What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
Helen Keller was born in 1880.
|Grades||5 – 12|
|Calendar Activity Type||Historical Figure & Event|
When she was born in Alabama on this day in 1880, Helen Keller was a normal baby; but when she was nineteen months old, she lost both her hearing and sight after an illness. As an adult, Keller was a writer, an educator, and a social activist.
In 1887, Keller learned to talk using a finger alphabet after her well-known breakthrough with Annie Sullivan at the family's well pump. The finger alphabet that Keller learned to communicate with Sullivan, her family, and eventually, many others was a basic version of the system that is now known as American Sign Language. Have your students explore the American Sign Language browser from Michigan State University and try using a few signs. Discuss how ASL differs from spoken English and how the two are similar. During the discussion, introduce the misconceptions about ASL addressed in the article ASL: A Distinct Cultural Language.
- Helen Keller Birthplace: "Ivy Green"
Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace, sponsors this website on Keller's life and accomplishments as well as pictures and details on the birthplace, its grounds, and events that take place at Ivy Green.
- Learn to Sign with Koko
Share Koko the Gorilla's sign language page with students. Don't miss the details on Mister Rogers' visit with Koko.
- A Teacher Takes on the Challenges of Deaf Literacy: An Interview with Jennifer Herbold
In this article from the International Reading Association, Herbold discusses her experiences teaching deaf students to read.
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students select, read about, and report on a hero and then identify how their hero matches certain criteria and characteristics. Hero reports are then compiled into a class book.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
History takes on new dimensions in this interactive multimedia lesson that emphasizes the B-D-A approach to research as students investigate the experiences of people with disabilities since the early 1800s.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Unit
Students explore disabilities in order to think critically and sensitively about them. They choose a disability to research and then create a picture book about the disability.
Grades 1 – 3 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
American Sign Language is combined with the hilarious poetry and pictures of Sam’s Sandwich, a lift-the-flap book, to engage all types of learners in acquiring key vocabulary.