Building Positive Relationships In The Classroom

Teacher Helping Pupils Studying At Desks In Classroom

By this time of year, you might have a gauge of how your classes differ from each other. Some classes may seem to flow together perfectly in a productive and positive manner. Some other classes may be a bit more challenging in having students gel together and with you as a teacher. In the case of the latter, it might be a good idea to strategize on how to change the dynamics of the classroom. Research has shown that positive classroom climates “help to enhance, promote, and encourage students’ learning in all academic settings.” One significant way teachers can improve their classroom climate is fostering positive relationships amongst students and between the students and the teacher.

Teacher-Student Relationships

Rita Pierson has taught for 40 years. She once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'”. Watch as she discusses the importance of teachers seeking a personal connection with students.

 

How can you create strong, positive relationships with your students? Research supports the following suggestions:

Treat students with respect. Recognize the personal beliefs, experiences, and abilities of all students. When students feel they are valued by their teacher, they reciprocate the gesture.

Create and maintain a safe and secure environment for students. Create and adhere to classroom expectations and rules that foster positive behavior and respect amongst students. Make no room for intimidation, bullying, discrimination, and personal offense towards each other. When students feel they are safe, they are more ready and open for learning.

Develop Positive Student Perceptions. Robert Marzano says relationships “have little to do with how a teacher actually feels about students; it’s what teachers do that dictates how students perceive those relationships” Teachers can influence positive student perceptions by showing interest in students’ personal lives outside of the classroom, never giving up on students and motivating them especially when they are down, creating opportunities to speak to students individually (especially those who are struggling), and being enthusiastic and friendly.

 

Student-Student Relationships

The relationships amongst students is also critical for effective and successful learning. Communication and collaboration between students in instructional tasks and products is prevalent in 21st century learning. When students can’t work together, learning cannot happen sufficiently. Teachers are responsible for “modeling” the qualities of a someone who participates and fosters positive relationships as well as structuring the classroom to facilitate positive interactions amongst students.

Collaborate on classroom rules:  Teachers should work together with students to collectively create classroom rules that all students can agree upon to establish a positive classroom. When student voice is utilized in a forum to create a product for all, students recognize that everyone is essential and a respected contributor to the whole group.

Use Classroom Meetings:  Classroom meetings provide a forum for students to discuss issues and concerns that can be impacting learning. This builds communication amongst students, provides a forum to practice effective communication AND listening, and empowers student voice.

Utilize structured lessons on relationships skills.:  Sometimes students may need formal activities to learn essential skills in relationship-building.  In this high school lesson plan, exercises are provided to explore and apply the “Six principles from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People” which includes:

  • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Praise every improvement.
  • Try honesty to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Middle school teachers can utilize these resources on social health and teaching healthy relationships. These resources teach students about the pros and cons of having healthy relationships among friends and those who are more than friends. It encourages actions and behavior that leads to positive rather than destructive outcomes. In The Skills of Making Relationships, students participate in a lesson that requires students to think about the 3 key relationship skills (respect, genuineness, and empathy) and how they might put these skills into action.

Take a look at some of these suggestions and see if any of your struggling classes may need some adjustment in the classroom climate. It’s never too late to start and build upon positive relationships that can strengthen students’ social-emotional health and academic learning.

Curriki Offers Youth Entrepreneurs Resources for Hands-On Business Education

By Kim Jones, Chairman and CEO, Curriki

Curriki is excited to be adding hands-on business curriculum from Youth Entrepreneurs (YE) to our high-quality OER Library, to help budding entrepreneurs learn everything about building their own business.

Young Entrepreneurs 2YE is a one-of-a-kind business class that transforms students’ mindsets through hands-on, experiential education so that they can realize their full potential. By letting students dive into actual business scenarios, it lifts the veil between textbook learning and real-world application. Students get to see the impact of their decisions, seize opportunities and take ownership of their lives.

Create an Actual Business

YE gives students the opportunity to create an actual business and apply classroom learning to a real-world scenario, so they can take calculated risks in a low-risk environment, experience successes and learn from their failures.

At the same time, YE provides educators with the training, resources and freedom to customize lessons and activities. Its goal to set students up to be successful, not just in the classroom, but in life.

YE Courses

YE Courses include:

  • YE Business Finance — This bucket includes resources that will help you teach your students the basics of business finance in a fun and exciting way.
  • YE Economics — The 10 economic principles are highlighted in these resources.
  • YE Entrepreneurial Mindset — This bucket is full of resources designed to encourage students to think and act like an entrepreneur.
  • YE Foundational Values – YE’s Foundational Values help students succeed in both the classroom and in life.
  • YE Marketing — These resources cover market research, product innovation and ideation, as well as a marketing plan.
  • Back of the Napkin – Teachers can apply this activity to many different business scenarios.
  • Dirt and Worms – Students practice calculating Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and develop an understanding of pricing and funding.
  • Going Bananas­ – Students learn how markets work by engaging in an activity where the price of a product is determined by buyers and sellers trading and cooperating with each other.
  • Ice Cream Sundae — Students practice calculating COGS and Price and Profit, and add labor costs to the equation.
  • Lego COGS Activity – Students calculate the cost of goods sold for a prototype they designed, and gain understanding of how those costs affect price and profit potential.

Young Entrepreneurs 1

Why YE is Effective

YE students leave the classroom equipped with an entrepreneurial mindset that is applicable to all facets of life, including critical thinking and problem-solving skills, self-awareness and a principled mindset that make them valuable employees and contributing members of their communities. The numbers tell the story:

  • 99% of Young Entrepreneurs students graduate from high school (compared to the national average of 83%)
  • 61% earn a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to the 40% national average)
  • 29% of YE alumni have started a business (compared to the 12% national average).

About Youth Entrepreneurs (YE)

Founded in 1991, Youth Entrepreneurs is a nonprofit organization that equips high school students with the entrepreneurial skills, values and vision to pursue their dreams. YE’s experiential curriculum has enabled more than 30,000 alumni across the nation to overcome barriers and seize opportunities for the betterment of themselves and others. Some students and alumni have even turned ideas born in the classroom into real, self-sustaining businesses. Learn more at youthentrepreneurs.org.


Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Sign up for Curriki’s enewsletter!

Follow Curriki on YouTube — we have a number of fascinating, educational new videos!

Don’t Miss this Wednesday: Curriki Webinar on Civil Discourse

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Curriki is holding a free webinar – “Civil Discourse in a Republic: Using Historical Context to Discuss the Importance of Civility” – on Wed., Sept. 12, at 3 PM ET, to help you use historical context to discuss the importance of civility in republican self-government.

WebinarThis webinar is definitely worth your time. It will discuss the importance of civil discourse to the health of a republic, and provide teachers with tools to foster civil discourse in your classrooms. We think you’ll agree it’s a great opportunity, especially with National Constitution Day only a week away.

We’ll explore how the United States would look if our elected officials, media personalities, and average people practiced good civil discourse. What if we spent our time trying to understand all sides of an issue, rather than force our own agenda? Would the United States be more accepting? More encouraging? More productive?

Why It Matters

Civil discourse and civility are essential for the success of self-government. Without the ability to engage in meaningful public discourse, a republic soon becomes unstable, guided by mere passion with no room or time for reason. This edWebinar will discuss the importance of civil discourse to the health of a republic and provide teachers with tools to foster civil discourse in their classrooms.

The Presenters

Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto is presenting for Curriki

The webinar will be presented by:

  • Janet Pinto, Curriki’s Chief Academic Officer and Chief Marketing Officer
  • Kirk Higgins, Senior Manager of Education at the Bill of Rights Institute
  • Rachel Davison Humphries, Senior Manager of Education and Outreach at the Bill of Rights Institute.

Learn more about the presenters.

Register Now!

Middle and high school teachers, and school and district leaders will benefit from attending this session.  So spread the word! Tell your friends and colleagues, and register now!

Can’t Make It?

Can’t make the webinar? That’s OK, there will be an archive available, so you can watch it at a time that’s convenient for you. The archive link will be made available following the webinar. To receive a notification, sign up for Curriki’s monthly enewsletter.

Other Curriki Civics Content

The webinar complements two exciting Social Studies Collections that Curriki is offering to give middle and high school teachers fresh tools to teach civics. Check out the Bill of Rights Institute’s Voices of History collection,  and Curriki’s new course-based comprehensive High School Civics Course collection.


Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Bring Constitution Day and Citizenship Day into Your Classroom

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Constitution Day is celebrated on Monday, Sept. 17, in the United States to commemorate the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by 39 brave men on September 17, 1787. This important day in the nation’s history presents a key opportunity for social studies teachers to get their students interested in U.S. history and examine its relevance today.

US ConstitutionOn this same day, we also celebrate Citizenship Day, recognizing people who are taking steps to become U.S. citizens.

We encourage you to begin preparing now so that you can celebrate Constitution Day in your classroom with students who have a full appreciation of the important document they are commemorating and want to celebrate what it means to their lives.

Curriki offers a number of sources for rich, interactive materials to help you teach thoughtfully and comprehensively about the Constitution and the founding of the United States of America. Here are some of our favorites:

The National Constitution Center

Curriki’s partner the National Constitution Center offers a number of materials on Curriki’s site to acquaint your students with this important document. They include:

  • The United States Constitution – In this lesson, students will study the Constitution from three perspectives, looking at its structure, content and underlying principles. The same lesson is also available for English Language Learners (ELL).
  • Interactive Constitution – Constitutional experts interact with each other to explore the Constitution’s history and what it means today. For each provision of the Constitution, scholars of different perspectives discuss what they agree upon, and what they disagree about.

Voices of History from Bill of Rights Institute

Voices of HistoryThe Bill of Rights Institute provides quality, primary-source based resources to civics educators across the country. Its Voices of History collection is especially vivid and relevant. Resources include:

  • Founders and the Constitution: In Their Own Words – This introduces students to 24 individuals who had a direct impact on the founding of our constitutional government, analyzes their writings, and appreciates each Founder’s role in shaping our government.
  • The Constitutional Powers of Congress – In the early republic, Congress was a colorful, exciting, unpredictable, and contentious branch of the United States government. The members constantly quarreled but often deliberated and compromised through persuasive oratory and rational conversation. Follow them through this rocky ride.
  • How Does the Constitution Protect Liberty? – The Founders listed several rights guaranteed to the people in the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights – then added a Ninth Amendment to protect the rights of the people that were not listed in the first Eight. This lesson explores the nature of these unnamed rights and examines the arguments around who should interpret them, judges or the people.
  • Being an American – Through primary source analysis, writing assignments, discussion prompts and other activities, students will “connect the dots” by focusing on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civic values, American heroes, and exploring the meaning of citizenship to them. (This resource is also available for English Language Learners (ELL).

Constitution in Spanish

Webinar imageYour Spanish-speaking students will appreciate having the ability to read the U.S. Constitution in Spanish here.

Webinar on Civil Discourse

Want to go even deeper? Curriki plans to hold a free webinar entitled “Civil Discourse in a Republic: Using Historical Context to Discuss the Importance of Civility” to help teachers use historical context to discuss the importance of civility in republican self-government.

This webinar, scheduled for on Wed., Sept. 12, at 3 PM ET, will discuss the importance of civil discourse to the health of a republic and provide teachers with tools to foster civil discourse in their classrooms. Register here.

There will be an archive available afterward if you can’t make the webinar. To receive a notification, sign up for Curriki’s monthly enewsletter.


Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Sign up for Curriki’s enewsletter!

Follow Curriki on YouTube — we have a number of fascinating, educational new videos!

Curriki Offers Oracle Academy Courses and Workshops

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

When it comes to teaching students STEM, which is so vital in today’s marketplace, the most effective techniques include hands-on approaches and real-world scenarios.

That’s why Curriki partners with Oracle Academy to offer two comprehensive computer science learning platforms for free: Oracle Academy Workshops, which Curriki began offering in 2017, and the new Oracle Academy Courses.

Oracle Academy Workshops make computer science fun and accessible. What could inspire more passion for STEM in students than Oracle’s interactive approach, which gives them the opportunity to create animated stories and games, learn to program finch robots, roleplay superheroes and so much more?

Read on to learn what we have to offer:

Oracle Academy Workshops 

Oracle Academy Workshops are designed to make your students’ experiences with Computer Science fun and engaging. They even get to design computer games and interface with robots!

The workshops leverage best academic curriculum practices like project-based learning and offer educators methods for assessment. They are best used by educators in one of three ways:

  • to introduce students to computer science in a fun and engaging way
  • to incorporate exposure to computer science into the teaching of other academic disciplines
  • to offer a limited introduction to computer science to students via extracurricular programs and workshop experiences

Workshops include:

  • Getting Started with Java Using Alice – Designed for students with little or no programming experience and teaches basic Java programming concepts through developing 3-D Animations in Alice 3.1, a free, educational, introductory Java development environment.
  • Solve It With SQL – Challenges students to play the role of a superhero and solve a series of crimes using a cloud-based database development environment to learn the basics of SQL.
  • Programming the Finch Robot in Java – Engages students to program an interface to a small robot designed to inspire and delight.
  • Creating Java Programs with Greenfoot – Engages students who understand basic programming concepts to create 2D Games in Java.
  • Programming the Finch Robot in Greenfoot – Engages students who have completed Creating Java Programs with Greenfoot to program an interface to a small robot.

New! Oracle Academy Courses

Curriki also offers Computer Science Curriculum provided by Oracle that helps students develop knowledge and skills they need for modern careers. These courses start at a beginner level and progress as your students acquire foundational knowledge in computer science and apply it to real-world projects.

Oracle Academy Courseware is modular, which means you can use an entire course, or just incorporate individual lessons or topics into the classes you’re already teaching. Each course has educational learning objectives, is mapped and aligned to relevant standards, and is available in multiple languages.

Here are the classes offered:

  • Java Fundamentals – This course uses hands-on activities to introduce students with little or no programming experience to object-oriented concepts, terminology, syntax, and the steps required to create basic Java programs.
  • Java Foundations – This course introduces new to programming to the concepts of Java programming as students design object-oriented applications with Java and create Java programs.
  • Java Programming – Building on the skills gained in Java Fundamentals, this course advances students’ skills as they design object-oriented applications with Java and create their own programs.
  • Database Foundations –This course introduces students to basic relational database concepts and terminology, as well as data modeling concepts, building Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERDs), and mapping ERDs. It uses Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler to build ERDs and the Structured Query Language (SQL) to interact with a relational database and manipulate data within the database, then apply those skills to a business.
  • Database Design and Programming with SQL – Taking the next step, students analyze complex business scenarios, design and create data models and databases using SQL, using Oracle SQL Developer Data Modeler and Application Express (APEX). Like Database Foundations, students apply their newly acquired knowledge to a real-world scenario.
  • Programming with PL/SQL – This course introduces students to PL/SQL, Oracle’s procedural extension language for SQL and the Oracle relational database. Participants explore the differences between SQL and PL/SQL and explore how PL/SQL is used to extend and automate SQL in administering the Oracle database, using Oracle Application Express (APEX).
  • Application Development Foundations – This course introduces students to the techniques and tools required to develop database-driven web applications. They design, develop and deploy beautiful, responsive, database-driven web applications using Oracle Application Express.

To get started, Curriki members engage with Oracle Academy Workshops and Oracle Academy Classes by becoming an Oracle Academy Individual or Institutional member.

Oracle and Education

Oracle Academy advances computer science education globally to drive knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. Each year, it reaches more than 3.5 million students in 120 countries. In its most recent fiscal year, it delivered nearly $3.75 billion in resources to help prepare students for life and work in the technology-driven global economy.

Oracle Academy leverages Oracle’s global technology leadership to offer a complete portfolio of computer science education resources to secondary schools; technical, vocational, and two-year colleges; and 4-year colleges and universities, with the goal of helping students become college and career ready. Learn more at academy.oracle.com.

We at Curriki are delighted to be able to offer so many new high-quality STEM resources to our members from our partner Oracle!


Kim JonesKim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Curriki Offers Two New Social Studies Collections

By Kim Jones, Chairman and CEO, Curriki

Social Studies teachers: Would you like to have fresh new tools in your toolbox this school year to teach civics in a way that will grab your students’ attention and truly engage them? Then you will be glad to hear that Curriki this month is unveiling a wealth of exciting free resources for teaching students about the U.S. government: the Bill of Rights institute’s Voices of History and a new course-based comprehensive High School Civics Course collection.

Bill of rightss collection

Source: Bill of Rights Institute

With these collections, Curriki is answering educators’ calls for free resources that engage students in meaningful civic learning. We are delighted to be able to offer hundreds of new social studies resources for free!

Here’s the scoop on these exciting new collections:

Bill of Rights Institute Collection

The Voices of History collection is part of the Bill of Rights Institute’s innovative, free digital storehouse featuring more than 300 resources, including lesson plans and student handouts. Written by teachers for teachers, the materials use narratives, primary sources, writing assignments, discussion prompts, and other activities.

This collaboration with the Bill of Rights Institute allows us to immensely expand our offerings of learning materials that help civics teachers explore the U.S. government with their students, from inception to today.

Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains (Source: Pixabay)

Voices of History lessons include:

  • Being an American – Students will “connect the dots” by focusing on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civic values, American heroes, and exploring the meaning of citizenship to them.
  • Heroes and Villains (Source: Pixabay)Heroes and Villains – Heroes and Villains uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Topics range from Alice Paul and perseverance to Benedict Arnold and treason.
  • Founders and the Constitution: In Their Own Words – In Their Own Words, introduces students to 24 individuals who had a direct impact on the founding of our constitutional government. Students will explore the lives and ideas of the Founders, analyze their writings, and appreciate each Founder’s role in shaping our government.
  • Preserving the Bill of Rights – Students learn Constitutional principles by examining primary source documents and significant Supreme Court cases. In addition, each unit features expanded classroom activities engaging students with the Bill of Rights and the responsibilities of citizenship, such as writing letters to their elected representatives; serving in a mock jury; creating public service announcements; and writing model laws.
  • Check the Voices of History portal on the Curriki website for many other resources!

 What is the Bill of Rights Institute?

We thought you might ask! The Bill of Rights Institute is a non-profit educational organization that works to engage, educate, and empower individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society. The Institute develops educational resources and programs for a network of more than 50,000 educators and 70,000 students nationwide – now including you!

Curriki’s High School Civics Collection

The study of civics is crucial for young people, because it gives them the conceptual foundation they need for the real-life skill of interpreting their civic experiences.

What Congress Does (Source: Curriki)

Curriki’s new curated High School Civics Course collection is huge, with over 100 lesson plans, multimedia resources, teacher’s guides, supplementary materials, assessment ideas, and much more within seven units. You can pick and choose which resources based on your instructional goals and needs of the student population. Resources have been aligned to the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

  • Unit 1: Foundations of Government – Topics covered include an overview of the types of government, the purpose of government, early governments (Ancient Athens and the Roman Republic), and major documents that contributed to the development of the democratic form of government in the United States.
  • Unit 2: The Constitution – Study the founding fathers, the federalist papers, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism.
  • Unit 3: The Legislative Branch – Topics covered include an introduction to Congress, the structure and jobs of Congress, congressional representation, gerrymandering, and how a bill becomes a law.
  • Unit 4: The Executive Branch– This unit covers the roles and responsibilities of the president, presidential elections and the Electoral College, impeachment, presidential assassinations, and the cabinet departments.
  • Unit 5: The Judicial Branch (Civil Rights and Liberties) – This unit includes an overview of the American judicial system and the Supreme Court, and in-depth look at civil rights and liberties.
  • Unit 6: State and Local Governments – Topics covered include the basics of state and local governments and the roles of their leaders.
  • Unit 7: Comparative Governments – This unit covers sovereign states, civil liberties, governments worldwide, and diplomacy.

We encourage you to adapt the materials to meet your own needs. The collection is designed to accommodate many different students’ learning styles and levels of comprehension.

Civil Discourse Webinar

Curriki also plans to hold a webinar entitled “Civil Discourse in a Republic” on Wed., Sept. 12, at 3 PM ET, to help teachers use historical context to discuss the importance of civility in republican self-government. This webinar will discuss the importance of civil discourse to the health of a republic and provide teachers with tools to foster civil discourse in their classrooms. Register here.

Can’t make the webinar? That’s OK, there will be an archive available, so you can watch it at a time that’s convenient for you.


Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Sign up for Curriki’s enewsletter!

Follow Curriki on YouTube — we have a number of fascinating, educational new videos!

From the Nutcracker to Mary Poppins: Learning from the Performing Arts with JPAS

By Kim Jones, Chairman and CEO, Curriki

Curriki has exciting news for teachers – we are now offering resources from the Jefferson Performing Arts Society!

This Louisiana-based nonprofit uses the positive power of the arts as a tool for education, expression, cultural understanding and overall improvement of quality of life. Its Study Companions use performing arts to teach students math, science, history and more.

A Little Background

Founded in 1978, JPAS is a non-profit professional arts organization in Louisiana whose mission is to promote arts performance, training and outreach by providing a diverse range of quality programs that entertain and educate. JPAS focuses on three main elements:

  1. Performance: JPAS annually provides a wide range of theatrical performances that appeal to many interests and age groups, from grand opera to musical theater to dance.
  2. Training: JPAS provides performance and technical-based training in the arts for all ages, with a particular focus on young people.
  3. Outreach: JPAS provides arts education programming and access to professional theatrical experiences that align to classroom curricula.

Mary PoppinsJPAS Arts Adventures

JPAS launched its Arts Adventure Series in 1989, offering low-cost, full-length performances to students K-12 in a “field trip” format. Each production is enhanced by a fully researched and illustrated Study Companion that provides background on the production, plus lessons and activities that integrate core subjects such as language arts, mathematics and science with the arts.

Teachers can have students do lessons and activities before seeing a JPAS Arts Adventure Series production, or reinforce learning by delving into them afterwards. The lessons and activities include Standards and Benchmarks so that classroom teachers can choose the ones that best fit the academic content they are currently covering.

Obviously, teachers and students who don’t live in Jefferson can’t attend their shows. But they can still use the student companions, now available on Curriki’s website, as resources for arts-integrated project-based learning experiences within the classroom.

Going Global

While JPAS has traditionally served the Louisiana and Mississippi community where it is based, it recognizes that school administrators are devoting less and less time and resources to arts education and field trips. Its new involvement with Curriki provides the opportunity to take its mission of education through the arts to a global audience of student learners.

“We are sharing our JPAS Study Companions with Curriki’s network of educators in the hopes that they can be of service to other educators in other regions that may be experiencing similar struggles,” says Karel Sloane-Boekbinder, JPAS’s Director of Cultural Crossroads and Grant Writer. “We hope our Companions will serve as resources to advance a deeper understanding of how the arts can both enhance student learning and increase student achievement during these times of high stakes testing.”

Each JPAS Study Companion includes several arts-integrated lessons that incorporate Louisiana Standards and Benchmarks, and many also highlight some aspect of the region, such as food, culture, architecture and the environment, that offer a window into Louisiana’s way of life. Lessons incorporate technology, large group instruction and individual instruction and include handouts, graphic organizers and writing prompts.

“Through our new relationship with Curriki, we hope to both broaden the understanding of what arts-integrated project-based learning is and provide resources to support this understanding,” explains Sloane-Boekbinder.

A sample lesson from The Nutcracker
A sample lesson from The Nutcracker

JPAS Study Companions

Here are a few of the study companions offered by JPAS through Curriki:

    • Tuck Everlasting – Tuck Everlasting is the story of journeys and locations, physical and personal. This Study Companion investigates these journeys by providing opportunities for further consideration of three adaptations of the story: Natalie Babbitt’s book, the Disney film Tuck Everlasting and the musical created by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen. During these investigations, students will reflect on how the setting influenced the author, filmmakers and creators of the musical, and how creating the imagery of a setting can connect to mathematical concepts that include shapes, area and perimeter.
    • Mary Poppins – This Study Companion begins by exploring the literal history of Mary Poppins, an inspiration of author P.L. Travers. This section is followed by a series of arts-integrated lesson plans, such as Set Design: Curves, Angles and New Orleans Gothic Revival, which explores shapes through the lenses of JPAS Mary Poppins set designs and architecture. Mary Poppins Screeving Narratives: Family Odysseys guides students as they learn about screevings (chalk drawings) for the film Mary Poppins. And that’s only the beginning!
    • The Nutcracker – The JPAS production of The Nutcracker was named Best Ballet Presentation of 2015 at the Big Easy Classical Arts Awards. The story of has been adapted several times. The original story, “Nußknacker und Mausekönig” or “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” was written in German by E.T.A. Hoffman. This Study Companion begins with history, looking at the history of the Nutcracker Ballet, and the history of ballet in New Orleans. Students develop a deeper understanding of dance. The Nutcracker: A Hero’s Tale guides students as they reflect on what they already know about The Nutcracker and then introduces variations on the Nutcracker story filled with new concepts.
Set design lesson
  • Funny Girl – The Lessons in this Study Companion give students opportunities to reflect on the script of Funny Girl as well as events within their own lives. The real-life Fanny Brice did not conform to the prevailing notion of feminine beauty, but tenaciously held on to her conviction that being different was not only OK, it was what would make her a star. Students will also explore a section of the JPAS production of Funny Girl that highlights the real-life Fanny Brice’s beliefs about appearance and individuality.

Other JPAS Study Companions include:

Coming next week – Peter Pan! Watch for the Study Companion on Curriki on Tue., Aug. 14! Check them all out, and enrich your students’ cultural lives, while sneaking in standards-based education in so many subjects! It’s the best kind of learning.


Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

Sign up for Curriki’s enewsletter!

Follow Curriki on YouTube — we have a number of fascinating, educational new videos!

Advice for the New Teacher

By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member

With a new school year just around the corner, veteran teachers are mentally preparing for how to jump back into your teaching routine. But for new teachers, there is no familiar routine to jump into. They are novices at writing and implementing lesson plans, managing a classroom, and partnering with parents.

Classroom

Source: Unsplash

However, this group should not be taken lightly. Research shows that teachers with 10 or fewer years’ experience now constitute more than half the teaching force. In other words, new teachers are the new majority!

So at Curriki, we feel an obligation to give you as much support as possible. Here are a few important tips to help new teachers start off their first year in the profession strong.

Manage Your Expectations

Understand that teachers have to wear many hats and juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously. Each day, they facilitate a customized experience for students while managing everything behind the scenes.

So it is impossible as a new teacher to be a master at everything right out of the gate. Writing effective lesson plans, delivering dynamic and engaging instruction, operating the interactive whiteboard with ease, making significant contributions to team meetings, and having a positive and productive partnership with parents are just a few examples of job duties that will all improve over time.

These things improve with practice and experience. What is more important than expecting perfection is to understand the character traits and mindset necessary to be a great teacher. The 11 Habits of a Highly Effective Teacher highlight these attributes that will support your success and longevity as a teacher including having positivity, being open-minded, and embracing change.

Build a Library of Practical Tips and Shortcuts

Adopt the mindset that there are multiple strategies and ways to do things as a teacher. Your job as a new teacher is to curate, implement, and reflect on strategies to see what works best for you and your students.

The U.S. Department of Education has a survival guide that covers the gamut on teacher essentials, including discipline and making parents allies. Need more ideas on classroom management?

Educator Mia MacMeekin has created an infographic with 27 classroom management ideas perfect to use as a reference card.

Connect with Seasoned Colleagues

Classroom

Source: Unsplash

Anyone beyond their first year of teaching can offer potentially beneficial advice for the new teacher. Seek out teachers who inspire you, teach similar content areas, and/or appear to have a teaching style you admire. Some may have one idea that interests you, while another may have a hundred. If they are willing to share, don’t hesitate to pick their experienced brains on anything from instruction, discipline, juggling responsibilities, or even managing self-doubt.

Educator Dr. Justin Tarte offers 10 Things I Wish Every New Teacher Knew, which draws upon his years of experience as a teacher and administrator.

Make Reflection a Part of Your Day

When the day and/or week is over, don’t forget to take a step back to see what worked for you and what didn’t work. It’s never too late to improve and make change with what you are doing. Reflection is also a time for you to congratulate yourself on the gains of the day. Positive reinforcement is motivating! Here are Ten Tips To Help New Teachers Reflect On Their Practice.

Practice Self-Care

The life of a teacher can be exhausting in general. For new teachers, the toll can be even more impactful. Don’t forget to make considerations for work-life balance. Here are 10 Stress-Busting Tips for Teachers. Want to stay ahead of the curve of keeping a centered and positive foot forward? Learn how to practice mindfulness to keep things in perspective.

Remember Why You Became a Teacher

Finally, with all the highs and lows of the first day, first week, and throughout the first year of teaching, don’t forget the reasons why you chose the teaching profession. Your journey to get to this point was full of anticipation and hope for what you can do for students each day. Watch this TED Talk Every Kid Needs a Champion to remind you of how you have the amazing opportunity to change children’s lives for the better!

Will this fall be your first time the classroom? What is the best advice you’ve been given? What are you most excited about for this year? Share!

At Curriki, we wish you the best on this exciting new chapter!


Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology.

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Countdown to the First Day of School

By Lani deGuia, Guest Blogger and Curriki Member

Summer is in full bloom and you probably have finally settled into “wind down” mode.  Some teachers are determined not to think about the next school year until they set foot through the school’s doors. Others might find it advantageous to take a few moments of their summer to gradually plan.

Here is a checklist if you fall into the latter category of educators. It could save you from anxiety and afford you time to focus on how you want to deliver the best school year for your students. We’ve drafted a countdown list of “to-do’s” to help prepare effectively and painlessly!

One Month Before: Take Inventory of What You Need

Planning a month in advance can save you money. Take 10 minutes to go through the bins from your classroom that may be sitting in your garage or the trunk of your car and see what you have left. Then take 5 minutes to jot down a list of supplies that you need to replenish and those that would be on your “wish list” for the year. You can then make a plan to catch deals through:

  • School supply and back-to-school sales
  • Sales tax holiday weekends – Many states have them in the summertime.
  • Yard sales (online and face-to-face) – Many people move in the summer.  Don’t miss out on a steal on that extra bookcase you need for your classroom or the alternative chairs for your flexible seating strategy!
  • Get items for free – Ask friends and family if they have items to spare. Also, many cities have Freecycle groups where individuals post items to be given for free or post items they are looking for

Three Weeks Before: Set Goals for Improvement and Plan

Set a timer for 5 minutes and write everything about your instructional practices and management that frustrated and challenged you the previous school year. You may have already set goals for the upcoming school year in the spring. Now is the time to refer to them or zero in on a few manageable goals. This is a good time to research a new strategy you’ve been wanting to implement to transform your classroom.

Perhaps some of these topics have been on your wish list:

  • Do you want to better support students through social-emotional learning? Check out strategies for implementing SEL into Common Core. Use this SEL planning chart when you are creating new units and lessons.
  • Need to change your approach to discipline? Start with these articles on restorative justice and brainstorm on how you can revise your current classroom policies and actions.
  • Wanting to try out flipped classroom strategies? Check out these tools and start planning on what units it will work with throughout the year!
  • Have you been wanting to use flexible seating in your classroom? See pictures of what it looks like in action!

Two Weeks Before: Tackle the Nuts and Bolts

Typically, the first week back at school before the students return is full of meetings, professional development, team collaborative sessions, and more. It is common to discover that you have limited time to flesh out the critical elements of getting the school year off to a great start. Use this week to write, revise, and improve items such as the following:

  • First week of school lesson plans (or first few weeks or month of lesson plans if you prefer) – Don’t forget to include icebreakers to build community such as this one on collaboration
  • Classroom expectations and orientation materials
  • Classroom management set up
  • Parent communication and welcome letter/packet
  • Open House ideas and materials
  • Plan for the learning environment (seating, bulletin boards, stations, etc.)

One Week Before: Set Up House

This week is all about action! Now that you have already completed a lot of the planning and strategizing, it’s time to get hands on. Use the week before school to:

  • Attend professional training and meetings
  • Finalize items from the Two Weeks checklist that haven’t been finished
  • Set up your classroom and learning environment
  • Set up for teacher organization (grade book, rosters, organizational records and binders, technology devices and management, etc.)
  • Help others—don’t forget to lend a hand to colleagues, especially new and first-time teachers!

Before you know it, the first day of school will be here. How do you like to plan or prepare for the first day of school? Share your ideas!


Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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The Physics of Sailing

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

If you happen to live near a body of water, your summer days might consist of watching sailboats go by, buoyed by a warm breeze. But in addition to providing a wonderful ride, sailboats provide an awesome opportunity to learn about physics.

We know that a sailboat can travel with the wind, but what really makes a sailboat move? Curriki has put together a fascinating collection of resources to help you and your students learn about the physics of sailing. Here are a few:

  • Physics of Sailing Educator Guide – We know that a sailboat can travel with the wind, but what really makes a sailboat move?
  • Science of Sailing 101 – How can a wind-powered sailboat move faster than the wind? Why do the America’s Cup sails look like airplane wings? With the beginner in mind, Exploratorium senior scientist Paul Doherty introduces the basic physics of sailing and sail design.
  • The Physics of Sailing – This video about the science of sailing covers friction, buoyancy, Bernoulli’s Principle, Newton’s Second Law, and Newton’s Third Law.
  • The Physics of Sailing – KQED QUEST – Northern California has a 500-year history of sailing, but scientists and boat designers learn more each day about what makes a sailboat move.
  • Exploratorium Science at America’s Cup: “Sailing 101” – How can a wind-powered sailboat move faster than the wind? Why do the America’s Cup sails look like airplane wings? Learn with Exploratorium senior scientist Paul Doherty.
  • How Does A Sailboat Actually Work? – This lesson covers the concept of lift.
  • Sailing Physics – Explore how drag, friction, buoyancy, kinetic energy, normal force, and gravitational force act on a sailboat. Vector addition is also discussed.
  • Points of Sail – This video takes a multi-view approach to understanding wind direction and the sailing terminology associated with it.
  • Oracle Team USA – Racing on the Bay – Watch Oracle Team USA race in the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.
  • Intro to Sailing Game – Intro to Sailing is a game designed to teach the fundamentals of sailboat racing.
  • The Physics of Sailing Web Tutorial & Puzzle – This lesson covers Newton’s laws, vector subtraction, Archimedes’ principle and other crucial concepts.

This is just a taste of the many resources in Curriki’s collection The Physics of Sailing. Check it out!


Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org

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