Annenberg Learner Update
      September 2012

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In the Spotlight for September

In the News
    “Curiosity” About Mars 

Curriculum Focus: Foreign Languages

Connecting Learning With Special Days
    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month
    Treaty of Paris Signed (September 3, 1783)
    Remembering 9/11
    Constitution Day (September 17)
    National Hispanic Heritage Month

Notable September Birthdays
    Leslie Feinberg (September 1, 1949)
    William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883)
    Gloria Anzaldúa (September 26, 1942)   
    Upton Sinclair (September 20, 1878)
    T.S. Eliot (September 26, 1888)
    Enrico Fermi (September 29, 1901)

Annenberg Learner Announcements
    Journey North’s Mystery Class
    New Catalogs!

Annenberg Foundation Update
    Explore.org Animal Cameras Safely Bring the Wild Indoors
    Annenberg Space for Photography: Who Shot Rock & Roll
    Annenberg Foundation

In the News

“Curiosity” About Mars

Do you ever wonder what alien life might look like? Your students probably do, and they probably don’t picture microbes. Microbes are exactly what scientists from the Mars Science Laboratory, part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, are looking for with the launch of the “Curiosity” rover on August 5(PDT)/August 6(EDT). Follow the “Curiosity’s” mission on the NASA Web site

                                                          Life on EarthExplore the essential role of microbes in environments that support life forms, including human life on Earth, with Unseen Life on Earth: An Introduction to Microbiology, program 8, “Microbial Ecology.”

Inspire students to think on a microbial level by reading an interview with Anna-Louise Reysenbach, a microbial ecologist in Rediscovering Biology. Dr. Reysenbach shows her enthusiasm for studying the ecology of Yellowstone National Park as she takes inventory of microbes to determine if life on other planets such as Mars is possible.

Another inspiring scientist, Harvard geneticist Gary Ruvkun suggests searching for life on Mars by looking for DNA in sediment samples. Life Science, session 1, “What is Life?” explores the definition of life and examines how to look for life in different environments, including on Mars. Watch the video to see young students discussing characteristics of life.

Andrew Knoll, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, talks about his research on the evolution of life on Earth. He is also actively involved in Mars exploration, both as part of NASA's 2004 MER missions and in the planning for future landings. Read his interview in The Habitable Planet.

For more resources on the Mars landscapes, check out:

Teaching High School Science, program 5, “Exploring Mars

Earth Revealed, program 1, “Down to Earth

The Habitable Planet, unit 1, “Many Planets, One Earth,” section 2, Many Planets, One Earth

Earth and Space Science
, session 8, “A Closer Look: Meteorites

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Curriculum Focus: Foreign Languages

You CAN Teach in the Target Language

Teaching Foreign LanguagesEvery teacher knows the blank look students give, as though she or he is speaking in a foreign language. For foreign language teachers trying to create an immersion experience, it is even more difficult. While it is tempting to revert to English in order to explain the new language, doing so deprives students of valuable language immersion opportunities. “Achieving the ACTFL Standards’ goal of teaching in the target language 90 percent of the time is one of the most daunting challenges for current and incoming teachers, but it is eminently achievable” said June Philips, Professor Emeritus at Weber State University and former ACTFL president. So how do you accomplish this goal? Revisit the National Foreign Language Standards for Communication and Communities and see examples of activities below.

Tap into students’ interests and provide activities to explore those interests in the target language. In the Teaching Foreign Languages Library, program 5, “Mapping Planet Earth,” teacher Stephanie Appel says, “When you’re trying to decide what to teach as a world language teacher, you really need to think about what subjects catch the interest of your students. Why not steal the energy they get from learning those topics?” She uses visuals and physical movement to get her second graders talking about science and geography.

Watch as ACTFL’s 2012 Teacher of the Year Yo Azama’s class uses familiar and new vocabulary to learn Japanese regions and landmarks. Students visibly enjoy the assortment of activities and feel comfortable talking with each other in program 23, “Promoting Attractions of Japan.”

In program 6, Debra Terry’s fifth-grade, first-year French students talk about what is important to them -- their families and homes. They start the unit by cutting pictures of families from magazines while using vocabulary about relatives with each other. As the unit progresses, watch Ms. Terry use pictures and classroom objects to aid students’ understanding of French and to help them communicate with each other at this basic level.

For more activities and strategies to help you reach that 90% target language use goal, see

Teaching Foreign Languages Workshop
Program 1, “Meaningful Interpretation

Program 2, “Person to Person

Program 4, “Subjects Matter

Teaching Foreign Languages Library
Program 3, “Delivering the Message

Program 8, “Engaging With Communities

Program 20, “Sports in Action

Program 30, “Politics of Art

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Connecting Learning with Special Days

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month

Most teachers have had students with extra energy, who blurt out at inappropriate times, and fail to complete assignments. But how do you know when a student’s behavior is an isolated event or the result of something more complicated? Whether you have students who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or students who just generally struggle with keeping their attention focused in the classroom, the following resources can help with classroom management and student learning.

First, get some background on the disorder. Abnormal Psychology, program 11, “Behavior Disorders of Childhood,” features case studies of students with behavior disorders including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Distinct symptoms include inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Learn about difficulties in diagnosing the disorder, types of evaluation, and possible treatments.

Neuroscience & the ClassroomNext, take a second look at the role of attention. Neuroscience & the Classroom, unit 4, section 4 “Different Learners, Different Minds: Learning,” explains how attention skills vary from person to person and provides tips to improve all your students’ attention in class.  Section 7, The Seesaw of Attention, includes a video of Dr. Todd Rose, a research scientist and faculty member at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He talks about his struggles with ADHD and attributes his success after high school to hard work and to fortunate encounters with people who expected more from him.

Treaty of Paris Signed (September 3, 1783)

After eight long years of battle, the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and the United States and its allies ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.

                                                          of AmericaA catalyst of the American Revolution was a familiar issue — conflict over taxes. The King's plans for a stamp tax on American legal documents, newspapers, pamphlets, and pleasure items such as dice and playing cards incited Americans to rebellion, which started the march toward independence. Biography of America, program 4, “The Coming of Independence,” starts from the beginning of the conflict between the Americans and the British and includes an activity to analyze political cartoons, specifically one on the controversial Stamp Act.

Relive a pivotal moment in U.S. history by reading “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine, a pamphlet in which he makes a case for American independence in language that is accessible to everyone. Primary Sources, workshop 2, “’Common Sense’ and the American Revolution,” compares “Common Sense” with other historical documents of the time, including the Declaration of Independence.

Starting with the Treaty of Paris, visualize how the nation grew from 13 colonies to 50 states with the United States History Map interactive, The Nation Expands.

More resources for The American Revolution:

The Western Tradition, program 37, “The American Revolution

Remembering September 11, 2001

On the 11th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, use Annenberg Learner resources to address the many layers of meaning in the commemoration of the day.

What it means to be responsible for others -- Watch as history teacher Martina Grant engages her students in a discussion about their own “universe of obligation” and how the priority order changes when people are faced with tragic events. Students posit reasons we don’t always act when we see a wrong and what it takes before we act. See Teaching “The Children of Willesden Lane,” program 7, “Introducing the Universe of Obligation.”

                                                          Civics RealBalancing conflicting interests with public policy -- Making Civics Real, workshop 7, “Controversial Public Policy Issues,” helps students build on their own opinions and experiences to develop a deeper understanding of key public policy issues. In this workshop video, JoEllen Ambrose leads her 12th-grade law class in studying the role of the government in protecting citizens while also protecting their civil liberties.   Students also reflect on their feelings and experiences with racial profiling after 9-11 and in other situations.

Patriotism -- A government class at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC designs a Museum of Patriotism and Foreign Policy. The student committees present exhibits that express -- through their particular majors of dance, theatre, or visual arts -- their understanding of the link between patriotism and foreign policy in the light of terrorism. Go to Making Civics Real, workshop 5, “Patriotism & Foreign Policy.”

National security yesterday and today -- American Passages resource archive contains an excerpt from the NSC-68: U.S. Objectives and Programs for National Security, written in 1950 during the height of the Cold War. Students can compare U.S. foreign relations of the past and post-9-11 and how these objectives and programs have changed.

Constitution Day (September 17)

                                                          ConstitutionOn Constitution Day (formerly Citizenship Day), the U.S. celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. In 2004, a law was passed establishing the holiday that honors both the signing of the Constitution and all individuals who have become citizens, whether born in the U.S. or by naturalization. The Obama administration has introduced steps, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to grant certain rights to children of illegal immigrants. Should children of illegal immigrants be able to avoid deportation, get work authorization, and possibly U.S. drivers licenses? Your students can debate this hot topic just as states are currently debating them.
In the series The Constitution: That Delicate Balance, program 11, “Immigration Reform,” hear the U.S. Court of Appeals judge Arlin Adams and other academics and officials on immigration discuss the rights of legal and illegal aliens.
In Democracy in America, program 2, “The Constitution: Fixed or Flexible?” topics presented include different interpretations of the Constitution and the relationship between the President and Congress when creating laws. How might these opposing views of the fluidity of the Constitution affect decisions on immigration?

Take a literary approach to the topic of immigration. Watch Maria Ruiz-Blanco use discussions of the novel “My Name is Maria Isabel,” as part of a year-long conversation on immigration with her students in Teaching Reading 3-5, classroom program 10, “Fostering Book Discussions.” 

More resources about the United States Constitution and citizenship:

Ethics in America
Ethics in America II
Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers

A Biography of America, program 5, “A New System of Government"

The Western Tradition, program 38, "The American Republic."
American Passages archives. Search “Constitution” and other key terms.
Other Annenberg Resources for Constitution Day
The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands was established by the Annenberg Foundation to advance public understanding and appreciation for democracy and “to address serious issues facing the nation and the world community.” Among its many activities, the Sunnylands Trust creates and distributes print, online, and video materials on the Constitution for use on Constitution Day in September and beyond. To use these resources, visit the Sunnylands’ Constitution Project’s site for teachers, Sunnylands Classroom

Visit the Sunnylands Classroom page to find a Q&A session with Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer and a group of high school students discussing the need for a written Constitution. Justice Breyer says that the Constitution is about how a large nation of people can solve their problems democratically. How can the Constitution be used to solve problems related to immigration? 
More free video programs and other materials for your Constitution Day events can be found on the Annenberg Classroom Web site.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

For resources for Hispanic Heritage Month, please follow this link to the September 2011 Monthly Update.

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Notable September Birthdays

Our three featured birthdays this month tackle themes related to identity and experience in American subcultures. These authors provide starting points for insightful discussions, a crucial skill for the health of any society, about the perspectives of people who are like and different from the students themselves.

Leslie Feinberg (journalist, author, activist) September 1, 1949

                                                          PassagesLeslie Feinberg shares a personal story as a transgendered American in order to provide a perspective on what it is like to be a non-heterosexual. Feinberg questions why people feel the need to punish those who are different from them. See Feinberg’s story in American Passages, unit 16, “Search for Identity.” Review the teaching tips and author activities to discuss Feinberg’s work in relationship to other authors, including Maxine Hong Kingston and Sandra Cisneros, from this movement. 

William Carlos Williams
(pediatrician, poet) September 17, 1883

                                                          PassagesWilliams Carlos Williams was known for playing with the visual aspects of poetry and for presenting ordinary objects, like a red wheelbarrow, as representatives of American life in the early 20th century. In the American Passages, unit 10, “Rhythms in Poetry,” Author Activities section, try the suggested activities with your students. Encourage them to dig beneath the obvious images of the poem and compare Williams’s American poetic identity with that of other Modernist poets of his time. 

In Voices and Visions, program 13, scholars, peers in the medical field, and Allen Ginsberg comment on Williams’s ability to capture his thoughts and turn them into poetry. Modern technology of the day -- the typewriter and Marconi radio-- influenced the poetry of William Carlos Williams.

Gloria Anzaldúa
(writer) September 26, 1942
Explore the theme of marginalization with your students using the writing of Gloria Anzaldúa, featured in American Passages, unit 2, “Exploring Borderlands.”  Born to immigrant parents, Anzaldúa defied expectations of many by earning a Masters Degree and becoming a high school teacher and a college creative writing teacher. A prolific writer, she views writing as a vehicle for personal freedom and political activism.

Artifacts & Fiction
, Visual Arts, connects art and literature in social commentary. Open a discussion of “La Frontera” by Anzaldúa with analysis of Judith Baca’s mural, “Pieces of Stardust ,” painted for the lobby of the California Gas Company.

For resources on the following writers, follow this link to the September 2011 Monthly Update

Upton Sinclair (September 20, 1878)
T.S. Eliot (September 26, 1888)
Enrico Fermi (September 29, 1901)

Check out our Facebook page to see connections to F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Vitaly Komar, Sandy Skogland, and many more famous September birthdays.

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Annenberg Learner Announcements

Join Journey North’s Mystery Class Challenge

                                                          NorthYou and your students can be a part of the big mystery! One of our favorite activities of the Journey North program is Mystery Class. Students use clues related to sunlight change to find nine locations around the world, and in the process learn how seasons affect life on Earth while practicing geography skills. Cathie Plaehn of Boyceville, Wisconsin says, "You can't bottle the excitement of Mystery Class. You start with nothing more than a sunrise and sunset, and you end up with an exact location. When the students discover where it is, it's as if they are the first explorers there."   The countdown to Mystery Class 2013 starts September 1. Don’t miss it!

Print Catalog

To request a copy of either our 2013 Annenberg Learner 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!

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.  


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Annenberg Foundation Update

Explore.org Animal Cameras Safely Bring the Wild Indoors

You want to take your young citizen scientists into the field but don’t have much of a travel budget or hazard insurance. Now, your students can observe nature from the classroom with one of many Explore.org animal cams. Students can observe puffins and osprey in Maine and brown bears in Alaska.  Also, use selected Explore.org animal cams on the Journey North Web site to observe how animals respond to seasonal change.

Annenberg Space for Photography

This is your last chance to see Who Shot Rock & Roll at the Annenberg Space for Photography (ASP). Get a backstage look at iconic rock and roll performers captured by great photographers. The ASP exhibition, ending October 7, 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.

Rock and

View this exhibit through historical and cultural lenses provided by Annenberg Learner resources. Watch Biography of America, program 23, “The Fifties,” to see the influences of the transistor radio and Elvis Presley on youth culture. Start at 16:47 of the video. 

Music has power to influence people on a global stage as well.  Exploring the World of Music, program 2, “The Transformative Power of Music,” shows how many genres of music influence cultures around the world and transform lives. 

More from the Annenberg Foundation

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