A message from our new director, Steve Bronack

Greetings!
I am honored to be writing to you for the first time as Executive Director of LEARN NC. As a former K-12 teacher and a teacher educator here in North Carolina for many years, myself, the value of LEARN NC is clear to me. For nearly two decades, LEARN NC has provided access to the best learning innovations and thousands of exemplary mediated resources to aid the continual improvement of education in North Carolina, and beyond. I’m proud to be here, serving the teachers and students of North Carolina, and helping advance the pioneering spirit and the good work led by previous Directors. I hope you find the resources and information below useful; please share it with your colleagues, and stay connected with LEARN NC!

Standards: Common Core & North Carolina Essential Standards

We at LEARN NC are committed to supporting teachers’ understanding of and adaptation to the Common Core and North Carolina Essential standards. I am pleased to announce that our work aligning each of our 1,600 lesson plans to the Common Core and NC Essential Standards is complete, and ready to use. Stay tuned as we continue to align the thousands of external lesson plans linked on our website, as well. Come take a look! Additionally, we are taking a leadership role in collaboration with our eLearning for Educators partners to design, develop, and deliver innovative online professional development opportunities and resources to help guide teachers through the transition to the new standards.

Lesson Plans: Commemorative Landscapes

LEARN NC is developing resources using the Commemorative Landscapes Database, a collaborative project of the History Department and the University Library of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to encourage critical inquiry into the construction and revision of North Carolina’s history through an examination and study of North Carolina’s monuments, markers, and other commemorative landscapes. The lessons and projects being developed for grades 3-12 facilitate student engagement with a variety of primary documents and digital media to promote a broader understanding of North Carolina history, familiarity with historical discourses and practices, and thoughtful approaches to research. Check in with us soon for lessons that give your students the opportunity to create their own monuments, become North Carolina tour guides, and solve the mystery of the missing Hippo statue!

Research: The Well

It is exciting to be here on-campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and to have the opportunity to share with teachers and students some of the amazing work in which so many of our bright and dedicated colleagues here are engaging. If you haven’t visited The Well yet, come see how we are helping our colleagues turn their latest research into practical advice for you. Right now. Recent articles and videos deal with issues such as: working with immigrant students, “outside-in” school reform, community journalism as a novel pedagogical strategy, and finding multicultural texts to encourage struggling young readers.

Curriculum: NC Heritage

Did you know there was a military base in Greensboro during World War II? Or that our state dog, the Plott Hound, is one of only a few known breeds to have originated in America? LEARN NC has partnered with the North Carolina Digital History Center to create online curriculum, lesson plans, and podcasts using the Center’s incredible collection of digitized historic materials. Stay connected with us over the next few weeks, as we integrate these materials into our website and announce them on our Twitter feed (@learnnc).

Courses enrolling now!

Each day, hundreds of teachers participate together in one of the many informative, engaging, and relevant online continuing education courses offered via LEARN NC. Courses currently enrolling include: American Indians in North Carolina, Using Blogs and Other Collaborative Tools to Improve Student Writing, Using Models to Understand Fractions, and Planning Instruction with the National STEM Digital Library. And, of course, our Carolina On-Line Teaching (COLT) certification program is preparing the next generation of K-12 teachers to extend their abilities and reach into the world of online teaching, themselves. Visit the COLT site to join our next cohort.

Staying Connected

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Like our Facebook page, and join our YouTube channel to see what new and interesting resources we are finding throughout each day and to stay in touch with us — and with each other!

EVENTS: 2012 North Carolina Science Festival

Celebrate science statewide April 13-29, 2012 at the annual North Carolina Science Festival. The Festival is a multi-day celebration showcasing science and technology. It highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in our state. Through hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits and performances, the Festival engages a wide range of public audiences while inspiring the next generation of students. As supporters of tomorrow’s scientists, K-12 educators are critical to our mission. The North Carolina Science Festival encourages both educators and students to be involved in the Festival. To find one of more than 300 events near you, visit www.ncsciencefestival.org.
The UNC Science Expo, a signature event of the North Carolina Science Festival, will be held on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill on Saturday, April 14. This annual Expo features hands-on activities and demonstrations for the science enthusiast. Exhibitors include UNC-Chapel Hill scholars, University laboratories, local entertainment and a kids’ make-and-take area. Celebrate science with more than 50 Expo exhibitors!
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Thanks for being a part of the LEARN NC network. Connect with LEARN NC and let us know how we can continue serving you.
Best,
Steve

Stephen C. Bronack, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Executive Director, LEARN NC

Best-practice articles are aligned to the NC Professional Teaching Standards

LEARN NC’s best-practice articles are now aligned to the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards, making it easier than ever before to find exactly what you need. These articles contain a wealth of information on a variety of topics, including classroom management, differentiated instruction, and teacher leadership. Are you looking for something specific? Try browsing by keyword on the right-hand side of the best practices page.

New lesson plans for teaching fluid dynamics

Looking for a creative way to teach fluid dynamics concepts in your middle school math or science class? Three hands-on, inquiry-based lesson plans addressing this topic have been published in the unit “A mathematical model to describe fluid behavior” This unit is provided by the Kenan Fellows program.

Students delve into the topic of natural frequency by observing and calculating oscillations of pine trees and dowel rods. They also work with the formula for frequency and discover applications for irrational numbers in the real world using data collected during the activities.

In another lesson, exploration of the radii of vessels in leaves introduces students to Murray’s law (the equation that models an efficient fluid transport system). Throughout this activity, students become familiar with cubes and cube roots.

Finally, students learn about density, viscosity, and the Reynolds Number. Active inquiry engages students in the concept of viscosity and the various ways we encounter it in our daily lives. They also learn how to find the Reynolds Number of a fluid and how to use it effectively in a scale model to better understand real-world phenomena.

Teaching about North Carolina Indians

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve updated the curriculum guide “Teaching About North Carolina American Indians.” The guide, which was made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, now includes a chapter about each of the eight state-recognized Indian tribes in North Carolina.

The curriculum guide consists of culturally appropriate, tribally-approved information on the Coharie Indian Tribe, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Meherrin Indian Tribe, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Sappony, and Waccamaw Siouan Tribe.

Resources include best practices for teaching about American Indians, suggestions for curriculum integration, historic and contemporary visual resources, and lesson plans.

Learn more at the LEARN NC fall conference

In conjunction with the publication of this unprecedented collection of instructional materials, we’ll host a related session at the LEARN NC 2011 Fall Interactive Conference on November 7.

At 1:40 pm, Randi R. Byrd and Claire Morrow will discuss the curriculum guide on teaching about American Indians in North Carolina. Randi Byrd (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians) is the Program Assistant at UNC’s American Indian Center and Claire Morrow (Meherrin Tribe) is a Curriculum Project Advisory Committee Member and Educator. Conference participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and share insights during a question-and-answer period.

For more details on this session, see the conference agenda page.

Draw some knowledge from The Well

We’ve just launched a new blog, The Well: Carolina Research for Your Classroom. The Well shares recent education research paired with practical tips you can use in your classroom tomorrow.

Our first posts include:

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Play,” a look at how video games can promote higher-order thinking, increase the positivity of a learning environment, and decrease achievement gaps.
  • Struggling in Silence,” which provides insights on how to understand and teach struggling adolescent readers.

We’ll add new posts each week, so stop back and see what’s new!

AP Mandarin Chinese digital textbook published

We’re pleased to report that we’ve just published Mandarin Chinese AP, an advanced-level digital textbook for secondary students of the Mandarin language. This freely-available advanced textbook is the final edition in a series of digital Mandarin textbooks:

Mandarin AP is designed to help students synthesize the skills they’ve acquired in the four previous courses and expand their knowledge of the Chinese language and culture. The four chapters in this online textbook cover a variety of interesting topics including sports, foreign travel, literary figures, ancient characters, and film.

All five textbooks feature video vignettes that introduce new language and culture. Each vignette is accompanied by a transcript and vocabulary list that presents both the traditional and simplified versions of the language. The textbooks also include a clickable audio link for each line of the vocabulary, making it possible to hear expressions and individual words as often as students like. All video and audio can easily be downloaded to a portable device or personal computer.

The textbooks were produced in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the North Carolina Virtual Public School and were developed as content for online courses funded by a Foreign Language Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Government. For more information, including the recently published digital Arabic I textbook, see LEARN NC’s critical languages page.

Mandarin Chinese IV digital textbook now available

We’ve just published Mandarin Chinese IV, the latest in a series of digital textbooks designed for the study of Mandarin Chinese language. This freely available honors-level textbook builds on the foundations established in Mandarin I, Mandarin II, and Mandarin III.

Mandarin Chinese IV expands upon the theme to “think globally and live locally” and provides the user with opportunities to expand Chinese listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills with short literary texts, authentic materials, and media on topics such as pollution, economic issues, and world population concerns. Chinese characters are presented in traditional and simplified forms.

All four textbooks feature video vignettes that introduce new language and culture. Each vignette is accompanied by a transcript and vocabulary list that presents both the traditional and simplified versions of the language. The design also includes a clickable audio link for each line of the vocabulary, making it possible to hear expressions and individual words as often as you like. All video and audio can easily be downloaded to a portable device or to your computer.

The textbooks were produced in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and the North Carolina Virtual Public School and were developed as content for online courses funded by a Foreign Language Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Government. For more information, including the recently published digital Arabic I textbook, see LEARN NC’s critical languages page.

New differentiation article on teaching with nonfiction

We’ve just published the eighth and final article in our series about differentiated instruction. In “The Power of Nonfiction: Using Informational Text to Support Literacy in Special Populations,” author Joan Barnatt presents the idea that informational texts, rather than fictional literature, may better help students develop literacy skills — particularly for English language learners, at-risk students, and students with learning disabilities.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 26, for the final web conference in this series. Article author Joan Barnatt and veteran teacher Paul Niles will be with us to discuss teaching with informational texts as an effective differentiation practice. Participants will have ample opportunities to have their questions answered by the presenters. Registration is open and space is still available. See the differentiation web conferences page for more information and to register.

Differentiating with technology: Web conference archive available

The archive from our most recent web conference on differentiated instruction is now available. This interactive session featured Dr. Bobby Hobgood, author of the article “Inclusion in the 21st-Century Classroom: Differentiating with Technology,” and sixth-grade teacher Becky Goddard. The presenters addressed research-based best practices in using technology to differentiate instruction.

Our next web conference, on April 4, will focus on the article “Using Knowledge of Student Cognition to Differentiate Instruction,” by Dr. Silvana Watson and Dr. Robert Gable. The conference is free and space is still available, but registration is required. See the differentiation web conferences page for more details and to register.

New differentiation article on student cognition

We’ve just published the seventh article in our ongoing series about differentiation. In “Using Knowledge of Student Cognition to Differentiate Instruction,” authors Silvana Watson and Robert Gable discuss the concept of working memory and list twenty concrete strategies for improving how students acquire, retain, and retrieve knowledge.

On Monday, April 4, we’ll host a web conference in which participants can bring their questions about using knowledge of student cognition to differentiate instruction. Registration is open and space is still available. See the differentiation web conferences page for more information and to register.