Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Thanks

I pretty much haven’t met a holiday that I didn’t like, but Thanksgiving is kind of special. It’s relatively low-key, and the notion of taking some time to really appreciate what we have – and to give thanks for it – is a winning notion. Each day most of us relentlessly multitask in order to wring the most benefit out of every possible millisecond. Some of us juggle work that needs to be reviewed and graded, attend to student needs, coach sports teams, and oversee a host of other activities. Many of us live from deadline to deadline (and paycheck to paycheck) and generally run on all cylinders from dawn to late night. It’s hard – modern life is hardly the days of leisure predicted by 19th century futurists. Yet despite the stress and the constant need to always be “on”, available, and present, most of us have much to be thankful for.

Yesterday in the classroom, the teacher asked her students to write down what they were thankful for. There were some of the predictable third grade answers, such as “candy,” and “my Xbox,” but some were quietly profound. “I’m thankful for my granpa’s keemotherpy” was one. Another student wrote that she was thankful for her family – not an uncommon entry in the class, except that her father had recently rejoined his family after several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the perfect time of the year to perhaps ask your students what they are thankful for. What are you grateful for?

In addition to lessons that ask students to consider the concept of gratitude, many schools also focus on traditional Thanksgiving themes, such as the Pilgrims, Wampanoags, the Mayflower, and so forth. The Gateway has a rich collection of lessons and activities that can be used in the week leading up to Thanksgiving; three lessons are highlighted below. The resources that I’ve featured this week ask students to think about Thanksgiving in different ways and perhaps from a different perspective than they have previously – a good pre-holiday exercise in critical thinking skills! As always, I’ll be featuring a multitude of lessons, activities, and other K-12 resources from The Gateway and other entities on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Please take a look.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Become a Thanksgiving Historian
Subjects: US History, Technology, Research skills
Grade: 2
Students may be surprised to find out that some ideas they have about the history of Thanksgiving are actually myths. In this lesson, students become true "Thanksgiving historians" by completing a Venn diagram about the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims with information acquired through Internet searches. This is a great lesson to help students develop online research skills, as well as separate historical fact from fiction. This resource is a product of the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX), an award-winning education portal that provides best practices, lesson plans, and educational podcasts. This lesson is aligned to Alabama Content Standards.

Thanksgiving: A Turkey’s Point of View
Subjects: Writing
Grade: 3-5
Things may not always be as they first appear! The purpose of this lesson is to expose students to several stories from different perspectives. They will compare and contrast different points of view on the same topic, and write a story from a character's point of view. This lesson by Laura Beeler is part of HotChalk Learning, a portal that provides an online learning management system and lesson plans to educators.

Thanksgiving Mourning
Subjects: English, US History
Grade: 6-12
Much of the Thanksgiving story focuses on a peaceful, cross-cultural exchange between the "Pilgrims and Indians." While it's true that the Wampanoag and the Planters shared in a harvest celebration, within fifty years, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people. In this activity, students will review two written works by Native American authors. They will examine how diverse groups can perceive shared experiences differently, and review commentary from indigenous writers about Thanksgiving. This lesson is a product of Teaching Tolerance, a division of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving inter-group relations, and supporting equitable school experiences for students. They also provide free educational materials to teachers and other school practitioners in the U.S. and abroad.

~Joann's Picks - 11/19/2010~


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. thank you so much about this great informations !!! good work


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