Keep the Learning Going!

We are nearing the end of the school year. However, that does not mean the learning should slow down! Of course, there are skills and units we still need to fit in before the final bell rings for the year. I urge you to use these last few weeks to plan engaging, interactive lessons that will keep the learning fresh and moving forward during the summer months. Don’t revert to putting in a movie and calling it educational! 

In my science classes, we having used the Engineering Design Cycle all year during our weekly STEM challenges. Therefore, our last STEM challenge is a week-long challenge that will act as the final assessment of their science practices and take the students through the Engineering Design Cycle completely one last time. My students started the plan step of the Egg Landing System design last week, and I’m sure are eager to return to the project this week. While this project is certainly fun, it is also engaging and assesses the students’ skills we have learned all year. I am excited to see what they come up with and how far they take their learning this summer and into next school year.

How about you? What do you have planned for the last days and weeks of the school year?

Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.

Memorial Day Ideas for the Classroom

Memorial Day Lesson Ideas

Here is a website that may help the classroom teacher with Memorial Day Lesson Idea Plans!

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. Education World celebrates this special holiday with activities, music, and Web-based ideas to help the children in your classroom understand Memorial Day’s significance.

Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day
What does Memorial Day mean to your students? Do they grasp the significance of the sacrifice that American men and women have made to preserve our freedom? Included: Five lessons help students understand the meaning of Memorial Day.

The Memory Shall Be Ours: Celebrating Memorial Day
Why is Memorial Day so important? Your students will learn the significance of this very special day with this exclusive Education World lesson plan.

Wall of Peace
Mary E. Noyes (with Barrie Citrowske), who teaches at Minneota (Minnesota) Public School, submitted this week’s lesson in which students’ essays are used to build a classroom Wall of Peace. (Grades 5-12)

Teaching Citizenships Five Themes
Memorial Day is a perfect opportunity to teach about citizenship. These activities, from the editors of Weekly Reader, will highlight each of the five citizenship themes.

Put the “Memory” Back in Memorial Day
Some teachers, concerned about students’ ignorance of the origin and meaning of Memorial Day, have created programs that stress the importance of remembering and honoring U.S. war veterans on that day.

Students Remember Vietnam War Heroes
Middle school students from Capt. Nathan Hale School in Coventry, Connecticut, pieced together biographies of the 612 state residents killed in the Vietnam War. They published the biographies so others will get to know the servicemen as well as they have.

Speakers, Projects Bring Veterans’ Stories to Classroom
Teachers use a variety of ways to educate students about the historic significance of Veterans Day, coming on November 11. Included: Classroom activities for teaching about Veterans Day.

Lessons in Life: Connecting Kids and Soldiers
While most teachers discuss the war in Iraq with their classes, many find that both they and their students also want to do something concrete to help U.S. troops abroad. Included: A list of organizations that link students or classes with deployed servicemen and women.

Make a Memorial Day Book
This work sheet offers an 8-page mini book for primary-grade students to cut and fold. The mini book tells of the origins and celebrations of Memorial Day.

Make a Memorial Day Windsock
This work sheet provides dirctions for designing and creating a red-white-and-blue windsock. Adapt this lesson for Memorial Day by having students reflect on the meaning of the day. Hang the windsocks in your classroom or at home.

Internet Scavenger Hunt: Honoring Our Veterans
What do you know about Veterans Day? Explore the Veterans Day Web site to learn about that national holiday.

Great Sites for Teaching About… World Wars I and II
This week’s sites are among the best on the Web for teaching about World Wars I and II.

Remembering D-Day: Great Sites on the Web
Education World looks at some interesting D-Day Web sites.

Great Sites for Teaching About… Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Education World recommends some of the best sites on the Wide Web for learning and teaching about these important historic events.

Raise the Flag Day (Awareness) in Your Class!
Education World salutes Flag Day with lesson activities, links to great sites, and more.



Goals of Education

America is seen as the land of opportunity. And one pathway to that opportunity is access to free and public education. Through education, people have dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, CEOs, presidents, bankers, musicians, and, yes, even teachers. So what are our goals of education? It seems that in today’s world, we place our emphasis on high test scores and adherence to an arbitrary set of “common” (common for whom?) standards. Will a doctor still be judged by her medical test scores when she saves (or loses) her patient’s life? I doubt it. Instead, she will be critiqued on her medical skills. Will a police officer still be judged by his standardized test scores when he risks his life to chase a criminal? I don’t think so. Instead, he will be judged on his ability to perform his job well. Will a cashier at the grocery store be hired based on his test scores on the state exam? No way. He will be hired based on his ability to perform the functions of his job.

And so, too, should it be in the classrooms of our nation’s schools. Our goals of education should be to prepare students to become productive members of society. Productive members of society do not need to perform well on a standardized test. They do need, instead, to demonstrate a set of skills, have the ability to think critically, and problem solve. Standardized tests don’t provide the full picture of a child. Our goals of education should seek to create thoughtful citizens that can better the world around them.

Spring Break

Ahhhhhh, spring break! My spring break was this past week and we return to the classroom on Monday with the countdown to summer in everyone’s minds. I didn’t go anywhere this break, so I was committed to getting caught up on all my schoolwork. What I realized this spring break is how much work and time I put into my job! Now, I’ve certainly understood the amount of time and energy that have gone into teaching before this week, but I think this week of work really drove the point home since I was committed to getting fully caught up this week with everything-lessons, grading, emails, miscellaneous other items. I worked pretty much all day Monday, Tuesday morning, and then about an hour or so Wednesday-Friday to get everything done. That is a pretty ridiculous amount of work to do during what was supposed to be my break! Ha!

I don’t want this post to be seen as a complaint. I guess I am just documenting the fact that teachers do most of their work outside of the classroom on their own time. This is nothing we haven’t heard before, but just one more voice to add to the mix.

What about you? How did you spend your spring break?

Tweet me @barry_christine or leave a comment here!

Building Community

The old adage, “Don’t smile until Christmas,” is definitely not adhered to in my classroom. One way I connect with my middle-school students is through humor. I have found that laughing at corny jokes together has allowed me to connect with my students. This past week was the often-dreaded April Fool’s Day. I decided to get ahead of the students this year and planned a few harmless pranks to pull on them. They went over well and we shared a few laughs together. I find humor a great way to build classroom community.

How do you build community in your classroom? Tweet me @barry_christine or leave a comment here.

An Open Letter to My Students

Please check out the following blog post written by Jessica Lifshitz of the blog Crawling Out of My Classroom.

She pens an open letter to her students about how sorry she is for what she is about to put them through during the upcoming PARCC testing.

It’s worth a read.

An Open Letter to My Students blog post

Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here.