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Resources that Rocked the Classroom This Year: May 15 to 21 on ReadWriteThink

El Camion Mexicano, Soho, W1Now that classes are nearly over, it’s that time when I begin reflecting on the year and deciding which activities I want to be sure to try again next year. I try to think of the resources that surprised me or particularly engaged students.

One of my favorites is Cooking Up Descriptive Language: Designing Restaurant Menus. It gave students a chance to compose menus that reflected their family and cultural backgrounds, and they were able to learn more about text design and layout. I’ll definitely try it again, and I’m considering other possibilities for the activity, like using it as a book report alternative by asking students to create a menu for a restaurant that characters in a novel visit (or might visit). It was definitely a keeper!

For more great classroom activities, check out the calendar entries, lesson plans, and classroom activities below for this week. Have a great week!

New Resources

  • Share the stories of war, sacrifice and honor of these heroic women and men with your students with this special collection of lessons, interactives and resources on Honoring Our Military.
  • Help students understand the science of spring with lessons and activities from Thinkfinity.org, including The Science of Spring from Science NetLinks.
  • Explore the universe with your students. Launch rockets, explore planets and test gravity with lessons and interactive tools.
  • Make the most of summer. Use the Verizon Thinkfinity resources to kick off a summer of learning for students.

From the Calendar

  • May 22: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiered in 1967. After thinking about TV shows, books, and movies from their childhood, students write about what they remember and revisit how they feel about it at an older age. (For grades 7–12)
  • May 23: Author Scott O’Dell was born on this day. Students select a set of books to read and compare fiction and nonfiction books and discuss their findings as a class. Students can follow up by writing short stories about the topics they explored.(For grades 5–12)
  • May 24: The Brooklyn Bridge opened on this day in 1883. Students explore the literary concept of point of view by examining a pair of picture books that highlight the controversies surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge. (For grades 5–12)
  • May 25: Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803. Students visit a quotation attributed to Emerson and identify the definition of success. Students then use the Postcard Creator to write a note to a person that they feel is successful. (For grades 7–12)
  • May 26: Sally Ride, first American woman in space, was born in 1951. After exploring information about Sally Ride on the StarKids Who’s Who site, students write a letter using the Letter Generator to Dr. Ride. (For grades 3–8)
  • May 27: On this day in 1907, Rachel Carson was born. Students learn about Rachel Carson, explore different environmental websites, and write a Diamante Poem about a particular habitat. (For grades 3–12)
  • Look ahead to next week for lesson plans and activities on Memorial Day, the National Spelling Bee, the debut of CNN, Jesse James, and Walt Whitman.

Connecting with Other Teachers

If you have feedback or questions about ReadWriteThink, all you have to do is contact us.


[Photo: El Camion Mexicano, Soho, W1 by Ewan-M, on Flickr]

Defining Learning: Bits Flashback for May 23

cat tailThe LearnStreaming blog posted 50 Quotes About Learning last week. The quotations are sometimes familiar or predictable: “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.~Clay P. Bedford. That’s just an ambling restatement of the “give a man a fish” aphorism.

I disagree with some: “You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.” ~Lyndon B. Johnson. Fiddlesticks. Learning while talking is sometimes the point, especially in the socially collaborative classroom. I smiled at others: “If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.” ~ Mark Twain. Yes. Absolutely true. A life lesson is described right there.

As I reviewed the list, I began wondering how I might use the quotations in class. I admit that I didn’t fact-check or authenticate the quotations, so one activity might be doing so and hypothesizing where errors came from. Another activity could be arranging the quotations into categories (e.g., those about experience) and then comparing all the quotations in a specific category. The simplest activity perhaps is asking students to each choose a quotation that fits some experience from their lives, and then tell that story so that the quotation is the conclusion—a sort of moral at the end of the fable.

According to the site list, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.” Consider expanding the dimensions of your mind by checking out the ideas in these Bedford Bits posts from last week:

A Few Extra Links

Let us know what you want to know about teaching writing or about using digital tools in the composition classroom by leaving a comment. Your response will help shape upcoming posts.

[Photo: cat tail by blhphotography, on Flickr]

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