Sunday, May 5, 2013

Teaching About Groups' Contributions

Did you hear that the state of California may now require social studies curriculum to teach about the contributions of GLBT individuals? Read my thoughs on Michael Reagan's article "Gay Social Studies Curriculum?" for a conservative look on the subject.

I recently read an article by famous political son, Michael Reagan, which involved what groups would be credited in a new social studied curriculum. The article, discussed how new California curriculum would now list contributions by people based on their sexual orientation, specifically, California is now the first in the nation required to “include the contributions of gays and lesbians in their social studies curriculum”.

Reagan aptly notes that this legislation not only promotes the gay/lesbian activities and lifestyles, but it opens up students to wondering why these people are qualified in the text as being lesbian, gay or transgendered, and why this aspect of their person makes them more special than other peoples. Sure, everyone loves to get credit, but is it really necessary to qualify the contributor with some sort of label? Although somewhat facetiously, Reagan wonders, “When I was a youngster I was teased and bullied for being an adopted child. In view of my personal experiences, should we add the contributions of adoptees to the legislation? How about adding the contributions of skinny kids, or kids with red hair, or extra-long legs or eyeglasses”?

I'm certainly not saying that all qualifications descriptions are bad, certainly not. In fact some "qualifications" (as Reagan puts it) enhance the story because the qualification or description is pertinent to the story. For example, it wouldn't make sense to omit that Rosa Parks was a black woman, the story of a woman sitting on a bus wouldn't be sensational or ground breaking. If we didn't know Ray Charles was blind he'd just be another (albeit, great) piano player. Beethoven's deafness was also astounding because it directly related to his musical contribution, and made the beautiful pieces of music even more unbelievable. I think what Reagan— and I— are stressing is that it should be the contribution and the contributor, not chosen circumstances that are the stress in the textbook.

The wise teacher should remember to teach the concepts of the text, but focus on the person himself, not what the person does; meaning that the teacher would discuss the any contributr to society but not necessarily focus on their sexuality. Similarly, a teacher may discuss the importance of the presidency, while still not agreeing with a President's moral and political actions.
Ultimately, this issue of what should and shouldn't be included in textbooks, and who should be involved with textbook selection is relevant to educational leaders.Curriculum selection also relates to the way teachers omit or stress points in the textbook or mandated curriculum.
For more articles on curriculum selection visit:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kid Craft: Foam Visors with Letters

photo by: David Castillo Dominici
If you're looking for a fun and inexpensive craft look no further. Perfect for a rainy day, or for a birthday craft, you can personalize foam visors with foam letters or shapes. Creating things with foam accessories is not only quick and simple, you can reuse the leftover pieces for a future craft endeavors.

Kids love to personalize things— at least my kids do. If they see something in the store with their name on it, they just “have to” have it. And when their birthday signs they we hang each year inevitably end up hanging in their room until the next banner with their name appears in the kitchen on their birthday. With that thought in mind, I ran across a cute craft that your children will likely enjoy making just as mine did. It only takes two basic supplies— foam visors and foam sticker— but it will be well worth the time it takes for your child to create it, since they can enjoy their handiwork each time they leave the house.

Head to the local teacher-supply, craft store, online or at the discount dollar store and look for a colorful visor for each child. I found visors at a teacher-supply store for $1 each (but I think I’ve seen them in multiple packs at the dollar store before). Select a few foam sticker packs for the children to use to decorate their visor. Look for a variety of shapes and colors, and grab a few packs of letters too. It seems that the manufacturers never seem to add enough “RSTLNE” and A’s to the pack for several children to be able to spell their names fully. And while you are near the craft supplies, consider grabbing some googly eye stickers too, they just look so cute on almost anything!
  1. Spread the craft supplies out on the table, and allow children to apply the stickers to the visor as they prefer. (Tip: Remove strap from the visor and lay the visor flat on the table covered in newspaper or a brown paper bag (to protect the surface).
  2. Help children select the correct letter (for example Ns and Zs can look so similar) and help them take off the sticker backing as necessary.
  3. Peel the sticker backing off the letters or shapes you've bought.
  4. Place the foam sticker on the appropriate place on the visor.
  5. Replace the unused foam stickers in a bag for use next time.
Clean up is relatively simple, yet those sticker backings may pop up around the house for the next few days. And don’t forget to take pictures of the constructing process and the final product. Kids LOVE to show off what they have created themselves, and long-distance relatives are sure to enjoy seeing the kids make and wear their handiwork.

Pass out permanent markers or glitter glue, and let kids draw on the top part of the foam visor.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Lecture for Student Participation- Whole Brain Teaching

Have you ever sat in a classroom lecture and fallen asleep? If not, you are certainly a better student than me! The teacher in this classroom can't help but have engaged students, and he likely has students with great grades too, since he requires participation from everyone at multiple times during his classroom lecture.

While this lecture technique may be a little too disjointed for my tastes, I can definitely understand how students would enjoy this method of learning, particularly those who learn by aurally— since they will remember what is heard and what they themself say.

Check out this brief video (5 minutes) for an example of how to lecture in a new and exciting way that the instructor— Chris Biffle— calls Whole Brain Teaching.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


To say my kids "enjoy" trying to stump me and my husband is an understatement. The problem is, they keep asking us the same questions every day, and try to get us to not answer correctly. Not only are the questions SOOOOO simple (okay, I'll cut them a break, they are only in 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grades) but the questions are just so inane too

So while looking for the next great book to introduce my kids' repetoire, I stumbled upon the book that I think might educate both them and me a bit, or at least it would make for some great dinner conversation. The Time for Kids "Big Book of Why" seems like the perfect book, doesn't it?