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

Thanks to Education World for use of my Mrs. Waffenschmidt illustration.
Click on icon to go to my website:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Do you have the Time?
by Gail Skroback Hennessey

People have long wanted to “remember” important events...that’s why time recording developed. Time was recorded based on ruler’s reigns, the Olympic Games and the movement of the earth, sun and moon. Use the activities to help discuss time recording and timelines. Hope you find this resource of value! 

Using the website on the Food timeline, make a time line of 5 foods before you were born and 5 foods since you were born.Research one food and write a paragraph using 4 facts learned about the history of that food.  timeline on the history of food-lots of fun!

Make a self time line with 4 events before your birth and 4 events since your birth. The events must be things in history, science, literature and not “family” events.

Use a time line and make 5 questions for another group to find the answers.  Timeline on the history of comics might be a great one to use for this activity!

Discuss BC and AD and BCE and CE

Timeline on the history of transportation from 3500BC to 1981 AD:   Have students draw/color 4 events on each side of a time line starting with 1816.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts:
Did you know that there are at least 40 calendars used today? 

Most  people use the Gregorian calendar(based on the earth’s movement around the sun). There is also the Islamic calendar which is based on the movements of the moon and the Jewish calendar which uses both the movements of the earth around the sun and the movements of the moon.
What year is it? On the Islamic calendar,2012 is the year 1434.The Muslims started counting again(622AD) when Muhammad left Mecca for Medina. This  was a period of time called the Hijra.On the Jewish calendar, 2012 is the year 5772. On the Chinese calendar, 2012 is the year 4710.

AD doesn’t stand for After death of Christ, instead it stands for Anno domini(in the year of our Lord)

The word calendar comes from the Latin word, Kalends,the first day of each new month.
Dionysius Exiguus is created with inventing the AD/BC time recording concept back in 525 AD. He based events prior to the birth of Christ as BC and anything since his birth,as AD. 
CE and BCE are used by some historians instead of AD and BC as they are not religious based. CE stands for Common Era and BCE stands for Before Common Era.
Circa (ca or C.)means we don’t know the exact’s an approximate date.
Thank the ancient Egyptians for the 24 hour day...they were the first to use this idea! They also started the 365 days in a year.

The ancient  Mayans of Central America used the sun and moon and the planet VENUS to create their calendar.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

As a classroom teacher I always tried to incorporate art, music and yes....foods of different cultures into units of study. Students would make the foods during study hall and the school cafeteria was very kind to cook those recipes needing an oven. The foods we made were always something the students remembered from a unit of study! Here are some ideas for you to try for your your students to Eat THEIR Way Through History!

1.Researchers say that prehistoric people may have been the first to have a type of LOLLYPOPS. After collecting honey, the sweet honey remains on the stick were licked clean. 

2. Studying the Middle East? If, so, this sweet candy treat called marzipan is easy to make. Just make sure you give the students a “small” piece” as it is very, very sweet. It is thought that marzipan originated in Persia(Iran) and then introduced to Europe through the Turks. Eating this almond paste sweet is mentioned in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.Also when studying the Middle East, I go to the grocery store and purchase matzo for the students to sample. Also called Matzo and Matzah, this cracker-like bread is made of flour and water. I give the students two crackers(one plain and one(if they desire) with margarine). Since dates and pistachio nuts originated in this part of the world as well, I usually bring these into class for students to sample. 

3. Studying the Egyptians? Make Semit, sesame bread rings.

4. When studying China, I’ve tried making fortune cookies(even though they were INVENTED in the USA). 

5. Studying American history, making butter is a simple and fun activity to try with your students. 

6. A popular activity during a unit of study on the Middle Ages includes making pretzels. It is thought that the idea of pretzels dates back to 600AD the Middle Ages when priests made treats, in the shape of hands in prayer, to give to children who learned their religions lessons. They were called “pretiola”.

7. A flat bread,lucchi, from India has been tried in my classroom during a short unit on India. 

8. Study the Greeks? Baklava is a popular dessert which would be easier to purchase at a Greek restaurant than make in a classroom. 

9. Studying Mexico? People since the ancient Aztecs and Mayans have been drinking hot chocolate. In fact, in the early history of chocolate, this was the only way to eat chocolate, a word that comes from choco(foam) and lat(water). Archaeologists say that the first users of chocolate dates back to the Olmecs, 1500-400 BC). The original hot chocolate of the ancients included hot chiles! 

At my website for teachers/young people, I give links to recipes. Go here:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Banning Homework? What do you think?

France's President Francois Hollande recently announced he'd like to ban it in France.Why the ban? Hollande doesn't think it is fair that some kids have parents that help them with homework and others do not. Kids in France currently go to school Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday(usually 8:30-4:30). President Hollande would like to add half day classes on Wednesday.  He'd require time at the end of the school day for students to do their homework assignments in school.What do you think of this idea?
Is homework of value? Do you assign it as reinforcement of the lesson, a preview of what the next lesson will be,or perhaps, as an exercise for the students to share what they did in school with their parents?
Would love to hear your thoughts!


How do I get my son/daughter to do their homework?
As a teacher, you probably get this question often from parents.
Perhaps, the following might be of interest to you as a classroom teacher or parent.

Parents are an integral component in the success of their children in school and the issue of homework is a perfect example of this.  As the parent, you must make school and doing homework a top priority in the course of a day, over sporting practice, lessons, etc. I like to think of the issue  of homework with PRAISE ..

1. Have a PLACE for your son/daughter to do their homework. It should be a central area(ie-kitchen if you are making dinner) and not a bedroom away from your supervision where they perhaps have a computer, TV, telephone, CD player, etc . to distract them from successfully completing their task.

2. Establish a ROUTINE, an established time when homework is to be done.  Personally, I think young people need a break after school to unwind so I think starting about 5 might be good(before dinner).  This routine time should be kept even on "no homework days".  Use the time like a study hall at home where they could read for the time, do research on the computer on a topic of interest, write you a letter explaining things covered in class during the day,etc.

3. Have a positive ATTITUDE toward school as the parent.  Even if you yourself didn't have a positive experience toward school, you as the parent must foster a positive attitude so kids pick up positive vibes from you. If your son/daughter thinks YOU don't value school and the homework that goes with it, they will easily see this and develop negative attitudes.

4.Have INVOLVEMENT in your son/daughter's studies.  Don't DO the homework , but check on their progress, ask if they need help AND ask to see the completed assignments when they say they have finished. So many parents tell me that homework takes HOURS because they admit they don't monitor their son/daughter's on task progress. Show you value what they have completed by reviewing their work.

5.SELF RELIANCE and SUPPORT your son/daughter. Homework is the responsibility of your son/daughter to come home with their materials and assignments. Teach them self- reliance to suffer the consequences from their teacher AND from you if they don't complete the daily assignment. Support your son/daughter. If they are having difficulties with the assignments by offering help and by  contact their teacher to ask for suggestions if they are having difficulty with the math or the reading materials.

6.ESTABLISH CONSEQUENCES for failure of your son/daughter to follow through to complete their homework or to be responsible for coming home with materials to complete the assignments.
Place all these components together and you get PRAISE something parents must do each day to foster a positive attitude toward school and being successful. Hang a good comment or paper on the refrigerator, tell your son/daughter that you are proud of them for being prepared for the entire week.

Do you have any ideas to share?


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year to someone deemed to have made an important contribution to world peace. A petition has started to consider 15 year old Malala Yousafzai for this award.The Pakistani teen spoke out for girls to be allowed to go to school. You may remember that Malala was shot by Taliban members who do not want girls to get an education. Teachers around the world, perhaps,signing the petition to have Malala considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, is something you may wish to do. In my opinion, Malala is an inspiration and her courage and hope should to be recognized by the world. She has shown that no matter one's age, we CAN make a different.Please consider passing this information along... as Nelson Mandela once said,"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." If interested in signing the petition, go to this link:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pumpkin Fun...

I have a resource where kids can learn some fun and informative facts about pumpkins, just the thing for this time of year. I wanted to update that a record has again been broken for the biggest pumpkin!
October 2012:
Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, has grown a pumpkin that weighed in at 2010 pounds!The first pumpkin to ever weigh over a ton, crushes the previous record set in 2001 by Chris Stevens. His pumpkin tipped the scales at 1820. 8 ounces. Wallace said that at one point, his whopper of a pumpkin was growing about 35 pounds per day. Each seed from his record pumpkin will be worth between $300 and $1000 dollars-wow!

Check out this fun and informative webquest on pumpkins:

Hope you find it of value!


Resources to use with students:

  • PBS KidsBeat the Bully activity
  • Using Literature to discuss the issue of bullying:

  • Read the story, the Ugly Duckling to start a discussion on bullying.
  • Best Children's Books

  • Another story to read is Goose Girl by the Brothers Grimm. Find the story

  • Still another story is Cinderella.Find the story online at this link:
  • Together We Teach

    There are also many contemporary books that deal with bullying. Here is a small sampling for elementary and middle school student.

  • The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan Berenstain

  • Blubber by Judy Blume

  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

  • Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

  • Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Vedick.

  • The Bully from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler with Jared Lee.

  • My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig

  • Roxie and the Hooligans by Phillis Reynolds Naylor

    Find more books on bullying and read summaries at this link:

    Read and listen to a short story about bullying online at this link:

  • Newspapers in Education. Comic book story about bullying might lead to a good follow up discussion.


  • Teaching Tips A-Z

    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.

    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.

    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 chalkboard 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.

    O- Be Organize. 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(a recent news story told of a 3rd grade teacher that sent packets home with a font which was of people in inappropriate positions!) 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.). 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 the chalkboard, overhead, flash cards, etc. to give different learners ways to absorb the material presented.

    V- Have variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson. Use overheads, audio visuals, computers, chalkboards,etc.

    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