Monday, November 23, 2015

The Common Core and Walt Disney World

There is the perennial question as to whether you should pull your children out of school to go to Walt Disney World. The hotels and flights might be cheaper in the off-season, but how much instruction are they missing?

While I have been an educator for ten years, I still struggle with this question. I do not want children to miss my lessons. I work hard to make them interesting and enjoyable while still meeting the needs of all the learners in my class. Missing just one day could mean missing the introduction of a unit, a full explanation of key vocabulary, a test, a friend’s birthday, a district assessment, another way to add (that might be the perfect way for your child), and many more things.  But at the same time, I understand the draw of Walt Disney World in the off-season.

Full disclosure, I have made that decision for myself, and yes, I have been to Walt Disney World during non-peak times. I do feel a tinge of guilt that is usually alleviated when I pass my luggage to my home airport, because I’m on my way to my happy place.

The Common Core State Standards (Common Core) is an initiative to standardize education in all 50 states.  Education is a States Right, and thus each state sets its own criteria for the scope and sequence of the educational standards (benchmarks that a child should know or be able to do by the end of each grade level). Since its release in 2010, 42 states and Washington, DC, Guam, American Samoan Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Northern Marian Islands have adapted the Common Core.

Through this and future articles, I hope to give parents (and teachers) of young children ideas how to link experiences at Walt Disney World to the Common Core.

Name of Lesson: The Princess Retell
Estimated Time to Complete: 10 – 15 minutes
Location at WDW: Princess Fairytale Hall (or waiting to meet any princess)
Grade Range: Kindergarten – 1st Grade (extension for 2nd Grade)
Standards Addressed:

With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.
With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

1st Grade:
Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

Materials: N/A

1.     After getting in line to meet a princess at the Magic Kingdom’s Princess Fairytale Hall, have the child think of their favorite princess. Ask the following questions:
a.     Who is your favorite princess?
b.     Why do you like her?
2.     Ask the child to tell you:
a.     The main characters (the most important characters).
                                               i.     What does the character look like?
                                              ii.     What color is her dress?
b.     The setting (where the story takes place).
                                               i.     If it has several settings ask them to pick their favorite.
                                              ii.     Tell an important part of the setting
1.     e.g. In Aurora’s forest there is a cottage. Her castle is big and has a spinning wheel.
2.     e.g. Arendelle is on the water.
c.      Retell only the important parts of the story.
                                               i.     If the child is giving too much detail, prompt them to try and tell the story in only three sentences.
1.     e.g. In the beginning, Snow White is happy, but the Evil Queen wants to be the fairest of them all. In the middle, Snow White meets seven dwarves and they have fun together. In the end, the Evil Queen is killed and Prince Charming saves Snow White.
                                              ii.     If the child is only giving short answers prompt them with questions like:
1.     What happened after Tiana kissed the frog?
2.     How did Eric kill Ursula?
3.     Have the child think about the most important problem in the story (Merida’s mother is turned in a bear, Rapunzel gets locked in a tower).
a.     Ask them how the characters solved that problem. What did they do to fix it?
4.     Ask your child to help you make a living picture of the solution. Have them tell you how to stand to make the best picture, with them as one of the lead characters.
5.     Give your child a big hug and praise them for helping you retell the story elements of their favorite movie.

2nd Grade:
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

·      After the child tells the problem (as above), have them explain in detail how the characters reacted to the problem.
o   What did Rapunzel do to help get herself out of the tower? How did she feel in the tower?
·      Ask, “What would you have done differently to solve the problem?”
·      Have the child imagine a new ending for the story if a character had done something different:
o   What if Snow White didn’t eat the apple, would she still have fallen in love?
o   What if Cinderella had stayed at the ball after midnight?

Long Line Extension:
Long Line Extensions will usually require some preplanning and preparation.

Materials: Notebook with a hardback, pencil, crayons (markers)
Procedure:  As you finally enter the building, have your child draw (pencil only) the throne room they would want to see. As you keep moving forward, ask them to add details they see in this room to their drawing. Finally, have them draw the main characters from their favorite story.

·      Kindergarten: Label the picture by stretching out words (Ariel can be “Arl” or Snow White maybe “So Wt”). Encourage them to draw a lot of details, and label everything.
·      1st Grade: Write two or three sentences as to why this princess is your favorite. Encourage them to use words like “I like,” and “because.” They might use inventive spelling for unknown words (pretty might be “prty”)
·      2nd Grade: Write 3 – 5 sentences about how the character felt during the movie and why their feelings changed.  Encourage good spelling and easy to understand sentence structure.

When the child completes their writing, ask them to try and color it the best they can.

This is just one of the many simple exercises I plan to explore to help you help your child maintain skills while at Walt Disney World.

Thom has been teaching in early childhood for ten years (Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade). He received a BA in Elementary Education from American University in Washington, DC. He has an MA in Educational Theater from New York University in New York City, New York. He also holds an MEd in Special Education from Towson University in Towson, Maryland. Thom currently teaches at a bilingual school in Beijing, China. He can be found on twitter @FutureWorld84.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

200th Post

Wow! Two Hundred posts!

I am excited to reach this milestone. Although the blog was silent for a while, I feel like I've shared some of my ideas and opinions about the world and "My Random Ramblings."

In celebration of my 100th post, I wrote a Top 100 list. I am not going to write a top 200 list, but just say thank you to my friends and readers for making it fun to write and update this blog.

Thanks again.
Future World 84

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Epic Battle of Epicness: Round 1: Metropolis: Lady Macbeth v. Wonder Woman

Name: Lady Macbeth
A.K.A.: Lady The Scottish Play
Hometown: Scotland
Known For: Cleaning spots
Strength: Inspiring weak men into action
Weakness: Guilt
Wins: - 


Name: Wonder Woman
A.K.A.: Diana of Themyscira; Diana Prince
Hometown: Themyscira
Known For: Not being able to star in her own movie
Strength: Super Strength
Weakness: Compassion
Wins: - 

Very strong female character against another strong female lead. Lady M is passionate and always looking out for herself and for her husband. She isn't afraid to get her hands dirty and push her boundaries beyond the acceptable. Wonder Woman stands up for justice and truth, and between her invisible jet and lasso of truth she would not fall for any of Lady M's platitudes or pushy plots. This round goes to Wonder Woman

Conclusion: Lady Macbeth v Wonder Woman

Monday, September 8, 2014