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.

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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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