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Archive for the ‘Advisory’ Category

Tacugama (Chimp Sanctuary)–A Worthy Service Learning Project!

  • Orphaned or abused chimpanzees,
  • A sanctuary that has survived 10 years of civil war.
  • A desperate need for money.

These are the ingredients of a service learning project that will intrigue and inspire middle school students.  On a recent trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa I visited Tacugama, a sanctuary for chimpanzees.  Their goal is to reintroduce the chimps back into the wild, but it is a long and expensive process.

Sitting chimp

learning to socialize

These chimps are in the enclosure that helps them learn to socialize with other chimps.  Many have not had that experience in captivity.

Chimps live in family groups in the wild–socialization is a survival skill.

Over 20,000 chimpanzees roamed the forests of Sierra Leone in the 1970’s, but now there are only 3,000.  There are a variety of reasons why the numbers have dropped drastically:

  • Their habitat has shrunk.
  • They are captured for medical research or to be sold as pets.
  • They are considered ‘bush meat” and when times are tough they are hunted for food.
  • They are highly susceptible to human diseases like HIV.

All most ready for release!

These chimps are almost ready to be released to wild!

The Sanctuary rescues chimps that are often in dire circumstances.  Baby chimps are adorable and so human-like that people often want them as pets.  However, a full grown chimp has 5 times the physical strength of a man, so the cuddly baby grows into a unruly adolescent that can wreck a home in minutes and into an adult that is dangerous.  Hence they are often chained and caged under deplorable conditions.  The Tacugama staff works hard to rehabilitate these chimps so they can live free. Click on this link to read about the history of the Sanctuary: http://www.tacugama.com/history.html.

Sierra Leone’s civil war was tough on the chimps as well as humans.  They were terrorized by bombs and gunfire and suffered physically and emotionally just as humans do.

It takes about $1000 to support one chimpanzee for a year. However, smaller donations are welcomed.   Schools, teams and/or advisory groups might find supporting this haven for battered and endangered chimpanzees a worthwhile project.  More information about supporting Tacugama can be found at this link: http://www.tacugama.com/support.html

Chimp nests

If you look closely at the trees you will see dark clumps of leaves–these are the chimps’ nests where they sleep at night.

Finally, there is a blog that students may find interesting (http://tacugama.wildlifedirect.org/).  The posts explain what is happening with individual chimps; the photos are wonderful!  Readers will learn a lot about chimps as well as the Sanctuary.  We often never know what inspires our students to make specific career and life choices — reading about the chimps of Tacugama may just be a catalyst for future decisions related to international travel, non-profit work, or veterinary work!

Watching us

Who is watching whom???

The one in the back whose face we cannot see was not impressed with us–s/he threw rocks at us.

PS–Feel free to use these pictures for your own use.

Stories To Inspire Reflection

Summer must truly be over–it’s Labor Day, it’s chilly enough to wear flannel shirts in the morning, and only two scrawny cherry tomatoes remain on the vine.  Time to get back to blogging!
This summer colleagues shared two inspirational resources:

  1. Through the Cracks written by Carolyn Sollman, illustrated by Barbara Emmons, and designed by Judith Paolini. It’s a story of how children of all ages literally shrivel up in school  and slip through the cracks into a nether world where they are silent, dejected, and angry.  Fortunately, the narrator and a brave companion find a way out by locating an engaging classroom where students are actively learning.
    An illustration from the book Through the Cracks

    An illustration from the book Through the Cracks

    2. Dave Puckett who wrote Mr. DeVore’s Do-Over was captured on video discussing his eighth grade experience that was the inspiration for his book.  Take time to watch the video below to see why Dave was not one who fell through the cracks!

     

Combined or singularly, these two stories make great discussion starters for…

  • Faculty or team meetings
  • Advisory time
  • Parent meetings

But more importantly, they should cause each of us to pause and reflect on the lives of our students and how they experience school. What will we do this year to ensure…

  • Each student feels invited to learn?
  • Our classrooms abound with active learning experiences that engage, inspire, and challenge?
  • Our schools are places of continuous learning for every member of the school community?

Wishing all of the dedicated educators and hopeful students a joyous year full of wonderment, excitement, and mind-expanding learning experiences!

Labor Day, 2012

Free- Webinar: You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web Presence

Free 45-Minute Webinar

Help Students Understand and Manage Their Digital Footprint

You Are What You Post: Create a

Positive Web Presence

May 9, 3 pm EST

May 9, 7:30 pm EST

May 10, 9:30 pm EST

To registerhttp://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CTMay910

 

Can’t attend one of these three live sessions?

Register instead to provide On-Demand access for your entire student population!

You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web PresenceOn Demand

Jill Spencer, Chris Toy, and Ed Brazee will offer a free webinar through
JK Thomas & Associates Ltd.

You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web Presence

It is sometimes difficult for an adolescent to think beyond next week, let alone several years in the future. In addition, they have tendencies to occasionally act first and think later.  In today’s world of instant access to information about everything and everyone, impulsive postings  have long lasting ramifications.  Colleges, businesses, even parents checking out their child’s prom night date use the web to ferret out information about applicants.  Our young people must learn to be proactive in building their online reputations, and it is incumbent on the adults in their lives to help them understand that process. This webinar will be an invaluable resource for understanding the possibilities and challenges inherent in one’s online life.

Intended audience:

  • students
  • parents
  • teachers, administrators, counselors and other school staff members

Ways a team might use this information:

  • In advisory
  1. Share the webinar  with students in 10 minute segments and structure conversations around the salient points of each segment.
  2. Use the information in the webinar to create your own interactive lessons.
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  1. Use quotes, statistics, etc. from the webinar to frame a lesson on cyberbullying or other topics
  2. Explore the topic of social entrepreneurship using examples of adolescents doing good in the world through online social activism; perhaps spur students into starting a service learning project.
  • Parents’ night
  1. Use it as the central focus of the parents’ night program to (1) help them understand the positive aspects of their children’s online participation and (2) give them some tips for guiding their children through the maze of web.
  2. Share the registration information as a good resource for parents to access.
  • Information to put in parent newsletters
  1. Create a section of your newsletter entitled “Tips & Facts” for Digital Parenting” and use information from the webinar to give parents some concrete advice.
  2. Copy links from the webinar for parents to use  (e.g. Common Sense Media).
  • Educate your community
  1. As you advocate for additional technology (hardware, software, & curriculum integration), use information from the webinar to demonstrate the urgency of providing 21st century resources for your students.
  2. Volunteer to go to the Rotary (take students!) and other civic organizations to do a program that emphasizes the world your students will be entering as they graduate. Use webinar information to help make your case.

Format:

  • Free 45 minute webinar

For more information beyond this free webinar

Option to purchase 6 additional + 2 bonus modules that go more in depth on the topic, including

  1. First Impressions Matter: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  2. Improving Your Digital Footprint
  3. “To Be or Not to Be” Personal Branding
  4. Being Safe Online: Ensuring Online Safety and Privacy
  5. Presenting Yourself Online—Where Will You Be Found? (Hint: More than on Facebook)
  6. Weighing the Options — Making Choices

Bonus module #1: But, What About Young Adolescents (10- to 15-Year-Olds)? A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and 10-15 Year Olds

Bonus Module #2: Raising Children in the Digital Age—Any Century Parenting

Help Students Understand and Manage Their Digital Footprint: Free Webinar!

 Chris Toy and Ed Brazee and I are offering a free webinar through JK Thomas & Associates Ltd. entitled In Your Online World...Perception is Reality! Creating and Controlling Your Online Reputation.

It is sometimes difficult for an adolescent to think beyond next week, let alone several years in the future. In addition, they have tendencies to occasionally act first and think later.  In today’s world of instant access to information about everything and everyone, impulsive postings  have long lasting ramifications.  Colleges, businesses, even parents checking out their child’s prom night date use the web to ferret out information about applicants.  Our young people must learn to be proactive in building their online reputations, and it is incumbent on the adults in their lives to help them understand that process. This webinar will be an invaluable resource for understanding the possibilities and challenges inherent in one’s online life.

Intended audience:

  • students
  • parents
  • teachers, administrators, counselors and other school staff members

Ways a team might use this information:

  • In advisory
  1. Share the webinar  with students in 10 minute segments and structure conversations around the salient points of each segment.
  2. Use the information in the webinar to create your own interactive lessons.
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  1. Use quotes, statistics, etc. from the webinar to frame a lesson on cyberbullying or other topics
  2. Explore the topic of social entrepreneurship using examples of adolescents doing good in the world through online social activism; perhaps spur students into starting a service learning project.
  • Parents’ night
  1. Use it as the central focus of the parents’ night program to (1) help them understand the positive aspects of their children’s online participation and (2) give them some tips for guiding their children through the maze of web.
  2. Share the registration information as a good resource for parents to access.
  • Information to put in parent newsletters
  1. Create a section of your newsletter entitled “Tips & Facts” for Digital Parenting” and use information from the webinar to give parents some concrete advice.
  2. Copy links from the webinar for parents to use  (e.g. Common Sense Media).
  • Educate your community
  1. As you advocate for additional technology (hardware, software, & curriculum integration), use information from the webinar to demonstrate the urgency of providing 21st century resources for your students.
  2. Volunteer to go to the Rotary (take students!) and other civic organizations to do a program that emphasizes the world your students will be entering as they graduate. Use webinar information to help make your case.

Format:

  • Free 45 minute webinar
  • Option to purchase 6 additional + 2 bonus modules that go more in depth on the topic
  1. First Impressions Matter: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  2. Improving Your Digital Footprint
  3. “To Be or Not to Be” Personal Branding
  4. Being Safe Online: Ensuring Online Safety and Privacy
  5. Presenting Yourself Online—Where Will You Be Found? (Hint: More than on Facebook)
  6. Weighing the Options — Making Choices

Bonus module # 1: But, What About Young Adolescents (10- to 15-Year-Olds)? A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and 10-15 Year Olds

Bonus Module # 2: Raising Children in the Digital Age—Any Century Parenting

I cannot post the direct link to register on WordPress. However if you go to my webpage the live link is there: http://jillspencer.net/

 

New Twist On Canned Goods Drive!

A sculpture of Pooh Bear made out of canned goods and jars of peanut butter

Pooh Bear

During the recent NELMS conference, the elevated walkway between the Westin Hotel and the Rhode Island Convention Center  was populated with whimsical sculptures of critters, earth moving vehicles, and angry birds. The sculptures, created out of canned goods, were part of a project to support the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

  Canned goods sculptute of a bulldozer

Teams could adapt this event for their own service learning projects. Often schools have canned food drives.  Why not have each homeroom or each team design sculptures out of the cans they collect and open the exhibit to the community for viewing as part of the plan to build awareness of the issue?  Or, the designs could be part of a project – based unit focusing on a driving question such as What is the long-term impact of hunger and starvation on a society? Part of the exhibition could include information and/or solutions the students have discovered through their research.

Several Common Core anchor standards could certainly be addressed in such a unit:

  • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  •  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  •  Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

More importantly, students would be delving into a long-standing and relevant issue that affects every state and country. Think about taking your annual canned food drive to a new level!

  • Help your community
  • Build students understanding of a real-world problem
  • Involve students in seeking long-term solutions

Canned goods sculpture of a lobster in a pot.

Poster of categories in the Rhode Island project

FILM Clips: Fabulous Resource

It’s early June and many schools are still in session. As the weather warms up and thoughts of summer fun tease at our students’ imagination, it becomes more challenging  to engage them in thoughtful consideration of their lessons. Wouldn’t it be terrific if teachers could tap into a resource that offered a novel way to introduce a lesson, stimulate deep conversations, or provoke critical thinking and self-reflection?  State testing is done for the year and teacher observations are over–it’s a great time to explore new instructional approaches.

We all know that various types of media engage students–they have grown up surrounded by a collage of sound, image, and text every day of their lives. Imagine having access to film clips from popular movies like Jim Carrey’s Liar, Liar or Forrest Gump or Finding Nemo that you could share with students as a part of a lesson or advisory? Just the novelty of viewing popular media in their classroom will intrigue students and provide that extra “umph” needed these last few weeks to help keep kids focused.  Then think about…if this resource resonates with kids in June, what might the potential be the rest of the year?

The resource is FILM Clips for Character Education (http://www.filmclipsonline.com).  It’s not free–I have to be up front about that.  However, and it’s a BIG however–right now there is a 2 week FREE Trial available!  Therefore, teachers can try out this resource at no cost and no obligation.  You might be thinking what comes with this trial offer?

  • Access to 89 clips–they are just clips.  There are no captions, no messaging.
  • A synopsis of each clip
  • A pdf study guide that suggests an overarching question and some follow-up activities

These clips are streamed so all you need is a computer, internet connections, and an LCD projector.

What are the topics encompassed by the term “Character Education”? That language sometimes raises a red flag for folks.

  • bullying
  • active listening
  • anger
  • being a good neighbor
  • caring
  • being different

When I started my free trial my mind immediately went back to my classroom.  I watched a clip from Shrek where Princess Fiona asks Donkey to keep a secret.  I thought of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Stacey keeping the secret about who actually cheated on a test.  He took the blame and received the consequences. I thought what a great way to make that scene come alive and spark student reflection on the positives and negatives of keeping secrets.  Another clip I watched was from Liar, Liar and concerned telling white lies.  I made the connection to WikiLeaks and thought about using the clip in social studies.  It seemed to me the possibilities of using these clips are almost endless.

It’s important that our students think deeply about actions and their consequences, whether they be their own actions or those of their community or country. Sometimes it’s difficult for young adolescents to see the relevance of such discussions.  Using a concrete example like a film clip helps them make the connection between the theoretical and the here and now.

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