Amazing ideas for teaching in January 2009
January 2009 has a different feel about it compared to most Januarys, doesn't it? A new President with immense historical significance will be sworn in a day after we honor what would have been the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 80th birthday. And despite the ongoing pessimism about our economic forecast as a country, a stronger feeling of renewed optomism permeates communities all across America. I just couldn't imagine a more poignant month to be a teacher!
I searched around and found two great activities that we all should consider for this very historical month. Connected to history, poetry, great speeches, and financial literacy, these activities hit the mark with signifying to students that they are living during an incredible period in US History.
Activity #1: Inaugural Poetry
This activity is related to the three previous inauguration poems that were read for Kennedy's, and Clinton's (2) Presidential Inaugurations. What is impressive about this activity is that the political landscape that provided the background for Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams for their archived poems is investigated. Students analyze the elements of the three previous poems, as well as the politics of their time and compose poems that speak to the past, present and future of our country.
As an extension, I suggest investigating the works of Elizabeth Alexander, who President-elect Obama has selected to be the 2009 Inaugural Poet.
Activity #2 Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech and financial literacy "vision boards"
I LOVE this activity because it speaks to the ongoing message of Dr. King's speech of self-advocacy. The website lays the activity out so succinctly and I think it will have lasting impressions on any school-aged child: "During this time of economic challenges, one way to help children to move beyond adult fears of economic uncertainty is by encouraging them to think ahead to their own futures. This is especially true for populations that have traditionally been underserved by the financial system. Helping children to make the connection between educational attainment, fiscal responsibility, and achieving their life goals is an important strategy for ending the cycle of poverty in struggling communities.
Vision boards can be a meaningful take on Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech. Vision boards are visual representations of a person’s life goals. Simple to create, vision boards are made by pasting images and words on a poster board. The finished product represents a child’s dreams for the future."
Any others? Please feel free to recommend a great lesson!
Happy New Year and Happy Teaching!