Weekly Teaching Tip

May 10-17, 2010

Scholastic wants to support your efforts to keep students reading all summer long! Check out the SCHOLASTIC SUMMER CHALLENGE Web site, where you'll find age-appropriate book lists, a letter to send home to parents, free reproducibles, and much more. It's all at www.scholastic.com/summer.

Also, your students can keep up with the news this summer—as reported by their peers! They can check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps stories at www.scholastic.com/kidspress.

April 26, 2010

Explain to your students that there are different bees with different roles inside each beehive. There is usually one queen in a honeybee colony. She spends most of her life laying eggs inside the hive. Most other bees in a hive are worker bees. They are female, but they will never lay eggs. They tend to the queen and infants, make wax, gather nectar, and make honey. Drones are male bees. Their only job is to mate with the queen. They live inside the hive until the workers force them out at the end of summer.

Next, lead a discussion with your students. Explain to them that worker bees have stingers that are bent at the tip. When a worker bee stings something, its stinger gets stuck in its victim. When the worker bee pulls away, it loses its stinger and dies! Queen bees, however, have straight stingers that can be used over again. Ask students why they think it is that the queen bee should have a stinger that can be used more than once.

April 12, 2010

Costa Rica has some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. The Central American nation is between North America and South America; animals and plants from both of those continents found a home there. The country's wide variety of habitats—including forests, mountains, coasts, and swamps-support 500,000 species. Rain forests, located in nations near the equator, are particularly rich in biodiversity.

Read this information to your students. Then show them a world map, and have them point to places that they think are rich in biodiversity. Have students explain their reasoning.

March 22, 2010

Bring in a box of cream-filled cookies (such as Oreos). Pass out at least one cookie to each student. Have them pull apart a cookie, making sure one side retains most of the cream.

Next, students should take the two cookie halves, cream side up, and slide them over each other slowly. One cookie half should slide on top of the other half, scraping off the cream filling as it moves. Explain that this is just like an oceanic plate shifting under a continental plate at the plate boundaries. When this happens, layers of the seafloor are often scrapped off and plastered on the edge of the continental plate next to it. Much of the west coasts of the Americas is composed of formations from these movements. Lastly, enjoy a cookie snack!

March 15, 2010
Ask students to think about a woman in their life whom they admire and respect. It can be a teacher, mother, grandmother, or neighbor, or any other woman the child chooses.

Ask students to interview their subject. Have students draft questions to ask before they conduct the interview. Help the students with their questions. These could be about topics such as the interviewee's career choice, family, or hobbies. A possible question to include is: "Who do you admire most, and why?"

After students have completed their interviews, have the class form groups of five. Students can share their interview results with the members of their group. 

March 1, 2010
Print out photos of both invasive and native species in the Florida Everglades. Tape a photo to each student’s back without the student seeing it. Then have students go around the room asking other classmates yes or no questions about the animal in their photo. They may ask each classmate one question.

Gather students in a semicircle. Ask one student at a time to stand up with their photo facing the class. Have that student tell what they have learned about their species and try to guess what animal it is. Have the whole class guess if it is native or invasive. Help the students if they guess incorrectly.

February 15-22, 2010

After reading this week’s cover story and play about the lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina, hold a classroom discussion.

Explain to students that those involved in the sit-in were following the strategy of nonviolence encouraged by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Ask students if they believe this strategy was successful. Through discussion, brainstorm a list of ways in which nonviolent protests could be used to combat a problem today. Ask students if they can think of examples of when this strategy has been used in today’s world. See if students think protesters today would be as willing to endure the abuse that the black protesters dealt with in the 1960s.

February 1, 2010

Have students think of useful technologies that they come in contact with daily. Split students into groups and have each group list technologies used at home, in school, and in stores and other places. Then, for homework, have students write a paragraph about a piece of technology. Have them explain what the technology does, how it works, and whether they think it’s helpful.

January 25, 2010

Write down a few different bullying scenarios on separate note cards. These scenarios could be about a group of students making fun of someone for how they dress, excluding someone from a game, or taking something from someone and refusing to give it back.

Divide the class into small groups and give each group a different scenario. Have them create a short script based on the note card. Then call the groups up one at a time to perform the skit. When students complete their scene, hold a class discussion on how the student being bullied could handle the situation without fighting. Then ask students to list ways in which the student being bullied should not react to the situation and why not.

January 11, 2010

Ask students to visit the Olympic Web page www.olympic.org/en/content/sports and have them pick a favorite Winter Olympic sporting event. Have them research the sport and write about its origin and history.

During the Winter Olympics, have students watch coverage of the event and write a review of it. Reviews could include what they thought of the athletes and the sport, how it made them feel to watch it, and who won medals. Then have students go into small groups to discuss their Olympic sport, why they picked it, and what they learned about it from this activity. Is the event that they reviewed still their favorite Winter Olympic sport?

January 4, 2010

Ask students to pick the five news stories from 2009 that they think were the most important. Students may choose topics from this week’s cover story, or they may add news events that were not included. Students should list the stories in their order of importance. Then, have them write a few sentences on why they chose each event and put them in the order they did.

You might also ask students to create a list of the top-three news events that occurred in their lifetime. Ask students to write a paragraph sharing why they consider the five events the most important and what they remember feeling when each of them happened.

December 7, 2009

The Giving Spirit is a play that presents an opportunity for students to begin to understand the concept of irony. Explain to students that an ironic situation is one in which the actual result is very different from, or opposite of, what is expected or intended.

Ask students what was unexpected about the ending of the play. Were they surprised? How does the author use this surprise ending to make a point? Conclude by having students think of other books or stories that they’ve read that had ironic endings. Or ask them to think of situations they’ve experienced themselves that were ironic.

November 30, 2009

Explain to students that a hero is someone admired for having courage and doing brave things. We might think of a hero as someone famous, or someone who helps others, such as a firefighter. But everyday people can be heroes too.

Ask students to think of a hero in their own lives. Then ask the students to write a paragraph about their hero. Have them write a story about an experience with their hero. Why do they think of that person as a “hero”? How do they feel when they think about him or her? What sort of courageous actions has their hero performed?

Invite students to read their paragraphs to the class. Then hold a discussion about what students learned from the assignment.

November 16, 2009

Ask students to keep a log of everything they eat during one day. Have them make a chart with five columns, labeling each one as an area on the food pyramid. Instruct them to write each food item they ate under the appropriate column.

When the students are finished, help them graph the information on a pie chart. Each piece on the chart should represent one of the food groups. (Approximate the total serving sizes with the help of this chart: www.teamnutrition.usda.gov/resources/mpk2_lesson2.pdf.) Ask students to evaluate how closely their pie chart meshes with the food pyramid. Did they eat too little or too much in each food group? How can they improve their eating choices?

November 9, 2009

Have students go to www.cherokee.org/Culture/Dikaneisdi.aspx and translate five school-related English words into Cherokee. Have them take turns writing the phonetic form of one of their words on the board. Practice saying them aloud as a class. (Get help with pronunciations at www.cherokee.org/Culture/308/Page/default.aspx.)

Then, for homework, ask students to research traditions in their own family. Instruct them to ask their parents or guardians or other relatives about any traditions they might have. This could be a holiday they celebrate unique to their culture. Instruct them to bring an item from home to illustrate their tradition, such as a photo, and host a “show-and-tell.”

October 26, 2009

Break students up into small groups. Have each group choose an animal that lives in the Arctic (some examples: polar bear, caribou, Arctic fox, ringed seal).

Have students research their animal. Ask them to look into how the animal hunts for food, what it eats, whether it migrates, etc. They can use the skills page on page T3 as part of their research.

Then, ask students to compile a list of ways in which they think global warming might affect their animal’s habitat and behavior. Ask students to present their findings to the class. Then, ask them how they think the world might be different if the animal they researched became extinct. Do other animals rely on the species for food?

October 19, 2009

Explain to students that a mineral is a nonliving thing found in nature. Different types can be found in rocks. Volcanoes often produce or host deposits of aluminum, diamonds, gold, nickel, lead, zinc, and copper. These are all examples of minerals. We use most of them every day. They are in the products we buy and use.

Bring in a selection of everyday items that contain one of these minerals. (Possibilities: a soda can to represent aluminum, an empty milk carton to represent calcium, a saltshaker to represent sodium, a penny to represent copper.) Ask students to name the mineral contained in each item. Then, ask students to think of other items that are composed of one or more minerals.

October 5, 2009

Have students select animals to research. Ask them to compare the animals’ traits with common human traits.

First, break students into groups, and have each group vote on an animal to research. Have one group member write down a list of things the group already knows about the animal. Then each group member should research the animal for homework. Using each member’s completed homework, have each group’s list-maker add to the list of the animal’s traits.

Then, each group should make a list of common human traits. Next, have students create a Venn diagram comparing human traits with the animal’s traits. Each group can then present its work to the class.

September 28, 2009

Ask students to think about the school year ahead. Ask them what educational goals they hope to accomplish by the end of the year.

Next, ask students to create a chart highlighting their goals and achievements. On the chart, students should make three columns. In one column, students should list the goals that they hope to achieve this academic year. In the second column, students should write how they can work to accomplish each of those goals. In the third column, students should track their progress, listing the ways they have accomplished the goals throughout the year.

September 14, 2009

Provide students with a copy of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. (A copy can be found at http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/indepth/constitution_day/inside/index.asp?article=wethepeople.)

Break students up into small groups. Have each group study one of the following phrases from the preamble: establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. Provide students with a word box or a dictionary to help them define difficult words. Then ask each group to write a paragraph explaining what they think their assigned phrase means and why they think it is included in the preamble.

September 7, 2009

Before reading this week's cover story, discuss with students the definition of stress. How do they feel when they are stressed? What effects can stress have on the body? What situations make them feel stress? Then, divide students into groups. Hand each group a slip of paper with a description of a stressful scenario a student their age might encounter. (For example, a student having trouble with a school paper is worried about getting a poor grade.) Ask the groups to brainstorm ways in which the student in the scenario can cope with the situation. Ask students to write down their ideas. Then have someone from each group read their scenario and list of ideas out loud to the class.

May 11-18, 2009

Help your students keep their reading and learning skills sharp this summer with these tips:

May 4, 2009

Divide the class into three to five small groups. Each group will represent a different Executive Branch department (Education, State, Energy, etc). For a list of these departments, refer to the January 5, 2009, reproducible skills page “Executive Team Players.” You can find an archive of past Teacher’s Editions online at www.scholastic.com/SN4. Have students make a list of things they want their department to accomplish. Then host a “Presidential Briefing.” Students should play the role of White House staff members reporting on each department’s accomplishments, current projects, and future projects.

April 20, 2009

Divide students into groups. Have each group discuss this week’s cover story and develop its own idea for a school or classroom project to “go green.” Have students write down their plan and how it will help the environment. A speaker from each group should then explain why the group chose its plan and why it’s important. Finally, have the class vote on which project to implement at school.

April 13, 2009

Have students make geography connections by selecting an international story and researching the answers to the following questions:

  • In what city did the story take place? 
  • In what country is that city located?
  • What is the capital of that country?
  • On what continent is that country located?
  • What countries or bodies of water border the country to its north, south, east, and west?
  • What are some characteristics of the country and the people who live there?

March 30, 2009

Before reading the play in this week’s issue, divide students into four or five groups. Assign each group a country. Have students research what life was like in their country in the early 1900s. Ask the students to imagine they are living in their country during that period and are going to immigrate to America. When they finish researching, have students write a journal entry about their imagined experience. Tell them to address why they came to the U.S., what transportation they used, any problems they had, and what new things they learned to do.

March 23, 2009

Use construction paper to make three large piggy banks. At the top of each, write either SAVE, SPEND, or DONATE. Tape the piggy banks to a bulletin board.

Lead the class in a discussion of what kinds of things money in each piggy bank could be used for. Write their answers in list form on the piggy banks. Lead students in a discussion about how they came to their decisions about using money, and the consequences that may result from those choices. Next, circle the things on the spending list that are needs and those that are wants. Have the class discuss the differences between the two.

March 9, 2009

Break students into five groups. Assign each group one of the five women discussed in this week’s cover story. Have each group think about the contributions the woman made to our country. Then, have the students create a list of ways in which the United States would be different today if these contributions had never been made. Ask students to think of the ways they see these contributions at work in their everyday lives. Finally, have a speaker from each group share the group’s thoughts with the class.

February 23, 2009

Pretend that an aquatic species has invaded a waterway in your city or town. Announce to the class that Asian carp have invaded a local lake, river, pond, or stream. Break the class into two groups. Have each group determine how the carp might affect that body of water or nearby wetland. Have one group list ways in which carp would affect native species, and the other group list ways in which carp would affect the economy. Write each list on the board and then have the class decide how the waterway might change due to the invasion of the Asian carp.

February 16, 2009

Choose a famous speech by Abraham Lincoln, such as the Gettysburg Address or one of his Inaugural Addresses. Divide students into small groups. Give each group a copy of (or an excerpt from) the speech. Assign each group one or two lines from the speech. Help define difficult words for the students. Then, have each group put its assigned lines into the students’ own words. Have each group choose a leader to read the lines aloud to the rest of the class. Have the students present them in the order in which they appear in the original speech.

February 2, 2009

For bonus printables and lesson plans specific to the 2009 presidential inauguration, visit www.scholastic.com/yourgovernment. Pledge the Oath of Office with your students, and teach the basic responsibilities of the incoming President. Then foster early civic participation with inaugural writing prompts built for your classroom’s grade level.

January 26, 2009

Provide students with a list of things to find within an issue of Scholastic News. Thematic lists might include math-related terms (percent, measurements, cost, fraction, etc.) or grammar-related parts of speech (present- or past-tense verbs, proper nouns, abbreviations, etc.)

Other thematic lists could be topic-related. For example, students could hunt for stories or details about science or social studies.

Students work in small groups to hunt for as many terms or topics as possible in the issue. The group that finds the most wins!

January 12, 2009

Students will be asked how they can follow in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps and practice what he preached. After reading “Remembering a Hero,” have students get into groups. Ask them to brainstorm several ideas and examples about what they can do in their everyday lives to carry on his legacy. Students should write down their responses. Then, have a speaker from each group recite to the class some of these ideas. Allow time for anyone in the speaker’s group to answer any questions that students in the other groups might have.

January 5, 2009

This week’s Scholastic News features a cover story with a short summary of 10 news events. Have students read an article in Scholastic News other than this week’s cover story. Then ask them how they can summarize that article.

Explain that a summary is short, tells the most important information, and is written in one’s own words. Invite students to write a short list of key points from the article they chose. Then, have students use those points to summarize the article in just a few sentences.

December 8, 2008

Give each student a list of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights. (A list can be found on page 9 of the How Our Democracy Works skills book that you received with your 9/29/08 issue. The list also includes real-life situations the Bill of Rights protects.) Next, have your students make lists of rights they think should be included in a classroom bill of rights. Combine the lists and put this list on the board. Have your students debate which rights should be included and which left out. Then, have students vote on each right, with rights that get a majority of votes making the final list.

December 1, 2008

Photocopy articles in Scholastic News and cut the headlines off the articles. Give students a packet of jumbled headlines and articles and ask them to match each headline with its corresponding article. Finally, ask students to pick one of the stories and come up with a new headline of their own.

November 14, 2008

This year’s Presidential election made history. News of the event was covered in media outlets around the world. Break students into groups. Instruct them to create five-minute television skits in which they act as media specialists or news anchors explaining the results and importance of this historic election. Copies of Scholastic News can be used to create the skits. Have students perform their skits in front of the class.

November 3, 2008

Have students select one of Scholastic News’ main features (pages 4-5 or 6). Students should fold a piece of unlined white paper into six or eight blocks, numbering each. Students are to retell the article in pictures. No words are allowed. When they are finished, see if students can retell the article in words by looking at their pictures.

October 27, 2008

On page 6 of this week’s issue, your students will read about the fact that in addition to the presidential election, there are also congressional and gubernatorial elections coming up. Let them know that there also may be elections for state senators and representatives, as well as for mayor or members of the city council.

Find out which races are happening in your area. In chart form, make a list on the board of who’s running and for what job. Then, ask your students to talk about what duties they think come with each job. (A summary of those duties can be found on the “Government Jobs” reproducible in the 9/29 issue’s Teacher’s Edition, which can be found online at www.scholastic.com/sn4.) Next, ask your students what issues they think need to be addressed in your community and which officials would handle them.

October 13, 2008

Scholastic News editors have to make decisions about which stories to include in the magazine. Editors choose the stories to put in the magazine based on many factors. Pick a story in Scholastic News, and ask students to talk about why they think the story was included in the magazine. Before the discussion, explain how news is evaluated based on several factors, including:

  • TIMELINESS: News that's happening right now in the recent past
  • IMPACT: A story that affects a large number of readers
  • RELEVANCE: A story that would be considered important to a magazine's or a newspaper's audience, in this case, fourth-graders
  • ODDITY: An unusual occurrence or situation
  • UNEXPECTEDNESS: Something that occurs without warning or something someone did that is out of character
  • UPDATE: News that is a follow-up to something reported on earlier

September 29, 2008

Run a class election that mirrors the presidential election. Ask your students who would like to run for class President. Then, for homework, have all the candidates write speeches and deliver them to the class the next day, explaining why they are running and what they hope to accomplish for the class. Then, have the presidential candidates
debate issues important to the candidates and to the class. On Election Day, have your students vote for class President by secret ballot.

September 22, 2008

Make copies of an article in Scholastic News that your students haven’t read, and cut the article into its individual paragraphs. Put sets of the paragraphs into envelopes, and give an envelope to each student. Ask your students to reconstruct the article by putting the paragraphs in their proper order.

September 8, 2008

Students are broken up into two or more groups. Each group is assigned a different article from an issue of Scholastic News that the class hasn’t read yet. On a separate sheet of paper, students list the who, what, when, where, and why of the story they are assigned.

The magazines are collected, and the students’ papers are redistributed so that no student has a paper from his or her group. Students then use the paper they were given to write the opening paragraphs of a news story based on this information. At the end of the activity, students compare their “stories” with the original articles.

September 1, 2008

All news stories have a “place” in world affairs. To develop students’ sense of place, create a bulletin board that is divided into local, national, and international sections.

With each issue of Scholastic News, ask students to identify which category the articles belong in. Community- and state-level news falls into the local category. News of interest around the country fits into the national section. World news falls into the international category.

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