Dancing the Maypole or Protesting in the Streets

As a child, I remember celebrating the coming of Spring with our May Day festival.  We learned dances, and practiced moving around the "May Pole" (which was actually out tether-ball pole!) with our ribbons in hands and our best Spring dresses swaying as we moved.  This was a tradition practiced around the world, or at least throughout many Western nations as they celebrated the beauty of the new season.  For this generation, May Day has come to hold a whole new meaning.

With May 1 also being International Worker's Day, many across the United States and around the world gather to protest the inequalities of our modern day.  Some come as union members, bringing signs with their demands posted clearly, while others dress in black attire and masks, planning to cause destruction to those they see causing the inequalities.

Last year, in Seattle, Washington, 17 were arrested, many were injured, and much damage was done to cars and local businesses as one small faction of the larger protest movement started breaking car and store windows and urging others to cause mass destruction to the downtown area.   Similar chaos erupted around the world in other major cities as worker unrest spread into the streets and large groups formed to share their anger at the way the world has changed for some, but not for all.

So how do you teach your students about this in your classroom?  Do you stress their rights under the First Amendment in the United States or do you avoid the controversies that could follow from teaching your students to voice their anger at the world?  Do you ask your students to evaluate the facts to form their own opinions about the big topics that pop into the news each and every year or do you teach about tolerance and understanding about all difference, including those involving equity and the opportunities for all mankind?

There is no set answer.  It really depends on your teaching style, and your classroom climate.  But one thing to consider... The youth are the ones leading these movements.  How can we best prepare them to take on the challenges in our ever-changing world so that they can see the difference they demand without facing consequences for strategies not well thought out in the beginning!

Need some valuable reading resources on the May Day protests?  Address CCSS with these informational texts:
Need a class activity?  How about having your students compare these modern day revolutions with the American Revolution?  Here's the rubric!

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

I Got Nothing!

Oftentimes in our classrooms, we hear our students complain that they don't have any ideas, or they have no inspiration for a writing assignment.  We encourage them to brainstorm, create lists, do a Venn Diagram, write an outline... And the list goes on and on, yet the students still claim to be at a loss.  How on earth?

Yet, when professional writers claim to have "writer's block" and are unable to produce new materials, we sympathize with them, agreeing that we've all been there.  Even I, someone who has been writing as long as I can remember, and loving almost every minute of it, have been stuck numerous times without ideas or without inspiration.  It's a reality.

So how do we help students complete classroom writing tasks? 

I can only give advice that works for me personally... I take a trip.  Travel inspires me, and often provides me with more ideas than what I ever could have imagined from the confines of my office space.  The great outdoors provides me with everything I need to get started, and sometimes all I need to wrap it all up!

Send every student on a vacation?  Not that easy, is it?  But there are a few things you can do to help:
  1. Provide them a good book that will take them on an adventure or provide them details about something new and inviting to them.
  2. Set up a Walking Tour in your classroom to engage students with pictures, quotes, and artifacts from a place previously unimagined.
  3. Use your school's technology resources to take students on a virtual field trip where they can see the landscapes, the waterways, the weather conditions, and the cultural interactions from strangers around the world.
  4. Take students outside with their notepads and allow them time to simply breathe in the ideas from the Spring blooming around them.
Think about it... What was your first assignment every year as you started back to school?  Write about your summer break and your family vacation.  Many of our kids no longer have those experiences, so we have to help them find them in new and inventive ways!

And then watch the ideas roll in and roll onto those blank pieces of paper!

Happy Spring and Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

Can You Go Home Again?

Traveling along the West Coast, I have relived many memories.  Nothing has been as reminiscent as my stay on Ft. Lewis this past week.  Ft. Lewis in Lakewood, Washington was my home for almost three years from age 15 - 17.  I lived so many firsts on the fort, and much of who I am today came from my experiences there.  Even my becoming a History teacher came from my influences at Lakes High School, the high school serving the post.

When we first arrived on post this week, I thought my hopes of going home again were going to be shattered.  I drove around to all of my old hangouts, only to find such change.  Life had gone on without me there, and the changes were very evident.  The post commissary and PX were much larger and in new locations, the Burger King where I worked my first taxed job was an empty shell with a newer version sitting perpendicular, and the housing where I lived looked as though it had seen much better days.

 Driving off post to find my old high school did not help the situation.  I found the location, but the remaining part of the building now housed the district offices, and my school rival, Clover Park High School was sitting in grand presence right next door.  I was later informed that my old stomping ground was rebuilt just a few miles away, but to me, it was just gone.

And then there was my real home; the place I lived most of my hours while my step-father was stationed on Lewis... the skating rink.  It was where I spent my Friday and Saturday nights, showing my skills (and flirting with guys!), and I worked as a skate guard on weekend afternoons to pay for my entry and my black leather, high top speed and trick skates with the metallic blue strings and pom-poms that I just had to have.

The rink has been remodeled, and that was evident from the moment we pulled into the parking lot.  Even more upsetting, it was Friday night at 7 p.m. and I could not hear the music blaring or see the lines stretched around the turnstiles and out the door.  What had happened?  Time...

With my husband's urging, I went on in and requested a pair of speed skates.  As I tied them on, I asked questions of the counter worker about the evolution of the rink.  Where were the teens?  Why were there children here on a Friday night?  Where was the loud music and the crowds of GIs speeding and whistling around the outside edge of the wooden floor?  She couldn't answer my questions, but she found someone who could.

The older gentleman explained that he took over for Cliff, the master of everything roller skate, when Cliff retired in 1999.  Then, it was still a popular place for the teens, including all of the town rats that came in for Friday nights.  But then it all changed in 2001... September 11th.

Fort Lewis is an active, and very large, military post.  In the mid-80s, I remember going on lock down when Qaddafi threatened the United States.  Our buses were stopped at the gates each day, and we had to present our IDs to the MPs who stepped on board each bus, carrying their rifles as they approached.  But that ended quickly, and life was back to normal.  September 11th was a different story.

After the attacks on the twin towers in NYC, the post was closed to all outsiders, including the neighboring teens who came in those Friday nights.  And the soldiers?  They were more concerned with preparing for deployment than they were skating in circles as the strobe lights rolled around.   The rink died.

So last Friday night, I skated, and the new old guy was kind enough to put on some 80s tracks so I could relive my youth for just a few minutes.  And to my surprise, I stayed upright, made a few turns, performed a few tricks, and impressed my husband, who didn't know me way back then, just a little bit with my skating skills!

So, what is the lesson here?  You can go home again, but history is important.  Current events turn into the recent past, and those circumstances turn into history.  It changes what is familiar to us, and creates something new for the next generations to live and then remember.  Had I not become a History teacher, and taught this very lesson to my students for years, after learning it myself from Mr. Hurt at the original Lakes High School here in Washington in the late 1980s, I might not have understood what happened to my home from way back when.  I might have cried, felt the loss of my old friend, and mourned what I no longer had.  Instead, I circled the rink just a few more times, knowing I can go home again, through my memories, any time I want!
Michele Luck

We could all travel anywhere IF...

 I remember how, as a child,  I loved to escape my small world through reading.  I traveled back in time to do chores with Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I lived on a farm with Charlotte and Wilbur out in the barn.  I visited other continents through non-fiction books, and learned all about the mountains and oceans I hoped to someday see for myself through the picture books and National Geographic Magazines I found sitting on end tables in doctor's offices.  But most importantly, once I became old enough to ride my bike beyond the end of the driveway, I found my local library!

As the Internet took over our world in my young adulthood, I saw the value of books begin to deteriorate in the eyes of the younger generations.  Thanks to Google, Yahoo, and AOL search, you no longer needed to immerse yourself in the written imagery to travel the world; you could simply find a live street cam or take a virtual tour, thanks to someone else's effort in recording their personal experiences.

The youngest generation does not even seem to be utilizing the search engines, but are growing up playing video games with detailed graphics and enhanced sound, but never learn the power of their own minds.  They do not get to experience being so lost in a book that they can't put it down until they reach the end.  Or reading that last book in the series and spending weeks going over in their minds what could be or should be for the characters in the future. 

Books take us places that nothing else can.  They take us into our own imaginations.  They open doors for us that no one and nothing else can open.  We do not only join the characters on their own paths, but we create our own journey in their time and place, walking along with them.  Reading changes who we are, and transforms us into what we can be.

Add to that, the value of reading from the academic standpoint.  Everything we do in the academic world requires a sound hold of the basic reading skills.  Reading is everywhere in everything we do. 

As we travel from town to town, the first place we typically look for is the library.  It is our place to relax, our place to explore, and our place to think.  But sadly, many of the towns we visit no longer have libraries.  The buildings stand as shells of what they once were.  Starbucks and Panaras have taken over the corners, and internet access has replaced those books on the tables in waiting areas. 

Yet today, we saw something I had never seen before as we drove through a Portland suburb...

It was amazing, and it started my imagination flowing.  What if they were on every street corner?  What if every child had access to one of these outside their apartment building or at their bus stop? 

Just imagine how the world could change... maybe we can find a book that will tell us how! 

Happy Reading!

Michele Luck

What Will You Find at a Teacher Job Fair?

Over 1000 teachers are attending the Oregon Teacher Job Fair in Portland this week.  They are each visiting with over 150 school districts from across the country and beyond, each hoping to find that perfect fit.  As they search for that ideal classroom setting, they will also find us there to help them find the perfect resources to teach the new student populations they will meet this fall!

Below are the great TeachersPayTeachers sellers who have so generously contributed great games and other classroom resources to be given away to the teachers at the Job Fair in the goodie bags we will distribute!

Do you want these great resources for your classroom?  Visit each seller's store to see what incredible freebies they have available for you over the next few days! 

Super Secondary Sellers
Visit Michele Luck's Social Studies for interactive Social Studies and ELA resources.
At Science Stuff you will find everything you need for the middle & high school science class.

Mrs. Orman's Classroom has everything you need for the ELA classroom, especially for Hunger Games!
The Tutor House can set you up with everything for your tutor business or fun for your classroom!
4mulaFun with bring fun and excitement to your middle and high school Math class!
Addie Williams has everything you can imagine for the Science, Social Studies and ELA classroom!
In Arlene Manemann's store you can find resources for ELA, Math, Social Studies and more!
Math resources galore can be found at 4 the Love of Math!
Desktop Learning Adventures for Math & Literacy offers differentiated activities and more!
Literature Guides, ELA games, and much more can be found at Different Drummer Secondary Resources.
Let the HappyEdugator provide you with the engaging ELA resources you need!
Aspire to Inspire your students with these creative teaching resources!
Let Miss Math Dork make your classroom cool with her fun and engaging resources!
With help from Misty Miller, you can bring fun and excitement into your classroom!
In the Open Classroom you will find everything you need for Secondary Language Arts.
Science in the City has the resources you need to help your students investigate their world.
Put some heart in your Math class by visiting Teaching Math by Hart!

 Mary Carr

Lindsay Perro

 Kristin Lee

 Charlene Tess

Excellent Elementary Sellers

Christine Maxwell
Marcy Prager
Rainbow City Learning
Selma Dawani Learning Fundamentals & Educational Therapy
The Teaching Files
Outstanding Sellers for All Grade Levels

I Am Bullyproof Music will help you beat bullying at any grade level.
Visit Subplanners to help you set up your classroom while you are away!

And be sure to shop these sellers' stores on TpT this week for great sales of up to 10% off at checkout!  Sales will run at the discretion of each individual seller.

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

A Different View

Campgrounds are very different from your typical neighborhood or apartment complex.  You find people in them that you would never meet otherwise, and this is a good thing!

As we traveled and stayed in the different campgrounds, we met up with many different couples, singles, and families, often finding something in common with them, despite our many differences.  Our commonalities spark conversations, while the differences keep us talking.  Fortunately for us, we are open to the idea that others may be different, in thought and action, and therefore, they have the right to live as they do until they begin to infringe on my rights or the safety and well-being of others.

That said, we had great neighbors in California that owned farms on which they legally grew "medical" cannabis.  While I would never be lighting up with them, I learned a lot from them about gems and rocks that we could find along the beaches we planned to visit.

While in Pennsylvania, we encountered a dead-ringer for the Fonz, and he rode off on his motorcycle in his leather jacket after talking to us for a long time about his experiences in Vietnam.

Down in Florida we made lifelong friends who had a special needs son.  He was filled with joy, and when we took them to Disney for a day, his excitement filled us all with more joy than we could ever imagine.

In Oregon, we met up with  couple we realized will be on the exact same Alaskan cruise we are taking in May.  They were bikers who roared out of the park each morning to ride the mountains until sunset, and while I would never straddle a bike and go 70 MPH over asphalt (or any other surface), they were the most gracious of people and invited us to share a ride to the cruise ship when we got to their hometown just outside Seattle.

In Florida and again in San Diego, we met up with both homeschoolers and unschoolers.  These families engaged their children in real life lessons, and also addressed core fundamentals while traveling the country.  More importantly, the children learned that possessions were not as important as finding joy in what you have, inside and out.  While I would be the first one to "teach" these parents the importance of a solid education for all children, they taught me lessons!

Traveling the country has taught us many lessons.  But the most important lessons we have learned in our adventure is to look beyond the peeling paint on the old trailer, and see the incredible resources within.  You never know what you might find!

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

A New Age of Exploration!

As we are traveling up the West Coast, it has been a new "Age of Exploration" for me!  I had no idea when we planned this little adventure that I would see such diversity and experience so many different landscapes as we took the 1200 mile trek.

I lived in Seattle, Washington back in the late 1980s, and I had traveled down I-5 on our move from Seattle to El Paso, Texas.  I remember being surprised at the mountains and deserts we encountered as we drove, but I was too young and too unaware to really see everything on our path.

This trip has been eye opening and filled with wondrous experiences.  I have walked beautiful beaches, collected sea glass, seashells, and agate, and listened to the waves rush in all along the coast.  But beyond the typical beach experience, there is so much more.

In San Diego, we stayed up in the mountains of Yamul, and had to drive a very scary cliff-hanging road to reach the shore each day.  Between LA and San Francisco, we climbed sand dunes and then slid down the other sides as we walked the mile from our campground to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.  In northern California, we were surrounded by the great Redwoods, and could look for what seemed like miles trying to spot the treetops.

And now we are on the Oregon Coast where huge rocks sit along the coast, and rocky jets dart out into the ocean, allowing you to walk on top of the water as you search for signs of the migrating whales. 

Despite my having taught Geography for many years, I am in awe everyday that there is so much more out here for me to learn!  I can't even imagine what it was like for those explorers 500 years ago as they encountered these same areas and were amazed at all there was to examine and conquer ahead of them!

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck