Marian Anderson planned on singing at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, which was owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). They refused to let her perform because she was African American. Eleanor Roosevelt, outraged by this show of prejudice, arranged for Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial instead.
When Eleanor Roosevelt learned that Marian Anderson had been denied permission to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, she decided to resign her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Show your students her resignation letter, along with the letter from Mrs. Henry M. Robert, Jr., president general of the DAR, responding to Roosevelt's resignation (pages one and two). Students may have difficulty reading the handwritten text so, after viewing the original documents, you may want to transcribe them.
Ask your students to write a letter to a newspaper editor explaining their feelings about a present-day social injustice. Invite your students to compose their letters with the Letter Generator.
Read the transcript of this PBS report on Anderson's life, which includes comments by Anderson, her family, and her friends and colleagues.
This resource is from the Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The site offers video and audio excerpts of Anderson's concerts and interviews.
These pages from the Library of Congress' America's Story site provide information about Anderson for elementary students.
This DAR press release paid tributeto Marian Anderson's memory and commemorated a pivotal event in the struggle for racial equality.
Teachers and students come to school bringing a wide range of backgrounds, languages, abilities, and temperaments. Get things off to the best start by asking them to respect their differences and make the most of their similarities. By sharing information on their lives and dreams, students and teachers can build community in the classroom that will support literacy instruction throughout the school year.
The first weeks of school can set the tone for the rest of the year, so community-building is a priority. Ask students to share details about their lives with one another using the interactive Graphic Map.
- Ask students to identify key moments in their lives. Younger students can brainstorm a list of events from the summer, while older students might focus more specifically on significant events from previous years at school.
- Have students assign a positive or negative value to each event based on their feelings about it. Happy events like "meeting a new friend" would have a high number, and sad events like "having to leave a sibling at home" would have a lower number.
- Once students have gathered their ideas, ask them to publish the entries using the interactive Graphic Map. Have students record a brief description and include an image for each memory. If computers are not available, have students draw graphics and add captions for their memories on construction paper.
- When everyone has completed their graphic maps, invite students to share their memories in small groups or with the whole class. Encourage students to look for feelings that they have all experienced and to identify details that they want to know more about.
See the Graphic Map page for more information and activities for this interactive tool.
This booklist, compiled by ReadWriteThink, names texts that can be shared with Grades K–2 and Grades 3–5 students during the first few days of school.
This NCTE resource provides additional lesson plans, teaching strategies, journal articles, and more to help the first weeks in the classroom flow more smoothly.
This article from KidsHealth includes tips for dealing with first-day jitters, the first day at middle school, and getting a good start.
Older students can find resources on this KidsHealth site to help make the first days of school more successful. The site includes topics such as choosing extracurricular activities and dealing with bullying.
Compiled by ReadWriteThink, this booklist suggests titles that can be shared with students in Grades 6-9 during the beginning weeks of school.
Every fall, monarch butterflies in North America travel south for the winter. Unable to survive in cold temperatures, monarch butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains travel to forests in Calfornia and those east of the Rockies travel to Mexico.
After exploring the way that monarch butterflies react to the change of seasons, have students complete an inquiry study to examine other ways that animals (and humans) change because of the seasons. Remember that changes are not limited to moving from one geographic area to another. Some animals stay in the same area, but change physically.
Using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press, invite students to develop and publish a class anthology of animal changes or a "survival guide" to show how animals face the change of seasons.
This website developed by the University of Kansas Entomology Program tracks the migration of monarch butterflies and includes links to a variety of related educational resources.
This Science Museum of Minnesota site invites students and families to join in on an investigation of the migration of the butterflies.
This page from the University of Kentucky Entomology Department offers images and information about the monarch butterfly.
Part of the Journey North project, this page follows the spring migration of monarchs each year and allows students to report monarch sightings. Also offered are lessons, questions and answers, and additional information about monarchs.
The NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children honors the work of educator Charlotte Huck, who championed the classroom use of storybooks to teach reading and language arts. The award was established in 2014 to promote and recognize excellence in the writing of fiction for children that invites compassion, imagination, and wonder.
After sharing one or more of the winning, honored, or recommended titles as a classroom read-aloud, invite students write and illustrate their own story in which someone learned how to be more compassionate or to feel empathy for those who are different from themselves.
Allow students to decide to tell a story from their own lives or to create characters and imagined situations that would inspire others to be more compassionate. Share tools such as the Story Map and Cube Creator to help students plan and generate ideas. Arrange for a time for students to share their stories with classmates or with younger students.
This festival, hosted by the University of Redlands, brings together authors and illustrators of children’s literature with teachers, librarians, and families.
Charlotte Huck’s HarperCollins biography page includes a link to her book Princess Furball, illustrated by Anita Lobel.
NCTE’s page for its children’s book awards, also including the Orbis Pictus Award for nonfiction.
From 1938 to 1986, the United States had "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress," and from 1986 forward the position was re-named the now more familiar “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry," or Poet Laureate. The honored poet must present one major work of poetry and read poems at national ceremonies.
According to the Library of Congress, the Poet Laureate serves as “nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” Past Consultants in Poetry or Poets Laureate have included Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Robert Hayden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, and Billy Collins.
Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States (1997-2000), began the The Favorite Poem Project in which Americans of all ages named their favorite poem. After listening to a few poems nominated and shared as part of that project (scroll down the page to the heading “The First Events” for the media files), invite students to read or re-visit poems and collections of poetry in your classroom library to select a favorite poem they wish to share.
Use or modify the guidelines from the Favorite Poem Community Forum to host a celebration in your own school or classroom.
This site provides descriptions of and links to the projects of past Poet Laureates, including Billy Collins’ Poetry 180.
From the Library of Congress Digital Reference Section, this page offers information on poet laureate's life and work, as well as to external Web sites that feature biographical information, interviews, poems, audio, video, and other materials that highlight the activities of each poet.
Awarded by the Poetry Foundation for a two-year tenure, the children’s poet laureate aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.
This website provides teachers with a variety of poetry resources, including a searchable database of poets and poems, curriculum units, teacher workshops, and more.
Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970. In the same year, Denis Hayes coordinated the first Earth Day in the United States. As a result of Earth Day, many environmental laws were passed and the Environmental Protection Agency was created.
In celebration of Earth Day, have your students research some environmentalists who have made major contributions to our planet. A good starting point would be to view the people listed on the Ecology Hall of Fame. Have each student choose one person.
After researching the person's achievements, students can then write letters to the environmentalists asking for their opinions on a current environmental issue or to share ideas on how to protect the earth. Students can write a friendly or business letter using the Letter Generator. After printing the letters, have students turn their letters into letter poems using the Letter Poem Creator, which will help them change their letters into poetic form.
Once the poems are finished, host an Earth Day poetry reading-outdoors if possible.
Find tips for green living.
The EEK! website is filled with environment-related information and activities for students in grades 4–8. Teachers can find lesson plans and related links.
The Earth Foundation offers this collection of resources. Of interest is the Teacher/Student resources section, which has sample lesson plans, links to information on the history of Earth Day and the rainforest, and letter-writing campaigns for students.
This site, from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, provides information about a variety of environmental topics-from air and water to garbage and recycling.
Katrina was one of the costliest and most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history and was the third strongest hurricane to touch down on U.S. soil to date. Katrina devastated New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas and is estimated to have killed over 1,800 people.
The anniversary of Katrina is a good time to plan for local weather emergencies, especially since it occurs at the beginning of the school year. Explore the weather-related and other natural disasters that your geographical area is prone to; then review your school's emergency procedures with students.
Extend the lesson to students' homes and other places they may visit (religious buildings, for instance), asking students to explore a location outside of the school for its emergency preparedness and then report their findings back to the class.
This NASA page includes details on hurricanes in general, with graphics that explain how hurricanes are structured.
NOAA offers this resource on hurricanes, including information about hurricane strength, hurricane safety, and how storms are named, as well as hurricane photos and satellite imagery.
Visit the homepage of the Air Force squadrons who fly into the eye of hurricanes that threaten the United States' coast.
The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the stories and digital record of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
Get Caught Reading is a nationwide public service campaign launched by the Association of American Publishers to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read. May is officially Get Caught Reading month, but the celebration lasts throughout the year. Get Caught Reading is supported by hundreds of celebrities, including LL Cool J, Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and the newest addition, Olivia the Pig.
Celebrate Get Caught Reading Month with a reading-related service project. Try one of these activities with your students:
- Plan an intergenerational reading day. Invite seniors to visit your school, or arrange a trip for your students to a local senior center. Have students select books to read to adults, and invite adults to share a favorite story with students. Extend an ongoing invitation to guest readers, perhaps on a monthly basis.
- Organize a book drive to collect new or nearly new books to supplement your classroom or school library, or to donate to families or a local children's hospital.
Be sure to have a camera on hand to "catch your students reading" on film throughout the month. You can also have students organize a community "Get Caught Reading" campaign by taking photos of members of their families and community figures (firefighters, grocers, local police officers, etc.) caught reading, and creating a school display.
The Get Caught Reading website offers resources for teachers, librarians, and kids. Look for literacy fact sheets, artwork, and information on getting involved.
The Northwest Territories Literacy Council offers this reproducible guide to Get Caught Reading. Included are ideas for promoting this and other literacy programs, as well as reproducible bookmarks and posters.
Reading Connects offers this page, filled with suggestions for promoting reading at school.
KidsReads.com helps kids select books that appeal to them by offering kid-friendly reviews and information about children's books and authors. The information is searchable by author, series, and special features. The companion site Teenreads.com focuses on young adult literature.
World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults to celebrate the power of words. This global literacy movement is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day asks everyone to celebrate the day by grabbing a book, finding an audience, and reading out loud.
Celebrate World Read Aloud Day by grabbing a favorite text and reading out loud. Have students bring in their favorite book, magazine,script, newspaper, etc. Ask each student to choose an excerpt to read to the class. Additionally, hold a classroom discussion about the power of literacy and how worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate. Spread the power of reading by doing one of the following activities in the classroom:
- EDUCATE – Have several read alouds in the classroom throughout the day and talk together about the importance of global literacy, marking this as a special day of reading!
- ADVOCATE - Spread the word about World Read Aloud Day and the Global Literacy Movement within the school by hosting a school-wide read aloud event. Make posters in the classroom advertising and informing the school and community about the event. Construct bookmarks with information about the day and tips for reading aloud to their peers.
- INNOVATE - Share World Read Aloud Day by creating Public Service Announcements and share their projects using video chat, blogs, Glogster, and websites.
This website is for an organization that works to cultivate literacy leaders worldwide with teachers, parents, community members, and children to support the development of sustainable literacy practices across the world. This website provides information about World Read Aloud Day and an opportunity to share any activities using a blog or website.
This website is for a network of individuals and institutions committed to worldwide literacy. This site can be used for more information about literacy instruction and Global Literacy.
This website contains resources, information, and strategies for improving family literacy.
This document studies youth and adult literacy worldwide from 2003 to 2012. The research discusses the status of literacy, equity, policies, evidence, and funding. This document can be used for background information on the Global Literacy Movement.
Noah Webster is considered by many to be the "father of the American dictionary." He began his work on the project at the age of 43. It took him more than 25 years to complete the first edition. Today Merriam-Webster offers online, CD, and print versions of its Collegiate® Dictionary, currently in its 11th edition with more than 225,000 definitions!
Celebrate the publication of Webster's Dictionary using a variation of the board game Balderdash. Divide students into groups of five or six, and provide each group with a dictionary and some blank paper cut into strips:
- One student scans the dictionary to find a word that he or she believes no one has ever heard before, reads it aloud, and spells it. The other students write down either a real or made-up definition of the word.
- The student with the dictionary writes the real definition and then collects the other definitions. The leader reads all of the definitions and the students in the group then individually choose which of the definitions they believe is real.
- Two points are awarded for selecting the correct definition and one point to each student whose definition is selected. Points are totalled and the next person in the circle selects a new word.
This site is the online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Students can access the site to look up words and definitions. There is also a Word of the Day to help students build their vocabulary.
This ReadWriteThink interactive allows students to print an alphabet chart or pages for an alphabet book.
At this site, students can search dozens of dictionaries. The resource also provides links to French, German, Italian, and Spanish translation tools.
Word Central, published by Merriam-Webster, offers a kid-friendly student dictionary. Students can also build their own dictionary and take the Daily Buzzword vocabulary challenge.