Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Lesson-Up Express: March Maneuvers


From My Side of the Desk:

March is a split personality month.  Is it a Lion or a Lamb? A Comedy or a Tragedy?  Naughty or Nice? Most assuredly, March is a tease, tantalizing us with the caress of warm Southern winds, an avian chorus at dawn, and the visual explosion and sweet scents from gardens ripe with crocus, narcissus and daffodils. Without a hint of regret, though, March will often torment the winter-weary, and this year that encompasses most of us, with a mid-month snow and/or ice event.

In classrooms, teachers and students breathe a sigh of relief when the calendar flips to March because it is a harbinger of the eagerly anticipated Spring Break. During this month, many educators struggle to create lessons that will engage, inspire and motivate their students, some who are still suffering from Apathy Ennui which set in about the end of January and continues to hold them hostage.  

Now that college essays and applications are finished and sent, and most admissions committees, except at those schools with rolling admissions, are finalizing acceptance letters, the dreaded Senior Slump has reached epidemic proportions for the class of ’13. Unfortunately, this SS affect insidiously reverberates through the classes, infecting the minds and motivation of children as young as kindergarten.

What can teachers do to pull straying students back into the academic fold? How do they turn their charges into lambs behaviorally but charging lions, academically? They need to grab a ticket on the Lesson-Up Express and sprint into spring for 31 March Maneuvers. These activities will melt the sooty slush freezing students’ desire to learn with 141 March celebrations ranging from the factual to the frivolous. 

 A full page of Teachers Notes shows the Common Core standards that these activities address as well as the Bloom’s Taxonomy thinking and reasoning skills that students will reveal in their writings.  A Peer Critique Form and an Evaluating My Writing Form will help students analyze what they wrote and how they wrote in their responses for each of the 31 activities offered. Use the activities as 10-15 minute daily warm-ups, for longer writings or for projects. The complete product will explain which ideas work best for shorter pieces, and which for longer.

 Speaking of activities, here are a seven to tempt your planning imaginations:

Activities:

1.       Even if you don’t know why this topic became a day of celebration, imagine a reason for its existence.  Explain the: Who, what, where, when and why behind its formation. Also discuss any ways people celebrate this day.

2.       Write a persuasive essay that supports either promoting or abolishing this celebration.

4.       Research the real reason this day came to exist. Explain the: Who, what, where, when, why and how behind its formation.  Also discuss any ways people celebrate this day.

6.       Write a scene from a book that creates a word picture of a fervent follower of this holiday. Pretend this person is preparing to celebrate this day. As an omniscient narrator, in your description, show his/her physique, personality quirks, emotions, style of dress, gestures, way of walking, talking,  and anything else you feel clearly shows this person and his/her enthusiasm for this holiday.

7.       Write a scene from a book that creates a word picture of a passionate opponent of this holiday. Pretend this person is preparing to ignore this day. As an omniscient narrator, in your description, show his/her physique, personality quirks, emotions, style of dress, gestures, way of walking, talking,  and anything else you feel clearly shows this person and his/her loathing for this holiday.

9.       *General Writing Activity Project: Following the teacher’s time-frame and specific requirements for this project, create an advertising campaign for this holiday that includes newspaper/magazine, radio and television ads.  For a Warm-up Journal Entry, you could jot down your ideas for the various type of ads and script ideas (including music) for commercials.  During longer periods of class time or at home (whatever the teacher determines) work on all of the aspects of this project. You can create the ads with any art medium that you choose, use computer graphics or select whatever means you need to illustrate the ads. You could even tape the commercials and save them to a DVD to share in class. Create a sturdy presentation visual for the ads by mounting them on poster board. Be sure that they are large enough to be seen from around the classroom. To introduce this ad campaign on the presentation day, explain them objectives that this advertising promotion wants to achieve.

10.   *Create three recipes for this day to share on a Food Network show. They can be appetizers, snacks, main dishes, soups, salads, desserts or sides, but no more than two can be from the same category. Write down the recipes, giving step-by-step How-to directions. Base your recipes on real ones, but adjust the ingredients to fit this holiday. For the presentation day, prepare one of the dishes to share with the class. Make enough copies of the recipe to hand out with the food along with an explanation revealing how this dish is appropriate to celebrate this holiday.

 * project-length ideas

See the complete list of activities (31), detailed Teachers Notes, a Peer Critique Evaluation form, an Evaluating My Writing form and a March calendar with 141 Celebrations when you download this product.