Free Day of the Dead Lesson Plans and Activities
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

This holiday is an excellent way to expose students to culture using a variety of methods. Makes an excellent compare and contrast activity when you use a holiday from another culture. This site has some good ideas to use in that regard

Day of the Dead lesson plan
For elementary, a mini lesson

Elaborate lesson plan for upper elementary and middle school

This is a download for primary, elementary. Very nice packet.

Other Mexican Holidays
Link page
Images, photos, art
Cinco de Mayo activities to compare
Cinco de Mayo resources


Large unit of study for elementary with word wall and more lessons. Cinco de Mayo oriented.

Holiday Lessons
by Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz

It is difficult at best to keep students on task with the weather, holiday expectations, and even family trips diluting their concentration. As such, it is probably best to use teachable moments to help take those interests and prepare lessons that enable them to relate it to the Common Core expectations. It is also a great time of year to stress cultural differences and to use art and music to add depth to lessons.

A very important message that needs to be respected and that is the fact that public schools must be aware that celebrating a holiday MUST follow certain rules. The very best site for this is

A nice sampling of lessons that cover a variety of subject areas and are of high interest
This includes having students taking part in giving activities, too.

A huge collection of lessons for all holidays and special days. Well worth checking.

ESL holiday lessons

Physical Education Lessons based on holidays

December lessons
Covers major holidays.

Free printables for most holidays

Lesson plans for major December holidays.

Lesson plans by month and it includes weather related links

Cultural awareness lesson plans
For older students

Christmas Around the World
Easy to follow and enables students to get a look at how this holiday is celebrated in various countries. A great art lesson can be developed from these lessons.

Holiday songs
Fun and the students could even be encouraged to make their own

Songs for teaching the holidays
You don’t have to buy the songs, the lyrics are listed.

The story of Saint Nicholas
A high interest, easy to read story that includes links to related sources. Great for Common Core practice. This site has excellent, high interest stories that can motivate students.

Popular Educational Social Networking Sites
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

One of the realities of the expansion of media devises is social networking. This is both a curse and a blessing for many educators as it provides a way to share ideas with others and also as a time sink where countless meaningless mesaages are being receieved with little of value to the teachers. As such, I have made a list of the more useful sites.

A variety of slideshows that explain the history of social networking as well as the how they are used. A good starting point.

The pros and cons
This site also has some excellent examples

One of the best, and quite comprehensive is Educational Networking. Take your time to explore this site to locate those groups that have interests that align with yours.

Another large link site by subject

Edmodo is for teachers and students and has a great many facets. You need to create an account, but after that there is a plethora of content. Well worth spending time learning how to use this site.

Classroom 2.0
This site requires you to create an account, but once this process is completely there are thousands of others wishing to share ideas and events. Another first-rate site even for novices.

Educator’s PLN
Another comprehensive ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators. Again, well worth a visit.

Large Pinterest Section
Shows links to many sites.

Math Games and Math Apps
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
Math is difficult for many students and thus the need for games to help learn the subject can be of great benefit and provide needed remediation and practice. I have also listed some sites that offer apps that may be of value. However, there may be a small charge for a few of them.

One of the very best sites.
It also includes a Common Core Navigation. Best on the web.

Math Playground
A diverse selection of interactive games mainly at the elementary level.
Cool Math
Includes pre-Algebra games.

A large link site
A wide variety of games for all grade levels

A Plus Math
Flash care maker and homework helper sections.

Lots of graph makers and more. For all grade levels.

Listing of math games by age levels

Hot math
For older students. Includes algebra
Consider not downloading the sound feature.

Elementary and middle school
Many variations, but most are best related to remedial work and practice. Includes converting to metric and fractions.

Math iPad Apps
Most are free


Common Core math apps

Android math apps
Mainly for younger students

Android algebra app

21 Common Core-Aligned Math Apps For High School Students
Check for pricing. Some are free.

Black History Resources
by Alan Haskvitz

Using National African American History Month as a way to expand student knowledge and an appreciation of different cultures and races is a natural match. To make it more meaningful for students topics such as Civil Rights and slavery can be expanded into lessons on civil disobedience, cause and effect, the Constitution, geography and art and music. Lessons on stereotyping and hate groups can also be introduced.

One activity I like to use is this interactive map of the Underground Railroad routes. Students make their own copies of the maps and follow the lessons provided to gain a better perspective of the sophistication of the escapes.

For older students, the Souther Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance is well worth visiting. It offers a free newsletter and many other ideas that can be turned into true learning experiences for students.

Below are sites rich with resources that can be used to develop other lessons or as stand alone units.

The African-American month site
The teacher resource section has excellent images to share with students.

A collection of videos

A short narrative about Harriet Tubman that shows her bravery and intelligence.

Africans in America: this site works with the televised series from the Public Broadcasting System. An excellent collection of images, stories, and maps. Easy for students to use.

The Amistad Case
An easy to follow narrative of this case. Excellent for cause and effect discussions as well as Common Core related critical thinking lessons.

A timeline of slavery and civil rights. Excellently presented with concise information making it easy for students to follow.
A listing of teacher related material that has some exceptional primary resources that meet Common Core standards.

An exception site where the students can take part in an escape from slavery using the Undeground Railroad.
Slave Narratives
The students can read interviews from ex-slaves about their experiences using this compelling site and its many primary resources.

A Martin Luther King Jr. Collection
Many exceptional materials such as an encyclopedia of the Civil Rights Movement and more.

African-American Slave Spirituals
Students can listen to these songs.

Lexus CT 200h: Thrifty, Nimble, and Stylish
For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

An inexpensive Lexus might sound like an oxymoron, but that is what the Lexus CT 200 h is and with it comes the attributes the marque has brought to buyers including vehicle quality and buyer satisfaction ratings that top the charts, as well as a frugality usually associated with the ubiquitous Toyota Prius. Of course, there are some caveats with this Lexus and they are in it diminutive size and it performance. Nevertheless, if you want a good looking hatchback that can get you a combined 42 mpg with the Lexus treatment the CT is your only choice. Helping make it an interesting choice is the utility of its four-door hatchback body style that make it an ideal choice for commuting, runs to the vet, or a weekend escape. 2014_Lexus_CT_200h_020

The CT 200h is very athletic and trim making it capable of being piloted through crowded mall parking lots as well as canyon runs with equal aplomb. Don’t expect exuberant response because the 134 horsepower engine is designed with economy in mind. The good news is that the pricing of this Lexus is exceptional. Indeed, you can acquire this Lexus for less money a well equipped Prius, although the latter may have more interior space and better fuel ratings. The Lexus comes standard with alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors and puddle lamps, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free technology that connects to select smartphones and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. Options include a Seat Comfort, and Premium, Leather, Navigation package features a rearview camera, voice-controlled navigation system, Display Audio and F Sport package for those who want the go fast look.

Mom’s view: The CT is an interesting four passenger hatchback that has a cool, almost retro look. Very intuitive and its hybrid feature makes commuting effortless. Although the ride height is quite low, the visibility is good and the turning radius tight enough to make U-turns effortless. Safetywise, the Lexus has antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, and airbags everywhere. Lexus’ telematics system automatically provides collision notification, stolen-vehicle location and emergency assistance. Most importantly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CT 200h its highest rating of “Good” in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength, and for whiplash protection. Overall, you get a Lexus that does most everything well at a bargain price.

Dad’s view: Power for the 2015 Lexus CT 200h hybrid isn’t overwhelming, but when the electric motors and gasoline engine are united freeway merging and passing aren’t a concern. The CVT is excellent and keeps the 98-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine on task. Handling is a good as most hybrids, especially the good feel of the steering and brakes. Very competent for what it is. The ride is compliant, but don’t expect the same level of quietness that is in the more expensive Lexus models. Still, it is enjoyable to drive and grows on you. The CT is like a secret that more people should know about as it provides a fun ride with frugality, exceptional suspension, comfort and quality of the Lexus brand without the big bottom line.

Young working woman’s view: The controls are fairly easy to master, but the control for the info-entertainment entries takes a while to learn as it uses a unique mouse-like interface and a joystick to move the cursor on the screen. It provides excellent feel, though. Interestingly, despite its size, the backseat has an amazing amount of leg and head room. The doors, however, are a bit slim so entry wearing a dress requires some practice. The glovebox and door pockets are diminutive, but the backseats can be folded down to provide access to nearly 35 cubic feet of cargo area. I really liked the smoothness of the CT as it switched between electric and gas modes and auto stop-start functions smoothly. BMW and Porsche could learn from Lexus in this regard. You can select three different driving modes from normal for day to day outings, Eco for crowded commuting, and Sport for a more aggressive feel.

Young married man’s view: Finally got hitched and this would make a fine addition to the family. The CT has several features I admire such where Lexus claimed to use bamboo speaker frames and trim items made from plant materials. Although it looks small, once inside it does not feel that way. With the requirement that all news cars have backup cameras next year I was surprised that this was still part of an option package on the CT. That aside, I found the optional voice-command HDD tilt-screen navigation system with remote controller, the Enform emergency notification system, NavTraffic to be easy to use and quick to respond. The joystick control actually provides feel as you move it about. Very cool.

Family conference: The 2015 Lexus CT 200h is the most affordable Lexus with a starting around $33,000 and we have seen some models well loaded for this price. For that you get a handy little rig that enjoys pleasing its owner whether it is sipping fuel, parking in the smallest of spaces, or just making you proud every time you enjoy the many luxury features. A great way to reduce your carbon footprint, too.

Abraham Lincoln: Lessons and Links

for more great resources go to


There is nothing difficult about finding information about President Abraham Lincoln. What is a problem is finding appropriate materials for use in classrooms that students can understand. As such, I have tried to locate those sites that offered an array of resources that cover everything from the basic timelines and quotes to literacy encouraging lessons.

Here is a site that has the bones of an excellent lesson. It shows the great strength of Lincoln and the students always enjoyed it trying to figure out how much a barrel of whiskey weighed as written in the article.


Others ideas could include research about his failures and the changes in his face as the stress of the presidency and his personal life had on him. Printing out a series of pictures from the first to the last is quite compelling and clearly show how the war took its toil on him. Here are the locations for that assignment:

Lincoln’s pictures through time are below or you can show the students this video

Early photo

Students should read about the research that went into identifying this photo.


First known photo 1846














1865 for five dollar bill


Last photo taken


The following are additional links to quality resources:

The Lincoln Institute has a site with lesson ideas for teachers


An article from the April 27, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly features a biography and picture of President Abraham Lincoln, and an incredible description of Mr. Lincoln’s declaration of war on the South..A must see site that fits the Common Core requirements.


Easy to understand story of Lincoln’s Life


Printable script for a game show that asks the audience to pick the real Abraham Lincoln


Lincoln lesson plans and activities


Timeline of Lincoln’s Life


Failures in Lincoln’s life.

A great way to get students to think about overcoming adversity and rejection.


A unique site where the students can watch video clips and answer questions.


A PBS lesson plan site


Large link sites for many grade levels


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