Category Archives: Grade Levels

Revolutionary War Links

Here are resources I’ve compiled for teaching the American Revolution/Revolutionary War.  Thank you to Dionne Hemphill for the latest additions to the list.

The Road to Revolution – Game

Lesson Plans for Teaching (SCORE)

The American Revolution – Education World

Constitution Day Activities

Natural History Museum – Making a New Nation

Timeline of American Revolution

The American Revolution

The Declaration of Independence

Making of the Constitution

Articles of Confederation vs. Constitution Graphic Organizer

Kids in the House House of Representatives Site for Kids

History and Geography

History Lessons for English Language Learners

If You Were President Game

Tasks Related to American Revolution

Revolutionary War Biographies

Biographies of Women in War

Virtual Marching Tour of the Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War Online Resource

Kids Page at Valley Forge

Find other resources for this unit here.

Mock Election Ballot

Have your students participate in the upcoming election using this ballot created by Francie Kugelman, frequent web site contributor….

Download Election Ballot

Create Your Own Campaign Ad

Now your students have a chance to create their own campaign ad for their presidential bid thanks to the National Constitution Center.  Due to the tongue in cheek nature of the campaign commercial that results this is probably most appropriate for older students like fifth grade to middle school.

Visit Ad-o-Matic here.

Students take a picture of themselves or upload a photo, choose a party, pick issues that are important to them and then the site does the rest. It does not let you choose your policy. In other words, I say I care about the environment and the site says I want to install air fresheners in buildings.

Mac users may need to fine-tune the settings to get their built in iSight camera to be recognized but otherwise this was really easy to make.  To get past the novelty and result in some real learning, you’ll need to discuss the issues in greater depth.

Here’s the commercial I created…

Open Court in the Special Education Classroom

This question comes frequently from special education classrooms who are teaching the Open Court Reading Program…

I have a classroom of fifth graders reading at a first grade level.  Can’t I just teach my fifth graders the first grade curriculum?

While fifth grade students may not be able to read, they can certainly comprehend, are curious, and need access to the content contained in the fifth grade curriculum as much as they need to know how to read.  Maybe they can’t read but they’re not babies.

If you’re teaching fifth graders the first grade curriculum (which includes things like we take a boat to travel somewhere on the water) your students are falling behind not only in reading but also in content knowledge.  You are putting your students at a severe disadvantage in school as well as life.

That said, it’s difficult teaching a program that’s rigorous to students who are far behind.  However, program components like the workbook, the reading anthology, and word knowledge are all done whole group.  You are providing exposure to concepts that students won’t master yet but they will need.   I would hope that in special education your pacing can be modified to allow a longer period of time to work on the same units.  Nevertheless, just like in the regular ed classroom, your differentiation comes from your independent work time/workshop period.  That is when you meet with small groups, pre-teach, reteach, and support students in ways that are specific to them.  During that time, if you want to bring in a first grade decoable book to reteach the /i/ sound then feel free…although you might do better to bring in some authentic literature in that time to not only reteach skills but also support students’ appreciation of literature.

For more on Special Education, read Special 2 Me, written by a special education teacher who teaches Open Court, or Teachers At Risk, written by an always inspiring Canadian educator.

NPR Article: Children's Play Co-opted

NPR reports on the commercialization of children’s play which has shifted in the second half of the twentieth century from an emphasis on activities towards and emphasis on specific toys and rules.

“(in the first half of the century) [Children] improvised their own play; they regulated their play; they made up their own rules…but in the second half of the 20th century…play changed radically.  instead of spending their time in autonomous shifting make-believe, children were supplied with ever more specific toys for play and predetermined scripts…a trend whih begins to shrink the size of children’s imaginative space.”

The damage is that researches have seen a decrease in children’s self regulation, an ability to “control their emotions, and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.”

“Today’s 5-year-olds [are] acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago.”

I’ve written previously about allowing children to play whenever possible, even integrating that into your Independent Work Time and existing curriculum.  For teachers of the Open Court Reading Program, I beg you to please implement independent work time and to allow that to be a time when students make some of their own choices and begin to self-regulate their own behavior.  It’s a little more chaotic at first but by investing time in training you reap dividends later.  By moving students from center to center based on a rotation, you further take away from students opportunities to make decisions about their own learning.

We all want students to be responsible but do we give them chances to learn responsibilty?  Do we give them changes to exhibit creativity and problem-solving in our classrooms?