Friday, February 27, 2015

Free Resources from our March issue of the C.L.A.S.S. Newsletter

To subscribe, click HERE.

Provides a great reading strategy that engages every student.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Free Secondary Resources for February 2015:

Provides a Close Reading lesson for Sojourner Truth's memoir.

Provides a Close Reading lesson for Sojourner Truth's memoir.

 Provides a lesson about William Still, a Black American who worked tirelessly on the Underground Railroad.

Provides a lesson about William Still, a Black American who worked tirelessly on the

Underground Railroad.

Provides clip art for Martin Luther King Jr. & the Civil Rights Movement.

Provides a process for students to analyze the curriculum and draw conclusions.

Black history bulletin board. Provides a set of 16 images of famous and influential black Americans.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Opposing Views to Ignite Black History Month

    by Ellen Weber, Ph.D.

What if your students wrote, edited, and even published an essay that supported opposite views related to a heated black history topic? 

My own students love to select an essay topic that calls for counterpoint because they come to see value in another angle.

In the process of forming the topic selection, students offer two arguments that oppose one another.  For instance, one student’s thesis statement reads:

Some people argue that society should remember unjust encounters blacks faced, while others hold that society should focus on building a fairer future for all. 

Counterpoint helps students draft an unbiased outline so that opposing sides see valid voices.  Students on both sides of most essays tend to support opinions for that side only by selecting research that dismisses the opposing side.  Such essays end up as barrage of personal sentiments only.

That’s why I have students exchange and receive a peer edit for their rough drafts. We then discuss how readers (and writers) can learn from solid facts on both sides of the topic of black history.

This exercise teaches young writers to write essays as if they were the best salesperson for plan A, and then show the reader how they are also the best salesperson for the counter argument in plan B. They agree readily after they begin to grasp how to include opposing views that invite readers to select one side or the other. By offering equally weighted facts on each side, student writers learn skills to navigate research beyond personal preferences, parental opinions, popular culture or peer pressure.

Students do far better if they weave opposing views into their essay’s topic statement.  They might address Reader A’s concerns, and then address opposing Reader B’s concerns.

One student’s opening sentence read might read:  

While there may be merits to remembering the many unjust encounters blacks face, there are also advantages to working together with black communities toward a vibrant new set of opportunities that benefit all. 

From the opening statement, Reader A might say that there are problems and possibilities connected to a focus on past injustices. In contrast, Reader B might say that there are problems and possibilities connected to a focus on building forward only.

Students love opposing views when they learn to create these in a step-by-step fashion. That’s why it is vital to lead with a statement recognizing opposing arguments– as a way to begin the balance of counterpoints from the onset.

Students are also encouraged to choose titles that show two valid sides. The title for this essay might be: Remember the Past or Rebuild the Future? Can you see by the title that clear counterpoints will follow?

Not surprisingly, when students learn to put away their propensity for one-sided views and begin to engage folks on an opposite side, they also learn skills to debate other controversial topics. They begin to introduce facts on both sides of an argument, rather than clinging to facts on any one side.

To extend this counterpoint essay lesson, students might begin by studying a key view held by a popular black leader such as Maya Angelou or Martin Luther King, Jr. They might also show and support the exact opposite of that view, so that readers see both sides in valid settings.

For resources to aid teaching a lesson such this in your classroom, see “Opposing Views to Ignite an Essay.” 

Downloadable products from Ellen Weber's TpT store:

 "Opposing Views to Ignite an Essay"  
Helps teach students to investigate alternative arguments and be able to communicate them effectively.

 Free resource: 10 Secret Tips to Help Boost Brainpower!
Provides tips and tasks to enhance your studets' mental progress.

Black History Month

    by Michele Luck

At the secondary level, addressing holidays or themes, such as Black History Month, can be a great challenge.  Most middle and high school Social Studies teachers are tasked with covering centuries of history, requiring strict mapping of lesson and unit plans to make sure all topics are covered by the end of the year (not to mention for state testing), and that is usually done in chronological order from the start of time to modern day. As such, it is difficult to have a lesson mapping to the Black History Month timeframe.  Instead, we must always be conscious of weaving such lessons into world history.  Planning activites throughout the year that address more than one topic dealing with ideas of power and economics is a good start.

One of the activities I use in my class is the "Columbian Exchange Trade Route Activity." Students “travel” from Europe to Africa to the Americas, and in each stop, they draw cards detailing the goods they would collect at that location for trade elsewhere.  At the African stop, slaves are one of those products collected.  This always brings incredible discussion by students, as we cover the economics of slavery, starting at that earliest stage in America. 

The activity, followed by selected clips from Amistad, can reinforce the impact of the Middle Passage and the resulting destruction of African civilizations.

While a very controversial topic to discuss, it helps to trace the institution of slavery in America, and helps to show the economics of the situation that played a significant role in American history for centuries after.  More importantly, this activity can be used to address current economic issues that still divide Americans, based solely on race and the struggle to end that difference in our modern world.

It is vitally important that our students see the diversity in our world and the appreciation for that diversity in their studies, especially in their Social Studies classes.  More importantly, students should learn from these lessons the history precipitating the need for such months in our teaching calendars. 

To that end, teaching with quality resources can help to bridge the gap.  Instead of looking at the works or accomplishments of one (or a few) significant people in history, teach your students to address how ideas of superiority have permeated the “civilized” world from the very start of civilization and continue to plague our world today.  Look at current events, in conjunction with historical ones, and identify the modern trends or contributions of all minorities, fulfilling the dream of the man that spoke on the behalf of Black America four decades ago. 

And when asked about how you are celebrating Black History Month in your Social Studies classroom, do not say, "This is a lesson which fits into 'Black History Month'." Instead say, "This is a lesson that fits into the history of our world. A world that has always been, and most likely always will be, a bit skewed in favor of those with the most power currently at hand." 

Downloadable products from Michele Luck's TpT store

 90 Page Activity Set
Includes everything you need to allow your students to learn about or investigate Important Americans fron every time period, genre and topic area. 

 Free resource: A set of 8 task cards.
These guide your students in extending themes from significant quotes of African-American leaders

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Je Suis Charlie" by Andrea Annas

“I am Charlie.” This rallying cry reverberated throughout the world as millions of people showed their support of the weekly Paris newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. On January 7, armed terrorists stormed into the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people because they believed the newspaper had defamed the Prophet Muhammad in satirical caricatures published in the paper. This was not the first act of violence against the paper.  After their office was firebombed and destroyed in 2011, Al-Qaida and other extremists issued threats of more deadly violence, even offering money for killing the magazine’s publication director, Stephane Charbonnier. Yet, despite the threat of violence, Charlie Hebdo continued to publish the satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad. Even after the attack, an emotional Charlie Hebdo staff placed an image of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover. Would you risk your life to publish an article or an image in a newspaper?

The Attack

Not sure how to explain the events surrounding the terror attack to your students? The Associated Press has two interactive sites that will help you. “Terror Attack on French Paper” takes a look at the events surrounding the attack including who the attackers were, who was targeted, who was killed, and a list of other recent deadly terrorist attacks. “Global al-Qaida Operations” examines the perpetrators of the attack, an al-Qaida branch in Yemen, as well as three other active al-Qaida branches. Another good resource is The Telegraph’s “Charlie Hebdo Paris Attacks: a timeline of events” which gives a video account of the attack and the days that followed.

Reaction from Around the World

You can use front pages of newspapers from around the world to show students how the world reacted to the terrorist attack. Find a copy of your local paper’s January 8th edition. How did it report on the attack? Was it front page news or was the article found inside the paper? Compare your local paper’s coverage with the coverage from a larger newspaper like The New York Times or USA Today or to the coverage of an international newspaper like The Guardian or The Telegraph. You can find older editions of newspapers online or at your local library. Even if your students cannot read French, it is worth examining the front page reactions from French papers gathered by CBS News.

Days after the attack, 1.5 million people attended a unity rally in Paris. Let your students view images from the rally posted by CNN and read or watch The Telegraph’s unity rally coverage. After learning about the unity rally, ask students to create 5 tweets of 150 characters or less about the event or have them write an editorial about the absence of high-level American government officials at the unity rally.

In its first published issue after the attack, Charlie Hebdo maintained its right to publish images of the Prophet Muhammad by placing his image on the front page. Reaction to this move was varied. View the Newseum’s collection of newspapers’ front pages from around the world as they covered the news of Charlie Hebdo’s first edition after the attack. Some newspapers boldly reprinted Charlie Hebdo’s front page while others did not. Have your students discuss why they think some papers chose not to reprint the image. Students can read The Guardian’s explanation for their decision not to republish Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Then, direct students to The Telegraph’s video and BBC’s article about the world’s reaction to Charlie Hebdo’s cover.

What is Freedom of Press?

Many of us live in nations where freedom of the press is a legal right. We almost take it for granted. Our journalists do not live in fear of arrest, torture, or death because of something they published. But, around the world, many journalists do live in fear. Have your students explore the Freedom House map and identify what areas of the world have freedom of the press, partial freedom of the press, and no freedom of the press. Here’s a blank world map you can print if you’d like your students to create their own freedom of press map.

 According to Freedom House, only 14% of the world’s people live in a nation that has freedom of the press. 14% - that’s a very surprising percentage! For a more in-depth look, read Reporters without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index 2014 (a pdf download).  Next, have your students take Al Jazeera’s interactive quiz about freedom of the press around the world and then discuss the following questions:

Why is freedom of press a sign of a democratic government?
Why is freedom of the press important?
Is freedom of the press worth dying for?
Are journalists who die because of what they wrote heroes?

Then, let your students watch the Newseum video about the Journalists Memorial and the preview for the film Killing the Messenger: the deadly cost of delivering the news. To wrap up, complete the Newseum’s Case Study on Controversial Cartoons.

Freedom of the press is an essential right in our democracy. These attacks highlight that it is not to be taken for granted. The pen is a powerful, and to some, a threatening, tool, but a free press ultimately strengthens our democracy. Take some time in your classroom this week to help students understand the importance of a free press by incorporating one or more of these Internet resources and lesson ideas.

Downloadable products from Andrea Annas' TpT store:

 A current events project
Provides an easy way to incorporate current events into your classroom.

 Free resource: a webquest, quiz and answer keys.
Provides activites to help your students learn how Theodore Geisel contributed to the World War II effort.