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Archive for the ‘Lesson Plans’ Category

My classroom management plan on Scribd

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A few months ago I had to submit a classroom management plan for one of my graduate classes. As I’ve switched grades, had new classroom experiences, and read more information, I’ve tweaked my outlook. The first draft of my classroom management plan is on Scribd. I have seen a few educators post their plans and hope to see others do so as well. As I update my plan, I’ll post those drafts.

Elementary Classroom Management Plan

Publish at Scribd or explore others: How-to-Guides & Manu children learning

The Self-Publishing Classroom: Script Frenzy

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Today’s post on The Writing Teacher inspired me to think about a script-writing unit for writers’ workshop and social studies.

“Who wants to spend the next thirty days writing a script?” This is the question that led my sixth grade class on a writing adventure that took us from war-torn beaches to invading aliens, and from invading gnomes to talking kittens trying to break their fellow felines out of the pound. It was a journey of creativity and wonder, and a ton of teachable moments!

Script Frenzy is an international script-writing event that occurs April 1st – 30th every year. Participants have one month to write a script (Script Frenzy says “screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comics and graphic novels” are welcome). The website gives students tools and tips to write their scripts. Teachers can receive a free Script Frenzy Classroom Kit.

Next year, I hope to make this a social studies project where students turn historic events and narratives into scripts.

Check out The Writing Teacher’s article for ideas and links to help you plan and execute your unit.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be mentioned in an Oscar’s acceptance speech someday…..

The Self-Publishing Classroom: Glossy Magazines with Magcloud

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Who needs to work for Condé Nast or Time Warner when you can publish professional-quality magazines in your own classroom? In an article entitled Do-It-Yourself Magazines, Cheaply Slick, the NYT introduces H.P.’s new service called Magcloud.

In the words of H.P.:

MagCloud enables you to publish your own magazines. All you have to do is upload a PDF and we’ll take care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management, and more.

How much does it cost?

It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud. To buy a magazine costs 20¢ per page, plus shipping. For example, a 20-page magazine would be four bucks plus shipping. And you can make money! You set your issue price and all proceeds above the base price go to you.

How are they printed?

MagCloud uses HP Indigo technology, so every issue is custom-printed when it’s ordered. Printing on demand means no big print runs, which means no pre-publishing expense. Magazines are brilliant full color on 80lb paper with saddle-stitched covers. They look awesome.

I pay particular attention to how students publish work. There are many (reasonably priced) self-publishing websites that give students an authentic medium to publish their work. The process of choosing prices of books (on websites where the books are put up for sale) is a learning and community-building experience. Magcloud opens up a new medium where students can produce professional quality work in the classroom.

Many schools do not have software that exports high resolution PDFs (Adobe InDesign, Quark, etc). If you know of free alternatives, please tell us about them via comment.

Unite Social Justice, Digital Storytelling, and Content with Google Earth Outreach

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I’m always on the lookout for ways to integrate social justice and activism into my content. @vanessacarter gave me a tip about Google Earth Outreach.

In Google’s words:

Google Earth Outreach gives non-profits and public benefit organizations like yours the knowledge and resources you need to reach their minds and their hearts: See how other organizations have benefited from Google Earth Outreach, then learn how to create maps and virtual visits to your projects that get users engaged and passionate about your work.

How can you use this in your classroom? First, go to the showcase. Google gives many examples of dynamic outreach maps by topic: education and culture, environment and science, global development, public health, and social services. You can click on the links and open the KML files in Google Earth. Case studies are examples of how organizations use Google Earth Outreach in their day to day operations.


Look around the showcase – maybe you can use some of the KMLs in your classroom or you can create a project where students make their own Google Earth KMLs.

Here are a few ideas to bridge Google Earth, social justice, and content:

– Math: Are students exploring inequities around the world or in their communities? Use Google Earth, Google Spreadsheet, and other tools to create a dynamic KML about these inequities.

– Language arts and social studies: Write narratives from the perspective of historically oppressed peoples (or from multiple perspectives….). Students can tell use Google Earth as a digital storytelling medium.

– Science: There are many KMLs about environmental issues. Your students can present their research about this timely topic in Google Earth.

– Have a community service project? Whether it is in the community or involves raising money and sending it abroad, students can use Google Earth Outreach to educate people (and themselves) about their cause.

Have you used Google Earth Outreach to link activism and content? Leave comments and share your ideas with us.

Investigating Social Inequity in the Mathematics Classroom

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I came across this Mission Local article about Taica Hsu, a secondary mathematics teacher in an underserved community, who teaches his students to use math to investigate social inequities.

“Where most see numbers, Hsu sees tools. His students do projects in which they apply mathematical principles to illustrate social inequities, sparking discussions of race, class and sexual orientation.

In his world, trigonometry points to justice. Algebra leads to equality. Math is the vehicle, but consciousness-raising is the end.

On one wall, of his purple-painted classroom, posters proclaim the ills of war and social stratification. On another, algebra students’ projects statistically break down the injustices of homeless, drugs and teen pregnancy.”

Growing up, I hated math. I struggled and went to math summer school. I couldn’t understand why algebra mattered and how I could use calculus in my life. I thought I would take the minimal amount of math classes required by my university and call it quits. In my first year of college, I took my first economics class. My professor let me do a project about NAFTA and social justice issues. I was hooked. I struggled through statistics and econometrics courses. In senior year, I did a year-long thesis about the determinants of civil war battle deaths for countries already engaged in civil war. Now, I use my understanding of math and econometrics to consume research that informs my teaching and helps me understand inequality. (Don’t tell my friends I browse EconLit on Friday nights….). Math is empowering – it provides us with a special lens for understanding our world.

Are your students investigating inequity in your math classroom? If so, how? Stay tuned for lesson plans.

Educating the Blogger-Activist

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Want a classroom full of blogger-activists? On Bloggers Unite!, you search for (or create) an activism cause, advertise your blogging event, and then blog about your event on the specified date. Other members of the Bloggers Unite! community can choose to join you in blogging about your cause. Many of us are already using social justice topics to help our students access content – this site adds a blogging and activism dimension that will excite your students.

There are over 70 events in the database – from Earth Day to International Literacy Day. You can create a cause specific to your school or community and get parents, other classrooms, businesses, and other members of your community to join your students in blogging about the cause. If you have activism or charity related events running in your classroom (walk-a-thons/races, penny drives, food drives, etc), use this tool to build community support.

Maybe you’ll inspire a Marx for the 2.0 generation.

(I found Bloggers Unite! on Nisha Chittal’s post called 25 ways to use your blog and social media to create change)

Written by TeacherC

29 March 2009 at 5:06 pm

Ways of the Teacher-Feminist: Text, schema, and stereotypes, oh my!

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I could write hundreds of posts about what it means to be a feminist and why feminism is important. For the purpose of this series, consider yourself a feminist if you believe that the economic, social, and political choices women make should not be unduly influenced by existing gender norms. (Not convinced gender matters? Check out this amazing visualization from the New York Times called Why Is Her Paycheck Smaller? for more information about gender-based wage gaps across industries or check out the research links below). My goal is to write one post about this subject per week.

Text, schema, and stereotypes, oh my!

The diversity of characters and social situations in children’s literature has increased over time. Many books tackle issues of diversity in the plot. Other stories feature diverse characters in plots that are not about prejudice. I’ve realized reading these books to students and expecting them to soak up the social norms is not enough. Even in pre-school and Kindergarten, children have ideas about gender, race, class, language, ethnicity, and other things. In this article, I refer to these ideas as schema. Schema are the mental structures people use to organize information they have about the world and create a framework for processing future experiences. A child’s gender schema is the mental framework they use understand how gender works in the world around them – they assign character traits, social position, and other values to people based on this schema.

I see gender and race schemata in action everyday. When I co-taught a 2nd grade class, I had a calm, intellectual discussion with a diverse group of six students about race, language, and gender. A biography of Jackie Robinson sparked the conversation – one of the students asked “Ok….so….these people are white and we are white…..Are you black? What about ______? She’s from Mexico – what is she?”. Without answering, I turned and asked the other students “what do you think?”. From there, the students talked about how they think race changes over time and there are more races than white and black. I told them that I self-identify as a black person. One student asked “why do we have the military if all they do is kill people?”. The other students gave him their ideas and one student started talking about how her mom is in the military. From there, students discussed how gender works in the military (girls do x, boys do x). The conversation could have continued forever. My role in the conversation was asking students to explain their thinking and asking other students to respond. After this experience, I realized no students are blank slates, and that all information we give them about social norms is compared with the schemata they already have.

Yesterday, I ran across research that helped me understand my experiences. In a paper titled Gender Schema and Prejudicial Recall: How Children Misremember, Fabricate, and Distort Gendered Picture Book Information, Frawley writes about the results of a study about how a child’s gender schema influence their reading and retelling of storybooks. Here is a brief summary of the methods and findings:

Elementary school children were presented two Caldecott Award-winning picture books and asked to retell the stories and answer criterion-specific questions related to genderoconsistent/inconsistent information contained in each story. Responses were qualitatively examined and revealed patterns of spurious recall. Children tended to misremember or distort gender-inconsistent story information. Story retellings included wrongful stereotyped interpretation of main character(s) behaviors and emotions. Follow-up interview questions revealed rationales for any misremembrance and generated responses consistent with gender bias.

The researchers noticed children’s scheme has extraordinary power over their ability to recall stories. For example, when first and fourth graders retold Mirette on the Hire Wire, they were more likely to say that the character Bellini (male) did not want to take Mirette (female) on the high wire because of Mirette’s fear. In the story, Bellini has the fear and Mirette persuades him to go on the high wire.

What does this mean for teachers? Not only do teachers have to give students the opportunity to consume literature that gives students access to marginalized voices, and promotes positive norms, they have to teach children to be critical of themselves and the texts. This looks different at all levels but starts with us: we should preview the literature our children read both through our adult lens and their child lens. Then, we need to give students authentic opportunities to discuss these issues with their peers. Our goal is to provide them with experiences that challenge students’ existing schemata.


  • I ask for predictions. If I hear a prediction that seems to be based on gender/race/class/etc schema, I ask the student to explain their thinking and invite other students to agree or disagree (verbally or with hand signals). Even if the conversation doesn’t melt away all of the stereotypes, I know what schema my students might use, and can plan appropriate educational experiences.
  • Missing narratives: I tell my students history is a story and try to make them aware of marginalized voices using authentic narratives, historical documents, and photographs. Howard Zinn has a history book series called A Young People’s History of the United States that tells history through the perspective of women, indigenous peoples, enslaved peoples, and other marginalized voices (his A People’s History of the United States is a must read). Have students write stories, journal entries, magazines, and newspaper articles from a traditionally marginalized perspective.

How are you a teacher-feminist? Have you noticed the impact of gender, race, and other social schemata in your classroom?

Written by TeacherC

24 March 2009 at 3:05 pm