Classroom Solutions > 72 posts categorized "Social Studies"

The Challenge Based Classroom: Using Curriculum to Serve the Community

HabitatLast year I came to a crossroads in my teaching. During my annual review, I found myself agonizing over my goals for this upcoming school year. I was completely stuck. I browsed through our district's professional development opportunities with a sense of “been there, done that.” It surprised me that so early in my career I would feel this way. My classroom certainly kept me on my toes, but I was missing that spark that ignited my planning each year. An offer to explore curriculum development made me even more confused. Was I really ready to leave the classroom? I needed a teaching makeover!

As if on cue, two amazing things happened that would transform my teaching: the opportunity to be a teacher advisor here and the discovery of Apple’s Challenge Based Learning. The journey outside of my comfort zone had begun.  

 

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Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Current Events in the Classroom

Reading News on the SubwayOne of my personal goals this year is to read the newspaper every single day, regardless of how many student essays I need to read or how crazy my morning commute. I want to be aware of the world around me, and I am committed to living a more news-literate life. I bought a newspaper subscription for my Kindle, and at the very least, I am going to read the news while I take the subway to and from school.

While working on myself, I also consider my students’ current events literacy. I want to help my students to become informed young citizens and lifelong news readers. However, finding time for current events during our jam-packed school day has always posed a challenge. In this post, I'll share some of the solutions I've found. However, my current events curriculum is very much a work in progress, so I would love to hear how you cover world events in your classroom. 

Photo: One of my students reading a newspaper on the subway during a field trip. I need to learn from her!

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Hands-On Geography: "Paint a Partner" Topographic Maps

Map

"Where in the world is Randolph, NY? Is that near New York City?"

I smile every time I hear that question because our little corner of Western New York is nowhere near — and geographically nothing like — the big city. Modern technologies such as Google Earth show students the world through a whole new lens and offer exciting opportunities for them to improve their geography. But unfortunately most of my students still can't identify basic geologic formations on a topographic map: they're far more used to the flat, traditional maps they see online. For teaching topographic maps, modern technology just won't cut it.

Instead, I take an old-fashioned, hands-on approach that gives my students a solid understanding of how topographic maps work. Read on to turn your students into expert cartographers using their classmates as canvases.

 

 

 

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Comments: 6

Celebrating Community Heroes: September 11th in the Elementary Classroom

FDNY Let me be honest with you: Teaching my third graders about September 11th makes me a little uncomfortable. My students weren’t even born in 2001, and this historic tragedy just doesn’t seem all that relevant to their lives. On the other hand, September 11th has become a permanent part of our collective consciousness. As New York City gears up for the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, my students are inevitably curious about it. It wouldn’t be fair to my students if I didn’t help them understand 9/11 in a way that honors their intellectual curiosity, yet is appropriate for their age as well. Thank goodness for the picture book Fireboat by Maira Kalman! Here’s how I use this amazing book to discuss the facts about 9/11 and then shift into a lesson about heroes.

 

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Comments: 6

Literacy in Kindergarten Dramatic Play Centers, Part 4

Kindergarten Weather Station CenterWhen we study weather in science, our dramatic play center becomes a weather station. With self-made instruments, hands-on experiments, and — as always — plenty of literacy, the weather station inspires the children with a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world.

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Comments: 2

Differentiate Your Kindergarten Classroom

Differentiating in KindergartenIt's a fact: every child is unique, and as teachers we know that more than anyone else. So why do we often find ourselves trying to teach every child the same way?

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Comments: 4

Stretch Your Dime and Save Your Time

Miss Bindergarten Saves Money and Time Teachers need all the help they can get, financially and otherwise. Use these tips, shortcuts, and dollar store ideas to save your budget and your sanity.

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Comments: 10

Character Education and the Green Classroom

Thinking It really is easy being green. In this post, you'll find some great ideas for teaching character education in the context of the green classroom — just in time to plan for Earth Day.

 

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Comments: 2

Adventures With Books: One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies
Join my class as we turn the book One Tiny Turtle into a unit of fun and exciting learning experiences. This lyrical and informative look at the elusive and endangered loggerhead turtle is sure to delight young nature lovers.

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Chu Ju’s House by Gloria Whelan

BookcoverThis year, I was blessed to receive a class set of Chu Ju's House by Gloria Whelan, which tells the story of Chu Ju, a 14-year-old Chinese girl struggling to survive in a country where males are traditionally valued more than females. When Chu Ju's parents decide to give her baby sister away because of the One-Child Policy, Chu Ju leaves home with her. Teaching literature from other cultures requires a considerable amount of background knowledge. However, it is exciting learning about different cultures, and that excitement spreads through the class.

After reading Chu Ju’s House, students engage in a mini research project, exploring an aspect of Chinese culture alluded to in the novel. This assists the students in developing a thorough understanding of the legal and cultural conflicts presented in the novel. In this post, you'll find a study guide, instructions for a vocabulary wall mobile, and  SMART Notebook activities.

 

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Comments: 12

April Fools' Day: A Foolproof Primer on Classroom Laughter

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the ClassroomHappy April Fools' Day, everyone! Since today celebrates the spirit of fun, I thought I'd talk about the importance of humor and laughter in the classroom, how to utilize it, and why you don't have any excuses not to. Also, take a look at my students, caught on candid camera.

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Comments: 3

The Historical News Broadcast

Vasicek ClapboardHave you ever wondered what a news report might have looked like if television had existed in the time of cavemen or Columbus? One of my favorite cross-curricular projects this year, blending technology and social studies, was a lesson I call the Historical News Broadcast.

 

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Darfur: Does History Repeat Itself?

MBlow031511_iStock_4567809_SudanFarmLast week, I wrote about the classroom resources I use in my Holocaust unit, “Children of the Holocaust.” During literature circles for this unit, my students read a historical fiction novel and discuss character development. Adding a nonfiction component to literature circles provides the opportunity for text-to-text and text-to-world connections. The group discussions help them to better understand nonfiction. In this post, I'll take you through the lesson we do in my class connecting the Holocaust to a current event through nonfiction. Included in this post is a classroom video showing how this lesson was integrated into the "Children of the Holocaust" unit.

Photo: Refugee in Sudan collecting garbage. Copyright Claudiad/iStockphoto.

 

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Comments: 5

Tyranny and Prometheus Bound

DSC01364Helping students make real world connections to the works they read is an important part of teaching literature. When students comprehend the contemporary and historical links to literature, they have a much greater understanding of what they read. This year my sophomore class and I were fortunate enough to be part of a collaboration between the American Repertory Theater and Amnesty International in the Prometheus Project, a partnership designed to put the theater arts to the service of human rights advocacy.

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Comments: 12

St. Patrick's Day — Mischief o' the Leprechaun

St. Patrick's Day in  Kindergarten and PreK Yesterday, there was an incident in my classroom. My students and I walked in and found it torn apart. Furniture was tipped over; supplies were scattered everywhere; the whole place was a mess. And there were funny green footprints all over . . .

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Comments: 4

Literacy in Kindergarten Dramatic Play Centers, Part 3

Kindergarten Literacy CentersCome visit our kindergarten post office center, Terrific Tiger Post Office. It is located in our classroom at 12 ABC Street in Terrific Tiger Town, SE (Squires Elementary).

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Comments: 2

Taxing Cartoon Characters

DSC01086Teachers are always hearing how their lessons should have real world applications. You don't get more real world than taxes, my friends! Many students think taxes are hard because they see the frustrations their parents experience. I like to counterbalance those negative impressions with a lesson on how easy taxes can be if you know how to follow directions.

 

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Comments: 8

Children of the Holocaust

IMG_5864 I recently received my February 28, 2011, issue of Time magazine. On the cover was a picture of youths from around the world with the subtitle, “The Generation Changing the World.” In my classroom, we are transitioning from the protests in the Middle East to the Holocaust. After introducing the literature circle books for the unit, I held up the Time issue and Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy and posed the question, “Why would Hitler fear the youth?” The question set my students on fire. The biggest problem of the day was tracking all the books that started flying out of my room. The resources below will help you create an English language arts and social studies integrated unit on the Holocaust.

 

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Comments: 6

I Love to Read! Surefire Ways to Create Lifelong Book Lovers

I Love to Read Month February is “I Love to Read Month,” the perfect time to assess if your students do, in fact, love to read. Are they captivated by good stories? Does reading fill them with excitement and enthusiasm? Do they play with the sounds of language in a literature-rich environment that promotes active learning through highly engaging activities? If the answer to any of these questions is no (and even if it’s yes!), it may be time to arm yourself with a repertoire of techniques guaranteed to get every child in your class saying “I love to read!”

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Comments: 7

Egyptian Students Speak Out

DSC01346Revere High School is a gateway community, with students from every corner of the globe. This diversity allows our students to truly be citizens of the world. They are able to share their worldview and their experiences with one another. When the revolution ignited in Egypt, many of our students were able to give accurate accounts and personal perspectives of the events as they unfolded.

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Comments: 12

Character Education in PreK & Kindergarten

Character Education in PreK and KindergartenWhat children learn about character in the early childhood classroom can shape their character for the rest of their lives. So how do you teach it?

 

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Comments: 8

Protests Prompt Change in Egypt

01_AP110130027268Why is the world concerned about the protests in Egypt? Throughout world history, there have been many historical protests. People assemble and protest for many different reasons: political, financial, social, religious, etc. Whatever the reason, change is the ultimate goal. Some of these protests have led to significant changes while others have been less effective. Whether or not a protest brings about significant or positive change, the fact remains that people, if suppressed and silenced, will assemble and protest whether or not it is a constitutional right. The following resources and activities provide the opportunity for students to explore world protests by comparing and contrasting past protests with current events in Egypt.

Photo: An Egyptian mother hugs her child as she watches thousands of Egyptian protesters gather at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday, January 30, 2011. Copyright Amr Nabil/AP Images.

 

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Comments: 10

Valentine's Day Sweets & Heartbeats Across the Curriculum

The Heart on Valentine's DayValentine's Day is my favorite holiday at school. It's easy for kids to understand.  The decorations are pretty hearts and flowers, and the focus is on friendship, love, and kindness. I like to extend the easygoing and cheerful atmosphere all day and all across the curriculum. Read on to find activities in every subject area that center around my favorite thing: the heart.

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Comments: 2

Teaching about the Tension in Egypt

Deserto___There is a lot of excitement going on in Egypt these days. What is it all about? What would an elementary student need to know? What could you possibly connect it to? What lessons can be learned by discussing the situation? Below are some ways you might incorporate Egypt into your curriculum.

 

Photo courtesy m_bartosch.

  

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Comments: 3

Children of the River

DSC01310[1]I teach in an urban school system that is considered a "gateway" community. We are, after all, about five minutes away from Logan Airport. There are over forty-six languages spoken at our school, and most students speak a language other than English as their first language. Many of these are Cambodian Americans. A large number of Cambodian refugees settled in Revere in the 1980s and 1990s, and many of my students' families experienced the horrors of the Khmer Rouge firsthand. For this reason and others, Children of the River is perfect for my classes. 

 

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Comments: 20

Literacy in Kindergarten Dramatic Play Centers, Part 2

Kindergarten Literacy CentersOne of my students' favorite dramatic play centers is a bakery. It's not only fun, it's also full of ways to practice literacy. And with a good name and logo, all it costs is a little effort.

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Comments: 7

Happy Chinese New Year!

DSC00398Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year! The new Chinese year, the Year of the Rabbit, begins on February 3, 2011. Chinese New Year is a holiday near and dear to my heart because it was a fun, festive, and grand celebration during my childhood years. Come celebrate this special day with me and my class.

Read on to check out my unit on the Chinese New Year and grab a few free printables to use in your classroom.

 

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Comments: 8

Brrr! A Blizzard of Winter Ideas

Winter Theme Activities for Preschool and KindergartenWhatever climate you live in, you can celebrate the winter season with these fun winter activities, crafts, games, and snacks!

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Heroes

MLK speech pic In California, studying famous people and heroes is a 2nd grade social studies standard. In my class, we begin our studies with Martin Luther King, Jr., and then move on to President Lincoln and President Washington.

After watching short videos and reading nonfiction books, we create projects together in class. Then, having learned about each of these men, we compare them and discuss why they are considered heroes. We also talk about the difference between a hero and someone who is merely famous.

Read on to learn more about our unit on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and heroes.

 

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Comments: 3

Martin Luther King Jr. and Common: I Have a Dream

DSC01278Today is Martin Luther King Day, and beyond the fact that they get a day off from school, I'm wondering if my students know much about the man who worked so hard to advance freedom in this country.

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Comments: 6

Axis of Hope

Axis of Hope Double Circl I recently attended a New England Association of Schools and Colleges conference. The luncheon keynote speaker was a man named Carl Hobert, who is the founder and director of an organization called Axis of Hope. I was riveted by Mr. Hobert's address, in which he discussed how Axis of Hope works with adolescents to help them develop an understanding of alternative, nonviolent approaches to resolving complex conflicts locally, nationally, and internationally. I knew right away that this was something that would be powerful in my own school. Read on to find out what happened when we held an Axis of Hope workshop at Revere High School.

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Comments: 4

12 Unforgettable Days of Christmas

Christmas in Kindergarten and PreK
How can you celebrate Christmas for twelve days, and what makes it unforgettable? Open the link to find out. Just a peek . . . you know you want to!

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The 10/24/7+ Review

Blue brainThe brain stores two kinds of memories, in two different ways. One is spatial/experiential memory. This kind of memory is very easy and automatic. For example, you do not have to memorize the location of each desk in your classroom by doing flashcards. Your brain sees them and makes a mental note of the arrangement of the desks in space. Likewise you don't have to memorize how you felt the time you thought you lost a child on a field trip. You automatically remember the feeling.

The second type of memory is rote memory. This is the type of stuff you must rehearse and memorize to get it to stick. Multiplication tables and state capitals fall into this category. I try to have students experience and visualize vocabulary words to make them more memorable. Read on to see how I review vocabulary words with my students throughout the year to make sure they stick.

This post contains a video demonstration of the word wall review game. Brain image courtesy of clker.com.

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Thanksgiving Lessons: Plymouth, Pilgrims, and Native Peoples

 

Miss Bindergarten on Thanksgiving Many nations have their own day of Thanksgiving, but only in the United States is it so loved by some and so hated by others. Try these lessons to help your students understand the history and purpose of the holiday, and have fun at the same time!

 

 

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The Skinny (or the Non-Fat) on Nonfiction

NonfictionMost of the reading and writing we do in life is nonfiction. Informational text helps us live, work, learn, and communicate with society. Facts and data come in an infinite variety of forms, yet most classroom libraries mainly feature fictional storybooks. Surprisingly, students actually enjoy them as much as, or even more than, fiction. Fiction is enjoyable, and can be inspirational and informative, but the ability to decode, comprehend, and analyze knowledge is all of that and one other thing — necessary.

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Time for Thanksgiving!

WebcastGetting your Thanksgiving unit ready? Scholastic has some awesome resources to help you plan a great one. Sign up for the FREE Webcast now! This event will be on November 16, 1 p.m. ET, and you must be signed up to view it. But you can take advantage of the vast variety of other multimedia and more traditional resources available on the site right now. There are videos, tours of the Mayflower, and slide shows that really bring the spirit of Thanksgiving into your classroom. Check it out.

 

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Hats for Humanity Project

Vasicek Hat Measure 2"Say it. Mean it. Do it!" is a phrase I repeat on a daily basis in the classroom. A person is only as good as his or her word. Too often we say things we do not mean. Too often we make commitments and do not follow through. I believe that teachers need to act with the utmost integrity and model every action they suggest to students. So, when it comes to our country's Core Democratic Values (CDVs), we have our work cut out for us. This social studies lesson focuses on economics and the "common good," and has a little bit of math thrown in for some cross-curricular flavor.

 

This post contains a video demonstration of how to make fleece hats.

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Honoring Our Military Heroes

Veterans_day 

Lowville, New York, is about 30 miles from Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, an infantry division of the United States Army. As a result, we have many military families in our school district. Many of our parents willingly make sacrifices for our country every day. Our students make honorable sacrifices, too, each time they say good-bye to a father or mother who is being deployed overseas.

Unfortunately, over the years, our community, like many others, has experienced the loss of soldiers as a result of war. There are no words to express the sorrow over such losses. So, when November 11th comes around, we stop to honor the men and women who have fallen, who have served, and who are serving in the United States Military. This gives all students the opportunity to celebrate their parents, family members, or friends who are currently serving our country. Included in this post is the 2009 video of Obama's Veterans Day Speech.

 

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Comments: 4

Learning Centers, Part 3: A Learning Carnival in Your Classroom

Carnival In "Learning Centers, Part 1," I talked about the various reasons learning centers are important for the classroom. In "Learning Centers, Part 2," I shared ideas for managing your centers. Now, here's the good stuff.

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Comments: 8

Easy Halloween Tricks & Treats Across the Curriculum

Masks As if teaching weren't chaotic and stressful enough, there's holidays to deal with. The first major holiday of the school year is Halloween, and aside from all the projects, parties, and pigging out you'll have to consider, there's also the question of whether you should celebrate at all. First of all, 5-year-olds don't always like spooky things. And second, some parents don't approve of the holiday. What's a stressed-out teacher to do?

 

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Comments: 6

Fire Safety With Smokey, Sparky, and Sesame Street

TheGang   :

 

Hello, readers! I know this is the last day of fire prevention week and many teachers have had enough of fire prevention activities. If this describes you, then these ideas could come in handy next year. If you haven't started yet, you're probably wondering how you can do anything in one day. One day is better than none at all, but I think it will be okay if you break the rules and teach fire safety next week, too. It's relevant all year round, and you can use any opportunity, like when a fire engine goes by or just after a fire drill, to talk about fire with your students. And Smokey Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog, and the Sesame Street muppets are all iconic, loveable characters who can help you.

 

 

 

 

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The Silent Problem: The Plight of the Undocumented Student

DSC00792 


 Which one of these students should not be permitted to attend college, get a job, or join the military?

 

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ALL SOULS & the Theme of Resilience

All Souls 

A few years ago, my good friend and fellow teacher, Bill O'Brien, called in sick to school on a Monday morning. When I talked to him later that day, he told me that he had been up all night reading a book called All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. The book had so profoundly affected Bill that he actually needed a day to process what he had read. Later in the year, Bill fought to have the book added to the senior summer reading list as the social studies requirement.


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Data Gleaning From Glyphs: Math in Pictures for Kindergartners

IntroGlyph12 You may have heard the words pictograph, pictogram, ideograph, ideogram, logogram, phonogram, grapheme, petroform, petroglyph, hieroglyph, etc. These are all forms of writing that use pictures or symbols to represent things such as sounds, letters, words, phrases, concepts, and data. A more general term is simply glyph. Any picture that represents something can be called a "glyph." And for your class, the construction and interpretation of glyphs that represent information about themselves and other topics is an interesting, useful, and engaging math lesson!

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Comments: 20

A Diller, A Dollar, A Nursery Rhyme Scholar

AlliePhoto
The benefits of using nursery rhymes as a teaching tool are numerous. They are short, catchy, playful, and easy to remember. They have patterns. They can be used to discuss concepts such as ethics, culture, history, symbolism, aphorisms, math, and more. Most of all, they are a great aid in any language skill you are trying to teach. Studies have shown that nursery rhymes are instrumental in teaching children to read.

Image © Dave Arns of Arns Publishing and Design

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Comments: 18

A Chrysanthemum by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

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A child's name is their first gift, the first thing that gives them an identity. It's placed on hospital cards. It's made official on a birth certificate. It's lovingly handwritten in baby books. It might even be announced in the newspaper. A name says "I am a specific and unique individual."

Photo © Juliana Coutinho

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Comments: 8

Here's Hoping for You, Kid

3370498053_612bf01ac8
The beginning of a school year is all about hope. 
Classrooms are as neat and tidy as they'll ever be.  Crayons and pencils are as fresh and sharp as they'll ever be.  Everything is new.  For students and teachers alike, a new beginning rings in excitement and expectation, new experiences and expansive possibilities.  And for kindergartners, it's not just a beginning, it's the beginning. 

Photo © D. Sharon Pruitt.

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May I Have Your Attention, Please?

DSCN1433 Kindergarten is an introduction. An introduction to a school and a school community, a classroom and a class community, to encouragement and enthusiasm (hopefully!). And, of course, an introduction to rules and routines. The first six weeks of a child's academic life set the stage for the next twelve years.

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Comments: 6

Ensuring a Tremendous End to a Memorable School Year

Scrapbook2 In just three weeks, the 2009-2010 school year will be coming to an end, and prior to then, I plan on doing a few things to ensure it is a memorable time. This week, I invite for you to read about my plans, some of which you can incorporate on your own. Some you will be able to incorporate this year; others you can try for next year!

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Happy Earth Day!

Cash for Cans Hello! Happy Earth Day! Summer is steadily approaching, here in the desert we're hitting highs close to 100 already! Now is a perfect time for our students to learn about reducing their energy usage and ways in which they can become "green" citizens. Here are a few things that I've done and books that I found online and have used in my classroom to make Earth Day a day where we remind ourselves to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.