Monthly Archives: October 2009

Dude, I Totally Get Shakespeare

ShakespeareUncovering Literature-Phobia in Secondary English Classrooms

by Anastasia Teasley

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It can be difficult to present Shakespeare (or other curriculum-required writers) to high school students summoned to their seats at 8:00 in the morning with nothing on their minds but not to be there. Students commonly find these writers to be too hard to read, outdated by a few hundred years, or boring—having no practical application in their own drama-filled lives. While looking for creative ideas to teach Hamlet, I discovered wonderful approaches to presenting literature that I believe will benefit other teachers looking for inspiration.

The English Journal, a resource for teachers published by the National Council of Teachers of English, provides journal articles written by professionals who have faced down their own classroom’s challenges. Here are some of their unique ideas:

  • “Using the Original Approach to Teach Shakespeare” by Bruce Robbins: Role Play! Let the students read over a piece of literature and clarify any uncertain words or meanings. Have the students act out the parts, but not just by reading out of the book. Robbins had students read the same text in different ways from a script made on homemade scrolls. The students not only identified with a character’s situation, but they identified with another student’s perspective and had fun doing it.
  • From Tabes-Kawk: Use Music! Have students pick out music that, in their opinion, would best fit a scene of a story. Encourage students to bring music from home and play the music while the student reads that scene aloud and justifies their musical choice with a literary explanation. Says Tabes-Kawk, “This assignment brought even the toughest student to class on time with a rewarding, ‘this is awesome!’”
  • From Cindy Bowman and Brendan Pieters: Use WebQuest! WebQuest is a computer program that incorporates the Internet, word processing, and story building programs to stretch a student’s understanding of a literary work. The students can research a play, write something about it, and build a model of a particular scene or act. The program pre-approves appropriate sites for use beforehand, allowing students to have access only to scholarly resources. Students can do everything from creating their own story boards to designing costumes and stages.
  • Chat It Up! By using chatting software, teachers can group students in partners or small groups, where they then take on a character’s role and chat to each other based on the story line. These chats are recorded and can be printed for a grade. Discuss ( is an example of this software.

Hopefully these techniques will work to bring Shakespeare (and his peers) into the 21st century for your students!

Anastasia Teasley is a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in English from Kennesaw State University. Read more by Anastasia at

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Filed under Reading, Teaching

Educational Programs at Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum.

TellusLeave a comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

by Anastasia Teasley

“It’s one thing to read about something in a book, but to actually see the bones of that dinosaur, the bones of that sea creature, to see that old car, to touch a geode — that adds dimension to our classroom instruction that we could never replace.” AJC interview with Peggy Cowan , Cartersville City School System

Museums have been a timeless solution to branching beyond the classroom walls, making science and history real in a child’s life. Tellus Museum offers programs for students, and even home schoolers and scouts, to benefit from the number of educational resources they have at hand.

Field Trips

Tellus has developed age- or grade-specific programs for field trip visits. Their Web site provides in-depth descriptions of the programs for each level, as well as the correlating activities that go with the theme of that program. The programs start at the Pre-K level, and extend through college-appropriate programs. Schools are provided with a number of program choices, depending on the level. Each program correlates to specific curriculum needs based on the Georgia Performance Standards.

The choices available to schools revolve around Tellus’s four galleries. It’s Alive, hosted in the Collins Family My Big Back Yard Gallery, for example, looks into insect life with younger children. Pre-K and Kindergarten children spend time in the gallery and in a lab, as well as singing and dancing in a theater and exploring other kid-approved biology topics. More advanced topics in other galleries include matter (which, of course, includes experimentation with liquid nitrogen), energy, magnets and galaxy studies for first through fifth graders. High school and college students can dive into topics like alternative energy, geology and periodic table programs. These programs run between an hour and a half to two hours, and each student takes home a souvenir of their day at Tellus!

Programs and scheduling can be found at

Home School Programs

Two Tuesdays a month, Tellus opens its doors with special programs designed specifically for home school students. The programs are suited for all ages and touch on a variety of science topics. The Web site features a table with schedules of each program. Like the field trip options, programs range from mineral testing to magnets, weather and more! To view the program options for your home school student visit or call 770- 606-5699.

Programs for Scouts

Tellus Museum provides unique opportunities for scouts to get their hands on science…and earn a badge while they’re at it! The museum lays out specific requirements for a scout’s badge or pin and then demonstrates how to fulfill that requirement. Boy Scouts attending the Farming for Fuels event on November 7th will earn their Energy Merit Badge. Also in November is the Night Sky event for the Girl Scout Council (juniors through ambassadors). This program fulfills requirements in meteorology.

Next year’s schedule has already been posted through the month of April. In January, Webelos and Cub Scouts can earn their geologist activity badge or pin, and in March, Brownie Girl Scouts will be able to achieve their Science Wonder badge. There are other events posted online, and Tellus encourages scout councils to check their website periodically to find their upcoming events:

Educational Outreach

Rockin’ Rollers is a program designed for outreach outside of Tellus Museum. Educators at Tellus have put together themed roller suitcases containing special “touch friendly” hand specimens for the classroom. The suitcases are designed to teach students mineral, fossil and rock identification. Teachers can check out the suitcase for a week! To reserve a suitcase (with a $50 refundable deposit per roller), call Kerry Cornwell at 770-606-5717.

Adult Education

For adults wanting to expand their educational horizons in science, Tellus offers a lecture series featuring special guest speakers. The lectures are included in the price of admission, and topics in the past have addressed gold in Georgia, geography of the Grand Canyon, and the construction of Tellus’s grand dinosaur skeletons! Speakers have included biologists, paleontologists, geologists and other professionals from a variety of backgrounds.

The next lecture will be “Treasure Hunt”: The Search and Recovery of the S.S. Central America featuring treasure hunter Lance McAfee on Thursday, November 5th at 7pm. For current information about the educational programs at Tellus, check out

For a printable copy of this article by Anastasia Teasley, click here.

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Our Fascinating World

trexaboveCome Explore it at Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum

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by Anastasia Teasley

In 2007, the Weinman Mineral Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, closed its doors to await a monumental reconstruction project. Local schools and community residents waited with eager hearts as an impressive, modern building began to take shape behind a sign that said Tellus Science Museum Coming Soon. Solar panels glistened in the sun next to a new observatory. Science museums of this magnitude seemed limited to larger cities, such as Chattanooga and Atlanta. Though many schools treasured their beloved Weinman Museum, Northwest Georgia was ready for a fun, educational and impressive resource of its own.

Tellus Museum, now a Smithsonian affiliate, is a product of dreams, donations and great expectations of bringing a new level of science and educational resources to North Georgia. In January 2009, the museum opened. The once 9,000-square foot facility of collected minerals had transformed into 120,000-square feet of state-of-the-art technology—with room enough to fit the Weinman Museum in one gallery.

Our goal of this newsletter is to provide information on educational resources that are available to parents and teachers, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to introduce you to one of Georgia’s proudest accomplishments. Tellus Museum combines exhibits open to the public with specialized education programs appropriate for schools, home schoolers, adult learners and even scouts!

What Does The Tellus Museum Feature?

There is plenty to see and do at Tellus! This museum blends exhibits with hands-on learning zones, showcasing dinosaur skeletons, space shuttle and aircraft pieces, antique automobiles, ancient fossils and gems, star-gazing from a digital planetarium and more. This is by no means a touch-free facility.

One of the main galleries especially welcoming to children is an exhibit called The Collins Family My Big Backyard. Here, young scientists learn about their environment–particularly the physical and biological sciences right in a kid’s own backyard. The Tellus Web site states that kids “will be drawn to an interactive garden created just for them. With magnet games, sorting activities, raceways and more, exploring science will be a fun, engaging opportunity even for these little ones.” This is just one of many unique kid-friendly opportunities.

Every visitor to Tellus, young and old, is encouraged to stop by the Gem Panning and Fossil Dig activity area. Georgia is known for its rich mineral history, which had been an integral part of the Weinman Mineral Museum. This is a way for students to develop a scientific and historical connection to Georgia. Grab up a pan, and sift through sand. Visitors are welcome to take home the gemstones they find! The Fossil Dig is in an adjoining room. This room simulates a real dinosaur dig. Visitors can take a brush, and reveal replicas of many different fossils including dinosaur skeletons! Diggers will even uncover shark teeth, snail shells, and other fossils; they can select one as a souvenir to take home.

Other unique exhibits include the Solar Decathlon House (a solar-powered house built by Georgia Tech students), events and lecture series on topics ranging from paleontology through astronomy, and the Smithsonian affiliation will be adding to displays and programming.

“Even though they’re a new entity, they have a wonderful facility, an excellent staff,” Smithsonian affiliations director Harold Closter said of Tellus. “It’s an asset to the community, something we respect very much for taking that on.”

Visitors are encouraged to check out for updates, events and programs to plan your next visit to Tellus!

Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum, 100 Tellus Dr., Cartersville. $8-$12, free for members and active military. 770-606-5700.

To print a copy of this article, click here.

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Opposites Attract

GoDogGoA Fun Game for Teaching Opposites

Age: Early Elementary

by Laura Ross

Young children love discovering opposites. Here is a lesson idea that involves exploring opposites through literature…and then a fun game to reinforce the concept.

After explaining the concept of opposites, read the book Go Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. During reading, encourage the students to finish the sentences by saying the opposites. Read the book through a second time and have the students touch their noses each time they know the opposite word.

Then, play the Opposite Game! First, create six sets of opposite cards. Using a stack of note cards and the opposites from Go Dog. Go!, as well as any other opposites you discussed in class, create six sets of opposite cards. Each set will contain 20 note cards, or 10 pairs of opposites. Write one opposite on each card.

Have the students work in groups of four, giving each group a set of cards. Spread the cards out face down for each group. One student flips over a card and says the opposite of the word on the card. Then the student flips over another card. If they find the opposite, they take the pair (much like Memory). The students with the most pairs wins the game…but after solidifying their knowledge of opposites through a fun activity like this, everyone wins!

What do you think of this idea? Write a comment below and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

Laura Ross is a first-grade teacher in Dallas, Georgia, who holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix.

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Straws and Pennies: Cheap and Easy Classroom Management Techniques

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by Kelly Quabeck

Looking for a positive way to promote good classroom behavior with my first-graders, I opted to try two concrete techniques: one involving straws and the other, pennies.

The Straw That Broke the Teacher’s Back

Each child in my classroom starts with five straws for the day. They can then earn straws or lose straws as they day progresses, depending on their behavior. Simple, but effective!

The best part of the straw technique is that the students really feel like they can turn their day around and make it better by earning back straws. Unlike most discipline approaches that only remove privileges or enact consequences, this approach allows the student to make choices to negatively and positively impact their day. As a little extra positive reinforcement, I let my students earn a star pencil once they reach 10 straws for the day.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned

In my class, the students are seated in groups. As another positive discipline approach–and also a means to promote cooperativepenny tails learning–each group earns pennies for good behavior. The group can also lose pennies for poor choices, and the students in each group encourage one another to make good decisions during the day. Every Friday, we count the pennies (by twos, of course :-), and the group with the most pennies gets a trip to the treasure box.

These two techniques keep my students aware of their behavior and accountable for their choices–and, most importantly–they make our classroom a positive environment in which to learn.

Kelly Quabeck holds a master’s degree in education from University of Phoenix. She currently teachers first grade at Russom Elementary School in Georgia, where she enjoys meeting the needs of her students and watching them reach their full potential.


Filed under Behavior Management, Classroom Community, Discipline

Counting Together: A Fun First-Grade Math Idea

by Kelly Quabeck

I am using this math idea for the first time this year and my first-grade students LOVE it. They actually go up to these posters during math time and use them as resources, which makes me smile!

photo3I have three posters hanging in my classroom, all three of which are hundreds charts.

On the first poster, a bright sentence strip across the top says, “I can count by fives!” On the poster, all the numbers are white. I colored all the numbers by five in a light colored marker.

I have another sentence strip that reads, “I can count by twos.”  On this poster, I have all the numbers by twos colored in a different color light marker, all the way to 100.

On the last poster, it reads, “I can count by tens.” On this poster, I actually took each column and colored it a different color. For example, 2, 12, 22, 32, 42, 52, 63, 72, 82, and 92 are all colored light green. The column of threes (3, 23, 33, 33, 43, 53, 63, 73, 83, and 93) is colored light pink. I did this for each column. When we count by tens I start in different places and go up and down, which teaches my students to count by tens without always starting at the number 10. The colors help guide them on where to go next.

I use a pointer to guide the class in using this poster every day, and the students love to play teacher with the pointer and take turns leading the class, as well. They love it!

Kelly Quabeck holds a master’s degree in education from University of Phoenix. She currently teachers first grade at Russom Elementary School, where she enjoys meeting the needs of her students and watching them reach their full potential.

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Hamburger Organizer: A Tasty Way to Teach Writing

Microsoft PowerPoint - Hamburgerchart [Read-Only]by Kelly Quabeck

As a first-grade teacher, I know that it’s important to make writing a concrete process for my students. I’ve found that the best way to do that is through a graphic organizer shaped like…a hamburger!

To start a writing lesson, I use my hamburger poster (see picture and attached) to review what every good story should have. As we start our story, we talk about what we like in a juicy burger.

Now, we’re ready to write some juicy sentences on our hamburger graphic organizer chart. I have a large hamburger chart on the wall of my classroom, and each component of the burger represents an element of a good paragraph. The top bun is the opening sentence; the lettuce, tomato and meat are the three juicy middle sentences; and the bottom bun is the closing sentence.

First, I get ideas from the students on an opening sentence. Then, once we have some ideas, we talk about how juicy each sentence is. As a class, we decide which idea was the juiciest, and we write it as a class on a sentence strip, which we attach to the top bun on our hamburger chart. We continue this process with the 3 juicy middle sentences, and 1 good juicy closing sentence. Then, once my chart is full, we read the story out loud together and talk about how juicy or not juicy it is.

Then, we go back and look at our poster and make sure that our story has all of the key ingredients for a juicy story. Once we have our hamburger chartsample story, I give each student a piece of paper to get started. They also get a small check list which has a miniature hamburger on it. Once they have checked off that they have a title, capital letters, punctuation, beginning/middle/end to their story, and that it is juicy, they bring it to me. Once I check it, I tell them they may go back and color in their hamburger. This small paper is attached to their writing and is always displayed to remind them of the elements of a complete…and JUICY…story!

Kelly Quabeck holds a Masters degree in Education from University of Phoenix. She currently teachers first grade at Russom Elementary School, where she enjoys meeting the needs of her students and watching them reach their full potential.


Filed under Writing