Appreciation for Betty Debnam

Betty Debnam, Carolina graduate, educator, and the creator of the award-winning Mini Page, is profiled in the latest edition of Carolina Connections, an online newsletter that highlights private giving to UNC. The complete archive of The Minipage was generously donated to the UNC Libraries by Ms. Debnam and is freely available online. LEARN NC has educator-created lesson plans that use Mini Page topics such as women in history, Buffalo Soldiers, black cowboys, flowers and pollination, the elections, and much more. Recently, LEARN NC offered a three-week online professional development course designed for K-12 educators that taught them how to use the Mini Page to enhance their instruction and students’ learning. Pre-service teachers at the UNC School of Education have also been learning about the Mini Page and the value of its use in teaching.

What are you doing for CS Ed Week?

If you are a parent, teacher, or citizen interested in how we prepare students for the careers of the future, please join the celebration of Computer Science Education WeekDecember 8 – 14, 2013.

Here are just a few reasons we should be promoting computer science in K-12 schools:

  • In many countries (including China, the United Kingdom and Australia), computer science is — or will soon be — required.
  • Yet 90% of K-12 schools in the US do not teach computer science.
  • Students who learn introductory computer science show improved math scores.
  • New programming jobs are growing 3 times faster than the number of students entering the field.
  • Any student, starting in elementary school, can learn the basics, but fewer than 10% of students try (and just 4% of female students and 3% of students of color).

Explore these facts and more at the new Computer Science Ed Week website with  self-guided tutorials that anyone can complete with just a web-browser, tablet, or smartphone.  There are also unplugged tutorials for classrooms without computers. No experience or computers are required.

Any teacher can use these free resources to plan an Hour of Code activity at their school. Please pass this along to others so we can demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn to program!

Support continued funding for NCCAT

One of LEARN NC’s partners, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, risks losing its funding if the recently proposed state budget passes. NCCAT provides residential professional development seminars for new and experienced teachers at two campuses: one in Cullowhee and one in Ocracoke. Seminars last for five days and enable participants to have hands-on experiences that they can then apply to their work in the classroom, providing time for them to reflect individually and collectively in both formal settings such as workshops and informally over shared meals. Educators return to their classrooms energized and excited to put what they’ve learned into practice.

To support NCCAT and encourage legislators to continue to fund it, sign NCCAT’s petition or visit Who Represents Me? at the NC General Assembly website to find contact information for your legislators.


Opening doors to inclusion

More than 400 people from multiple disciplines, agencies, and settings,
including teachers and families, are expected to attend Frank Porter Graham’s 13th
Inclusion Institute
May 13-15, 2013 at UNC’s Friday Center. The Institute
has become the annual premier event for people from all early childhood
sectors to come together to learn, share, and problem-solve about
inclusion for young children with disabilities.

This year’s Institute includes a keynote address from Micah Fialka-Feldman, an adult with an intellectual disability, who is now attending college and has fought for inclusion his entire life. Internationally known experts and researchers will make presentations on key topics such as Family Partnerships, Autism, Early Childhood Systems Building, Interactional and Instructional Practices, and Professional Development.

The registration fee for the Inclusion Institute is $250. For any of the three concurrent Pre-Institute Workshops it is $35. To register, please visit the Institute’s registration page.

Consortium including LEARN NC to use grant to develop geospatial technology curriculum

A consortium including LEARN NC, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education’s outreach arm, has been awarded a $43,600 grant to help create a curriculum for grades 6-8 that uses geospatial technology to integrate humanities content with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. The funding from the Battelle Foundation will be used during the 2013-14 school year by a partnership including LEARN NC, the University of Virginia Library’s Scholars’ Lab and the Virginia Geographic Alliance. Ten teachers will be selected from five Virginia school districts to take part in the project.

Andy Mink, executive director of LEARN NC said, “More than numbers and more than stories, this approach will showcase the best of both humanities and STEM worlds – and give students a solid underpinning of geospatial technology that stands as the third-fastest growing profession in the United States. The team of iSTEM Teacher Scholars will provide best practice models to develop geospatial curricula with a strong focus on practical application and student engagement.”

After the curricula materials are developed, LEARN NC will host the resources online, making them freely available for teachers for use in their classrooms and in professional development opportunities.

For more information about this exciting project, please contact Andy Mink.

Teaching world cultures with culture kits

Regina Higgins, outreach coordinator for the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, recently visited a third-grade classroom at New Hope Elementary School in Orange County. She and Amanda Click, a UNC graduate student, showed the students a culture kit with items representing Cairo, Egypt. Culture kits make learning about these countries and their people more meaningful. An article on the UNC-Chapel Hill website describes their visit and explains how culture kits have been developed.

Regina Higgins has written an article for LEARN NC about “Making the most of culture kits.” She describes how to use these kits in the classroom while students explore a culture. The kits are free of charge to North Carolina k-12 teachers and can be used in a variety of ways.

For information about requesting a culture kit for your classroom, contact Regina Higgins at regina_higgins at unc dot edu.

Dean McDiarmid addresses poverty and learning in the News and Observer

UNC School of Education Dean Bill McDiarmid addresses the impact of poverty on student learning outcomes in a guest column in the Dec. 14 edition of the Raleigh News & Observer. In the article, he explores data that describe a relationship between student poverty levels and schools’ performance. He explains that more research is needed to find “ways to support our most vulnerable children.”

The article was originally published in The Carolina Slate‘s Fall 2011 edition.

Teaching about Sept. 11, part 2: Free webinar

The Outreach Center of Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies is offering a free webinar for teachers, featuring educator-created resources and lessons plans for teaching about September 11 in 5th- through 12th-grade classrooms.

The one-hour webinar, entitled “Responding to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 in the Classroom,” is scheduled for August 25th and will begin at 7 pm EDT. Presentations and discussions will take place entirely online, using an Elluminate virtual classroom. This platform runs through Java, and does not require any downloading of additional software.

For more information and to register, see the webinar description on the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies website.

Teaching about September 11

Teaching contemporary history can pose a variety of challenges, particularly when teaching the history of a traumatic event like the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In preparation for the tenth anniversary of the attacks, the National Museum of American History, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Pentagon Memorial Fund, and Flight 93 National Memorial recently offered an online conference for K-12 teachers. The conference included roundtable discussions with content experts and six workshop sessions that shared strategies, ideas, and resources, and encouraged conversations on how to document, preserve, and interpret recent history and current events.

Teachers can now access archived sessions from the conference, along with K-12 lessons and activities from each organization and background information on September 11.

For those affected by pirate mania

On Saturday, the News and Observer reported that archaeologists had successfully recovered a 3000-pound anchor from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship intentionally grounded by the pirate Blackbeard in 1718.

For those students inspired by this incredible feat, or generally affected by pirate mania, we encourage you to share Nicholas Graham’s article “The Life and Death of Blackbeard the Pirate,” which appears in the colonial module of the North Carolina Digital History textbook. The article draws this description of the notorious pirate from a 1726 book about pirates:

In Time of Action, he wore a sling over his Shoulders, with three Brace of Pistols, hanging in Holsters like Bandaliers; and stuck lighted Matches under his Hat, which appearing on each Side of his Face, his Eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, made him altogether such a Figure, that Imagination cannot form an Idea of a Fury, from Hell, to look more frightful.

That description, along with the article’s account of the harrowing firefight that led to Blackbeard’s demise, is sure to satisfy even the most die-hard pirate aficionado. (And for those hungry for still more, you can browse our collection for other Blackbeard-related resources.)