Get the kids outside

April 20, 2007

It’s almost over for this year, but the lesson plans at the site for National Environmental Education Week don’t have to be done in April only. Texas will have a new beefed up science requirement kick in, in a couple of years. Until then, however, this is a good set of ideas, even for social studies, especially if no other class is delivering the material well.

Environmental protection weaves science — biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology, and more — with applied social studies, especially history, economics and government, to make changes. For younger students studies of recycling can be a lot of fun and give students something to take with them for the rest of the life. Similarly, a study of migratory birds and the policy issues related to them (tall buildings, cellular communications towers, oil well sumps, lights in cities, hunting and the Treaty of 1948, etc., etc.) offers a lot of ways to get kids interested, if not excited, about these so-called dry topics. An advanced class in high school might analyze the Supreme Court decisions that brought down the price of shipping of recycled metals, making recycling economically feasible.

Whatever you do, don’t despair: International Migratory Bird Day is just a couple of weeks away.  Birding is one of the more fun areas one can use in discussions of climate change and global warming; the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History points the way to good resources.

Send me these kids, please

April 20, 2007

Lucky will be the teacher who gets the kids from The Living Classroom.  I wager they’ll be eagar to learn, and that they’ll set the pace in good behaviors and academic achievement in future classes — unless someone throttles it out of them later.

For now it’s a bunch carrying a lot of hope to some lucky teachers next year.  Check out this post, “All the Beauty We Can Find in Just One Day,” and this one, “My School.”

Celebrating April 19: Paul Revere, “shot heard ’round the world”

April 20, 2007

April 19. Does the date have significance? Paul Revere's ride, from Paul Revere House

Among other things, it is the date of the firing of the “shot heard ’round the world,” the first shots in the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen stood to protect arsenals they had created at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, against seizure by the British Army then occupying Boston.

April is National Poetry Month. What have we done to celebrate poetry?

What have we done to properly acknowledge the key events of April 18 and 19, 1775?  Happily, poetry helps us out in history studies, or can do.

In contrast to my childhood, when we as students had poems to memorize weekly throughout our curriculum, modern students too often come to my classes seemingly unaware that rhyming and rhythm are used for anything other than celebrating materialist, establishment values obtained sub rosa. Poetry, to them, is mostly rhythm; but certainly not for polite company, and never for learning.

Poems slipped from our national curriculum, dropped away from our national consciousness.

And that is one small part of the reason that Aprils in the past two decades turned instead to memorials to violence, and fear that violence will break out again. We have allowed darker ideas to dominate April, and especially the days around April 19.

You and I have failed to properly commemorate the good, I fear. We have a duty to pass along these cultural icons, as touchstones to understanding America.

So, reclaim the high ground. Reclaim the high cultural ground.

Read a poem today. Plan to be sure to have the commemorative reading of “Paul Revere’s Ride” in your classes next April 18 or 19, and “The Concord Hymn” on April 19.

We must work to be sure our heritage of freedom is remembered, lest we condemn our students, our children and grandchildren to having to relearn these lessons of history, as Santayana warned.

Texts of the poems are below the fold, though you may be much better off to use the links and see those sites, the Paul Revere House, and the Minuteman National Historical Park.

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