Cesar Chavez: Watch the movie; share books with your students

Don’t miss Cesar Chavez, the biopic directed by Diego Luna and starring Michael Peña.  Bring Cesar Chavez into your classroom with these beautifully written picture books appropriate for elementary students.

Cesar Chavez’s story adds depth to units in social studies, history and economics:

  • Justice, equality, inequality, civil rights
  • Worker’s rights, unionization, strikes
  • Migrant workers, agriculture’s role in California’s history
  • Freedom marches and demonstrations
  • Latino heritage, Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Chavez’s influences: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi

Picture Books about Cesar Chavez

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez: this picture book tells Chavez’s story with simple, strong prose by Kathleen Krull.  Yuyi Morales’s beautiful illustrations perfectly complement the setting.  Click here for my book review on Harvesting Hope, featuring ideas for using the book in the classroom.

Cesar: Si, se puede! / Yes, We Cana collection of poems that recreate the life and times of Chavez.  This bilingual edition will capture the attention of your students as Chavez captures their hearts.

Cesar Chavez: A Hero for Everyone: this straightforward, easy-to-read biography is perfect for the Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction.

Side by Side/Lado a Lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La Historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez this bilingual book helps students understand that Cesar didn’t do it on his own.  Strong people like Dolores Huerta were instrumental to the success of the strike and march.

Cesar Chavez: The Struggle for Justice / Cesar Chavez: La lucha por la justicia This bilingual picture book by history professor Richard Griswold del Castillo simply and vividly tells Chavez’s story.

A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez (Picture Book Biography): this beautifully expressive biography tells Cesar Chavez’s life story in an engaging way.

Older students will enjoy the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Viva la Causa kit.  It features a 39 minute film and teaching guide.  Viva la Causa will show how thousands of people from across the nation joined in a struggle for justice for the most exploited people in our country – the workers who put food on our tables.

¡Viva la causa!  ¡Sí, se puede!  The movie and books will make you want to stand up and cheer.

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Posted in Academics,Book Lists,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Mar 31, 2014


Veteran Teachers: Give New Teachers the Gift of Prep Time

principalThe first year of teaching is difficult.  Every veteran teacher knows this.  Here is an idea for supporting new teachers: give the gift of prep time.

Well-intentioned school districts offer new teachers special sessions in classroom management, policy, etc.  These activities take up new teachers’ time after school.  What those teachers really need is TIME!

For new teachers, everything takes forever.  Prep, planning, grading—it’s relentless and exhausting.  No wonder new teachers regularly pull twelve-plus hour days.  Additionally new teachers are not familiar with the rhythm of the school year, so they don’t anticipate problems and events the way experienced teachers do.

There are many ways to donate time:

Donate your prep time.  Arrange to watch her class for about twenty-five minutes of your half hour special.  The teacher could grade a little, deal with email, call a parent—whatever will take some of the pressure off.

Invite her class to join yours.  Invite the teacher’s class to your room for story time.  An experienced teacher can read aloud to 60 kids (about) as well as 30, particularly if her heart is full because she knows she’s doing a good deed.  After the story ask the students to write a summary, illustrate the story, write a new ending—anything educational that will give the new teacher precious time.

Cover her extra duty.  Once in a while, cover the teacher’s additional duties: before or after school, at lunch, during recess, etc.  Those extra few minutes can make a huge difference to someone who’s treading water.

Help after school.  Wouldn’t we all have loved a veteran teacher (or two or three) to have a grading party?  Help plan?  Make copies?  Create organizational systems?  Many hands make light work.

Organize as a school.  Could your school’s staff arrange systemic help?  Maybe the staff would even be so generous as to exempt new teachers from extra duty for the first year, or at least reduce the burden.  It would be a warm welcome and a gift of time.

These tips are intended to support first-year teachers, but would also apply to teachers new to the district, school, or grade level.  These ideas are a good way to lend a hand to teachers with health problems or those who are facing a personal crisis.  Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to help–but alleviating stress and giving time can make a difference.

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Posted in First Year Teachers,Professional Learning Communities,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Mar 25, 2014


A Fun Way to Practice Math Combination Problems

mathblocksHere is a fun activity that lets your students practice combination problems and learn a little about each other.

Every year, students have to master combination problems for the state test.  The technique for solving these problems is simple, but the kids never seem to remember it.  Hence the yearly review.

Sample problem: Josie has 2 flavors of ice cream and 3 types of toppings.  How many different combinations can she make?

Answer: 6.  You multiply option 1 times option 2.

That’s it.

I review these problems by making up a word problem for each student in the class. The problem’s theme is based on the child’s interest.


Katie has three pairs of soccer shorts and four soccer tee-shirts.  How many combinations can she make?

Matt has three different bats and five different baseballs.  How many combinations can he make?

Doing this for a class only takes a few minutes.  Each sample problem takes thirty seconds or less.  By the end, the students know how to do this type of problem.

For now.

… this time next year, they’ll be reviewing it again!

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Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 15, 2014


Teachers will love the Align stapler from Quirky.com

Align StaplerTeachers get excited about things like staplers.  The new Align stapler from Quirky.com is worth getting worked up about!  The stapler has a detachable base, so it isn’t limited by its length.  The Align stapler can go where other staplers can’t.

You can use the Align stapler to staple students’ books.  Use it to repair simple classroom paperback picture books, the kind you buy cheaply through Scholastic Reading Clubs.

Align is great on bulletin boards, big pieces of paper, and hard-to-reach surfaces.  It has a magnetic base, so you can keep it right on the whiteboard.

Click here to buy Align for $9.99 at Quirky.com.  See below for the video about this versatile product.

If you’re going to buy a cool stapler, pick up a great staple remover.  I like the Swingline Ultimate Staple Remover because it easily takes staples off bulletin boards.


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Posted in Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Mar 6, 2014