government


Making School l Elections Meaningful: A Relevant Civics Lesson
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/alan-haskvitz/featured/1

Almost every school has school or class elections with the idea of sharing the true nature of a democracy where everyone can vote. Usually those students who want to run create posters, give a speech, and come election day the results are tabulated and the winner announced. What I would suggest is to consider making it more representative teachable moment.

The Campaign

First, every one who wishes to run for office must meet certain requirements such as a 2.0 GPA. When the person signs-up to vote they are given an agreed upon number of poster paper and they are numbered and signed. They are accompanied by a list of where they can be placed and proper etiquette. In that way all the participants have an equal chance. There can also be interviews in the school newspaper, using the public address system for a fixed number of ads, and a speech that can video tapped to play on the school system, if it is enabled. The whole idea is to make the election fair and to promote creativity within set bounds.

Election Day

The next step takes place before the voting. Students line-up at registration tables where the school attendance folders are duplicated. Students sign by their name and are give a ballot. They have a day to consider the person they wish to vote for and the ballots are cast the following day. This means that some students who don’t care simply can’t vote because they didn’t take the time to register.

The Vote

After the election there is a registration process in which every student who wants to vote registers to vote and receives a ballot.

Integrating the Lesson

I also recommend having an art competition for the best campaign poster and one for the best slogan. The competition could even include the best campaign song. A panel could do the judging, teachers, or it could be on the ballot. In this way the election becomes more interesting to the students and gets them more involved. This site provides information on what is called the “youth vote.” It makes interesting reading, but it also provides more evidence to support educators who use voting as a teaching tool. Have students reach conclusions from this data:
http://collegestats.org/2012/09/25-facts-about-the-youth-vote-this-year/

Of course, integrating civics is a given. Here are some recommended websites that have good lessons to accomplish that goal:

National Student/Parent Mock Election
The best site to get involved.
http://www.nationalmockelection.org/

iCivics lessons
You can register, but it isn’t required. Some lessons are interactive.
https://www.icivics.org/teachers/lesson-plans/mock-election

Mock election link site
Pretty much everything is here, but it takes time to navigate.
http://www.ncwiseowl.org/ss/Citizenship/MockElections/Mock_Elections.htm

Scholastic
Lessons by grade level
http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/unit/elections-everything-you-need

For federal elections
http://www.educationworld.com/a_special/election.shtml

Types of propaganda
Print out
http://shepherdenglish.pbworks.com/f/AdvertisementAssignment.pdf

An exceptional source of Constitutional related materials
A great newsletter, lots of lessons, and a knowledgeable staff.
http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/

Discipline: training that perfects the mental faculties

Ten Skills Every Student Needs and You Probably Don’t Have Time to Teach
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

After 40 years of teaching there comes a time when you want to just yell at the curriculum designers and textbook publishers that they have the cart before the horse. Teachers need to be allowed to spend more time teaching students how to learn and less on preparing for a test which measures nothing applicable in the real world.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I feel that every teacher would love to really teach students how to get ready for the challenges ahead of them and use the curriculum as a stepping stone to that goal. Over the years my students always were at the top in the State in terms of standardized testing. Indeed, some of them had perfect scores. The problem was I was teaching them how to take the test. Fortunately, I as able to shorten the material required for the course by removing those elements I though were essentially chaff so that I could teach them essential skills. Essentially, I started by teaching them how to discipline themselves. This worked so well that I still get letters from students, some decades after they were in my class, thanking me for teaching them for life. I have never gotten a letter thanking me for teaching them the Monroe Doctrine.

Here is the list and it far from complete, which are skills that need to be taught. Feel free to comment and add your own.

Learning how to Learn

Developing a love for learning is essential for any educator. It is the most important lesson a teacher can impart to a student and it is also the most difficult. A teacher may have to face a variety of hindrances from lack of parental care, nutritional and emotional problems, and even severe mental concerns. Regardless, there needs to be an effort and the best way is to become a facilitator by prodding, motivating, and providing a diverse array of learning materials to challenge the student to learn for themselves. Most often the textbook, frequently filled with data with little relevance to the student, is the main focus of instruction. And, perhaps, that is the way it must be if the goal is a test that measures improvement in the acquisition of this data. The teacher can feel confident as he or she has covered the material by sticking to the textbook. Motivational, hardly, but that is how teachers are frequently judged. There is another way to do this, but it is time consuming and requires a multitude of rubrics. Providing a variety of materials and having the students learn from them is an arduous task. However, once it is done a teacher can spend the rest of years modifying, adding, and individualizing lessons to meet the needs of the students. ReachEveryChild (cited below) provides a variety of sources for this free material and is an excellent place to start individualization.

The second part of learning how to learn based on whether the student is an auditory, visual or kinetic learner and how to use these to their advantage. It is impossible for a teacher to use all of these methods when presenting lessons, but a student can create their own lessons to help them acquire the knowledge. In my classes I have students create poems, songs, graphic organizers and the Cornell note taking system. In this way there is a variety of methods for them to learn. I insist they use my linking and three transfer method of learning as well. The linking method makes them link what they are learning to other things they have learned and create a “learning tree” of it that they add to throughout the year. The three transfer method is to have students read the material, take notes on it, and transfer that material to another mode such as notecards. I also recommend presenting the answer to a question and have them supply the question. This is an excellent test of finding out what they know. It can be used in all subjects.

What is Valid

If you have time, giving the student a variety of short articles to read and asking them to figure out what would be the best way to judge this material is very worthwhile. This process should also include a study of the various types of propaganda, how to evaluate a website for bias, and stereotyping. That is a lot to swallow and so it is best as part of a school-year long program. If you are teaching social studies an ideal unit could be the differences of opinion between the South and the North about slavery. Learning how to learn is not just about the acquisition of skills, but for the student to acquire the ability to judge the material. One of the best tools to get students to read is Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four. As the students read the article they keep track of the characters and reach various conclusions as the teacher hands them the next page. The lesson makes them detectives, but more importantly allows them to learn for life. Seldom are we giving all the answers, but we must make decisions by what we know and judge what is valid.

Speed Reading, not just reading.

It isn’t any secret that the first basic skill is reading. But not just reading, but speed reading. Close reading will follow much more quickly if students can learn how to read rapidly. Reading for facts and reading for pleasure can both be more enjoyable if a student acquires the ability to focus on several words at one time. I taught second graders how to read over a 1000 words per minute at their grade level. The usual improvement was always 200 to 400 words per minute more and this was for language arts and social studies materials. Interestingly the comprehension improves as the speed level doubles as the student concentrates on the material. It is a win-win, but it most be reinforced until it becomes a habit and it takes at least 30 days for it to become a habit. Be warned that some students are resistant to it and so online speed reading sites can help them challenge themselves at their own rate.

Write at Grade Level +

The first thing on teaching a student to write is to explain the types of writing based on the purpose. Taking notes while on the phone or writing a compare and contrast essay may be different in length, but the ingredients are the same. However, for longer works you need to teach the student to write at grade level. I have the students write a one page paper on their favorite vacation either real or imagined. Next, I have them underline all the one syllable words. After that they circle any word that they have not known since primary school. The Fry Formula is applied and the students record their writing scores. They is always silence as the students realize that they are writing at several grades below grade level. Now, that isn’t necessarily bad, but it does force them to expand their vocabulary and that is good. I always have a few Thesaurus books on hand and show them how to use them. The results are immediate and the students not only improve their writing, but improve their thinking and organizational skills as well as they strive to improve. My article (citation below) provides an in-depth look at this successful practice that has enabled my students to win numerous writing competitions.

Teach Them to be Journalist

This vital profession is based on training that every student needs. The ability to communicate, to judge facts, and to influence others with their work. There is no other profession that is so vital for students to learn from because it is essentially what they are going to do nearly every day of their life. A good journalist seeks out evidence and judges it. They write using the who, what, when, where, why, and how approach. They use the inverted triangle that helps them organize facts. Finally, it teaches them to be curious and ask questions and, very importantly, take good notes.

Teach Them to be Lawyers

Perhaps, oversimplifying, but lawyers earn them living by researching and providing evidence that their cause is correct. This requires an examination of evidence and organization. This is another valuable trait that can help students of all ages. For example, was George Washington was a good president? Can you prove it? Can you provide evidence that he was not so good? Some may call this critical thinking, but that type of thinking can not really be utilized until a student is able to have a variety of experiences that enable them to make a critical decision. Thus using the basic skills of an attorney in proving a point and providing evidence to that end are skills they are going to need to write essays persuasive and expository essays and in life.

Be Accountable

At the beginning of the school year I ask the students to look around the room and, without naming names, tell me how many other students they would hire to work for them based on the knowledge that they wanted good workers. After that I ask them to write that number down, fold the paper, and place it in a basket. I take out the numbers and place them on the board to come out with an average. In almost every case it is ten percent of the students or less. That means that the others already have a reputation of not being good workers. The reason for this is that many students simply do not hold themselves accountable. Immediate gratification, poor parenting, the need for quick teacher assessment with little assessment of the assessment, all help feed a “who cares” mentality. This results in large scale cheating with little fear of consequence. Research has overwhelming shown that rewards must be intrinsic to be a lasting value. If students are to be held accountable there must be a reward system that works and entices parent buy-in.
People Skills

We aren’t talking about cooperative learning, we are talking about the ability to get along with others regardless of differences. We are talking about good manners, social skills, negotiating skills, and the ability to work together to create a common goal. Skills as basic as how to talk to people on the phone, how to ask permission, or even showing remorse or concern are missing and yet vital for life.

Handling Emergencies
Handling emergencies is also seldom taught at school. Yes, fire drills are held, but what value are they to the student when a fire really occurs elsewhere? My students wrote and had published in the American Fire Journal the problems with school fire drills in the hopes of enlightening others. School administrators essentially ignored it because it wasn’t an area to be tested. Sad, because the issues the students brought up were important. For example, why does the fire extinguisher stay in the room during a fire drill? Why do the students stand up in rows when an explosion could knock them over? Who knows where the dangerous chemicals are? What do the various colored helmets that firemen wear mean? Needless to say, handling emergencies is a vital skill. Why doesn’t every student know CPR? How to stop bleeding? Or to identify a person having a “fit” and knowing how to act? Taking this a step further, how to teach students not to panic and to learn how to identify people should be taught. But, who has the time?

Skills for life

Setting realistic goals, identifying propaganda and bias, budgeting time, operating a computer and touch typing, triage work assignments, handling money and investments, observation skills, where to find information and measure its accuracy, and learning how to listen can all be incorporated in the curriculum. Each of these carry lifelong importance and all can and have been taught within the curriculum if there is time. There are free units of study on almost all of these areas available. The teacher needs to be given the time and flexibility to personalize them for their class.

Before I get off my high horse I must add one more thing and that is for the student to learn how to be happy. My friend Larry Martz, an editor with Newsweek, wrote in his book Making Schools Better, about the small bite principle. This is a simple plan where small strides can result in large gains. An educator who just takes one of these ideas to heart could make a huge difference knowing well that it is at least as significant as anything on a standardized test.

Why Students Cheat
http://www.teachers.net/gazette/NOV08/haskvitz/

Making Schools Better
http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8129-1939-4

Car Rating Site
http://autos.jdpower.com/

Government fuel economy site
http://fueleconomy.gov/

How to Improve Student Writing
http://reacheverychild.com/blog/2014/not-so-secret-formula-improves-writing

Student speed reading lessons
There are others
http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles/stancliffe59.html

Using the Inverted Triangle
http://www.multimedia-journalism.co.uk/node/2097

Election and Propaganda Lessons

This is a great time of year to use teachable moments in your curriculum. You can integrate election issues into current events, math, civics and social studies, history, life skills, and other areas. Here are some of the best resources I have found. Please feel free to send me your own by clicking on my name on http://www.reacheverychild.com/alan.html

Election Videos

A great collection on all aspects of voting and elections past and present.

http://www.watchknow.org/SearchResults.aspx?SearchText=election

Teachable moments

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/teachable-moments.html

 

Propaganda

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/propaganda.htm

Elections

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/election08.html

Prepare your students to vote

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/election.html

Voting sites

http://www.reacheverychild.com/socialstudies/civics/voting.html

Get Ready to Vote

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/elections.html

Presidential Links

Check out the mock voting sites. Excellent and involving. Also make sure you order materials from VoteSmart. Non-partisan, easy to read, and in many languages.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/presidents.html

 

Civics

http://www.reacheverychild.com/lessonplans/plan7.html

And

http://www.reacheverychild.com/socialstudies/civics/index.html

Contributions to candidates

http://www.fec.gov/DisclosureSearch/mapApp.do

Contributions by Zip Code

http://www.opensecrets.org/

And

http://www.opensecrets.org/states/index.php

General Sites

C-Span

c-spanclassroom.org

New York Times Learning Network

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/category/civics

The White House

http://www.whitehouse.gov

Banned Book Lists and Lessons

by Alan Haskvitz

http://www.reacheverychild.com/alan.html

The power of the writing word has caused a great many legal cases challenging the First Amendment. A discussion about these cases and the books involved is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the legal process and see different viewpoints.

What I especially like about this topic is that shows how society’s values change over time and enables students to develop an appreciation for standing up for one’s rights. As always preview these resources with the child and parents in mind. And there is a need to explain to the students that a banned book and a challenged book are not the same. As always, follow the directions of your administration.

Teachers and the Law

Legal cases that all educators and parents should know about.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/teacher_law.html

The American Library Association Page

Includes a list of frequently banned books plus ideas and resources and a calendar of events.

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

Books Suppressed by Legal Authorizes

For older students. Really quite interesting to see the differences in various countries as well as in the past.

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/banned-books.html

History of Book Banning

http://www.freedomtoread.ca/links_and_resources/bannings_and_burnings.asp

Recent censorship

Includes banned books and authors.

http://banned-books.com/bblist.html

Banned Children’s Books

Includes Goosebumps, My Brother Sam is Dead, Gulliver’s Travels, and

Harriet the Spy among others

A link page for older students

http://www.booksatoz.com/censorship/banned.htm

Classic books that have been banned.

http://classiclit.about.com/od/bannedliteratur1/Banned_Books_Censorship.htm

Banned book and censorship resources

For older students

http://www.georgesuttle.com/censorship/

The Controversy over Harry Potter

http://www.kidspeakonline.org/fighthp_zeeland.html

How to deal with Censorship in Schools

Includes ideas and links.

http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr031.shtml

Lesson Plans

http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=410

When Books Burn

Lessons and Links

http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/

Reasons to teach about banned books

http://step.evergreen.edu/tescind/censorshiplesson.htm

Banned Book Webquest

http://education.iupui.edu/webquests/books/banned.htm

Webquest for older students

http://www2.gvsu.edu/~zoellmee/webquest/

Inauguration Lesson Plans

http://www.reacheverychild.com

About Alan Haskvitz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

January 20th is Inauguration Day and a great way to get students involved in a teachable moment. Also, here are some Martin Luther King Day lessons, too.

Martin Luther King Jr. Lessons, Links, and Ideas

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/aa_history.html

Here are some excellent inauguration lessons for all levels.

President’s Day lessons.

A huge number of good resources are posted here.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/president.html

Presidential Lessons

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/presidents.html

Abraham Lincoln Resources

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/lincoln.html

InexpensiveAmerican school and district computers and servers that run free software

http://www.eracks.com

Challenger Astronaut and Space Lesson Plans and Resources

Space Related Lessons

A huge selection from planets to weather.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/shuttle.html

Astronomy lessons and links

Very large collection that includes a variety of resources from tracking satellites to Ask an Astrophysicist. For all levels.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/astronomy.html

Lessons on explorers throughout time

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/explorers.html

Wright Brothers Lessons

Very complete and a great site for finding aviation related materials

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/wright_bros.html

General Space Links

http://www.reacheverychild.com/science/space/index.html

NASA Robots

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/robot.html

Christa McAuliffe Site

This site has podcasts, lesson plans, videos and more about science from the Challenger Learning Center that is dedicated to the memory of those killed in the shuttle tragedy, including Christa McAuliffe. There are such Learning Centers throughout the United States.

http://www.challenger.org/programs/index.cfm

A list of Learning Challenger Centers by State

http://www.challenger.org/clc/network.cfm

Challenger challenges for students

http://www.challenger.org/programs/sciencechallenges.cfm

Lesson plan database.

http://www.challenger.org/teachers/lessons/index.cfm

Christa McAuliffe’s six science lessons that were prepared for the nation children, but never performed.

http://www.challenger.org/programs/51Llessons.cfm

Webcasts from the Center by Topic and Date

http://www.challenger.org/programs/ccwebcast.cfm

Podcasts and Videos

http://www.challenger.org/programs/multimedia.cfm

Downloadable Space Day Tool Kit, Games and more for Space Day, May 2, 2009

http://www.spaceday.org/

Pros and Cons of Space Travel

A critical thinking lesson for students

http://www.school.za/PILP/themes/space2/space2_lesson.htm

Astronaut Biographies

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/

Photos, Data on Shuttle Craft

http://www.globalaircraft.org/planes/shuttle_challenger.pl

Ideas for Star Child Lessons for Younger Students

http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/teachers/teachers.html

Imagine the Universe Lessons for older students
http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/teachers/teachers_corner.html

Space Myths

Interesting information about Black Holes, Comets and More

http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/eds/tools/type/myths.php.p=Teaching%2Btools%40%25

A huge variety of lessons about space and its implications, including the Jupiter Galileo mission. Well worth a visit.

http://www.windows.ucar.edu/cgi-bin/tour.cgi?link=/teacher_resources/activity.html&sn=294781&br=graphic&d=/teacher_resources&cd=false&fr=f&tour=&sw=false&edu=elem

Earth and Mars Lessons

http://www-k12.atmos.washington.edu/k12/index.html

Mars Exploration Site with Lessons for Teachers

http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov/

NASA Home Page for Teachers

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html

JPL Home Page for Teachers

This Jet Propulsion site has several activities offered on site as well as downloadable lessons.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/index.cfm

The Space Place Teachers Section

Activities and lessons and all downloadable. Great for challenging students. Check the animations.

http://spaceplace.jpl.nasa.gov/en/educators/index.shtml

Printable Shuttle for coloring

http://www.starbritelearning.com/star-pg3.html

Science Education Gateway

An impressive listing of resources for teachers, including web-based and hands-on, inquiry based-lessons

http://cse.ssl.berkeley.edu/SEGway/educators_resources.html

Election Lesson Plans and Resources

By Alan Haskvitz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

These election themed sites have lessons and materials for all levels on all aspects of the government. I suggest you bookmark this site for use in future elections.

The list has been moved here due to space concerns. All free.

http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/election08.html

 

 

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