Annenberg Learner Update
      October 2012

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In the Spotlight for October: Special Presidential Election Issue

Curriculum Focus: Social Studies - Democracy and Elections

In the News
    Preparing for the Presidential Elections

Connecting Learning With Special Days
    Arts and Humanities Month
    National Reading Group Month
    National Metric Week (October 7-13)
    National Chemistry Week: Nanotechnology (October 21-27)

Notable October Birthdays
    Wallace Stevens (October 2, 1879)
    Umberto Boccioni (October 19, 1882)
    Maxine Hong Kingston (October 27, 1940)   
    More October Birthdays

Annenberg Learner Announcements
    New at Learner.org
    New Catalogs!
Annenberg Foundation Update
    Annenberg Alchemy Trains CNN Heroes

Curriculum Focus: Social Studies - Democracy and Elections

                                                          in AmericaAs we head into the presidential debates and election, help students understand the democratic process in the United States at all levels of government.

In Social Studies in Action, A Library of Classroom Practices, program 5, “Leaders, Community, and Citizens,” elementary students learn about elected officials from the local to the national level, while exploring ideas of geography and citizenship.

What are the functions of and differences between the political parties? See Democracy in America, program 12, “Political Parties: Mobilizing Agents,” for three case studies. 

Democracy in America, program 13, “Elections: The Maintenance of Democracy,” features a case study of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign to show how candidates focus their campaigns in particular states. 

In the News

Preparing for the Presidential Elections


                                                          interactiveWithout an obvious frontrunner, the 2012 election will be particularly interesting to watch.  Will lack of enthusiasm for both candidates lead to voter apathy? Discuss the importance of voting with your students and teach them how to become informed voters.

Here are two lesson plans that help students understand the importance of informed voting. In Making Civics Real, Other Lessons, “Voting Isn’t Enough,” students learn to list and prioritize issues in an election campaign, and recognize whether or not candidates’ views on issues remain consistent as they campaign. In “Voting is Essential,” student teams analyze the messages in campaign literature and candidate debates to help them form their own opinions. 

How influential are polls? Several resources look at polling techniques and their effects.

Democracy in America, program 11, “Public Opinion: Voice of the People,” shows why public engagement and critical analysis of public polling are crucial for decision making both by politicians and voters.  

Upper elementary students can better understand polls with a hands-on sampling activity. See Math for All - Plus, program 3, “Information, Please!” 

StatisticsStudents can design their own political poll with our  Statistics Interactive: Polls: What do the numbers tell us?

In Making Civics Real, program 2, “Electoral Politics,” students work on becoming informed voters.  Prior to a mayoral election in Newark, New Jersey, students study the candidates’ positions on issues they have chosen to track.

Democracy in America, program 13, “Elections: The Maintenance of Democracy,” tackles the issue of low voter turnout and provides a post-viewing discussion of causes and possible remedies. 

For more resources about voting and citizenship, please look to the following resources:

Democracy in America, program 13, “Elections: The Maintenance of Democracy,” Critical Thinking Activity, Elections and Issues 

Statistics Interactive, “Cast Your Vote” 

Ethics in America II, program 4, “Choosing Justice: Elections and Judicial Independence

Connecting Learning with Special Days

Arts and Humanities Month

National Arts and Humanities Month was established by Americans for the Arts to encourage individuals to explore the arts and recognize the importance of the arts in American culture. Annenberg Learner recognizes the value of the arts in education and provides these resources for you to drum up excitement for the arts in your students. 

                                                          PageBrowse Annenberg Learner’s new Arts discipline page for links to various resources for incorporating music, visual arts, dance, art appreciation, and drama into your classroom. 

Adapt your instruction for students with different learning styles, special needs, and cultural backgrounds by incorporating arts-based activities. See examples in The Art of Teaching the Arts, workshop 3, “Addressing the Diverse Needs of Students.” 

Find out more about bringing the arts into your classroom on our Learner Log blog post “How to Incorporate the Arts in All Subjects.” 

National Reading Group Month

National Reading Group Month is an initiative of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA). Founded in 1917, WNBA promotes literacy and a love of reading.  Convene reading groups and enhance book discussions in your classrooms with ideas from the following resources:

Latosha Rowley models asking questions and drawing meaning from a reading before arranging students in their book groups. Students choose their own books and lead literature discussions while Ms. Rowley circulates among the students encouraging deeper thinking in Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5, program 6, “Building Community.”  Also, help students develop respect for different viewpoints with the lesson plan in program 5, “Sharing the Text.” 
                                                          LibraryIncorporate reading groups into your mixed-level foreign language classes. In Teaching Foreign Languages K-12, Library, program 25, “Russian Cities, Russian Stories,” Russian I and IV students read and write together. Students from each level discuss how they benefit from working in these mixed groups. 

Groups of students teach their assigned chapters of the novel Great Expectations in In Search of the Novel: Teachers & Lesson Plans

More resources for using book groups:

Teaching Reading K-2: A Library of Classroom Practices

Making Meaning in Literature: A Video Library, Grades 6-8, program 8, “The Teacher’s Role in a Literary Community

National Metric Week (October 7-13)

                                                          interactiveMiddle school students can test their ability to convert amounts from English units commonly used in the U.S. to metric units commonly used in the rest of the world with the Metric Conversions Interactive. This interactive includes sample problems with immediate feedback provided. 

Did you know that veterinary medicine uses the metric system? Watch the video segment, Metric Mutts, of Learning Math: Measurement, session 3, “The Metric System," to see more uses of the metric system. Also, brush up on your knowledge of the history of the metric system and how to represent different quantities in session 3. 

Math in Daily Life, “Cooking by Numbers,” helps students understand how to convert recipes from English units to metric units. 

National Chemistry Week (October 21-27)

The American Chemical Society and the Nanoscience Informal Science Education Network are focusing on nanotechnology for this year’s National Chemistry Week. To appreciate how nanoscale relates to our human-sized macro scale, see the table of metric prefixes in Learning Math: Measurement, “The Metric System.”  Then test yourself on distances from the Sun to the Earth down to the size of a bacterium in problem H2 of the homework.

                                                          in ChemistryTo see something on nanoscale, you need a powerful tool. Hear how a graduate student at University of Pennsylvania was the first to see a carbon 60 atom inside a nanotube using a powerful microscope.  Look at the first 3:30 minutes of the video of unit 2, “Macro to Micro Structures” of Reactions in Chemistry.  

What can you make at nanoscale? A fertile field for nanotechnology is drug design, where drugs are created and targeted to a specific micro site in the body. An animation explaining this technique (Virtual Ligand Screening in Drug Design) is found in Rediscovering Biology, unit 2, “Proteins and Proteomics.”

Go to the National Chemistry Week Web site to find activities to do with students and at community events.

Notable October Birthdays

                                                          PassagesWallace Stevens, writer (October 2, 1879)

It’s not likely you think of insurance as poetic, but Wallace Stevens, an insurance company executive, was also a Pulitzer Prize winning poet. In Voices & Visions, program 11, poets, co-workers, and neighbors talk about their experiences with Stevens. The video includes dramatic readings of his poetry, which was fueled by the American landscape.  

For activities to teach about Stevens, see the author activities section of American Passages, unit 11, “Modernist Portraits.” For example, compare the way that Stevens and other modern poets use material objects to comment on the human condition in the modern world.  

Umberto Boccioni, painter (October 19, 1882)

In Art Through Time, program 11, “The Urban Experience,” study Umberto Boccioni’s painting “The City Rises” as a reflection of the progress and energy of the urban experience in the early 20th century.  

                                                          Hong KingstonMaxine Hong Kingston, writer (October 27, 1940)

Maxine Hong Kingston plays with voice in her fiction to create a language that reflects her experience as a Chinese-American in Literary Visions, program 8, “The Author’s Voice: Tone and Style in Short Fiction.” Start at 20:55. 

In Developing Writers: A Workshop for High School Teachers, workshop 7, “Learning from Professional Writers,” students learn about writing by reading Maxine Hong Kingston.  Listen to an interview with Kingston in which she talks about why she writes. 

Kingston, featured in American Passages, unit 16, “Search for Identity,” wrote about balancing the cultural values of her Chinese family with American customs and expectations.  The Author Activities page includes comprehension questions for teaching her work.

Learn how Kingston has integrated the Chinese tradition of “talk-story” into her writing in Artifacts & Fiction, Discipline Tutorial: Oral History

Follow this link to see resources for the following birthdays:

Pablo Picasso (October 25, 1881)
Johannes Vermeer (October 31, 1632)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (October 14, 1890)
Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932)
Ezra Pound (October 30, 1885)

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more October birthday connections.

Annenberg Learner Announcements

New From Annenberg Learner

We have added exciting new ways to explore our Web site, Learner.org.  You can now browse over 400 interactives and search our lesson plan finder for over 100 lesson ideas.  You can also view discipline specific pages like this one with video previews.  


Upcoming Conferences

NAAEE Conference and the California EEI Curriculum (October 12-13)

Visit Annenberg Learner at booth #615 at the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) conference in Oakland, CA. Check out the resources The Habitable Planet and Journey North for teaching about the environment. We will also be joining National Geographic and Google Education in announcing an exciting new professional development opportunity for the California Education and Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum.   

Look for Annenberg Learner at Other Upcoming Conferences:

National Media Market Conference, September 30-October 4, Embassy Suites, Las Vegas, NV 
Pennsylvania Council for Social Studies Conference, October 11-13, Best Western, Bethlehem, PA 
Maryland Association of Science Teachers Conference, October 19, Urbana High School, Frederick County, MD
Virginia Association of Science Teachers Conference November 8-10, Williamsburg Hotel, Williamsburg, VA 
National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, booth #137, November 16-18, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada

Print Catalog

To request a copy of either our 2013 full catalog or the new Social Studies catalog, please send an email to order@learner.org. Be sure to include a mailing address in your request. Thank you!

Annenberg Foundation Update

Annenberg Alchemy Trains CNN Heroes

                                                          HeroesAnnenberg Alchemy, a division of the Annenberg Foundation, provides free professional development and nonprofit training for 2012’s top 10 CNN heroes. Read the press release here. The CNN Heroes are honored for their selfless, creative efforts to help others.
Use the CNN Heroes and the following resources from Annenberg Learner to inspire your students to perform acts of selflessness and civic service.

In Teaching Multicultural Literature, workshop 7, “Social Justice and Action: Alma Flor Ada, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Paul Yee,” Ada challenges students to take responsibility for their actions and think about social justice. Students learn to speak and write persuasively. 

Students undertake fundraising, planning, and recruiting classmates in a school remodeling project. Watch Social Studies in Action, A Library of Classroom Practices, program 7, “Caring for the Community.”   In program 5, “Leaders, Community, and Citizens,” first graders build ”Rooftop Town” and discuss issues such as homelessness within this community.

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