Monday, September 7, 2009
Sticky Notes and Post Its
So tomorrow, President Obama is going to address students in their classrooms. I am not going to pretend that I am well versed on this subject. But here is what I've read. Obama's message is going to be about the importance of staying in school. Our last President was in a classroom when 9/11 happened. His dad addressed students in this same way. As did Reagan. And maybe some other people? But the point being that this isn't some brand new idea- having the President give a message about staying in school directly to the kids who need to stay in school. And there is apparently controversy brewing. From what I hear, the snarls are in regards to the "newly released curriculum." I assumed people meant that the Dept of Ed had released some newly suggested public education requirements and curriculum. Nope. Apparently, the Dept of Ed had the "audacity" to put out a suggested lesson plan for the classrooms opting to show the President's address. It suggests learning activities before the speech, things to encourage students to do during the speech, and follow up activities. Someone on Facebook even copied and pasted the "horrible" suggested lesson plan into a note, just for me. *** PreK-6 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to Students Across America Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education September 8, 2009 Before the Speech: Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama and motivate students by asking the following questions: Who is the President of the United States? What do you think it takes to be President? To whom do you think the President is going to be speaking? Why do you think he wants to speak to you? What do you think he will say to you? Teachers can ask students to imagine being the President delivering a speech to all of the students in the United States. What would you tell students? What can students do to help in our schools? Teachers can chart ideas about what they would say. Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important? During the Speech: As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note-taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following: What is the President trying to tell me? What is the President asking me to do? What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about? Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people? Students can record any questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions. After the Speech: Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes or stick notes on a butcher paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, i.e. citizenship, personal responsibility, civic duty. Students could discuss their responses to the following questions: What do you think the President wants us to do? Does the speech make you want to do anything? Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us? What would you like to tell the President? Extension of the Speech: Teachers can extend learning by having students create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily. Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals. Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom. Interview and share about their goals with one another to create a supportive community. Participate in School wide incentive programs or contests for students who achieve their goals. Write about their goals in a variety of genres, i.e. poems, songs, personal essays. Create artistic projects based on the themes of their goals. Graph student progress toward goals. *** I haven't asked if Little Explorers will be airing President Obama's speech. If they do, yippee!! If they don't... honestly, I'm ok with that, too. I don't think it will mean much to Teagan. But if it did- it won't be because Obama is talking to "her." It will be because the President of the United States is talking to her. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not, was not, and never will be approving of former President Bush. However, if he had planned to give this speech and the Dept of Ed had put out this lesson plan ahead of his speech... would I have raised the roof? Nope. Because I don't read anything in that lesson plan that makes me shudder or think there is a personal agenda to brainwash our kids. And if there is... the given brainwashing's purpose is to encourage kids to stay in school, to learn and enjoy their education, to embrace it and the opportunities it can afford them. I'm ok with that kind of brainwashing. And on a personal note... the Dept of Ed didn't name names... but they totally gave props to 3M (my employer). Did you catch it? students could record their thoughts on sticky notes They totally mean Post-Its. But didn't want the knock offs to feel bad, you know.