Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Start a Chain Reaction of Kindness in Memory of Rachel Scott and Others Who Died at Columbine High School Ten Years Ago

by Ali Adair, Associated Content Society
The students at Midvale Middle School near Salt Lake City, Utah are starting a chain reaction of kindness and taking Rachel's Challenge for their 2009 New Year's Resolutions. I recently saw a middle school presentation of Rachel's Challenge, the very popular school non-violence curriculum based on the life and death of Rachel Joy Scott. Click here to learn more about Rachel.

A month after the Rachel's Challenge presentation, the school dance classes at another middle school presented a moving Rachel's Challenge Holiday Dance show to the entire school body. Rachel was the first person to be shot and killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The dance show included a choreographed depiction of the fear, panic, and grief the students must have gone through at Columbine High School that day. Then, the dancers presented all five challenges that Rachel gave the world in her essays and journals to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. Rachel's five challenges are:

Eliminate prejudice by looking for the best in others

Dare to dream - set goals - keep a journal

Choose your influences - input determines output

Kind words and small acts of kindness = HUGE impact

Start a chain reaction with family and friends

As a certified high school business teacher, Rachel's Challenge made a big impact on me to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. I decided to poll 150 middle school students to see if they had any clear written goals and what impact Rachel's Challenge made on them. I asked if they had any 2009 New Year's Resolutions. Here is their remarkable, compassionate response.

What are your New Year's resolutions? Think of Rachel's five challenges as you write them.

A new type of news reporting: Illustrated Columns (Current Events)

Maria Kalman is an artist and a journalist. She has started a new form of news media called, "Illustrated Columns". Click here to read "Back to the Land". This illustrated column should spark conversation about the way the information is spread as well as the message about using organic food. It is a great tie in to our organic garden at school!

Use these questions for discussion:
  1. Is there anything surprising or humorous about this post?
  2. What does Kalman think has changed as America evolved from its original, agrarian society?
  3. What are the goals of the Edible Schoolyard project?
  4. Which is your favorite image in the post? Why? Why do you think she chose not to include any paintings or drawings in this post?
  5. How would you characterize Kalman’s style?

Want to have students create their own illustrated columns? Use this template to help them. You can easily post their illustrated columns on a wiki or a blog.

Or have them illustrate a news article that is already written by using this story board template.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Current Events: News Game

Click here to play the game.

Current Events: Check out today's headlines!

Check out today's headlines! This is a great activity to compare and contrast news sources.

Snowflakes: You are Unique!

Create snowflakes with your advisees. Have them write unique attributes about themselves or others (like the bucket activity) and hang them on your wall. This is a festive way to celebrate each other's unique qualities! If your students don't want to make their own snowflakes, here is a cut out pattern.

Holidays: History of the Holidays

Curious about your favorite holidays and the history behind them. Click here to view the History Channel's History of the Holidays. This is a great time of year to talk about holidays that we are familiar with and some that we aren't. Discussion can revolve around traditions, memories, foods, people, etc.

Current Events: A Year in Review

Challenge your students to create a year in review for 2009. If you could only pick 10 important things that happened in 2009, what would they be? You can take this a step ahead and have students find pictures and create powerpoint presentations or photostories that represent what they think was important in the world this year.

For inspiration, Reuters has begun their 100 pictures of the year series.

Also, Wikipedia has a list of things that happened in 2009.

Current Events: 25 Great Ideas for Teaching Current Events

Click here to see 25 ways to teach current events!