Merry Christmas from the USAF Band–Flash Mob at the Smithsonian

Merry Christmas!  I hope you enjoy this flash-mob style performance by the U.S. Air Force Band.  They performed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.  Both of my parents and both of my grandfathers are Air Force veterans–this is a perfect Christmas celebration at our house!

Posted in Holidays by Corey Green @ Dec 25, 2013


Teach About the Children of WWII Using Resources from the BBC

ww2_children_evac_kentish_townThe BBC Primary History Children of WWII feature is an excellent educational resource to share with your class.  Use the site to bring the sweeping subject of WWII to a human level—a child-sized level. 

This site coordinates well with WWII history lessons as well as literature studies of books such as Number the Stars or the Molly books  books in the American Girl collection.  Explain to students that this site shows what Emily experienced before she came to live with Molly in the States.

The Children of WWII site features information, an interactive timeline, and a fun game called Dig it Up!

Your students will like the information. Use is as a review, a preview, or as part of an Internet activity:

Your students will enjoy the game Time Capsules WW2.  In the game, students must figure out which person buried which time capsule.  Students use their problem solving skills and knowledge of history to solve the puzzle.  They also have to practice important skills like reading a timeline.

Your students will enjoy the British accents of the narrator and characters.  The acting is good for a video game—it’s easy to empathize with the characters who buried the time capsules.

The teacher’s resource area is extensive.  There are free worksheets and lesson plans, an online quiz, pictures, and videos.  The site links you to other Internet resources to teach Ancient Roman history.

Photo courtesy of the BBC teacher’s resource page.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 20, 2013


Buddy Up to Help Students Who Don’t Celebrate Holidays or Birthdays

Do you have students in your class who don’t celebrate certain holidays?  If so, this tip on buddying with another teacher is for you!

Network with other teachers and find out who shares your dilemma.  You can buddy up and help your students feel welcome and happy during holiday and birthday celebrations.

An email to the school is a good way to find your matches.  Ask if anyone would like to get together and plan for how to help students who don’t celebrate holidays (and/or birthdays.)  You could also coordinate this at staff meeting. If several teachers are in the same boat, you should all be buddies.  After all, one teacher’s class might be hard to reach during an impromptu birthday celebration, and it’s nice to have backups.

Early in the school year, arrange a joint activity for your classes, or at least trade students so your non-holiday child can meet the other class.  (The child could bring a friend or two to make this less awkward—and less obvious to the host class what you’re doing.  It will be harder to connect it with religion.)

Set up a standing arrangement for birthdays.  Your child can help (or just visit) another class during birthday celebrations.  (If the child wants this.  In my experience, some students who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have no problem being there but not participating.)

Make plans for holiday parties.  Include de facto holiday parties, like your “Fall Festival.”  (Everyone knows that’s Halloween.)  Schedule your party at a different time than your buddy’s party.  The affected students can visit each other’s classrooms during party time.  Try to plan a fun or engaging activity for that time.

Contact the students’ parents.  You might find out that the parents plan to keep their child home during certain parties or holidays.  This is good to know in advance.  In this case, you should still host your buddy class’s child, because that student still needs a positive place to be.

Tell the principal and other staff about your plans.  Someone else may be in the same situation and just didn’t realize you were organizing.  Your principal may want to remember this technique for future years, maybe after you have moved on.  Your principal may want to talk about your idea at a principals’ meeting.  Other schools may use your idea.

My students really enjoy hosting these kids from other classes.  They go out of their way to make the guest child feel welcome and valued.  I think that buddying up like this benefits all students and builds a stronger community.


Introduce academic subjects with a cheer!

Elementary classes spend a whole school year in the same room, studying one academic subject after another.  There is no natural transition time like in high school, so you have to create it yourself.  Break up the day by introducing your subjects with a cheer, song, rhyme, or fun little ritual.

Why a cheer?

  • Clear transition—a cheer lets students know when it’s time to switch from reading to math.
  • Quick break—taking the time to say a few rhyming words wakes students up.  Bonus points if your cheer involves movement.
  • Build enthusiasm—even long division is a little more fun if you give it a big buildup.

My students and I don’t have a cheer for every subject—that might be excessive.  However, we developed cheers for some of our favorite subjects and lessons.  Examples:

  • For a few years, I used a series of math lessons I created called “Macho Math.”  As you can imagine, our song was a variation on that Village People classic.   (“Macho, macho math!  Smart kids do..their macho math!”)
  • For one class, I created a grammar series called Go Go Grammar.  We began each lesson with a song I put to the tune of “Greased Lightning.”  (That song is a little too long and silly to reproduce here, but you get the idea.)
  • We created our own cheer to pep up a subject nobody really liked.  That cheer got us through the first half of the lesson each day.  Knowing we were almost there pulled us through the second half.

If you use cheers, start small and build up.  You want the process to happen naturally.  It’s nice if the students start making up their own cheers.  Try to vary the cheer/song styles.  That way, you please more students and avoid annoying some with a style they just don’t like.

Happy cheering!

Posted in Academics,Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 13, 2013


Resources for using the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! to teach about the attack on Pearl Harbor

Movies and movie clips help students picture historical events.  Tora! Tora! Tora! is a classic film about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Made by a joint effort of American and Japanese filmmakers, the movie depicts the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Tora! Tora! Tora! is a good choice for teachers because it is a lot less violent than movies made in recent years.  Nevertheless, it is best for middle school and high school.  Certain clips may be appropriate for older elementary school students.  Elementary school teachers may want to watch the movie as enrichment, because it helps them describe to students the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Tora! Tora! Tora! is long (144 minutes), so teachers will want worksheets or projects to make sure students are active audience members.  I found several good worksheets from the Internet, now gathered here in one place.  One worksheet accompanies clips from the movie and gives the run time for the clips, making it easier for a teacher to cue them up.

Click here for another ClassAntics post about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  This post features resources to teach about FDR’s speech, along with more general resources for teaching about the attack.

Tora! Tora! Tora! Worksheets:

Worksheet to accompany clips from Tora! Tora! Tora! The worksheet notes the clips by time, making it easier for a teacher with a DVD or Blu-ray to cue them up.

Worksheet for Tora! Tora! Tora! It’s a Word document, so you can easily make your own changes or additions to the worksheet.

Good questions for a Tora! Tora! Tora! worksheet: This is just an html file, and I wouldn’t recommend printing it like this.  You could copy and paste into your own Word file, make the formatting better, and decide if you want to keep each question.


Teach With Movies’ guide to Tora! Tora! Tora!  This helps you justify the movie to administration and defend your choice to parents.  You could also give this as a resource if you send parents a letter about the movie.

Wikipedia page on Tora! Tora! Tora! This is also helpful for informing administrators and parents.

Awakening the Giant: National WWII Museum’s lesson plan on teaching about the attack on Pearl Harbor.   This is a VERY helpful resource.  It gives short reading passages, charts, primary source activities, a reference map, and a glossary.

National Park Service Resources: Remembering Pearl Harbor with readings, maps, and activities.

BBC History: Pearl Harbor: A Rude Awakening: This resource from the UK is a good complement to resources developed for American students.

The Guardian article on how to teach about the attack on Pearl Harbor: I thought it would be interesting to see how lessons on the attack taught in Britain compare to lessons written for American students.


Posted in Academics,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 5, 2013