Search this blog

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

10 Great Resources for 9/11 Activities

In less than 2 weeks, we will commemorate the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001.  Most of us remember the day, where we were when we heard, etc.  However, many of our students were not even born yet.  What lessons do we want them to learn from that event?  There are a number of angles that you can take to and a number of resources available.  Here are some great links:
  1.  September 11th gives us a wonderful opportunity to talk about religious tolerance. You can find a whole series of useful lessons at Teach Tolerance . 
  2.  The  Social Science Docket from the NY/NJ State Councils for the Social Studies has DBQ’s, interdisciplinary lessons on US Response, National Memorial, popular music, terrorism, etc.
  3.  Take a look at how events of 9/11 have affected American civil liberties using lessons from the Bill of Rights Institute
  4.  Focus on the positive character traits of the rescuers and heroes of 9/11 with this lesson on civic values.
  5.  You’ll find a series of graphic organizers that focus on the evolution of terrorism and the response to it from 
  6. A free great activity with kids gathering on oral history first hand can be found at Choices.
  7. Look at our response to September 11 using this PowerPoint of Political Cartoons
  8.  There are lots of resources at Teacher’s HUB  including video writing prompts, science connections, and a teacher’s discussion guide.
  9. Get kids talking this free lesson from the SCAN library at TregoEDPatriot Act:  Security or Freedom
  10. Bring out the arts using this lesson from Teacher Planet focusing on poems and painting.
While our students will not get the same “kick in the gut” feeling that witnesses had that day it is important for them to understand the lessons that we can glean from such a horrific event.  Use this opportunity to teach them empathy, tolerance, and the importance of our rights and freedoms.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why can't we be friends?

There has been a lot of discussion in the wake of the new law in Missouri which bans teachers from "exclusive” interaction between teachers and students on Facebook both positive and negative.   (Click here for video.) Some praise the law as making the internet a safer place for our children, while others criticize that it brands all teachers as sexual predators.  I know there are lots of teachers doing great things and making great connections with students using social networking and also understand that there is a line.  I can very clearly remember my first principal (in 1977 before social networks) telling us that we should not be “friends” with our students-they have plenty.  I also am aware that there are plenty of things that go on in our students’ lives that we are unaware of and we might better be able to make connections with them by understanding the whole child.   With that, as a long time union president, I have seen that mixing your social life with your professional life can be risky.  Teachers’ behaviors are held to a very high standard, most students are shocked to even see us at the grocery store.  Does Google+ make it easier for us to keep our social lives separate from our professional lives by allowing us to create circles?  Are laws such as this really necessary?  How will these laws be enforced, will all teachers’ online social accounts be scrutinized?  I would like to get my students to do some critical thinking about these issues.  I am interested in gathering all stakeholders' perspectives – students, parents, teachers and concerned citizens to help them create some viable solutions.