Halloween around the world

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When most students think of Halloween, they think of trick-or-treating, parades, bobbing for apples and other family fun activities—a time of celebration and superstition. But do your students know the true origin of the holiday?

Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III declared 1 November as All Saint’s Day, a time to honour all saints and martyrs. The evening before was known as All Hallow’s Eve, and later Halloween.

Over time, Halloween has evolved into a secular, community based event that is today highly commercialized—at least in some parts of the world. In others, Halloween looks a little bit different.

In Ireland, kids do dress up and go trick-or-treating, but parties and games are also popular. A favourite is called Snap Apple, in which an apple is tied to a door frame with a piece of string and people try to bite it. Fruitcake is a popular treat.

Food is also an important Halloween staple in Austria, but perhaps not quite in the way you’d expect. Before Austrian’s go to bed on Halloween night, they place bread and water on the table and a light a lamp to welcome dead souls back to earth.

Known as Yue Lan in Hong Kong, or Festival of the Hungry Souls, pictures of fruit or money are burned to offer comfort to the ghosts in the spirit world—which are believed to roam the earth for 24 hours.

If you don’t think that’s a long time, consider Alla Helgons Day in Sweden, where the holiday is celebrated with activities throughout the week. On Halloween day, schools lets out early so kids can trick-or-treat.

In Mexico, Spain, and other Latin countries, Halloween is a three-day festival known as El Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. The celebration includes parades and costumes—perhaps one of the most popular parties for the deceased.

But Germans are not so trusting. It is custom there to hide all of the knives on Hallow’s Eve to avoid being attacked by a walking spirit.

Japan doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but bright red lanterns are hung and placed on rivers to float during the Obon Festival. The lights are believed to guide the ancestral spirits. And in Korea, Halloween is known as Chuseok, a time to thank their ancestors for all of their sacrifices. But you won’t find Koreans at family graves in October—their Halloween is celebrated in August.

Regardless of where you are in the world today, we wish you a safe Halloween!

~ The Teachers Media Team 

Photo Credit: “Header image: BY- Pexels / Creative Commons

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Writing Prompt: Spooky ideas for Halloween

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You may find your classroom overfilling with uninvited guests this Monday—from vampires and ghosts, to the whole cast of the Marvel comics, and everything inbetween. Want to control the guest list? Why not propose a “literary” Halloween bash around the works of some of your students’ favourite authors and characters—Harry Potter, for instance?

Speaking of literacy, Halloween is the perfect time to scare up some spooktacular student writing. Whether you’re gearing them up for National Novel Writing Month (starting November 1), or demonstrating the mechanics of poetry, we’re sure you’ll find something ghoulish and fun in some of the creative writing prompts we’ve curated from teachers across the globe.

This site, for instance, features brilliant (and funny!) examples of epitaphs, like this classic ode to an unfortunate poetry teacher:

Here lies poetry that all children hated.
The last person who taught it, we decapitated.

While we’re on the subject of classic: what is the controversy surrounding Stephen King’s cult classic, Carrie? That’s one of the books up for debate in this Teachers Media International video where popular authors such as Celia Rees delve into the world of horror fiction.

Prefer something a little more visual? An eerie underground dwelling is discovered in this Teachers Media International video starter—and it seems to be haunted!

With My Pumpkin Story, younger students use an online tool to “carve” a pumpkin, and then write a story about it. And in Spooky Adlibs, students use a spreadsheet to answer questions, then fill in the blanks to weave tales of ghostly adventure.

Good old fashioned writing prompts are an effective way to get students writing. Consider these quick story starters, which are suitable for all ages and are limited only to kids’ imaginations.

  • The mad scientist was creating a new monster that could…
  • I got an eerie feeling when I heard…
  • The Halloween pumpkin turned into a…
  • The large cauldron of purple liquid started to boil when…

Be sure to encourage students to use sensory detail, describing not just the sights, but also the smells, sounds, and textures around them. Atmosphere is important, and it’s perhaps best explored through video, such as in this Teachers Media International writing prompt, where your class will discover ghostly events, gates mysteriously opening, and footsteps being heard—even though no one is there.

Inspired? Great! Now get those students writing! Reading their work aloud might be the perfect activity for Halloween Monday—after that recess game of Quidditch with your team of Harry Potters, of course.

Have a great weekend!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Photo Credit: “Header image: BY- TheRoughRider / Creative Commons

LESSON PLAN IDEAS: Halloween as a cross-curricular experience

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Boo!

If you jumped at that, it may mean you’re not quite ready to celebrate Halloween in “spooktacular” fashion. In just a few days, ghouls and goblins, princesses, knights, and a plethora of Pikachu will be swarming the streets—and quite possibly gathering in your classroom Monday morning.

Not sure what to do with them? Teachers Media International has curated a few lesson plan ideas from our video archives, as well as drawn inspiration from teachers across the globe.

Halloween is a fun time for mathematics. Use pumpkins to estimate and measure weight and circumference. Discover the math woven into a spider’s web using angles, or create graphs based on the candy and sweets students anticipate receiving during an evening of Trick-or-Treating.

In this Teachers Media International mathematics video, a teacher turns herself into a witch to encourage her class to measure different volumes of coloured elixers, in order to make 500 ml of their very own magic potion.

This pumpkin candle holder is a great art assignment for younger students, or consider introducing your class to this monstrous project featuring “monster” sketches from students around the world.

Did you know that Ireland is considered the birthplace of Halloween? Dive into more legend and lore of the season with these 10 facts, sure to impress your students. A simple Google search will net hundreds of trivia about Halloween—more than enough material for a “spooky” pop quiz.

Music and Science come together in this Teachers Media International video, where the song Dem Bones inspires a class to discover basic anatomy while matching the appropriate scientific terms. Students are then given a puzzle of paper bones, which they piece together to make a human skeleton.

Looking for an alternative to Halloween? Why not celebrate Historical Figure Day with 10 lesson plan ideas that help students bring the past to life?

Be sure to check the blog this Friday, where we’ll scare up a few great writing prompts guaranteed to spook your students’ imaginations into action. And as always, we’d love to read about your ideas—share in the comments!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Note: “Header image: BY- http://plusquotes.com / Creative Commons

UN Day: Celebrating an era of sustainability 

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In 1945, nations across the globe were in ruins. The second war had ended, and the world was ready for peace. Fifty-one countries gathered in San Francisco that year to sign a charter, effectively creating a new organization—the United Nations (UN).

Seventy-one years later, the United Nations continues to maintain peace and security, and today—24 October—marks the 68th anniversary of UN Day, an annual event to celebrate the role and goals of the UN and its charter.

“Humanity has entered the era of sustainability—with a global commitment to fulfil the great promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, states in a quote on the UN Day website. “In this, the Organization’s 71st year, we have 17 goals to propel us towards a better future for all on a healthy planet. “

These ambitious—but vital—goals are outlined here and this link offers posters that demonstrate concrete actions people can take to help achieve them. How many of these actions can you implement in your classroom or school? In what other ways can you recognize the efforts of the UN?

Events to celebrate UN Day are planned throughout the world, including an inspiring concert featuring the Korean Traditional Music Orchestra, Lang Lang, the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir, and the Hungarian State Opera with performances by soprano Andrea Rost, and other notable artists. The theme of this year’s concert is “Freedom First.”

Want more info? Check out this article for 5 Fast Facts about UN Day You Need to Know.

~ The Teachers Media Team

Note: “Header image: BY- sanjit / Creative Commons

Hot Topic: What can students around the world learn from the U.S. election?

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The world is keeping a close eye on the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

While people from other countries may not be able to vote, it would be difficult—and foolish—to ignore the enormous influence the U.S. wields across the globe. Regardless of where you stand on the candidates and the issues, the 8 November vote will create a ripple effect that will be felt in classrooms from coast to coast and globally.

With just over two weeks until the big day, politics is sure to be a hot topic in your school. But what to teach?

Teachers Media International has a great selection of video resources that tackle tough topics such as global citizenship, the right to vote, and the fine art of the “debate.” In this video, for example, students at a school in the U.K. talk about how their school council works, providing great tips on how to host a successful debate, and most importantly, the most effective way to represent the views of others.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, we’ll feature a number of election-inspired resources on the Teachers Media International website, suitable for classroom use. If you’re not already registered, now’s a good time—our “Lite” service is FREE!

For well-thought out articles, take a look at the Emerald Publishing Group website, where up until 31 October, you can read and discuss a number of insightful articles with respect to the election, including this fascinating infographic: What might the “American Dream” look like by the year 2035?

 Of course, this is only a sampling of the resources you can access. What is available in your school? What methods are you using to talk about this hot topic, and the potential impact of the results, regardless of which candidate is elected into the Oval Office? Share—or debate—in the comments!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Note: “Header image: BY- DU Beat / Creative Commons”

Writing Prompt: Creating rubrics for student self-assessment

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Many educators have a love / hate relationship with assessment. It can be both rewarding and empowering—but as the assignments pile up, and the year goes on, the sheer amount of assessing can be daunting and often monotonous.

It doesn’t have to be.

By creating rubrics—a self-assessment tool that sets clear expectations for students and holds them accountable—learning can become more meaningful. Using rubrics is an easy way to assess student progress both during the learning and as an effective summative measure, not to mention keeping students involved throughout the process. To create a rubric, keep these five basic tenants in mind:

  1. Be consistent. Make sure your students understand how they will be assessed.
  2. Base your rubric around the skills you are assessing.
  3. Use clear language.
  4. Embrace the positive.
  5. Leave room for creativity.

That last point lends itself well to today’s writing prompt, in which you will help your students build a rubric for a current assignment.

Step One

Brainstorm with the students exactly what the project is intended to accomplish and all the major components of the project. , Write down the elements or criteria required to complete each component. Make sure the students have a chance to discuss and understand the criteria.

Step Two

You’re ready to add more components. Make a list of the “extra” ways students can earn marks—creativity, perfect grammar, or effort, for example.

Step Three

Choose your Rubric. Rubrics come in a variety of forms, but the most common is the list. If you like the list form, you’ve already created a basic outline. For a table, make the points (criteria) run down the left side of the page. Across the top, write in evaluative terms from poor to excellent. Under the excellent column, write the ideal project criteria. Fill in a description under each evaluative term for each criteria .

Step Four

For older students( or for summative purpose) you can  attach points to each evaluative term under each component. Determine the points you’d like to make each component of the project worth. The easiest is to make the top score 100 so that students can quickly add the points he/she obtains. Assign points for each section until you’ve filled out all of the sections of the rubric.  For younger students or you may decide to keep the terms (excellent, etc.)

You’re done!

By engaging students in the evaluation process, they are active in their learning. Leave room for questions, and have fun!

Do you have examples of rubrics you’ve used in the classroom? We’d love to hear about them and how they work in your classroom.

~ The Teachers Media Team

Expert Advice: Meaningful learning assessment

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Meaningful assessment is about more than students’ grades, says Ken Royal, an education technology writer and editor with 34 years of classroom, school, and district-level experience.

“To get to the bottom of what’s really important, we need to begin by looking at two types of assessment for data collection,” he says in this new article for Teachers Media International, Meaningful Learning Assessment.

Royal outlines the various types of assessment, noting that educators who complete formative assessment effectively can find out what truly matters in their teaching and for student learning.

The key, he adds, is to accurately journal every student’s daily learning quest for each subject and class. Sound overwhelming?

“Well, you might be right if we were talking about last century student assessment,” he says. “But today, using technology solutions, that sort of assessment is not only possible to do, it isn’t difficult to do with many students, or just one.”

He adds that good and specific professional development for teachers is key to making formative assessment work, along with a solid learning plan for students as individuals.

The following videos—for secondary and primary—feature examples of the kinds of assessment tools Royal outlines in his article. For dozens more assessment video resources, or to read the full text of Royal’s article, register for Teachers Media International—our “Lite” service is FREE.

What assessment strategies are you using in the classroom? Sound off in the comments section!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Dear New Teacher: Letters from the pros

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Throughout September, we published a series of Dear New Teacher letters—advice for “rookies” from seasoned educational pros. The response was so wonderful, we couldn’t pass over these “last minute” words of wisdom from a teacher in London. After all, the learning doesn’t stop after the first month of teaching.

Dear New Teacher,

Teaching is one of those priceless jobs where each day is different and you never know quite what to expect when you walk into that classroom! It is extremely rewarding watching your class learn and grow throughout the year.

In all jobs there are always highs and lows. Paperwork can be one of the lowest points in teaching but if you keep on top of it (organisation) then the highs certainly outweigh the lows. Enthusiasm and lots of energy will keep you going even at the toughest of times!

And always remember to believe in what you are doing, don’t take it too seriously, and listen to constructive criticism.

T is for time (it goes very quickly)
E is for energy (you need it for those 30 children)
A is for answers (the ones you want your students to get correct)
C is for caring (each child is special)
H is for holidays (we need and deserve them)
E is for education (what every child needs)
R is for responsibility (the children are in our care)

~ Dawn Sutcliffe, a primary teacher from the UK

Have something to add? Send it to us via email at contactus@teachers-media.com. We might publish it on our blog!

For continued professional learning, consider registering for Teachers Media International, an online service that gives you access to more than 3,500 best practice videos, articles, interactives, and more. Our “Lite” service is FREE!

Have a great weekend!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Writing prompt: Empowering women in education

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Teachers Media International believes in gender equality for both males and females, but with yesterday being International Day of the Girl Child and this Saturday marked as the International Day of Rural Women, there has been a significant amount of “girl power” in the media, a good portion of which has been geared toward the U.S. presidential debate. No question, the 7 November vote will have a global impact.

As you gear up for election talks in your classroom, we thought it might be a great time to discuss with students the issue of gender equality—how far we’ve come, and how far we’ve yet to go. This Teachers Media International video is an excellent example of that when it comes to equal pay.

Like what you see? Register for our FREE “Lite” service to see more great video resources.

While society as a whole has taken great strides toward gender equality, the leaders of the “girl power” movement are some of the most influential women in the world. Who are they? How have they impacted your life? Consider these questions to spark discussion as you review these following writing prompts with your students:

Primary

  1. Brainstorm with your class: What does influential mean? Who is the most influential woman you know? How does she inspire you? (Note: Most young children will cite their mother, aunt, grandmother, or other close relatives and friends here. This is a great time to write a poem, letter, or descriptive paragraph of appreciation.)
  2. What are some of the advantages of being a girl?
  3. Name three women you know who you look up to. What makes them so great? Why are they so important to you?

Secondary

  1. Research a woman who was the first female to work in a traditionally male field. What kind of struggles did she face?
  2. If you could meet any influential woman, who would you choose? What questions would you ask her?
  3. Brainstorm a number of stereotypes people have about girls. (Ie: You throw like a girl!) Why can stereotyping be dangerous?

Consider your own classroom. In what ways are you promoting gender equality? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

~ The Teachers Media Team

World Mental Health Day: Providing psychological first aid in schools

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Did you know that one in six adults has had a common mental health problem in the past week? According to the World Mental Health Organization, if society doesn’t act now, depression will be the leading illness globally by 2030. An alarming statistic—and sadly, one from which youth are not immune.

You can help.

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day—recognized each October 10—is psychological first aid, the idea that anyone can provide support to those in distress. It is a time to educate and raise awareness of mental illness and its major effects on people’s lives worldwide.

But as educators know, that awareness can’t stop at the end of today. The impact of mental illness is felt daily in schools, and is an important issue that must be constantly monitored, discussed, and observed.

Teachers Media International can provide support. Our extensive video library contains dozens of videos on mental health—from personal accounts as relayed by teachers from around the world, to tips for providing psychological first aid to those in distress, perhaps even your peers.

The first step is to listen. We encourage you to review this video, in which staff at a school openly discuss their mental health problems amid claims that one in three teachers will experience such issues during their career.

What personal stories—or words of wisdom—can you add?

For more information about how you can provide psychological first aid to those in need, please visit the World Health Organization website.

~ The Teachers Media Team

Photo Credit: Header image: BY- Iamonline.com / Creative Commons