Lesson plan


Great Mother’s Day lesson plan
by Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Mother’s Day cars are an excellent teaching tool as well as an opportunity for the students to learn about famous women in history.

The lesson starts with the students developing a list of positive character traits. There are some excellent sites listed below. Next, they research famous women in history and make a list of what traits those women possessed. This can either be done as as a group or as a class project.

After the research is complete the students each have to look at the traits and make a list of those traits that their mother or other care-giver have and the other famous women who shared those traits.

When this research is completed, it usually takes about two days, the students are given card stock and coloring tools and start to create their Mother’s Day cards. On the first page is a list of the famous women with a greeting such as You are Famous, Mom.

On the second or inside cover page is a list of the character traits that the students found. Older students may even be able to provide an example of each significant woman’s trait with a quote or summary of the deed(s).

On page three the student writes Happy Mother’s Day and lists the traits that their mother has and what other famous women share that favorable trait.

When the card is done the teacher needs to check it over for accuracy and offer suggestions as needed.

The result is a Mother’s Day card that is unique and highly appreciated. Depending on the student the project should take a couple of periods for the research and a period for the artwork and finalization.

Here is a site that could help the student start their research. It is about the character traits of Amelia Earhart.
http://ameliaearhartsce.weebly.com/character-traits.html

Famous women in history
Lessons, videos, and more
http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/

Time for Kids
Famous women stories
http://www.timeforkids.com/minisite/womens-history-month

Excellent list of important women
From Scholastic, short biographies by last name.
http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/women/notable.htm

What is character?
This article explains character and gives several good examples.
http://www.character-training.com/blog/list-of-character-traits/

For the more traditional approach, here are some tried and true ideas.

Mother’s Day Craft Ideas
http://atozteacherstuff.com/Themes/Mother_s_Day/
http://www.teachingheart.net/mompage.htm

Basic site with brief history of Mothers Day and Projects
http://holidays.mrdonn.org/mothersday.html

Games for Mother’s Day
For younger students
http://www.akidsheart.com/holidays/mday/mdgms.htm

W omen’s Rights lessons
For older students
http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=435

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Dental Health Lessons
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

Teaching students to take care of their teeth is vital. Research has shown that bad teeth can result in heart problems and other aliments.It also means missed days of school. Here are some good resources that deal with everything from toothbrushes to toothpaste to flossing with braces. Below are some resources that can make this topic interesting and valuable. Problems with oral care account for almost a million absences a year in just California.

Common Core related dental questions

Dental health facts to get students thinking
http://www.dentalgentlecare.com/fun_dental_facts.htm

Great videos about dental care.
Includes everything from dental care to animations to dental tools to music.
http://www.watchknow.org/Category.aspx?CategoryID=4697

Before toothpaste
http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/teeth_care.html

Primary lessons
http://www.teachingheart.net/teeth.html

Lessons by grade level
http://www.atozteacherstuff.com/Themes/Teeth/

Printables
http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/kids-brushing-playlist
http://www.mouthhealthykids.org/en/activity-sheets

Songs about dental health for children
http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/kids-brushing-playlist

What to look for in an electric toothbrush
http://electrictoothbrushreviews.org/
http://www.consumersearch.com/electric-toothbrushes

Toothpaste ratings
http://www.consumersearch.com/toothpaste

Types of toothpastes
http://www.dentistry.com/daily-dental-care/dental-hygiene/which-type-of-toothpaste-is-best

How to floss
Includes flossing with braces.

Fun Activities and Facts about the Presidential Inauguration
http://americanhistory.about.com/od/uspresidents/ss/inauguration.htm

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama holds a Bible that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Lincoln Bible, which was used at President ObamaÕs 2009 inaugural ceremony. Daughters Sasha and Malia stand with their parents.  (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. administers the oath of office to President Barack Obama during the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013. First Lady Michelle Obama holds a Bible that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Lincoln Bible, which was used at President ObamaÕs 2009 inaugural ceremony. Daughters Sasha and Malia stand with their parents. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

What is the Inauguration?
An Inauguration is a ceremony to mark the start of a new four-year term of as president of the United States of America.

What was the first Inauguration like?
George Washington’s day found out from Congress that he had won the presidency. He borrowed money to pay off his debts in Virginia and traveled to New York. On April 30, he came across the Hudson River in a specially built and decorated barge. This custom gave rise to Inaguruation floats that are now scene in the official parade. Washington’s inaugural ceremony was performed on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York. The president then went indoors to read Congress his inaugural address. The evening celebration was opened and closed by 13 skyrockets and 13 cannons being fired. Today that tradition continues with a 21 gun salute fired from artillery pieces.

Inauguration Day takes place on January 20 and the president’s term starts at noon after the Chief Justice administers the oath to the president. Inauguration Day was originally on March 4, four months after election day, but this was changed to noon on January 20 by the Twentieth Amendment in 1933
http://www.npr.org/series/169619067/inauguration-2013

Why is it important?
The United States of America is a Democratic Republic. That means that the voters elect someone to represent them. The elections determine who is the representatives, or, in the case of the Inauguration, who will lead the country’s Executive Branch. The Inauguration is important because it represents the peaceful transfer of power. It also is a way to celebrate the voter’s decision.

Who gives the Oath of Office?
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/01/21/second-inauguration-barack-obama

What is the Oath of Office?
I, , do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

What is the inaugural address?
Newly sworn-in presidents usually give a speech called the inaugural address. They can vary in length with George Washington’s being only 135 words and William Henry Harrison’s 8,495 words. (Later in this article and you can test the president’s address for grade level and compare them.)
What is the Inaugural Parade
The Inaugural Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue passes the presidential reviewing stand in front of the White House. The typical duration of the parade is about two hours and proceeds along the 1.5 miles of Pennsylvania Avenue in view of the presidential party. The president, vice-president, their respective families and members of the government and military review the parade from an enclosed stand at the edge of the North Lawn.
Where is it held?
The event is held at the Capitol’s western front in Washington DC.
https://www.aoc.gov/us-capitol-building

What does the word mean?
It is a French word meaning an installation or consecration. Essentially, it is a word that is meant to convey good omens.

What do other nations call their inaugurations?
If a country has a monarchy, which means the leader is not chosen by the people, but born into that position such as a king or queen, the ceremony is called a coronation. It is highlighted by a crown being placed on the head of the one being honored.
http://www.telegraph.co.ukph.co.uk/news/uknews/queen-elizabeth-II/10066234/Next-coronation-to-involve-other-faiths-besides-Christianity.html

Who is in the parade?
Both military and civilian participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia are involved as well as bands and floats.
Chapter two
What is the Executive Branch?
The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of the United States, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws and appoints the heads of the federal agencies and Cabinet. The Vice President is also part of the Executive Branch, ready to assume the Presidency should the need arise.
Why is the position important?

The President has the power either to sign legislation into law or to veto* bills enacted by Congress. The Executive Branch conducts diplomacy with other nations, and the President has the power to negotiate and sign treaties, which also must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. The President can issue executive orders, which direct executive officers or clarify and further existing laws. The President also has unlimited power to extend pardons (A person is forgiven of a crime) and clemencies (mercy to a convicted individual) for federal crimes, except in cases of impeachment.
*A veto means that president does not approve of the bill and it cannot become law unless the Senate and House can override the decision by a 2/3rds vote.

Qualifications of a President
The President must be 35 years of age, be a natural born citizen, and must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Elected by Electoral College
The President is not, in fact, directly elected by the people. Instead, on the first Tuesday in November of every fourth year, the people elect the members of the Electoral College. Apportioned by population to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Electors then cast the votes for President. There are currently 538 electors in the Electoral College.

What is the Cabinet?
The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments. They are the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services,
Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development,
Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, The Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs

Chapter Three
Strange Inauguration happenings.
In 1865, Andrew Johnson was ill with typhoid fever and took the medicine that impacted his speech as he bragged about his humble origins and his triumph over Confederate States. Despite the best efforts of those around him he refused to stop. It is called that “hungover speech.”

Ulysses S. Grant thought that canaries would add a festive touch to his inaugural ball in 1873, but the cold March temperatures caused a recorded 100 birds to freeze to death during Grant’s inauguration.

During Richard Nixon’s Inauguration Day parade hundred years later he wanted to make sure pigeons didn’t ruin his day. The Nixon had a chemical bird repellant sprayed all along the inaugural parade route. The result was dozens of dead pigeons along the route of the parade.

After Andrew Jackson’s inauguration he threw an epic party at the White House and is was crashed by drunken backers who broke windows, china, and damaged the drapes. To get them out of the White House the staff placed a tub of booze on the front yard.

When President Herbert Hoover was sworn in, the chief justice who administered the oath, William Howard Taft, apparently substituting the word “maintain” for “protect.” An eighth-grade girl named Helen Terwilliger caught the errors and sent Taft a note. He denied it, but the newsreels showed the young girl to be right.

Unusual facts
George Washington’s wife, Martha, did not make the trip to New York
Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
James Monroe was the first president to take the oath out-of-doors in Washington.
Martin Van Buren inaugural parade saw first use of floats.
Franklin Pierce stood up in his carriage during the parade and memorized his speech.
Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural was the first to have African-Americans participated in the inaugural parade.
Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to take the oath of office in the White House.
William McKinley had his inaugural recorded on a movie camera.
Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural was the first time that women participated in the inaugural parade.
Harry S. Truman’s was the first inauguration to be televised.
Lyndon B. Johnson was first to use a bullet-proofed, closed limousine.
Richard M. Nixon only allowed people with special invitations to the ceremony to be admitted to the Capitol Grounds.
Jimmy Carter was first to make provisions for the handicapped to watch the parade.
Ronald Reagan had first closed-captioning of television broadcast for the hearing impaired.
William J. Clinton’s was the first ceremony broadcast live on the Internet.

Here are some Awesome Stories links to inaugurations.
https://www.awesomestories.com/search/full/inauguration

Fast facts about First Ladies at Inaugurations.
Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Elizabeth Monroe, and Anna Harrison were did not attend the inauguration.
Sarah Polk was present at the inauguration and attended the Inaugural Ball, but the ball was stopped in deference to her religious beliefs.
IJane Pierce did not attend because was upset that her husband lied to her about running for president.
Mary Lincoln was in attendance and is said to have danced with her husband’s opponent, Stephen Douglas at the Inaugural Ball.
Julia Grant attended.
Lucy Hayes was at the Inauguration.
Crete Garfield was there and made a statement that was startling as she proclaimed how super human her husband looked only to have him die a few months later.
Grover Cleveland was a bachelor at the time. A year later the 49-year-old president married a woman 28 years younger. When Cleveland lost the election she vowed to return, and she did four years later.
Carrie Harrison was there.
Ida McKinley was witnessed the swearing in of her husband but fell ill at the Inaugural Ball.
Edith Roosevelt watching Theodore’s swearing-in ceremonies.
Nellie Taft was there for William’s inauguration.
Ellen Wilson was in attendance, but when she died Woodrow remarried and his wife, Edith, attended his second inauguration.
Florence Harding was very active in the Inaugural.
Grace Coolidge not only witnessed the ceremony, but talked with Nellie Ross, the nation’s first woman Governor.
Lou Hoover was late to the ceremony.
Eleanor watched her husband take the oath of office four times.
Bess Truman was there and hosted the first integrated inaugural ball.
Mamie Eisenhower was there and was kissed by her husband.
What is called the “First Lady” Inauguration was done so because first ladies and future first lades were in attendance such as: Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford.
Lady Bird Johnson was there and held a Bible while her husband took the oath of office.
Pat Nixon was there but was forced to sit down as protesters threw rocks. This happened at both inaugurations. Richard Nixon later became the first president to resign after the Watergate affair became public. He was replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford and there wasn’t an inauguration.
Rosalynn was there. With her husband, Jimmy Carter they got of of the chauffeured cars and walked during the parade.
Nancy Reagan was there dress in very expensive clothes and watched her husband, Ronald, take the oath on the west side of the Capitol. During his second inauguration she was wearing an outfit estimated to cost over $40,000. The event was held in the Capitol Rotunda due to freezing weather.
Barbara Bush was there both times and walked back to the White House.
Hillary Clinton was there and walked back to the White House with her husband, William Jefferson Clinton.
Laura Bush was there both times her husband took the oath.
Michelle Obama was there both times her husband, Barrack Obama took the oath of office.
For more information read First Ladies by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
http://parpro.zweb.com/Inauguration.html

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Here is a lesson plan for your school
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:

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
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. It is important for students to understand how propaganda is used to influence them in elections and elsewhere.
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/

Libraries: The Heart of the School is Disappearing
by
Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

According to recent research, the library and a qualified librarian can directly help in the improvement of student reading levels. Add to that the Common Core requirements for additional reading and writing using a variety of sources and you a clear cut case to keep the library at the heart of the school.

With cutbacks centered on libraraisn and libraries in many states, the reserch from Colorado and Pennsylvania makes it clear that the most important factor, outside of the classroom, was having a full-time librarian and this was particularly true at facilities that deal with groups that have low-income students as well as those with reading problems.

Unfortunatley, this research has not been enough to motivate some districts where funding is sparse. For example, in Los Angeles Unified School District half of the elementary and middle schools don’t have a librarian and in New York only half of the high schools have a librarian.

This map shows how far reaching the lack of funding for libraries goes. Some of the sites noted portray a dismal picture and is a must visit for teachers and parents.
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=117551670433142326244.000482bb91ce51be5802b&dg=feature

On the other hand, this site shows how much money a library and technology center can save
http://www.maine.gov/msl/libs/advocacy/savings.htm

Resources for Librarians and teachers
Excellent list from everything from lesson plans to book publishers
http://www.sldirectory.com/

Outdated School Libraries:
What Can You Do to Update Yours?
Where to look for grants and how to make over existing libraries.
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin181.shtml

Free Classroom Resources for Women’s History Month

This site is excellent and contains free resources, lessons and ideas to help motivate students at all grade levels and subject areas.

https://mycalcas.com/2016/03/classroom-resources-for-womens-history-month/

Resources for National Hispanic* Heritage Month
By National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
http://www.findingdulcinea.com/features/profiles/h/alan-haskvitz.html

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, America observes National Hispanic Heritage Month. This observation began in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week, but it was expanded in 1988 to include the entire month-long period. To help educators and parents with this observance, I have put together free resources to help undestand the significance of the month and tie it in with Common Core reading and writing reqirements.

One of the official sites
http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.org/

Latino-Hispanic Heritage
http://www.42explore2.com/latino.htm

Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month
http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/heritage_month/hhm/index.html

Hispanic Heritage Resources for Teachers
https://www.teachervision.com/hispanic-heritage-month/south-america/6629.html

Hispanic Heritage Music Resources
You may be asked to register.
https://www.teachervision.com/hispanic-heritage-month/resource/20161.html

Other lessons related to Hispanic history
The Aztecs – Mighty Warriors of Mexico
http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/aztecs-mdash-mighty-warriors-mexico

Aztecs Find a Home: The Eagle has Landed
A unit of study about the founding of the Aztecs capital, Tenochtitlan
http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/aztecs-find-home-eagle-has-landed

Conquistadors
A encompassing view of how Europeans controlled the natives.
http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/theconquistadors/tp/08conquistadors.htm

Cortez and the Aztecs: Different Points of View
Great for Common Core lessons
http://historyclassroom20.wikispaces.com/file/view/less-mayaztec1.pdf

Couriers in the Inca Empire
A lesson about the communications of the time period. For elementary age students.
http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/couriers-inca-empire-getting-your-message-across

Teaching with Historic Places
Excellent site with a v ariety of lessons from the National Park Service
http://www.nps.gov/search/?affiliate=nps&query=hispanic

Culture and History Through the Use of Children’s Literature – This site has three simple lesson plans to provide examples of what can be done for this month using literature as a base. Not for everyone.
http://www.cis.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1997/2/97.02.06.x.html#i

Hispanic Culture and People
Andes Manta – From the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge celebration of Latin American arts
http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/multimedia/series/VideoStories/andes-manta.aspx

Students can create own clickable map of Mexico
http://createaclickablemap.com/create-clickable-map-mexico.php?maplocation=mexico

Some Famous Hispanic Scientists
http://coloquio.com/famosos/science.html
And
http://www.factmonster.com/spot/hhmbio4.html

Latin America Data Base
Good resoucres for creating Common Core math lessons
http://ladb.unm.edu/

Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo Activities 
Large number of lessons
http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/cinco-de-mayo/

Mr. Donn’s Cinco de Mayo Lessons
Large variety of lessons for all age levels
http://holidays.mrdonn.org/cincodemayo.html

History of Mexican Independence Day
http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/byrnes-celebrations/mid.html

*Full Definition of HISPANIC
1.of or relating to the people, speech, or culture of Spain or of Spain and Portugal
2. of, relating to, or being a person of Latin American descent living in the United States; especially :  one of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin
http://www.merriam-webster.com/

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

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