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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Wednesday, March 22, 2017



April Fool's Day 
is a great opportunity to begin a discussion with students on Fake /Real News!

Download this April Fool's Day FREEBIE to start the discussion with several “news” stories: 

You can also download this blog entry by going to this link:

IF you find this blog of interest, please share. Thanks!
Gail Hennessey

Seems that the phrase FAKE NEWS is being used a lot these days but just what is fake news and how can student learn to determine fact from fiction?

FAKE news is defined as news that is intentionally shared which is made-up or mostly fictitious. The purpose of fake news is to get arouse people’s emotions. Here area two example:
A few years ago, (2015) several websites had a headline that stated,” Al Gore Wants to Ban ALL Cars in ALL cities on the Planet.” Ask yourself-Does this sound incredible? Yes! In actuality, Gore was suggesting that without cars, there would be much less carbon dioxide going into our atmosphere. The result would be a smaller effect on global warming. He didn’t REALLY wish to BAN ALL cars in the entire world! This is an example of taking a partial statement and expanding on it to make it fake news.

Another news story(again about Al Gore) stated that Al Gore wants to Ban all Snowmobiles in the United States! You can imagine how this article angered many people who like to ride snowmobiles or own stores that sell them. The actual story was Al Gore wanted to see snowmobiles banned from our very first national park, Yellowstone National Park. He was concerned about the negative impact snowmobiles had on the wildlife and serenity of the park.

According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media(appeared in TIME MAGAZINE 3/27/2017) more than 45% of 10-18 young people in the United States said that they could NOT accurately determine fake news from real news. In fact, almost 1/3 also said that they clicked and passed along the news items before knowing that it wasn’t really true. This isn’t just a problem in the United States. Other countries, including Great Britain, are concerned about the need for young people to develop “digital critical literacy”.

Here are some tips to review with students to help to determine if what you are reading is REAL news or FAKE news:
  1. Is the  URL an uncommon one such as or URLs include .com, .gov, .edu and .info)
  2. Are there a number of spelling errors in the news story?
  3. Does the news story make you have a strong emotion, especially anger?
  4. Does the news story sound a bit unbelievable? Have you heard this story anywhere else? Check other news sites to see if they are reporting the story,too!
  5. Fact check with a link such as to see if they have reported anything about the news story being false or true. Another site to fact check stories are and .
  6. Check out the “about us” section to see who the people are,who are  associated with the news story.
7.  Before you send the “NEWS” story to someone else, make sure you      check out the story!

When evaluating news stories, share this ACRONYM: CARS: 
  1. Credibility
  2. Accuracy
  3. Reasonableness
  4. Support

Activities to Use with Students:
  1. Use this website created by Lyle Zapato to discuss FAKE news sites. Pacific Northwest tree octopus. The site shares information on a tree octopus that is on the endangered list. The unique creature, according to the site, could live in the water and on land(in trees). There are FAQs about the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. There is a section on activities to help the endangered creature as well as sightings, links and more. THIS is really great!

B.  Here’s another news item that appeared in 2016 at Yackler Magazine.  It stated, “Scientists say giant asteroid could hit the earth next week, causing mass devastation.”  Approximately 356,000 people shared this story, which was untrue!

C. Share this clip with students( or share the content) . There was a posting on Facebook that stated,” Sweden bans Christmas lights -to avoid angering Muslims! “This story went viral with about 43,000 people forwarding this “news” story. This FAKE news story was based, in part, on an actual news story which stated that because of technical problems, there would be no Christmas lights that year! 

D. In 1957, this news story appeared on a news show in the country of Switzerland. The video clip showed a spaghetti harvest. People were pulling strands of spaghetti dangling down from trees. People actually called the news show asking how they could purchase a spaghetti tree! Ask students to explain why people may have believed this FAKE news story? Have students explain how FAKE news is harmful.

E.  Have students write up a FAKE news story. Exchange with other students and write a paragraph explaining why they didn’t think the story could be true.
Links for Teachers:

This link is a tutorial on how to check images to see their origins.

Note: Additionally, I have another resource you may find of interest to use for such a discussion on fake/real news: 
Want to introduce your students to the history of April Fools' Day? This resource provides a reading for students as well as lots of interesting famous April Fools’ pranks. Additionally, there are extension activities as well as a Test your April Fools' Day IQ(can you spot the True News Stories from the Fake ones?). There are also comprehension questions for the students to answer after reviewing the resource:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Women's History Month: Interactive Notebook Activity!

Women’s History Month(March)

"Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." 
—Eleanor Roosevelt  
In 1978, a school district in  California, organized a “Women’s History Week”. By 1981, Congress passed a resolution establishing a National Women’s History Week and in 1987, Congress created a month, March, to honor the contributions of women and to promote the teaching of women’s history. 

The following information may be helpful  for Women’s History Month. The 2017 theme for Women’s History Month is Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business”.

At one time, women weren’t able to do many things because of their gender. Here are some women trailblazers.  Being the first, made it easier for other women to follow in their footsteps. Every year, new firsts continue to be made by women. Here is just a sampling of firsts made by women.

Lucy Brewer
First woman marine

Elizabeth Blackwell
First woman to receive a medical degree

Amelia Jenks Bloomer
Publisher/editor of first prominent women's rights newspaper

Harriet Tubman
First woman to run underground railroad to help slaves escape

Lucy Hobbs
First woman to graduate from dental school

Arabella Mansfield Babb
First woman admitted to the bar to practice law

Frances Elizabeth Willard
First woman to become a college president (Evanston College)

Victoria Chaflin Woodhull
First woman to be presidential candidate

Helen Magill
First woman to receive a Ph.D. degree (Boston University)

Belva Ann Lockwood
First woman to practice law before U.S. Supreme Court

Clara Barton
Founder of the American Red Cross

Suzanna Madora Salter
First woman mayor (Argonia, Kansas)

Marie Curie
First women to win  a Nobel Prize AND first person awarded TWO Nobel Prizes(as of 2016)
1903 AND 1911

Mary McLeod Bethune
First woman to establish secondary school that became 4-year accredited college

Blanche Scott
First woman to fly an airplane

Jeannette Rankin
First woman U.S. House Representative (Montana)

Bessie Coleman
First African American Female pilot in USA and first AMERICAN to receive an international pilot’s license.

Hallie Ferguson
First woman governor of U. S. state (Texas)

Amelia Earhart
First woman to be a passenger on an airplane across the Atlantic Ocean (1928)
and first woman to fly  across the Atlantic Ocean.

Jane Addams
First American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize

Hattie Wyatt Caraway
First woman elected to U.S. Senate

Amelia Earhart
First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova
First woman to fly in space, aboard Vostok 6.

Mary Clarke
First woman to be named major general in U.S. Army

Sandra Day O'Connor
First woman a justice of the U. S. Supreme Court

Sally Kristen Ride
First American woman to reach outer space.

Ann Bancroft
First woman to walk to North Pole

Christa McAuliffe
First woman citizen passenger on a space mission

Lt. Col. Eileen Collins
First American woman to pilot a Space Shuttle

Madeleine K. Albright
First woman Secretary of State and highest ranking woman in the U.S. government

Condoleezza Rice
First African-American woman to be appointed Secretary of State

Nancy Pelosi
First woman to become Speaker of the House

Hillary Clinton 
First woman to be in a presidential primary and caucus in every state

Michelle Obama 
First African American First Lady

Kathryn Bigelow
First woman to win the Best Director Award

Mary Barra became the first  female CEO of General Motors

Women were allowed to compete in ski jumping events at the Winter Olympics for the first time!

Katie Higgins became the first female pilot of the Blue Angels(US Navy Flight demonstration  squad)

Megan Brennan
First female United Sates Postmaster General

1. Are there any areas in which women still have yet to make a contribution?

2.  What are 3 character traits of women who have been trailblazers? What would you list as 3 of your best character traits?

3.  There is a Hispanic Heritage Month, a Native American Month, a Black History Month and a Women’s History Month. Why do you think such months were established? Do you think there is a need for such months to highlight different groups? Why, why not?

4.  If you could interview a woman trailblazer(past or present), who would it be and why? What might be 2 questions you would ask of that person?

Sites of interest for additional materials:

3.   Statues built to honor woman 

4.   Quiz your women’s history knowledge(women adventurers)   Quiz your women’s history knowledge (women leaders)

5. Check out the National Women’s Hall of Fame, opened in 1979, in Seneca Falls, NY.    Check out the inductees to the National Women’s Hall of Fame:

6. Learn about the First Ladies of the White House

7. Another great source of women past and present 

10. Did you know that Congress has voted to create a Women’s History Museum to be built in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC? 
Women’ History Month: A Webquest on 10 women that made a difference:
Reader’s Theater Scripts:

Other Plays on Women in History: Dolly Madison, Abigail Adams, Lady Bird Johnson,Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Marian Anderson, and more:
Note: Photographs from of Elizabeth Blackwell:public domain)

* Left to right: Harriet Tubman, Margaret Mead, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie,Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Blackwell


Check out this FREE Reader's Theater Script on First Lady Edith Wilson:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ireland and St. Patrick's Day: Interactive Notebook Activity

Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day
Did You Know? 
Gail Skroback Hennessey

1. The National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin, Ireland, is dedicated to the folklore and mythology of Ireland. 
2.  In Irish folklore, there are only male leprechauns. Leprechauns are cobblers(shoemakers) and they usually carry a tiny hammer wherever they go!
3.  Ireland was the very first country in the world to tax plastic bags.(2002) 
4. Muckanaghederdauhaulia is the name for the longest place name in Ireland. 
5.  A burial tomb found near Dublin, Newgrange, may be older than the pyramids of Egypt,and was built about 4000 BC. 
6. The Irish monk, St. Brendan, may have reached North America before Columbus, in the 6th century. 
7.  Halloween has its origins in Ireland. It dates back to Samhain, an Irish festival. 
8. Famous people from Ireland include the lead singer for U2(Bono), Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels), writer C.S. Lewis(Chronicles of Narnia) and poet, William Butler Yeats 
9. Did you know that corned beef and cabbage, a favorite food on St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have any corn? The term refers to a large type of salt(called “corns”) used to marinate the beef. 
10. Hurling is a very popular sport which originated in Ireland.
11. There are NO snakes in the country of Ireland. 

12. Since the Bronze Age, Ireland has had their own type of Olympics Games. They are called the Tailteann Games. 

13. Leprechaun Day is May 13th.(YES…there is such a day!)

14. The Flag of Ireland has the colors green, white and orange. 
The harp is the musical symbol of Ireland.

15.  The language of Ireland is called Irish(Gaelic). There isn’t a word for “yes” or “no” in Irish.

16. People who visit Blarney Castle, in Ireland, often try to kiss the Blarney Stone. The legend says kissing the stone gives you the gift of being a great speaker. It’s a difficult thing to do as you have to  hang upside down to reach the stone!

17. The first St. Patrick’s Day in the United States was celebrated in the city of Boston, 1737.

18. Ireland is called the Emerald Isle because Ireland has lots of green fertile land.

Your  Turn:
  1. Illustrate one of the facts.
  2. Write down the 3 most interesting facts you learned.
  3. Create a postcard pretending you are visiting Ireland. Include 3 facts in the information you are writing to a friend or relative. Draw/ color a picture to go with your postcard.
  4. Would you wish to kiss the Blarney Stone? Why or why not?
Teacher’s Page:
  1. Before giving the students the factoid handout, ask the students to share prior knowledge about the country of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day.
2.  Show the students a map of Ireland:  Have students make 4 questions using the map to exchange with another group.
3. Have small groups of students review information on the country of Ireland and share 5 facts with the rest of the class.
4. Learn some Irish: 
A. Phrase: Thank you
Irish: Go raibh maith agat
Pronunciation: Guh row mah aguth (row as in cow)

B. Phrase: You're welcome
Irish: Tá fáilte romhat
Pronunciation: Thaw foil-cheh roath

C. Phrase: Hello
Irish: Dia dhuit
Pronunciation: Djee-ah gwitch

5. St. Patrick's Day is coming-a wonderful opportunity to introduce your students to the country of Ireland. Did you know that Ireland is called the Emerald Island because of its green fertile lands? Did you know that the Celtic knot is a very famous symbol of Ireland? Other well know symbols of Ireland include the harp, leprechauns and shamrocks. Learn more about Ireland with my fun and informative web quest on Ireland includes 12 questions and lots of extension activities:

6. Another resource about Ireland to consider:This fun/informative play has Ms. Bie Ografee's guest being McSean, a leprechaun. McSean is asked questions by the studio audience about the country of Ireland and the long Irish folklore about leprechauns. Great for a unit on folk stories/folklore or as an activity around St. Patrick's Day. The play has 11 questioners, a Did You Know? section, comprehension questions, a teacher page with extension activities and links as well as the key:

7. The Green Game: Need a fun activity where kids have to find answers that have the word GREEN in it or are the color GREEN? Great for St. Patrick's Day or for a Friday.
NOTE: This resource is INCLUDED in my Ireland Webquest/Activity Resource:

Feedback appreciated! Share with others, too!