Tags: current_events, geography, grammar, media, reading, sport, writing
Every now and then I run across a link that is just too cool to wait for an appropriately themed post, and today is one of those days.
Today I discovered The Learning Network, a blog on education hosted by The New York Times. This extremely active blog uses content from NYT as the basis for lesson plans, quizzes, activities, and other materials directed at both teachers and students across all academic disciplines. You can investigate their archives based on subject matter (grammar, social sciences, math, etc.) or by type of activity (word of the day, ’6Q’s about the news,’ poetry pairings, etc.), or search the blog for a specific topic, article, or event.
One of the currently featured posts is “Twelve Ways to Learn Vocabulary with The New York Times,” full of neat trivia regarding the main NYT website itself (did you know that double clicking any word in an article will bring up dictionary definitions of that word?), lesson suggestions on content based analysis (even for the sports pages!), and opportunities for student writing.
This blog and some other cool resources I’ve encountered will soon be showing up on the re-organized resource pages here at Brain Popcorn, so stay tuned!
Tags: games, grammar, multicultural, poetry, spanish, writing
Didn’t get enough word fun on International Literacy Day? Then get ready for September 24, which is National Punctuation Day. I kid you not.
According to the official site for National Punctuation Day, this particularly exacting holiday is the brainchild of comma fiend Jeff Rubin, and is now in its seventh year of celebration. Last year’s festivities were punctuated (ha!) by a baking contest, and this year they are soliciting punctuation-themed haiku, so go check it out if you’re feeling em dash deprived. Don’t miss the photo gallery of punctuation mistakes–a sadly bountiful crop of terrible pluralization, but some other entertaining gaffes as well.
But why would you want to do that? Grammar isn’t fun!
Yes it is.
I will grant you, I don’t know if playing Punctuation Pasta with macaroni commas and quotation marks would have gotten me all excited about punctuation as a student, but looking at it now reminds me of the totally fabulous found-object illustration style of My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, which is a great way to teach grammar and figures of speech. And I can totally imagine expanding the idea of punctuation pasta to punctuation pizza (period pepperoni, anyone?) and beyond (hence the baking contest last year, I surmise).
Punctuation is also incredibly useful in the world of solving rebus puzzles–take half the words out and replace them with pictures, and all of a sudden that apostrophe seems a lot more necessary to decoding the sentence. ReadWriteThink has a rebus poetry writing lesson, but there are dozens more out there, and lots of cool historic examples, too. The family of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow played with rebuses, and here’s one from Historic New England to test your mental mettle.
Feeling good about your visual verbal skills? Try the BrainBats over at BrainBashers (Lots and lots of fun brainteasers over there, by the way, including some fun logic puzzles). Or go for a more traditional grammar game experience with the Comma IQ test from the folks behind Eats, Shoots & Leaves. You might even copy edit to your heart’s content in both Spanish and English through Maggie’s Earth Adventures, offered through Scholastic’s Teachers site.
Had enough words? We’re back to impossible objects and scratch holograms in the next post.
Tags: art, child development, geometry, grammar, history, math, ocean, optical illusions, reading, shapes, video/animation, weather
International Literacy Day, according to the calendar hanging in my office, was technically September 8th, but as I have been having inexplicable glitches attempting to access WordPress, I’m a little behind. (But the Salem LitFest isn’t for another week, so I’m still in the running!)
Therefore, in the name of celebrating cool stuff, which today is reading (who am I kidding? We celebrate reading all the time in my world), I bring you neat thoughts about literacy, and a handful of reading-related activities.
First of all, good news for those of us who have more books than shelves to put them on: Book owners have smarter kids from Salon.com
And next, hear about how educators at the Eric Carle Museum focus on ‘reading the pictures’ in their storytimes as much as reading the words, improving comprehension and engaging kids and adults in the art of illustration: Noggin video
Looking for good books to read? Ask your local librarian or check out some useful lists on Reading Rockets, helpfully organized by theme.
Also, don’t forget to check out the awesome interdisciplinary lesson plans available at the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge–many of them have literacy themes. One of my favorites is the Adjective Monster, a ‘paper sculpture’ art and geometry project built around Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley.
Inspired by the ‘reading pictures’ video? Everyone loves a good wordless book, and David Wiesner has created several. Try out this very cool classroom photography project featured in School Library Journal and inspired by Flotsam, with neat tie-ins to science and history. Kudos to my Anonymous Tip-Master for pointing this one out! I love how crazy and beautiful his illustrations are, and part of a long tradition of fish-exaggerations. In 1719, the first full-color illustrated book of fish was published, including several fish that were figments of the illustrator’s imagination! (See The Fantasy Fish of Samuel Fallours for the scoop.)
For more science tie-ins, read Flotsam paired with Tracking Trash, a very cool book about ocean currents and the problem of the ocean as ‘plastic soup’ [National Geographic]. Sector 7 is also a personal favorite, and great for teaching story-boarding or introducing a unit on clouds.
And lest we think all literacy only has to do with kids old enough for words, a neat article about visual literacy that begins developing in infancy: Escher-Themed Nurseries? Even 4 month olds can recognize impossible objects from Cognitive Daily. (You thought I’d manage not to include a reference to Eye Spy in this post, didn’t you? Tune in next time for more cool stuff to do with impossible objects and how to create your own scratch holograms!)