In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’re sharing one of our most popular posts from 2010. We hope you’ll enjoy both your holiday and this post from Jim Woolf about the power of language.
With the national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday approaching, I took the opportunity to listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which I had never listened to in its entirety. Listening to that speech reminded me of something: I love language. I love words and the art of finding the perfect words to express the exact thought I want to communicate. I love hearing others use words to paint colorful visions, persuade my thinking, touch my emotions, and communicate truth to my soul. For me, language and the ability to truly communicate are very special and cherished gifts.
I lost that gift once, and it was quite a traumatic experience. I had an opportunity to live in a different country with a different language—one that I had studied for many years in school. I remember vividly the minute I stepped off the plane and heard the native speakers of the language I had studied. My first thought was, “I’m in the wrong country—this is not the language I learned.” I spent many months struggling to understand and be understood, and dealing with the frustration of doing neither very well. I eventually reached a moderate level of fluency, but I never came close to being able to express myself as well as I could in English.
During the time that I’ve worked for Imagine Learning, I’ve often tried to put myself in the place of children learning English as a second language. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to learn concepts being taught in a language I mostly don’t understand. And that’s not to mention the social ramifications of struggling with your peers’ language.
So let’s take this opportunity to remember why we do what we do—why you teach children and why I work for Imagine Learning. It’s because we have the opportunity to empower children, to enable them to communicate, to eliminate a roadblock to their lifelong success—to give them a priceless gift.
Most of us are familiar with wintry traditions—slipping and sliding down icy slopes, burning our tongues with cocoa that’s 30 degrees too hot, and opening gifts from a fat, bearded guy in a red suit who somehow thinks that a skinny chimney is the best way to make a grand entrance. But did you know that there are other important events that happen during this time of year? Listed below are eight different traditions from around the world that all help make the season a little merrier: Read more »
As the “occupy” movement enters its eighth week, it has become nearly impossible to escape reports about the protestors and their dissatisfaction. Free speech is a right that we hold dear in this country, and we’ve all been witness to its influence as demonstrators have occupied Wall Street and city centers around the country. Perhaps as teachers and administrators you’ve even addressed it with your students in class.
Today is Election Day 2011, and it brings with it a different opportunity for citizens to have their voice heard. While odd-numbered years don’t typically carry the same level of excitement (no federal offices are up for election), it is still a great way to teach our students about democracy. And one could argue that as a voter, your vote has more influence at the state and local level.
What better way to demonstrate democracy in action than to get out, vote, and show up for class with an “I voted!” sticker? It could spark a conversation in class and inspire your students to “occupy” the voting booth after they turn 18.
It’s November, which means it’s time to start working on your winter classroom decorations, your end-of-term grading, and, of course, your first novel.
That’s right, November is the perfect month to start writing a novel with the National Novel Writing Month program. And for kids who want to join in the fun, NaNoWriMo (as it’s affectionately called by participants) has some excellent tools just for young writers. Visit the young writers website for more information. Or read about one school’s success story with NaNoWriMo here. There are plenty of ideas for getting involved and getting your students writing, so be sure to take a look.
Who needs handwriting in a world of word processors, texting, and Twitter?
It’s not a popular stance, I know. In an age where high school students are assigned to summarize passages from Shakespeare in a 140-character SMS, no one wants to put pen to paper anymore. It’s not as sleek, not as fun, and–let’s face it–not as efficient. But before you throw out your handwriting curriculum with that dried up bottle of white out, consider these handwriting highlights and mishaps.