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, 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]

My Literary Genes

I’ve written before about my literary claim to fame: I’m slightly related to Ralph Waldo Emerson, through my great-great-grandmother Anne Emerson.

While I know that Anne was Ralph’s third cousin once removed, I’m not exactly sure what that makes me. Genealogy isn’t exactly my area of expertise.

That’s why I’m loving the relationship in Wolfram|Alpha. I entered the information I knew, and got a lovely chart that made everything clear:

My genealogical relationship to Ralph Waldo Emerson

Depending upon how I described the relationship, I’m Emerson’s 4th cousin 3 times removed or his 3rd cousin 5 times removed.

Either way, it appears that I share a 1/8192, or 0.012207%, blood relationship. We share a 13th degree of kinship, which apparently means I’m free to marry him or serve on a jury considering his fate. I don’t think either of those situations is likely to arise. But enough of my poetic cousin.

The relationship query in Wolfram|Alpha could be used in the classroom to help clarify family relationship students read about as well. If you’re reading Faulkner, you may well need complete family trees. If you’re just trying to explain third cousins, this may be just what you need.


Poem 6: “Concord Hymn”

Today would have been my grandfather’s 94th birthday. He passed away November 2006, and it wasn’t until the funeral that I heard some of the stories of his time in the U.S. Navy during World War II. I knew that he was in Panama for part of his service, but I didn’t know that his ship was the escort for the ship that carried the bomb that was dropped on on Hiroshima.

I chose a patriotic sort of poem in his honor, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s "Concord Hymn":

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
     Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
     And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
     Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
     And Time the ruined bridge has swept
     Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
     We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
     When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
O Thou who made those heroes dare
     To die, and leave their children free, —
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
     The shaft we raised to them and Thee.

It’s a nicely patriotic little poem that fits my grandfather’s outlook on the world. Besides, I can trace a direct connection from myself through my grandfather to the poem. I am related to Ralph Waldo Emerson, through my great-great-grandmother Anne Emerson, Ralph’s third cousin.

If Wikipedia’s entry on the poem can believed, "One source of [the poem’s] power may be the author’s personal ties to the subject. Emerson’s grandfather was at the bridge on the day of the battle; their family home, The Old Manse, is next to the bridge; and Emerson is known to have written the hymn while living there."

It’s a fitting memorial then—a poem for my grandfather, written by my distant cousin to honor his grandfather. And if that wikifact isn’t 100% correct, don’t tell me. I like it better this way.