Welcome Back Teachers! This year we will be offering 3-5 strong Lesson Plans a week, finished on Friday of that week. Those lesson plans and guides will focus on topics of discussion and news-worthy stories in the Times Union for that given week. We will also be sending out a weekly newsletter which will contain those lesson plans and an additional 5 topics of focus for that coming week on Mondays.
Monday, January 6- Friday, January 10:
1. Economic Growth = Ecological Downfall?: Ecologists warn that economic growth is strangling the natural systems on which life depends, creating not just wealth, but filth on a planetary scale. Carbon pollution is changing the climate. Water shortages, deforestation, tens of millions of acres of land too polluted to plant and other global environmental ills are increasingly viewed as strategic risks by governments and corporations around the world. Click here for a lesson plan on ecology and the importance of protecting our natural environment for years to come.
2. Marijuana Laws: A day after it was reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will try to make New York the latest state to ease its marijuana restrictions by allowing limited medicinal pot use, lawmakers and marijuana advocates reacted Sunday with a mix of surprise, elation, curiosity and trepidation. Click here for a lesson plan on marijuana.
3. Single Digits: The brutal polar air that has made the Midwest shiver over the past few days spread to the East and the Deep South on Tuesday, shattering records that in some cases had stood for more than a century. Click here for multiple lesson plans on polar weather.
4. Governor Cuomo Speech: The governor set an aggressive timeline to award the first four upstate casino licenses by fall, and called for universal pre-K throughout the state as well as a $2 billion bond issue to end technology inequality in schools. At perhaps his most animated point in the speech, Cuomo decried the fact that in some schools the most advanced technology in the buildings is the metal detectors students pass through to start their days. Click here for a lesson plan that incorporates modern day technology into the classroom.
Monday, January 13- Friday, January 17:
1. Siena Basketball: Approximately 1,500 grade school students enjoyed Kids Day as the Siena College women’s basketball team took on Monmouth Monday afternoon in Loudonville. The annual event was sponsored by BlueShield of Northeastern New York. Click here for a lesson plan on basketball for the classroom.
2. SAFE ACT: Wednesday marks the first anniversary of New York’s SAFE Act, a controversial gun law passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo a year ago in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. The day will come and go without a key component of the law going into effect. Wednesday was originally supposed to trigger a requirement that buyers of ammunition go through background checks before purchasing bullets or shells. Click here to learn all about New York's SAFE Act.
3. 2014 Olympics: Our strongest local tie to the Winter Olympics —Steve Conklin from Saratoga Springs — is coaching the Australians, a team that has heard “Cool Runnings” references one too many times but has also laid down solid performances among a competitive class even Conklin refers to as “B Team.” Everyone loves an underdog, and now they’re ours. Sort of. Through Conklin’s ties. Close enough. Go, Team Australia! Click here for a lesson plan on dog sledding.
Monday, January 20- Friday, January 24:
1. Martin Luther King Jr: An unknown 1962 audio recording of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 26-minute speech in New York City to celebrate the centennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary Emancipation Proclamation — a tape that was undetected for 35 years in a box at the State Museum following a 1979 donation — thrilled historians and reinforced the vital role played by an unpaid college intern. Click here for a classroom resource guide on Martin Luther King Jr.
2. Visual Eating: The Chinese proverb “You eat first with your eyes” is supported by science. “Visual stimuli have been shown to alter the perception of taste, smell and flavor,” writes Jeannine F. Delwiche, a professor in the department of food science at Ohio State University. Sometimes the associations are learned: When we see something we’ve previously enjoyed, even if it’s not especially attractive, we anticipate future pleasure from eating it again. Click here for multiple lesson plans on food science.
3. Law School Graduates: About 750 law school graduates are sworn in Thursday as newly-admitted members of the New York State Bar by the court at an Empire State Convention Center ceremony in Albany. Below, state Presiding Justice Karen Peters of the Third Department, including Albany, offers introductory remarks. Click here for a lesson plan on law and civil rights.
Monday, January 27- Friday, January 31:
1. Orchestra: The Albany Symphony Orchestra picked up one of the most prestigious honors in music Sunday: a Grammy Award, the first such nomination and win in the orchestra’s 84-year history. The ASO was awarded best classical instrumental solo for its recording of composer John Corigliano’s “Conjurer — Concerto For Percussionist & String Orchestra,” released on Naxos and recorded in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Click here for a lesson plan on the orchestra.
2. Albany Institute of History and Art: Plenty of big wheels were rolling around the Albany Institute of History & Art on Monday morning: U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, AIHA Executive Director Tammis K. Groft. Each took a few minutes to speak, extolling the richness of the region, the importance of the institute, the power of art and technology. Click here for the Albany History and Art's teaching resources website.
3. Pete Seeger, folk singer: Following his death on Monday night at 94, global tributes and heartfelt testimonies have been pouring forth in honor of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, who transformed 20th-century America with his songs of peace, protest and social justice and who imbued an epic life with a workingman’s sensibility, environmental activism and standing up for the underdog. Click here for a lesson plan on social justice in 20th century America.
4. Winter Olympics: If the U.S. luge team does well at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, there will be a lot of backslapping going on in Watervliet. That’s because employees at Saint-Gobain Abrasives in Watervliet have a special relationship with USA Luge that dates back to the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Click here for a lesson plan on the luge.
Monday, February 3-Friday, February 7:
1. Superbowl Sunday: Members of the Seattle Seahawks hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy after they routed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Thousands of fans descended on the New York City area to watch the Seahawks win 43-8. Click here for a history on the Superbowl.
2. Owls Move South: Snowy owls are being spotted throughout the Capital Region, the result of the largest influx of the birds in decades. The birds have been seen in every county in the Capital Region and almost every one in New York state. In fact, this year, the Arctic natives have been seen as far south as Florida, and one brave bird even made it as far as Bermuda. Click here for a lesson plan on owls and their habitat.
3. Cigarettes: The Rhode Island-based drugstore chain said Wednesday that it will remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from its 7,600 stores by October as it emphasizes its role as a destination for consumers seeking better health. CVS expects the move to trim $2 billion off its annual revenue. Click here for a health lesson plan on cigarettes and tobacco use.
Monday, February 17- Friday, February 21:
1. Storm Clouds: Brian A. Colle woke up at 1 a.m. Thursday and headed out into the snow. Using plates of glass he had been storing in a freezer in his garage, he collected snowflakes for analysis with a powerful microscope. Back-to-back storms have made for long hours and a lot of night shifts this year, said Colle, a professor of atmospheric science at Stony Brook University. “We’re always looking for good data sets,” he said, “so we’ve been lucky.” Click here for an atmospheric science lesson plan.
2. Olympic Gold: Davis-White first U.S. ice-dance team to win Olympic gold. While a number of favored Americans have not fulfilled their hopes in various sports at the Sochi Games, Davis and White performed with consistency and resourcefulness. They won the long program with a season best of 116.63 points and an overall score of 195.52. Click here for a lesson plan on ice-skating.
3. Butterflies: The Butterfly House at miSci in Schenectady offers a welcome break from winter by giving a glimpse of summer and the winged creatures it brings. Jayden Matula, 3, of Delmar, right, uses her mother’s cellphone to take a photograph. Below left, adults and children hunt for butterflies. Click here for a lesson plan all about butterflies.
4. Killer Whales: You might be surprised to learn that a 17-year-old contributed to a piece of legislation, recently introduced in the state Senate, that would ban killer whales from water parks and aquariums in the state. Click here for a lesson plan on Killer Whales.
Monday, February 24- Friday, February 28:
1. Reading Time: School 14 fourth-graders listen Wednesday as school board member Anne Wager-Rounds reads “The Grinch meets his Max.” The event in Troy is part of National Read Across America, held annually around Dr. Seuss’ March 2 birthday. Click here for a teaching resource guide as part of the National Read Across America project.
2. Global Warming Worsening: Man-made global warming is worsening and will disrupt both the natural world and human society, warns a joint report of two of the world’s leading scientific organizations. Click here for some helpful lesson plans on the issue of global warming and environmental studies.
3. Nutrition Labels: Ice cream lovers beware: The government knows you’re unlikely to stop after half a cup. New nutrition labels proposed Thursday for many popular foods, including ice cream, aim to more accurately reflect what people actually eat. And the proposal would make calorie counts on labels more prominent, too, reflecting that nutritionists now focus more on calories than fat. Click here for a health lesson plan on nutrition and calories.