Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Supreme Court Begins its New Session the First Monday in October

Oyez, Oyez...The Supreme Court begins its new session the first Monday of October. Used by the Supreme Court Marshall to call the Supreme Court to order, the word OYEZ means “Hear Ye”. The word originates from the Latin word which means “to hear”. The Supreme Court hears a number of cases each year in which questions to the Constitution are raised. 

Did You Know?
1. Only one president did not get the opportunity to name a Supreme Court Justice. That was Jimmy Carter.
2. There is an indoor basketball court at the Supreme Court Building. It is called the “Highest Court in the Land” and is located on the fifth floor.
3. Since 1969, there have been 9 justices on the Supreme Court. However, Congress can change this number to be more or less justices.
4. Justice Clarence Thomas has a record for being the only Supreme Court Justice to remain totally silence, not asking any questions or making any statement, on the
bench, for seven years. Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1991, Thomas spoke, from the bench, for the first time in 2013.
5. Is a pickle a vegetable or a fruit? This was one of the decisions the Supreme Court determined in Nix v. Hedden. The court determined it is the seeds that classify the pickle as a “fruit of the vine”.
6. Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life. WHY do you think this is the case?____________________
7. You DON'T have to be a lawyer to be named to the Supreme Court.
8. Should a president be IMPEACHED(a trial to determine whether a President has committed actions which could remove the President from office), the Supreme Court Chief Justice presides over the trial.
9. President Taft is the only President to go on to become a Supreme Court Justice.
10. SCOTUS is an acronym for Supreme Court of The United States.

This web quest will introduce students to the Supreme Court. There are 10 web questions, a Did You Know? section and comprehension questions. Additionally, there are several extension activities and additional links as well as the key.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15-October 15th

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15-October 15th. It was originally established, in 1969, as Hispanic Heritage Week, by President Lyndon Johnson. In 1988, it became a month long celebration. Some people say we don't really need an Hispanic Heritage Month, A Black History Month, A Womens History Month, A Native American Heritage Month and other such months to recognize the achievements of groups which have helped to make this nation great.  I believe we do since history books just cant address all the different accomplishments of all the people that have contributed to making our country what it is today. Here are some interesting facts to share with your students during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Did You Know?
• Before colonists settled Plymouth Colony, there were people living in St. Augustine, Florida, and Sante Fe, New Mexico.
• Chinese(Mandarin) is spoken by the most people in the world. The second most spoken language is Spanish. A close third is... English.
• The majority of Hispanic people in the United States came from the country of Mexico.
• Pedro Flores was the first to mass-produce the yo yo in the United States.
• in 1989, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first Cuban American to become a member of Congress.
• Learn some Spanish: gracias(Thank you), por favor) (Please)and adios(goodbye)
• Cinco de Mayo(May 5th) is a festive holiday. It celebrates the victory over the French in the Battle of Pueblo(1862). The Mexicans were outnumbered 3-1, yet they won the battle. 
• Have you ever played with a pinata at a birthday party? This is another activity that has its origins in Mexico.  

Check out my webquest, Histanic Heritage Month.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

International Peace Day is September 21st

Perhaps, you will find this helpful to use on the International Day of Peace:

The International Day of Peace is held every year on  September 21st. Also called Peace Day, the first celebration was adopted by the United Nations in 1982. It would be in 2001, that nations of the world established September 21st as International Day of Peace. In 2018, the theme for the  International Day of Peace is “The Right to Peace”.  At the United Nations, in New York City, the Japanese Peace Bell is rung to start the day. Made from coins collected by children from sixty countries,  the Peace Bell has the following words engraved on the bell, “Long live absolute world peace”.  There is a minute of silence at noon(at all time zones around the world).

Possible Activities for the International Day of Peace:
1. The dove is the international symbol of peace. Draw/ color a picture of a dove. Write a statement about the International Day of Peace.

2. Write an acrostic poem using the words PEACE.

3. Have students list some of the places in the world where there is conflict. Locate these places on a world map. Ask the students if they have any prior knowledge about the areas .

4. Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Peace Prize.  

Learn about some of the people that have been award recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. The youngest was teenager, Malala Yousafzai.

5. Make a Peace Pole(“May Peace Prevail on Earth) and place in the lobby of your school.

6. Read Sadako Sasaki and her One Thousand Paper Cranes. Free online book:   Make an origami paper crane.

8.Share with kids how to say "PEACE" in many different languages: Write Peace In Different Languages

9. Check out my Purple Turtle story, Purple Meets Dovey, the Dove:

10. Illustrate one of these quotes: Write a short paragraph explaining what they think the quote means.
A. “ Peace begins with a smile. “ Mother Teresa

B. "You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.“ Indira Gandhi
C.  "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”  Nelson Mandela

D.  "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”  Mahatma Gandhi
E.  “It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." Eleanor Roosevelt

F.  "While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”  Francis of Assisi

G.  “If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”  Archbishop Tutu

Gail Hennessey

Note: Illustration from

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Constitution Day is Coming(September 17th)

Constitution Day
Gail Skroback Hennessey

Each year, Constitution Day is celebrated on September 17th. This is the date, in 1787, when delegates to the Constitutional Convention, signed the Constitution. They had met for 116 days, at the State House(now called Independence Hall), in Philadelphia, PA. If Constitutional Day falls on a Sunday, as it did in 2017, the official observation is the following day. Constitution Day is also called Citizenship Day.  It’s a day to celebrate this important document of our nation!
Did You Know?
1. Did you know that Ben Franklin arrived at the Grand Convention in Philadelphia on a sedan chair? Four prisoners from the local Philadelphia jail carried Franklin on the chair.

2. Before deciding on Mr. President, names for George Washington, the first leader of the United States, included “His Most Benign Highness” and “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.”

3. Philadelphia, the largest and most modern of cities at the time of the Convention, had a population of 40,000.  Gravel was used to cover the cobblestone streets to make it less noisy for the meetings.

4. It took 116 days to complete the draft of the document called the Constitution.

5. To date, only ONE amendment to the constitution has been removed(repealed). The 18th Amendment(1918) which abolished the making, sale and transportation of alcohol, was repealed in 1933.

6. Each night, the Constitution is lowered into a specially made vault for its protection.

7. George Washington announced the first national “Thanksgiving Day”, November 26, 1789, to “give thanks” for the creating of the Constitution.

8. The words “democracy” and “God” do not appear in the document of the Constitution.

9. Eighty-one year old Ben Franklin cried as he signed the Constitution.

10. James Madison, who would become the 4th President of the United States, was called the “Father of the Constitution”. 
Teacher Page:
Things to do:
  1. Have students pretend they are the Constitution on display at the National Archives. Tell a day in your life as people come to see you. What do you hear? See? feel?

  1. Enter the Constitution Day Poster Contest:Postmarked by Oct. 1, 2018:

3.  This link explains the Bill of Rights  for kids:  Groups of students could be assigned one of the rights and make a poster.  Have students write a paragraph explaining which right they feel is most important and why.

4. Have students create posters or greeting cards for Constitution Day.
Website of Interest:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Why Study History?

“Why do we have to learn this stuff” is a common question my students would ask me while learning about Julius Caesar and the fall of the Roman republic or other topics in social studies. Of course, I would explain that the the past is important to learn because past events are the building blocks that create our present. 
     With a new year beginning, it's a great way to start a discussion on just WHY study history and encourage responses from students.  
I like to remind students of when they were little and played the game of "Telephone". Remember, sitting in a  circle and someone would whisper something in your ear and you would  pass along the information to the person sitting next to you? History of the world is kind of like that game. People through the ages have passed down ideas which are still used today. 

EVERYTHING has a history, from the potato chip we eat, to the tissues we use to blow our noses, to the shoes we are wearing, to the pencil we use to jot down a note. Everything was once an idea that someone developed, passed along and in some ways was improved upon by those that learned of the idea. 

We are very connected to the past as it has shaped the present that we have today!

Here are some examples of "World-History Telephone"
1. You get up and look at the clock and see that it’s time to get ready for school. Did you know that the ancient people of Mesopotamia (people that lived in the present day country of Iraq) had a counting system based on 60? That’s how high they could count on their joints on their fingers and toes, and that’s the bases of our time counting today!
2. You look at the calendar and see that it’s Thursday. Thank the people of Mesopotamia again. They established a seven day week. Seems they had seven main gods that they wished to honor each day. 
3. Even the names of some of the days of the week came from people living many years ago. The Vikings had several main gods which they worshiped on a certain day. “Tiew’s day” became Tuesday, “Woden’s Day” became Wednesday and “Thor’s Day” became Thursday
4. Staying with the calendar, did you ever wonder why there are 365 day in a year? Yes, that’s another gift from the past. The ancient Egyptians had 360 days in their calendar and added 5 extra days at the end of the year for a BIG harvest party.
5. The earliest bathroom was excavated in a place called Orkney Islands, Scotland. The bathroom excavated dated back to 8000 BCE. 
6. You grab onto a bar of soap. Soap was invented about 600 BCE, by the ancient Phoenicians (of present day Lebanon). They made their soap from goat fat and wood ash. 
7.Pick up a fork and thank someone from the country of Italy who lived in the 11th century. Before this time, people ate with their fingers. In fact, for many years it was considered poor manners to use that metal contraption called a fork

I have a reading which I have developed sharing many things in our world that came from us from other past cultures. It includes comprehension questions and a couple of extension activities. It would be a great beginning of the school year activity to show kids that "history is all around us".

Note: The illustration is from and

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Books are a Wonderful Thing!

As Thomas Jefferson once said, " I cannot live without books..."  As a new school year begins, encourage all students to own a library card.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A New Year...Remembering your A-Zs Teacher List

A-Z Teacher LIST 
With the new year about to begin, I’d like to share my A-Z Teaching List.   If you have suggestions, please share.
Gail Hennessey

A-Always exhibit an interest in what you are teaching.  If you think it’s important , your students will, too. Have an assessment for how to grade your students.

B- Be prepared with your lesson. Have “bell ringers" to keep students on task when you  are collecting papers, etc. It’s better to have MORE than not enough for each day’s lesson.

C-Try to make connections with other areas of study with cross curricular activities whenever possible.  Critique your lessons each day for what you liked and what needs improvement. 

D- Dress for success, your “teacher uniform"  should not be too casual, Decorate your room.(It’s your “home away from home for 7 hours each day). Don’t READ your with the students.

E-Establish expectations and a class climate which students will come to expect each class. Keep an “emergency folder"with activities for a couple of days which a sub can do should you be called away and not have time to leave detailed lesson plans. Make EYE contact with your students.

F-Try and Focus on the positive each day.  Negatives will only get you down. Fire drill procedures and emergency Z Schedule procedures should be learned immediately and reviewed with the students.

G- Set up a Grading system. How many grades will you give a week, what will the different assignments be weighed for importance, etc. 

H- Have consequences for students not meeting your requirement and follow through with parent telephone calls, after school or lunch detention, etc. HANG students’ work around the room.  State and post your Homework policy.

I- Offer incentive especially for younger learners such as “praise"  for good work, less homework passes  or bonus point, etc. REWARD positive behavior. Make sporadic  “positive" telephone calls home.(Personal note: The initial voice of the parent was always suspect when I’d say I was their teacher calling. When I said I was calling to say how proud I was of their son/daughter for a particular reason  and wanted to call, their tone changed. I had a number of parents contact the principal AFTER my call to say how the call had such a positive impact. The student was always walking on air the next day,too! I remember some students sharing they got a positive treat because of my phone call!) 

J-Just try your best and realize you won’t always have a successful lesson.

K-Keep  note paper in your desk(or Thank you notes)  and distribute to students who show improvement, responsibility, citizenship, helpfulness ,etc.

L-Try and laugh each day! 

M- “Menu"  of what will be covered in the class-write it on the board so students know what is to be covered. Mark your papers.  If you give an assignment, look at what is done. (My feeling is students shouldn’t mark students’ work....that’s(in my opinion)  your job. Peer review doesn’t count as I believe this can be a useful learning tool).Motivate your students by “acting"  and performing.

N- Never be alone with a student!(especially middle school and high school students).

O- Be Organized. Keep folders of lessons developed, websites used so you have them for future reference. 

P-Use Primary sources to help to enhance the lesson and foster DBQ essay writing. Gather Personal information on each student (birthday, telephone, address, study buddy to send work if ill, etc.) Proof read any work that is distributed to students for spelling and grammar. Speak professionally.

Q- Ask lots of questions to keep your students on task.

R- Review often all  terms and concepts throughout your unit. (Have the students HEAR, SEE , READ and WRITE , more than one method to help retain materials covered in class)Have a daily routine.  How will you arrange your room?  What works best for the particular students, rows, groups, assigned seats,etc.) *** Personally, I allow the students to sit with whom they’d like thus already finding “Friends"  and allow them to  stay where they selected unless they show that they can’t work well during class where they are sitting. Create a RUBIC for student assessment.

S-Share some personal self interests with your students(favorite color, favorite author or sports team, etc.). I shared my ballerina picture from when I was 10 and my 6th grade report card. There was a photograph of my husband and my dogs on my desk. Set an example, for some, you may be their only positive role model!  Smile!(it’s a great stress reducer)  Shake hands with the students on the first day and during the school year.

T- Ask experienced teachers for ideas on classroom management and other issues. Be open to suggestions. 

U- Use text to self connections whenever possible. Try and find a way for kids to see a connection with what is being taught and their lives.

V- Have variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson.

W-Wrap up each lesson by reviewing the key concepts, vocabulary and any assignment to be given.  WALK around the room during the presentation of your lesson . Have students WRITE in journals, their notes(interactive notebooks), etc.

X- Do “xtras"  such as chaperoning a dance, going to a sporting event, having students come for lunch.

Y- “You"  set the tone of your classroom. Someone needs to be in charge of your classroom, make sure it is you!

Z- Get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ each night so you are well rested for the next day.

Gail  Hennessey

Please share if you think this list is helpful. I also gave this list to my student teachers.

Illustration from