WWW: The Annenberg Learning Center

Flickr user Wonderlane used under Creative Commons License

Flickr user Wonderlane used under Creative Commons License

Today I want to highlight The Annenberg Learning Center, part of the Annenberg Foundation which encourages, “the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.” Wrapping up our weeks on Black History Month and Civil Rights, The Annenberg Learning Center offers a perfect segue into Race in YA Literature, our topic for the coming weeks. How you ask? Well, specifically because they offer hundreds of lesson plans, videos, curriculum guides and more on every subject under the sun, including the sun. Their web site is incredibly comprehensive and admittedly, a little daunting to mine through. Luckily for you, mining through useful web sites and finding the most applicable pages for educators and librarians is my superhero power. Today I’m going to focus on Civil Rights and Literature comprehension, but I want you to be aware that the Annenberg Learning Center offers a truly unimaginable collection of resources. So when you have some spare time, *ahem July*, I’d encourage you to take a sunny Saturday afternoon with a nice tall Arnold Palmer and dive in. For now, here are my suggestions:

  • Engaging with Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5. This section offers nine 20 minute videos on how to get your 3rd-5th graders excited to read and start the process of delving into texts and gleaning meaning and context from literature. One of the best things about the Annenberg Learning Center is that you get to see your colleagues in action: the first video gives instruction on the lesson, the following videos show a teacher implementing it into their classroom. The accompanying Workshop provides more in-depth information (nine 60 minute videos) on implementing the tactics based off of Dr. Judith Langer’s research into childhood literature learning. You must be thinking to yourself, ‘Wow! This is so much free and extremely useful information!’. Well, dear teachers, there’s more: lesson plans to go along with every video in the Engaging with Literature series.
  • All of the above resources are available for Grades 6-8 under the title Making Meaning in Literature. Now that your 3rd-5th graders have learned how to engage with literature, your 6th-8th graders can start to make literature mean something, applying it inside and outside the book. (Workshop here; lesson plans here).
  • Understanding Stereotypes: Grade 3-5. This section of Annenberg provides a short video involving 4th and 5th graders discussing identity, stereotypes and what history leaves out (their very good example: the Negro Baseball League). This is a perfect companion video to the numerous discussions on this blog that center on rethinking and reteaching history so that it is more accurate, more well rounded and more inclusive of all the experiences that make up American history. Understanding Stereotypes also offers ideas for implementing similar discussions in your classroom.
  • Migration from Latin America: Grades 9-12. A video where 10th graders work in groups to discuss the economic, political and environmental reasons numerous Latin Americans left their homes and emigrated to the US. The web site lists Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzales (highlighted on this blog) as a resource; so ask yourself and your students: how well does this classroom lesson teach history? Do they take into account some of Juan Gonzales’ explanations for mass emigration from Latin America?

These are just a few of the vast resources on the Annenberg Learning Center’s web site. On their Resources page, you can browse by discipline and grade level, easily narrowing down your search. Gotta love technology!

Now you can say, ‘wow!’,


P.S. I did want to just include a little something that has been bothering me while writing this piece. I absolutely believe the Annenberg Learning Center is an extremely useful resource for the classroom: comprehensive, attentive and innovative. I do however, have a problem with calling the movement of humans ‘migration.’ I can’t help but relate this to large African game animals when I hear/read the word. Humans flee, im/emigrate, move and re-situate. The lesson I highlighted on ‘Migration from Latin America’ is a very good and absolutely worth a look, I just wish they would have called it ‘Emigration from Latin America.’


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