Celebrate July 4th with the guy on the Quaker Oats box!

William_PennIt’s almost July! Time for cookouts, watermelon and... OATMEAL???

Independence Day is the perfect opportunity to remember one of our earliest founding fathers, the Quaker activist William Penn.

Penn came from a powerful Anglican family. In fact, the King of England owed Penn’s father a large sum of money. After his father’s death, Penn negotiated to be repaid with a land grant in colonial America. In 1681, the King's Council granted him an area that spanned 45,000 square miles. They called it Pennsylvania, meaning “Penn's woods.”

Penn wanted Quaker convictions about religious freedom to be the standard for more democratic governing. He created laws that gave people a voice in government, reformed the justice system, and established religious liberty as a core American belief. Thomas Jefferson called Penn "the greatest law-giver the world has produced."

William Penn was also one of the first city planners. He carefully laid out a city that would reflect his Quaker ideals. He called it Philadelphia, which Penn interpreted to mean "city of brotherly love."

Penn designed the city to promote public health and safety.

Philadelphia became a center of intellectual and economic life in the colonies and eventually our nation’s first capital. The city has grown far beyond Penn’s original design, but for centuries his statue above city hall has kept watch over Philadelphia’s growth.

While overseeing the development of Pennsylvania in the late 1600s, Penn proposed a plan to unite the American colonies. The idea was ignored at the time, but 100 years later it was realized in the Declaration of Independence.

So, happy 4th of July! Oatmeal anyone?

Check out this history resource from SAS Curriculum Pathways to learn more about William Penn and the Middle Colonies. And if you are attending ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, don't miss the Active Reading and Case Study Analysis with a Flip session on Wednesday, July 1, at 11 a.m. to explore similar resources.


Looking for more Colonial America resources? Check these out!
The Stamp Act
The Trial of Anne Hutchinson
The Declaration of Independence: Evolution of an Idea
Colonial Regions: New England, Middle Colonies, and Southern Colonies
The Jamestown Colony
Age of Exploration: Spain and the New World

Post a Comment

ISTE: Summer Learning and an Extra Scoop of #EdTech

The end of June brings summer vacations, ice cream, and lots of time in the pool!  While educators look forward to all of those things, many hold off on their vacations until after they attend ISTE – a conference with an international following and an extra scoop of #edtech!

Why is ISTE so compelling?  The conference offers a wealth of professional development opportunities, workshops, and hands-on sessions.  Educators glean information about #edtech trends and take away ideas  they can immediately implement into their districts, schools, and classrooms.

For example, SAS Curriculum Pathways social studies curriculum specialist Molly Farrow will be leading a session on flipping the classroom: Active Reading and Case Study Analysis with a Flip.  In this session, educators are directed to key passages that students review at home and use to answer case-study questions about historical events, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Educators then “flip” the classroom by using a reading tool that facilitates text analysis in class.
Molly leads another session entitled Interactive Atlas: Making Annotated Maps that Showcase Inquiry,  in which she showcases the Interactive Atlas, just one of the 1,250+ free apps, tools, and resources from SAS Curriculum Pathways. Attendees can see the resource in action and learn more by visiting Booth #105 in the Expo Hall.

Speaking of the Expo Hall, aside from the wealth of knowledge shared at ISTE, there are also many chances for networking.  Not only can educators share ideas and best practices with others from districts throughout the US (and the world), they can network with vendors as well.  A visit to the Expo Hall offers interactions galore!  Looking for a new LMS?  Purchasing new classroom tools?  Eager to discuss professional development plans content providers?  Need high-quality free digital content?  All of these conversations, and more, can be had at the Expo.  (Did we mention that SAS Curriculum Pathways offers FREE tools, apps, and resources for K-12 and beyond?  Find them at Booth #105.)

If you weren’t already aware of ISTE’s allure, we hope you’re convinced now.  Call up your friends and family, let them know you’ll be arriving at the beach a little late, and book your trip to #ISTE2015 today.  Be sure to come by Booth 105 and visit with us while you’re there!  We promise to give you that extra scoop of #edtech - #free.  No catch. Promise.

Post a Comment

Without Order, There’s Chaos!

Have you ever seen a problem similar to this on social media sites?

               5 - 1 x 0 + 3 ÷ 3 = ?

Is the answer 1 or is it 6?* Or did you get something completely different?
Here’s another example.

               6 ÷ 2(1+2) = ?

Is the answer 1 or is it 9?* Or once did you get something completely different.
Here’s another simpler example.

               8 - 5 + 3 = ?

Is the answer 0 or 6?*

As a math teacher, I’m always intrigued by the numerous answers given in the comments. Some people will explain how they reached their answer, and some will not. But it never fails that some are adamant about an incorrect answer. So let’s set the record straight.

The key to simplifying these three expressions is the order of operations. The order of operations is a set of rules or steps that ensures everyone arrives at the same answer given an expression with multiple operations. Have you heard the sentence Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally? This has been passed down for years as a way to remember the acronym PEMDAS. Although the sentence may help students remember the acronym, the acronym alone is a bit misleading. PEMDAS tells us to simplify expressions in this order:

  1. Parentheses
  2. Exponents
  3. Multiplication & Division
  4. Addition & Subtraction

Let’s look back at the 3rd example,  8 - 5 + 3 = ? If you answered 0, then you added 5 and 3 and then subtracted from 8.


If you answered 6, then you subtracted 5 from 8 and then added 3.


This is where you may have been misled. Addition and subtraction must be simplified from left to right. Therefore, 6 is the correct answer.

Now let’s look at the 2nd example, Here’s how to correctly simplify the expression. First, simplify within the parentheses. But as with addition and subtraction, multiplication and division must be performed from left to right.


And finally, the 1st example After reviewing the order of operations, are you confident in your original answer? Here’s how to simplify the expression.


So the next time you see one of these posts on social media, remember, without order, there’s chaos!

5 - 1 x 0 + 3 ÷ 3 = 6
6 ÷ 2(1+2) = 9
8 - 5 + 3 = 6

Need more practice with the order of operations? Check out Simplifying Expressions Using Order of Operations.


Post a Comment

Sustaining Student Momentum over the Summer

Students on a traditional calendar usually finish the school year on a high note, brimming with knowledge, skills, and confidence. Summer is certainly a time to recharge, doing things with family and friends. Childhood and adolescence are supposed to be fun, and that is what summer vacation is for.

So... how can parents sustain a student's momentum and still honor the promise of summer? Easy! Simply sprinkle in some content and skills review on the rainy days.

From math and reading apps that support early learners, to virtual labs in biology and chemistry, SAS Curriculum Pathways includes numerous resources that support instructional enrichment across grade levels and subject areas.

Resources like this example from the Spanish Video Series can be a great way to build and retain learning:


Here are some specific suggestions, by subject and level.

Reading and English Language Arts

Read Aloud (ES/MS)
Teach and guide early readers with this free iPad app, which provides access to numerous books with three reading modes: Read to Me, Help Me Read, and Read by Myself.

Punctuation Rules! (ES/MS)
Students identify the most common punctuation marks and their uses and demonstrate an understanding of the basic rules of punctuation.

Audio Tutorials (MS/HS)
Building Sentences
Strong Verbs

SAS Math Stretch app

SAS Math Stretch app


SAS Flash Cards (ES/MS/HS)
Create, learn, and share flash cards with this innovative tool. You can download and play decks in any subject, create new decks in a variety of question formats, and share your decks with others (for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch).

SAS Math Stretch (ES/MS)

This free app provides a suite of activities to develop elementary math skills and number sense – and now includes fractions and decimals!

Audio Tutorials (MS/HS)
Pythagorean Theorem
Basic Probability

Social Studies

Interactive Atlas (ES/MS/HS)
Students can view maps of the world, generate customized maps, and use draw tools to add information.

Historical Narrative Series (MS/HS)
These engaging resources provide full instruction related to historical topics. Here are two examples.
FDR and the New Deal
Columbus and the New World

Audio Tutorials (MS/HS)
Islam: The Five Pillars
The Amazon Rainforest

VLab: Free Fall

VLab: Free Fall


Virtual Labs (MS/HS)
Vlabs such as those listed below allow students to view processes and manipulate components, alter variables to see their roles in processes, or alter reality to discover cause-and-effect relationships.
VLab: Cell Division
VLab: Free Fall

Audio Tutorial Examples (MS/HS)
Energy Flow in Ecosystems
The Immune System


Spanish Video Series (ES/MS/HS)
Designed to build mastery of the language, each video introduces and reinforces Spanish vocabulary and phrases for topics such as seasons, family, and school. (See example above.)

Spanish Writing Tablet (MS/HS)
Students enhance their writing skills with this interactive tool, which includes templates for letters and conversations.

Spanish Interactive Atlas (MS/HS)
Students can use the atlas as an online reference tool or to create individualized maps illustrating demographic or cultural themes.

Audio Tutorials (MS/HS)
Greetings and Farewells
Using the Past Tenses

Looking for more? Education writer Larry Ferlazzo recently highlighted numerous summer resources in his New York Times blog—including SAS Curriculum Pathways!

Post a Comment

Top Five Reasons to Explore! Primary Sources

Explore! Primary Sources is the brand new repository of original text and audio, provided with historical context and comprehension questions to encourage active reading and analysis. The primary-source collection stretches across four centuries. It includes founding documents, Constitutional amendments, speeches, letters, patriotic songs, personal letters, Oval Office conversations, and more. Start practicing for the new SAT evidence-based reading section that focuses on primary-source document analysis.

Here's why you should use it!

1. Read, Think, Analyze.  It is still all about climbing the ladder on Bloom’s Taxonomy, and there’s no better way engage those high-level thinking skills than to tackle a primary source.

2. Wait a minute. Just to be clear, What is a primary source??? Primary sources are original documents, images, recordings, or videos. They were created during the time period you are studying by people who either experienced events first hand or lived through them. So they’re different from textbooks that summarize someone else’s interpretation of an event. Primary sources are original texts open for YOUR interpretation.

According to the National Center for History in Schools:

When we ask students to work with and learn from primary sources, we transform them into historians. Rather than passively receiving information from a teacher or textbook, students engage in the activities of historians — making sense of the stories, events, and ideas of the past through document analysis.

3. Primary sources require active reading. Students apply knowledge of the historical context to gain perspective on the writer’s point of view and begin reading to uncover evidence. Students get to be like a detective gathering evidence to obtain a clearer picture of time period they are investigating.


4. Primary sources are multi media. Reading is only one important way to enjoy primary sources. You can also listen to them! Speeches, radio broadcasts, patriotic songs, Oval Office conversations – these are all primary sources best consumed as audio! Active listening is just as important as active reading!

For example, this audio clip of Lady Bird Johnson portrays the confusion and horror of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.


5. Start practicing for the new SAT evidence-based reading section that focuses on primary-source document analysis.

According to College Board: Redesigned SAT:

For every passage students read, there will be at least one question asking them to select a quote from the text that best supports the answer they have chosen in response to the preceding question. Some passages will be paired with informational graphics, and students will be asked to integrate the information conveyed through each in order to find the best answer.

And don't forget that many of our other history, civics, and economics resources include primary-source documents—and primary-source document analysis! Here are just a few:

FDR and the New Deal
Lincoln and the Civil War
Reformation: Luther's Challenge to the Church
Ancient Egypt: The Social Pyramid
Freedom of Speech in School
The Minimum Wage

Post a Comment

National Poetry Month: It’s a Bigger Deal than You Think

poetry monthEvery so often I like to amuse myself by scrolling through a website that identifies special days, weeks, and months during the year that honor a person, event, product, or virtue. For example, we all know that April 1 is April Fools’ Day, but I was surprised to learn recently that April 2 is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. If you are so inclined, you can celebrate Winston Churchill Day on April 9 and National Pecan Day on April 14. And who wouldn’t want to host a party on April 17 for Bat Appreciation Day?


Exploring Poetry about Families features poems by Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, and Tim McBride.

April is also a time for commemorating a number of important (and maybe a few not-so- important) occasions. This is Keep America Beautiful Month, but it also happens to be National Welding Month. No wonder, then, that someone had the good sense to designate it National Humor Month as well.

If you love reading or writing poetry, you probably know that April is also National Poetry Month. It was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, whose website calls it the “largest literary celebration in the world.”

Every year, teachers and students are joined by poets, bloggers, librarians, publishers, art organizations, government agencies, and education leaders to honor poetry and the people who create it. The Academy has a free National Poetry Month poster you can order, and offers a list called 30 ways to celebrate national poetry month. Their suggestions range from reading about different poetic forms to signing up for a poetry workshop or starting a poetry reading group.

SAS Curriculum Pathways offers over 60 resources to heighten your celebration of poetry—in April and beyond. Middle school readers might enjoy the poems of the three American poets featured in Exploring Poetry about Families.

With resources such as Lines from Canterbury Tales, high school students can read and study great poems by Shakespeare, Chaucer, Keats, Yeats, and other poets in our English poetry series. Students learn about techniques the poets use to make the sound of the poem enhance its meaning.

Rhyme scheme of the opening lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Rhyme scheme of the opening lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

They analyze visual elements and respond to questions in preparation for constructing interpretive statements about the poem.


So National Poetry Month is indeed a big deal. That’s because poetry is, or at least should be, a big deal. To read a great poem, to be moved by its beauty or power, is a remarkable experience worth celebrating year round. Here’s how Emily Dickinson described it: “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”

Check out these additional poetry resources from SAS Curriculum Pathways:

Exploring Poetry about Nature
Exploring Poetry about Sports
Strategies for Reading Poetry
Latino Poetry Café


Post a Comment

Getting Your Homeschool Account Up and Running

homeschool3SAS Curriculum Pathways is available to all educators and their students at no cost—and that means homeschools, too! As a homeschool educator you can quickly register as a teacher using the online Sign-Up application.

Once you have registered for a no-cost account and verified your email address, the next step is to get your homeschool account set up. This allows you to add your students and get access to support materials. Here's how:

  • Log in with your teacher credentials
  • Click on your name in the upper right corner
  • In the drop down menu, select Connect to your school



It is easy to create your homeschool account and assign your students.


  • Click the blue Connect to my school button and choose your country from the drop down list
  • Enter your zip or postal code
  • Enter a few random letters for School Name to initiate a search. Can’t find my school should appear
  • Click on Can't find my school, and you will see Are you a homeschool? Answer Yes and submit.

And... you are done!

A new school titled your name + homeschool has been added to our records, and your teacher account is automatically associated with it.

Now, select the Student Accounts option from your profile window; follow the instructions to get your teacher sign-up code. This will help you  set up individual student accounts under your homeschool.

If you have previously indicated another school but want to modify that to a homeschool, select the Edit account settings link. When your profile window opens, you will be on the School Info page.

You can contact us directly to request access to support materials. Of course those are free also.

Post a Comment

Math Awareness Month: The Poetry of Logical Ideas

mathhead“Mathematics has beauty and romance. It’s not a boring place to be, the mathematical world. It’s an extraordinary place; it’s worth spending time there.” – Marcus du Sautoy.

I agree, there IS beauty in mathematics, and I genuinely love math! Math is vital to everyday life from young kids learning to count to young adults learning to balance a checkbook. Math can be simple, and it can be complicated; it can be easy, and it can be challenging. Math is logical; it’s clever. It can take you on a journey. It turns you into a problem solver, into a fighter. Despite the negativity that tends to follow mathematics, it should be appreciated.

April is Math Awareness Month! That’s right, there’s an entire month dedicated to how math impacts our lives, and this year’s theme is Math Drives Careers. What an excellent theme! Many careers involve mathematics: statistics, health care, finance. But did you know that careers in computer science, biology, manufacturing, national security, ecology, architecture, actuary, forensic science, geography, web development, nursing, just to name a few, also involve key mathematical skills? Many of these jobs involve not only computational skills, but also require analytical, communication, and reasoning skills as well as perseverance. Learning mathematics can help students acquire each of these skills.

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas” – Albert Einstein

Let’s start with a concept as simple as the order of operations. What an idea, what logic, what poetry! By understanding and using the order of operations correctly, chaos is prevented. The expression 8 + 9 – 10 has one answer because there’s an order, a script to follow.


Simplifying Expressions Using Order of Operations QL# 1319

But is there an order or a script to follow when we move into solving equations such as 2x + 6 = 10 or
x2 + 2x + 1 = 0? Sure there is. There are multiple ways to solve each of these equations! And that’s when math gets scary for some. But in life we take on this challenge daily. For example, you may need to find a different route to work due to an accident on the main road. In either case, logic is always on your side. Analyze the problem. Use logic to determine the unknown, to undo the problem. Reason with the solution. Show your persistence, your tenacity, your determination. These are the skills that math delivers, which is why Math Drives Careers!

So let’s celebrate mathematics!

“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.”  – Stan Gudder

Check out these SAS Curriculum Pathways math resources:

Simplifying Expressions Using Order of Operations
Solving Simple Equations
Solving Quadratic Equations

Post a Comment

Women's History Month: Recognizing Pioneers


Why is the history of women singled out and celebrated with Women's History Month? Dr. Myra Pollack Sadker, a pioneer researcher who documented gender bias in American schools, summed it up well when she noted that “each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.”

The “womanless” history Dr. Sadker refers to is the mainstream approach to U.S History, one that most often overlooks the many accomplishments of American, particularly multicultural, women. When people talk about women’s history, they are largely referring to the study of women’s roles throughout history, including the growth of women’s rights, historically significant individuals and groups of women, and the effects that historical events have had on women. Advocates of women’s history believe that traditional historical perspectives minimize or ignore the contributions of women and the effect historical events have had on women as a whole.

Much of the scholarship regarding women’s history is westernized (coming from the US and Britain) and highly influenced by second-wave feminist historians. Eager to learn more about the lives of foremothers, women’s liberation activists found it very difficult to find pertinent information. The existing historical texts were largely written by men for male audiences about men’s public activities – politics, war, administration. In these narratives, women are excluded or relegated to gender-stereotypical domestic roles.

The truth is that women have been major contributors throughout history and key voices in many of today’s most notable historical events, discoveries, and inventions.

  • Ever heard of Rosalind Franklin? She was a British biophysicist whose work led Watson and Crick to develop their double helix model of DNA. Lise Meitner? She was an integral part of the team that discovered how nuclear fission worked but it was her colleague, Otto Hahn, who was awarded the Nobel Prize.
  • What about the six women – Kay Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Betty Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Fran Bilas Spence, and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum -- who programmed the first electronic general-purpose computer, the ENIAC?
  • Have you ever grooved to Rosetta Tharpe, gospel’s first recording star and one of the earliest rock and rollers?
  • Did you read Susie Baker King Taylor’s memoir of her civil wartime experiences? She became literate by attending secret schools taught by black women and eventually established a school for freed children in Georgia after the war.

Two women operate the ENIAC's main control panel while the machine was still located at the University of Pennsylvania.

The contributions of these women, and countless others, remain relegated to the periphery of history. This is, in part, because as a discipline, history remained a male-dominated profession until the 1960s; women’s narratives had little currency in the field. Gerda Lerner is often cited as the first professor to offer a regular college course in women’s history in 1963. Socially, women made significant progress achieving equality throughout the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1970 that women began to be integrated at scale into history departments within graduate programs.

The regular observance of Women’s History Month didn’t actually begin until 1987 when the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to designate March as Women’s History Month. The Month’s origins date only as far back as 1981 when Congress passed legislation authorizing and requesting the president to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982, as Women’s History Week. Since 1995, after years of legislative work, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have issued annual proclamations designating March as Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project has long spearheaded the efforts behind Women’s History month by providing informational services as well as educational and promotional materials that recognize and celebrate the diverse and historic accomplishments of women.

Post a Comment

History + Women = Accuracy

voting rights
As you celebrate Women’s History Month, consider the prescient advice Abigail Adams gave to her husband John. She could have saved us all that time getting the 19th Amendment passed.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.”
                                                                       Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams (March 31, 1776)

Fast forward almost two-and-a-half centuries to the March celebration of voices like Adams’, and note that generosity is not the focus of Women’s History Month. It’s about accuracy; expanding our historical perspectives by celebrating the ideas and accomplishments of women.

Consider Anne Hutchinson, an astonishingly courageous voice from the early colonial period.

Ann Hutchinson preaching in her house in Boston c. 1630s

Anne Hutchinson preaching in her house in Boston c.1630s

Puritan ministers preached a strictly enforced code of religious standards based on the idea that salvation could be earned by good behavior. Hutchinson believed that forgiveness by God’s grace alone led to salvation. She had the tenacity to discuss these conflicting ideas in a small group meeting in her home.

In 1637, Puritan leaders convicted Hutchinson of violating the laws of family, church, and colony and forced her to flee the Massachusetts Bay Colony: banishment. Using The Trial of  Anne Hutchinson resource, students can review primary-source excerpts from her compelling self-defense and decide for themselves if her banishment was warranted.

We have used this same case-study approach in several other women's history questions.

In Comparing Powerful Medieval Women students investigate a trifecta of medieval female leaders to answer the question: Was Empress Theodora more powerful than Eleanor of Aquitaine or Joan of Arc?

In Peronism in Argentina, 1946-55, students explore post-colonial Argentina, the rule of Juan Perón and his wife Eva—Evita!—to answer this question: Was Perón good for Argentina? Eva Perón's manipulation of the masses and self-aggrandizement in the context of social welfare made her the subject of both romantic idolatry and scornful criticism.

The 19th Amendment features prominently in several SAS Curriculum Pathways resources. In Voting Rights for Women, students explore a historical narrative that presents key people, events, and issues related to this focus question: Why did it take so long for women to get the right to vote? Throughout the resource, documents and interactive activities highlight the ideas of pioneers like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Carrie Chapman Catt.

The long road to voting rights is also examined in Woman Suffrage: Pre-19th Amendment Voting. In this activity students explore significant events in the woman suffrage struggle,  identify states that adopted voting rights for women prior to the 19th Amendment, and create a map to illustrate the pattern of voting rights adoption for women.

So celebrate Women's History Month—with accuracy!

Post a Comment