All About the Supreme Court

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

U.S. Supreme Court Building (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Supreme Court Building (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court is sparking a lively debate. It comes after Republicans refused to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the seat vacated by when Antonin Scalia passed away February 2016.

But all this news about the Supreme Court provides a great opportunity for social studies teachers and homeschoolers to really dive into teaching their students about the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government. Fortunately, Curriki has a comprehensive collection of resources that support teaching and learning about the US Supreme Court.

In Crash Course: Supreme Court, PBS offers a fun video that helps us understand how a case makes it to the Supreme Court.

You’ll also find on this page:

(Source:Wikimedia Commons)

(Source:Wikimedia Commons)

In Supreme Court Activity, students do a simulation of a Supreme Court deliberation that introduces them to the difficult role of the courts balancing individual rights and public safety when national security is threatened.

Supreme Court Cases delves into the significance and outcomes of major Supreme Court cases and how they affect society.

The Challenge of Selecting an Ideal Supreme Court Nominee Government helps us understand the challenge a president faces in finding a judge to nominate who will be attractive enough to both parties to be confirmed.

Supreme Court Nominations teaches the fundamentals of Supreme Court Justice nominations and helps students understand the politics behind the nominations; challenges students to cut through the politics and compare nominees’ judicial philosophies.

The Supreme Court’s Role in American Society helps students understand the history and role of the Supreme Court, particularly in light of famous court rulings and the make-up of the court.


Photo of Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Kids Distracted? Use the Holidays to Make Teaching Fun!

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

The run-up to the December holidays presents a huge challenge to keeping kids engaged and learning.  Kids are so distracted by visions of sugarplums, menorahs and the prospect of getting gifts! You will find that Curriki’s website offers a wide variety of holiday activities that give teachers and homeschoolers the opportunity to use the distractions to teach. Here are a few ideas:

Christmas

Grinch Grow Your HeartDr. Seuss Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes this Season offers fantastic printables and activities, from “The Grinch Grow Your Heart Game” to Seussian word searches  to “The Official Good Deed Tracker Book.” Join Cindy-Lou Who for a fun holiday ride!

Christmas Tale is a free app for both iOS and Android that includes a Christmas Countdown Clock, Christmas Piano musical tree-decorating activity, Christmas Wish List, jigsaw puzzles, Paint-a-Picture, a Counting Game, Memory Match and more!

Hanukkah (Chanukah)

Through Curriki’s Hanukkah collection, kids can learn about the Jewish festival of lights through stories, videos, songs, cooking and more, hurtling through Hanukkah traditions with a step-by-step guide to everything from arranging the menorah to unique holiday customs.

Kkwanzaa-slidewanzaa

Did you know that Kwanzaa was started by a teacher? Kwanzaa was introduced in the mid-1960s — during the US Civil Rights Movement – by Maulana Karenga, Ph.D., chair and professor of African-American Studies at the California State University at Long Beach, in an effort to pull the African-American community together in pride and unity. The reflective nature of Kwanzaa is based on ideas borrowed from an ancient African Swahili seven-day-long harvest celebration.

In Curriki’s lessons, children discuss those seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.  You might want to start with a Sesame Street video!

Winter Solstice

Children on a globeThe Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, marking the moment the sun shines at its most southern point, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. It’s a major pagan festival, with rituals of rebirth having been celebrated for thousands of years, and it’s a fascinating scientific phenomenon. This year, the solstice will occur on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Check out Curriki’s many resources!

Holidays Around the World

Younger children (K-1) can learn about winter holidays around the world with OER on Curriki’s website, traveling from Mexico (by re-enacting a traditional posadas party,) to Sweden (by role-playing Santa Lucia Day),  to Africa (by eating homemade Kinaras on self-made woven placemats for a harvest celebration), to  Israel (by making dreidels and latkes for Hanukkah), to the United States (by decorating a Christmas tree, making cards and caroling).

Christmas Around the World Webquest and Holiday Customs Around the World transport older students to many countries so they can experience their cultures and their unique holiday celebrations.

Enjoy Curriki’s whole Winter Holidays Learning Collection!

 


Janet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMOJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Sign up for Curriki’s enewsletter!

Back to School Time for Teachers

By Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

back to school boardDepending on where you live, back-to-school is either here or coming up very soon. But no matter which it is, August is the time to start thinking about the upcoming school year and forming your strategy for making the most of it.

Fall beckons as a fresh start for both teachers and students. A clean slate. A new classroom full of students to inform and inspire. It’s a huge responsibility. How will you do it?

Back to School Checklist

I found a terrific Back-to-School Checklist for Educators at fueling-education.com. Its tips include:

  • Putting relationships first
  • Being patient, especially during the transition from summer to school year
  • Creating a solid foundation for the year, and then
  • Writing the story of the rest of the year, realizing there will be a new cast of characters and challenges to explore. “Be inspired by the story you are writing!” it says.

Planning the Year

teacher and studentsScholastic.com has a Back-to-School Planning Guide for teachers that includes tips for organizing your classroom, planning your year, accessing online activities (such as those Curriki offers), and creating a caring, emotionally safe classroom.

Breaking the Ice

But before you can start learning, you need to spend a little time getting your students to feel comfortable in the classroom. Here are a few icebreakers that rock, from Cult of Pedagogy.

Find more back-to-school resources for school leaders at Edutopia.com.

Share Your Ideas

What has worked for you? What are your favorite resources for getting the school year off to a strong start? Please share them here!


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Getting Your Kids to Think Learning is Play

By Guest Blogger and Curriki Member Lani deGuia

Sick ScienceSummer is a time for fun, relaxation and freedom from schedules and homework. However, there is no reason why learning has to stop! Learning can be incorporated into summer days by mimicking play and entertainment. When your child is having fun, they may not realize they are exploring concepts or reviewing skills they need for the upcoming school year.  Here are a few ways you can help your child equate “play time” with academic learning.

Relate to What They are Interested In

Does your child love kitchen science or blow-your-mind science demonstrations? This Sick Science! Video collection explores fun science experiments such as making an ice tray battery or a homemade projector.

Have a younger child who loves all things science and nature?  Check out this collection of K-2 student-facing activities  covering topics such as the alphabet, solids, liquids, and gases, and microfinancing.

For the budding mathematician, there are plenty of online games where your child can explore their favorite math concepts.  Math Game Time and Math Playground provide K-12 interactive experiences for students to play quick games and brightly visual games.  Have a middle schooler who loves math?  Check out this Middle School Online Math Games collection.

Magic School BusPerhaps your child is analytical or appreciates a good puzzle? Guess My Button tests your child’s application of deductive reasoning from their understanding of patterns and relationships.

If your child has a variety of interests across all subject areas, check out this full collection of Brain Pop videos. Brain Pop offers fun and educational animated shorts that teach specific academic concepts. Most videos are accompanied by supplemental resources for learning including quizzes and more.  For example, in this collection of Social Studies Brain Pop videos, your child can explore topics such as the Civil War, money/economics, and even pirates!

Find Activities That are Like Games They Already Love

Most know the fun arcade game as Pac-Man in search for power pellets to evade ghosts, but this version can help your child practice math!  Check out Math Pac Man!

A twist on a childhood favorite, Mad Libs, Wacky Web Tales helps your child be part of creating hysterical stories by practicing nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.

Favorite TV shows are a great place to look for additional learning activities and games.  The Magic School Bus offers games to supplement their shows, including topics such as weather, habitats and space.

Med MystSimulate an Adventure

Investigation and simulation are perfect for older children who enjoy engaging in more involved gaming.

MedMyst is a web adventure that includes five different missions to teach children about infectious diseases and pathogens. Charles Darwin’s Game of Survivall  is an online game from Discovery where your child can explore natural selection by seeing if their species can survive a million years. The Build It Yourself Satellite Game from NASA  will allow your child to engineer their own satellite, apply their knowledge of wavelengths, instruments, and optics, as well as launch it and view real mission data!

So what are you waiting for? Find a topic your child is passionate about and get them playing!


Lani loggerLani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

Night and Elie Wiesel’s Legacy

Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

By Janet Pinto
Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

The recent death of Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel at age 87 presents an opportunity for us to study and reflect upon the brutal genocide that killed six million Jews in the 1930s and 40s.

Wiesel, who lost his father, mother and a sister in the Holocaust, managed to survive the Auschwitz and Buchenwald death camps. After the war he moved to the United States, and at the age of 27 wrote his internationally acclaimed memoir Night.

The activist and author made Holocaust education his mission in life and became a voice for victims, eventually writing more than 50 books. His death leaves a huge void.

Wiesel’s Legacy

U.S. President Barack Obama called Wiesel “one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.”

“By bearing witness, he revealed evil many avoided facing,” wrote Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “By never giving up, he made this world better.”

Learning Resources

I have created a collection of resources about Wiesel’s book Night, and urge teachers and parents to use these in explaining why Wiesel’s death still reverberates so strongly throughout the world today.


Photo of Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

 

 

The Secret to Why Finland’s Schools Are So Fantastic

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki.By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Finland’s schools used to rank very low, but now they are the highest-ranking country in the world when it comes to quality of education, while the United States is #29. Why? Michael Moore asked the country’s education chief, what was Finland’s secret to success.

Her answer was simple: “They do not do homework.”

Krista Kiuru, Finland’s Minister of Education, says, “They should have more time to be kids, to enjoy life.”

In addition to having no homework, younger Finnish children don’t go to school more than 20 hours a week – including lunch.

“Your brain has to relax now and then,” explains Leena Liusvarra, a school principal. “If you just constantly work, work, work, then you stop learning.”

Interesting concept – it’s pretty much the reverse of what we are doing in the United States, where children are being assigned homework as young as first grade and there’s a huge push for full-day kindergarten.

The teachers also say their mission is to teach children to be happy, because “there’s so much more to life than school.” Here’s the trailer for Michael Moore’s film.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Keep the Learning Going this Summer

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki.By Kim  Jones, CEO, Curriki

“School’s out for the summer!”

It’s the triumphant cry heard from millions of children as they flee the school building for the last time in the school year and look forward to glorious vacation. And who can blame them? After 9-10 months of school, children get tired of the grind of getting up early, sitting in hard seats while trying to absorb seven or eight hours of information overload, then going home and doing homework at night nearly every day for 9 months.  Summertime is a wonderful time to refresh and reset, to sleep late, watch TV, go to the beach, go fishing, and just be kids.

Unfortunately, it’s also a time when children can take several steps backward in their learning. On average, students lose the equivalent of two months of math and reading skills during the summer, says the US Department of Education. For higher income families, summer camps and other learning opportunities can make up for some of those losses, but lower- income youth often start off the next school year behind. As years go by, the achievement gap between rich and poor grows wider and wider.

This summer, let’s work to change that. Together, we can help give children the best foundation for the upcoming school year. Here are a few ideas:

green eggs and hamEncourage Reading

*    Parents can encourage reading all summer long with free visits to the library.

*    Teachers can send home Summer Reading Lists.

*    Local libraries have summer reading programs that encourage children to read and earn prizes.

*    Curriki has a Pinterest Board jammed with great reading suggestions for all ages, from Green Eggs and Ham for early readers to Pride and Prejudice for teens – perhaps mix in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to make it even more fun. Follow us!

Nurture Creativity

*    Summer is the perfect time for children’s imaginations to run wild. Kids.gov provides resources for arts and crafts projects that will keep children engaged and their minds active while having fun.

*    Online, Scratch is a fantastic tool from M.I.T. that teaches upper elementary, middle and high school fun coding as they create digital projects. (And they’ll think they are just having fun!)

New_Discovery_Kids_Logo_2013-11-18_17-14Use Media

Can’t get the kids away from the screen? Use TV and your child’s computer to sneak in some learning.

*   Discovery Kids has wonderful programs that will captivate young learners, and its website has games and activities that will fill their minds with wonder.

*   The History Channel  and of course PBS also educate while entertaining young minds.

So enjoy the summer – and keep learning!

3 Steps to Effective EdTech Implementation

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By Guest Blogger Jessica Sanders, Director of Social Outreach, Learn2Earn

EdTech implementation: the phrase alone makes the process of bringing technology into your classroom sound daunting and stressful. Luckily, what you see isn’t always what you get, and this process can be smooth and stress-free if you look at the big picture, take your time, and remember to be flexible.Read More

An Experimental School in San Francisco

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

janetpic_preferred_cropped

Yesterday morning, I read an interesting article in Wired (www.wired.com) about AltSchool (http://www.wired.com/2015/05/altschool/), an experimental school in San Francisco founded by a former Google exec that is using technology to enhance and personalize education with a focus on student-centered learning.

Many educators were taught that environment is hugely influential when it comes to student learning. If the atmosphere is not conducive to exploration, students tend to not learn as well. Natural lighting, colorful activities, open spaces, and a flexible teaching method all contribute towards a healthy learning environment and AltSchool seems to have nailed this.

The school is built around the concept of personalizing education, something I wish I had when I went to school. By using a digital platform for students called My.AltSchool and the Montessori Method of teaching, AltSchool is providing a personalized experience for every student, while teachers get instant feedback that allow them to custom-teach to each student. AltSchool uses what they call “The Playlist,” which incorporates “a set of weekly learning experiences and exercises that help students meet their specific personalized learning plan goals.”

AltSchool also incorporates a feedback loop where a product development team works hand-in-hand with the teachers (and by extension the students) to develop apps that have practical usage, such as a recommendation engine for teachers, similar to the ones used by Amazon and Netflix. It takes into account everything that My.Altschool knows about a student and comes up with recommended activities. The eventual goal is to roll out these applications to other schools (public, private, charter) across the country.

Not all children are alike.  Not all children learn the same way.  AltSchool’s philosophy is very similar to Curriki’s in that we’re both driving transformation from the “assembly line factory model” of education into a new model where the emphasis is on personalization, understanding and critical thinking skills.

Some may fault AltSchool’s for-profit business model or claim this is yet another well-meaning attempt to reform public education. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!

If you’d like to learn more about AltSchool check out their website www.altschool.com

Education Across the Globe

Kim JonesBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

The infographic in this post has some very interesting information on education and literacy around the globe. It was produced by Tutoring Expert in Canada.

A few facts: there are 1.4 billion students on earth, fully 20% of the world’s population. There are 65 million educators around the world. This is approximately equal to the population of France. Developed countries typically spend about 10 to 15% of their total government budgets on education.

Around 800 million adults across the globe are illiterate. Three nations each have over 1 million girls not in school: Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. Only 12% of women in Afghanistan are able to read. Around 31 million girls of primary school age around the world are not in school.

In India, 88% of boys are able to read, but only 74% of girls. Clearly one of the challenges is increasing literacy for all, and especially, educational access for girls. On the other hand, in the Philippines, there are many more girls in school than boys.

In the U.S., only 32% of students are considered proficient in math. Children in Finland have the world’s highest scores in math and science, despite not starting school until age 6 or 7.

Despite the problems that remain, 1 in 3 young people are now expected to receive a college or university degree. Education is key to job opportunities, and to one’s standard of living, health, and social position. Most societies and parents around the world care deeply about their children’s future, for both boys and girls, and thus for their educational development. They invest considerable resources in their children’s education. But there are also serious shortcomings that must be addressed.

Curriki, as a not-for-profit foundation, is fully dedicated to improving education access and educational outcomes around the world. Over 50,000 Curriki educational resources are freely available to anyone with Internet access. These resources are also open source, in order to allow customization as needed. To date, 10 million unique users have visited the Curriki web site.

Take a careful look at the infographic, and see what other interesting factoids you are able to discover. The variation of school attendance hours between countries is fascinating!