a writer is to see things through the eyes of other people.” Check out the new Authors’ Notes sections on the resource page for In Search of the Novel. In these interviews, writers Orson Scott Card, Daniel Keyes, Leslie Marmon Silko, and many more share their take on the qualities of good writing, how they learned to write, and the importance of research and editing.

Buenas Noticias! Nuevos Destinos, a continuation of the popular Destinos Spanish-language series now streams free from Learner.org. Nuevos Destinos is designed for courses in which less video and a specific pedagogical focus are needed.

The Backstory of A Private Universe: More than 23 years ago video producers asked new Harvard graduates some basic science questions and got surprising answers. That footage became A Private Universe, a documentary that is still used in education classes today. Now you can learn how the film was conceived and created from its developers and from those who championed it through the production process. You’ll also see what became of the bright middle school student in the film, Heather.  See A Private Universe, 20 Years Later

Annenberg Foundation Update

Annenberg Space for Photography Presents “War/Photography”

WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath is a new photography exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, organized by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The exhibit runs from March 23 through June 2, 2013.

The exhibit encompasses over 150 images going as far back as 1887 through present-day and is arranged by themes presenting both the military and civilian point of view, including the advent of war, daily routines, the fight itself, the aftermath, medical care, prisoners of war, refugees, executions, memorials, remembrance, and more.  There are many iconic images in the show such as Joe Rosenthal’s Old Glory Goes Up on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day, Times Square, New York

© Louie Palu; U.S. Marine Gysgt. Carlos “OJ” Orjuela, age 31,
Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from Project: Home Front (2008)

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