Tag Archives: unlock the teacher

Five Week Summer Syllabus for Social Studies

Week of July 15

Create a graphic organizer on Africa and cite or describe the following:

Website Resources

Week of July 22

Create a graphic organizer on Australia and cite or describe the following:

  • Three major religions, population, three major trades, type of government, natural resource(s)

Website Resources

Week of July 29

Create a graphic organizer on Europe and cite or describe the following:

  • Name the countries that make up Europe, identify and describe three major religions, population, three major trades, type(s) of government, natural resource(s)

Website Resources

Week of August 5

Create a graphic organizer on Asia and cite or describe the following:

  • Name the countries that make up Asia, identify and describe three major religions, population, three major trades, type(s) of government, natural resource(s)

Website Resources

Week of August 12

Create your own world map that displays the location of Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia.

  • Include the countries that make up Africa, Europe and Asia
  • Map must be hand-made and not computer generated

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things~


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We Have Added Many Great Educational Resources and Games…Check it Out!

From Flannagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice awesome site for tweens, teens and educators, to Christopher Paolini‘s Eragon site with games galore, we have tried to add some great educational resources for all to enjoy.

We have tried to add more educational resources to help our home school parents that write-in and ask us for resources.  We will continue to research and add.  Our goal is to have a great library of resources for everyone to utilize come summer.

Have a wonderful time exploring these fabulous sites.

P.S. The Ranger’s Apprentice site has a contest going on  now!

May we continue to see knowledge in all things,


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Filed under Educational Websites that are FREE, Learning is Fun Lessons/Activities

A Fabulous Middle School Teacher Utilizing “Out of the Box” Techniques to Teach Peace

A Fabulous Middle School Teacher Steps “Out of the Box” to Teach Peace

 Unlock the Teacher Team travels into many schools and I always enjoy going into St. Mary’s School in Royal Oak.  The atmosphere is inviting and the teachers are friendly.  We wanted to tell you about a fabulous teacher utilizing “out of the box” techniques to teach peace. Linda Irwin teaches middle school literature and even if that knowledge wasn’t known, one could tell just by walking into her cozy room! 

While visiting this past week, I coud not help noticing this awesome bulletin board as I walked down the hall in front of this classroom.  I walked in and asked Mrs. Irwin all about it.  The students are reading, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Students are working together by individually designing a quilt square that will be added to a “Quilt of Peace” created by the entire class.  I was fortunate to have witnessed one child designing one of these squares, it was beautifully done.  When asked, the students were so excited to share insights from book and the great discussions they were having in class.
As a certified ELA teacher, whenever I hear students excited about reading, my heart soars!  Great job Mrs. Irwin for passing on you passion and utilizing relevant and current books to engage your students.  Unlock the Teacher LLC salutes you! 🙂
If you ever wonder if middle school and high school students are paying attention to business, politics and world affairs, we are in various schools and take every opportunity to ask students about their thoughts…they are very aware of the world around them… AND they have an opinion.
We will be utilizing the month of April to shower you with Best Practices we find as we wrap up this school year.  If you know a fabulous teacher and want to tell us about it, we will share it and celebrate with you.  We are blessed to have such dedicated educators in this country. Please join us in celebrating their efforts!
May we seek knowledge in all things,
Denise 🙂 and the entire Unlock the Teacher Team
Email your pics and favorite teacher bios to teachme@unlocktheteacher.com

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Thank You for All the Support of Literacy Campaign in March

We are working on our calendar of events for next school year now.  If you or your school would like to have us come in and provide one of the many workshops we offer, please let us know so we can pencil you in.
We love hearing from you and sharing your ideas too.  We are creating a massive resource section on our website for educational and non-profit grants.  We will be launching this information in April.  If you or your school has a great Best Practice to share or is in need of information, we would love to hear from you.  It is through the sharing of knowledge and positive collaboration, that we will create a better tomorrow for our children, our future!
May we seek knowledge in all things,

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Filed under March 2011 Promoting Literacy Campaign, Promoting Literacy

ePublishing Teen Workshops in Schools This Week Went Great and Were Inspirational

Our Unlock the Teacher LLC ePublishing Teen Workshops in Schools This Week Went Great and Were Inspirational!  We have had such a great time this week going into schools, talking and working with teenagers about how to utilize their great ideas and talents to earn college money.  There are so many successful teen authors out there.  The groups we met with shared books they are reading or have read and were amazed that some of them were written by teens. 

When we brought up the Eragon series, each school group cheered or expressed loudly their love for this series.  Out of hundreds of teens, only a handful knew Christopher Paolini history and how as a teenager he wrote EragonTeenReads.com  is just one of many sites we recommend in our workshops, for teenagers to seek out information on their favorite authors. Author Ashley is another great example we use to demonstrate how teenagers can turn their crazy dreams, ideas and thoughts into eBooks and be successful.  One of the neatest pieces to Ashley Author’s story is that her whole family participates in the process…much like Christopher Paolini family.

In our community ePub workshops or small group workshops the parent-child collaboration seems to draw huge interest.  We are currently working with a principal who loves the teen/parent workshop idea and we are developing a workshop specifically tailored to his audience in his district.  Children have great ideas and if we only pause and listen, there is much we can learn from them.

Speaking of learning, one K-2 group that we met with this week were so cute but so full of ideas that after our eBook Reading Workshop, we met as a team and wrote down some of their ideas that we could use…a plethora of great ideas from wise children under the age of 8!  This is a great reminder that we should always seek knowledge… if open to it, it can come from the least expected places and people.

More to come as I begin to write down these great ideas from children to share. 

Knowledge is meant to be shared…may we seek it and share it!

Denise 🙂

P.S. If your child or classroom has a good idea and you would like to share with us and our readers, we would love to read it!

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Filed under March 2011 Promoting Literacy Campaign

Thank You!


Unlock the Teacher LLC -
Unlock The Teacher was born out of the understanding that we are all teachers. In what we do, how we act and who we are, we educate others at all times. From its inception, Unlock the Teacher has always been about helping all those who play a role in the life of a child to “unlock the teacher” within. Our goal is to share knowledge, not hoard it. We believe if we continue to choose what is right and good, to be the difference, a beacon of light, our efforts will be fruitful.
Through project-based learning, Unlock the Teacher tackles academic curriculum in ways that are engaging, meaningful and adaptable to a variety of learning styles.
Unlock the Teacher specializes in curriculum and instruction packages, CCSS curriculum alignment workshops, training and development for educators and industry employees, familiarity with needs assessment, grant writing, business plans, teen writing workshops in schools, ePublishing workshops, writing and publishing children’s literature books and producing non-fiction educational books and materials.
We’re prepared to meet the educational needs of teachers, students and YOU!
To learn more, please contact us.

This is a THANK YOU blog for all of you who have so generously responded to this blog, passed on the word and through your generosity, allowing me to share the good in education.  The comments about all the art work my mom painted has been both touching and healing for me as well.

I am so grateful for the support, the positive comments and the dialogue with local and …not so local school districts about training packages.  The “ePublishing Workshop for Teens” is a hot topic and I will post some mini clips of our next workshop this Friday, to share the enthusiasm that young people are having when they see the wonderful opportunities for their writing.  As an educator, it always gives me goose bumps to see students get excited or find validity in the work they produce in the classroom; it is a win-win for educators, students and families.

Recently, we were asked to provide a min-ePub training for 8 students and parents at a private home.  Everyone in attendance came prepared with laptop and samples of writings: short stories, poetry, cartoons etc.  It was a teachable/learning moment for me as an educator, for the parent realizing the amazing work their children were capable of producing and for the teens as they discovered that their authentic work, their ideas, dreams and creativity were not only good, but inspiring for all the adults in the group.  The coup de grace of the training was when all participant realized the opportunities that were available with ePublishing this authentic work. They discovered, that they could utilize proceeds to  establish college funds, travel adventure funds etc. with publishing authentic, creative and current writings for the reader of today…exciting!

We give our next ePublishing Workshop this Friday to 100+ teens for a local school district, and personally…I cannot wait!

Did you know that the author of that amazing Eragon series was a teen when he published Eragon as an eBook? Of course, Knopf Publishing, a part of Random House, picked it up and signed the whole series within two months. 🙂  An example of “daring to dream” and living intentionally!  A true family affair…

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things…and again we are truly grateful for the support and kind words,


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Celebrating “Harriet the Hero” for Black History Month with Harriet Tubman Activity Unit

Harriet Tubman Activity Unit

Created by Denise Ball

Activity 1

Harriet Tubman Timeline Activity

Objective:  Evaluate timeline; recognize significance of the Under Ground Railroad and the important role Harriet Tubman played in this movement

Possible Activities

  • Students can utilize facts to create a timeline on construction paper with words and personal sketches
  • Students can work in groups to illustrate events happening in history at periods on this timeline (groups could also create skits as well, giving their interpretations of these historical events)

1619 The first African slaves are brought to Virginia

1808 The US bans the import of slaves

1820 Araminta Harriet Greene (Tubman) born in Maryland

1844 Harriet marries John Tubman, a free black man

1849 Harriet Tubman escapes to the North

1850 Harriet Tubman starts rescuing slaves via the Underground Railroad

1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision – slaves did not have the right to bring a case to court

1858 Harriet Tubman buys a farm near Auburn, New York

1859 John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry

1861 Abraham Lincoln elected President of the US; Civil War starts

1863 Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation

1865 Civil War ends; Lincoln is assassinated; 13th amendment to Constitution abolishes slavery

1868 14th amendment to Constitution grants citizenship to former slaves

1870 15th amendment to Constitution prohibits states from denying the right to vote because of race

1913 Harriet Tubman dies on March 10, 1913, Auburn, N.Y

Class discussion/reflection is recommended to complete lesson.

Activity 2 

“Harriet the Hero”

Written by Denise Ball

Reading Level: Grade 5.9

Intended Audience: Grades 3-5

Note:   I have tried to keep the dialogue as authentic as possible, or as I see it in my mind’s eye.  I utilize the dialogue pieces as teachable moments on the importance of education, equality etc.  When using with a class, I assign new character parts per scene to allow everyone to participate. 

This lesson has also been modified and used with 8th graders.  Students were divided into three groups, they created scene prompts and added to skits as they saw fit.

“Harriet the Hero” is a children’s skit written on my interpretation of Harriet’s journey to freedom.  This skit has been utilized to enhance social studies curriculum in classrooms (3-5th grade) and can be modified to fit the needs of any class really between grades 3-8 to enhance and awareness of historical events in the United States. 

This is a lesson that looks at the courageous acts of Harriet Tubman and the role she played in ending slavery in the United States.

Narrator 1:

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1820.  She died March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York.


Harriet Tubman was a runaway slave from Maryland who many called the “Moses of her people.” Over a span of ten years, with great personal risk, she led hundreds of slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses where runaway slaves could stay on their journey north to freedom. Once free, she became a leader in the abolitionist movement. During the Civil War, she was a spy for the federal forces in South Carolina.

Narrator 2:

Harriet Tubman’s name at birth was Araminta Ross. She was one of eleven children born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland. As a child, Ross was “hired out” by her master as a nursemaid for a small baby. Harriet had to stay awake all night so that the baby would not cry and wake the mother. If she fell asleep, the baby’s mother whipped her.

Scene 1 Presenter-

On a plantation in Dorchester, Maryland, it is dusk and all the slaves have come in from the fields.  As the plantation owner goes home for the night, we overhear a group of slaves in conversation, worried about Johnny being caught as he sneaks back onto the plantation.  Johnny is a young slave teen that has left the plantation to go to the store, an act that could get them all in trouble if he is caught.

Arminta Ross: 

“I can’t believe that there Johnny would do something so foolish!  He knows that we will get a beat’on if he gets himself caught.”

Nana Grace: 

“Oh dear, he is young and can out run any, who comes a chasing.”

John Tubman: 

“That’s not Arminta’s point Nana; they’ll know it was him, even if he ain’t caught.  This makes the third time this month that he has wondered off.”

Nana Grace: 

“He is young, does not feel he should be told what to do and how to do it.  He will learn that he must obey.”

John Tubman: 

“He has more beatings coming before he learns to obey and follow the rules.  They be good to us here, two meals a day and a cot to sleep on.  He needs to realize that we be doing ok here and we should be thankful for what we are given.”

Arminta Ross: 

“You call this good John?  Are we not human?  Does the color of our skin mean we can’t wash or sleep, or eat in a house?”  “Johnny will be fine and I will help him.”

John Tubman: 

“You better, before we are all punished for his foolishness.”

Nana Grace: 

“Hush, the both of ya! I am trying to rest.  Tomorrow, Bill said we best be ready at 4AM to pick the field.  He done made plans to go over to next plantation for some big gathering and he don’t have no time to see we get our work done.”

Scene 2 Presenter-

The plantation overseer disrupts Nana Grace, John Tubman and Arminta Ross’s peaceful night, as he burst through the door with holding Johnny up in the air, kicking and screaming.

Plantation Overseer, Mr. Bill: 

“Get up!” “Get up, all ya’ll and deal with this here boy who fails to understand or appreciate all the things I do for you here.”

Nana Grace: 

“Mr. Bill sir, what be the problem sir?”

Arminta Ross: 

“Let him go, he is only a boy!”


“John help me!” “You knows I just wanted some of that orange soda.”  “It ain’t right that I have to be kept up like this, I am thirteen and I need to sometimes go.”

John Tubman: 

“I ain’t helping you boy!”  “You been warned and you know you need to be here grateful for all Mr. Bill and this plantation has done for you.” 


“Done for me?”  “What have they done for me?” “I am told to sleep on dirt, go hungry, don’t sing, and that I can’t go for a walk, if I want to walk.”

John Tubman: 

“You are alive boy!”


Arminta Ross: 

“Sometimes that ain’t enough!”  “What are we walking on this Earth for?” “Did not God play a part in our birth?  Did He not want us to live free?”

Plantation Overseer, Mr. Bill: 

“Be quite you (to Arminta), and get over here and whip this boy!”

Arminta Ross: 

“I ain’t gonna!”  “You wrong Mr. Bill, he don’t deserve this meanness from you.”

Narrator 3: 

Johnny sees an opportunity to get away… he breaks free and tries to run off.

Mr. Bill picks up an iron weight to throw and misses Johnny.  The weight hits Arminta in the head.  Arminta falls immediately and Nana Grace screams! John Tubman runs to Arminta, wraps his shirt around her head and prays.  Arminta was unconscious for days, and suffered from seizures for the rest of her life.

Scene 3 Presenter-

Harriet, John, Johnny, Sarah, and Nana Grace are discussing rumors traveling around the plantation about some of them being sold.

Narrator Four: 

In 1844, Ross married a free black named John Tubman and took his last name. She also changed her first name, taking her mother’s name, Harriet. In 1849, worried that she and the other slaves on the plantation were going to be sold, Tubman decided to run away.

Harriet Tubman: 

“We need to go now, if we go at night fall, we can make it to the next county by morning.”

John Tubman:

“Harriet you are being foolish again.  We ain’t going anywhere!  You are my wife and if you try to escape, I will tell Mr. Bill.  The be good to us, ya hear me girl?”

Harriet Tubman: 

“John, you will never understand, you CHOOSE to be here.  You are a FREE black man and could leave if you wanted to.  We are stuck here with these invisible chains, with no hope for a better tomorrow.”

John Tubman:

“You ain’t going and that is that!”  “Mr. Bill done told me, that he would not put you on the slave auction truck tomorrow.”

Harriet Tubman: 

“And you trust him?”  “You take the side of a man who holds your people captive…over me?”

John Tubman:

“Harriet, I will not stand for this, you will not go against me on this.”

Narrator Five: 

Her husband refused to go with her.  She escaped with her two brothers.  She followed the North Star in the sky to guide her north to freedom. Her brothers became frightened and turned back, but she continued on and reached Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, she found work as a household servant and saved her money so she could return to help others escape.

Narrator Six: 

Harriet saved enough money and developed relationships with farmers and business owners along the route, who helped her hide slaves, feed them, provide them clothes and offered assistance until the journey through the slave states ended.

Narrator Seven:  

During the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union army as a nurse, a cook, and a spy. Her experience leading slaves along the Underground Railroad was especially helpful because she knew the land well. She recruited a group of former slaves to hunt for rebel camps and report on the movement of the Confederate troops. In 1863, she went with Colonel James Montgomery and about 150 black soldiers on a gunboat raid in South Carolina.

Narrator Eight: 

As the Union Army came through and burned plantations slaves hid in the woods. However, when they realized that the gunboats could take them behind Union lines to freedom, they came running from all directions, bringing as many of their belongings as they could carry. Tubman later said, “I never saw such a sight.”

Narrator Nine: 

Tubman worked as a nurse during the war. Many people died from dysentery, a disease associated with terrible diarrhea. Tubman was sure she could help cure the sickness, so one night she searched the woods until she found water lilies and crane’s bill (geranium). She boiled the water lily roots and the herbs and made a bitter-tasting brew that she gave to a man who was dying and it worked; he recovered slowly. Tubman saved many people in her lifetime. On her grave her tombstone reads, “Servant of God, Well Done.”

Underground Railroad Review

Wrap up Narrator 1:  In Conclusion…

  • After Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, she returned to slave-holding states many times to help other slaves escape.
  • She led them safely to the northern Free states and to Canada. It was very dangerous to be a runaway slave.
  • There were rewards for their capture, and ads like you see here described slaves in detail. Whenever Tubman led a group of slaves to freedom, she placed herself in great danger.

Wrap up Narrator 2:  

  • If anyone ever wanted to change his or her mind during the journey to freedom and return, Tubman pulled out a gun and said, “You’ll be free or die a slave!” Tubman knew that if anyone turned back, it would put her and the other escaping slaves in danger of discovery, capture or even death.
  • She became so well known for leading slaves to freedom that Tubman became known as the “Moses of Her People.” Many slaves dreaming of freedom sang the spiritual song, “Go Down Moses.” Slaves hoped a savior would deliver them from slavery just as Moses had delivered the Israelites from slavery.

Wrap up Narrator 3: 

  • Tubman made nineteen trips to Maryland and helped three hundred people to freedom.
  • During these dangerous journeys, she helped rescue members of her own family, including her 70-year-old parents.
  • At one point, rewards for Tubman’s capture totaled $40,000.  

Why was Harriet a hero?  She had faith that God would guide her through…and He did!  Her act of bravery is a testament to how strong we can be, even at times when all seems lost.

 ~The End~

Activity 3

Have student(s) write their own acrostic about Harriet Tubman, based on what they have learned about her.








For more resources on creating poetry: http://www.poetryfoundation.org

 Recommended Parent/Teacher Resources

“Professor Johnston often said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything.  You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.”

  ~Michael Crichton, Timeline

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

Denise 🙂


Filed under Educational Websites that are FREE, Learning is Fun Lessons/Activities, Promoting Literacy, Recommended Books to Read, to Learn, to Inspire, Video Clips

“The Many Mysteries of the Beach” with an Academic Focus to Hit Barnes & Noble this Week

An Academically Enriched Children’s Literature Book

A “mysterious” narrator takes the reader on many mysteries to be learned at the beach.  Learn about the many animals that live on the beach while enhancing sight words and scientific knowledge.  This book is includes a parent and teacher resource section.  For parents or any caregiver, this is a great tool for exploring the teacher within and creating wonderful teaching moments for the learner in your life.

Reading is the cornerstone of all learning.  Regardless if the book is hand held and made of paper, or if it is stored on an electronic device, the words open the door to the imagination, not the physical object.

If we are to teach and be effective in the 21st century, then we need to know its language and understand its abilities as a learning tool. 

Technology is here and it is not going away, in fact, it is changing by the minute.  The goal should be to embrace the good aspect of incorporating technology into the learning platform. 

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,


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Filed under Achievement Gap Blogs, Educational Apps for Supervisors, Educational Free Webinars, Educational Websites that are FREE, Grants and Funding Resources, Learning is Fun Lessons/Activities

Academically Focused Children’s Books

I will be working on epublishing two new academically focused children’s books with parent and teacher resource section.

 The goal of The Many Mysteries of the Beach is to introduce and enhance academic science vocabulary and sight words. This book will also have a resource section for parents, pre-K and elementary educators. The paintings for this book were painted by Mary Sharon, my mother, who while living with my husband and me for the last ten years of her life, would sit out on the back deck and paint.  She lost her battle with Colon-Rectal cancer in 2005. Her passion for life, reading and art are evident in her work, as her paintings tell a story all on their own. 

 The academic focus for The Many Mysteries of the Beach are sight words and science facts.

The goal of Phonics Friends’ Adventure is to promote literacy while enhancing the cornerstone of reading, phonics.
The academic focus for this book are phonics, sight words and science facts. This book will come with a parent/teacher resource page.
Together, through positive collaboration, we all can make a difference for our children, our future.
May we seek knowledge in all things,
“acte non verbe”

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“Veggie Tales” and My Little People

While watching The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything this past weekend, I was reminded how these videos are so uplifting for all viewers.  As I sat on the floor with my little people, (though 6 and 8 is not  that little anymore ;-)) singing along to the great tunes, I watched as both my son and daughter were engaged with the movie’s message.

All the Veggie Tale movies I have seen have incorporated wonderful songs.  However, the most important contribution that each movie offers is the strong moral message.  The moral or character attributes being promoted in each movie, is so creatively intertwined into the story line.

For more information on parent and teacher resources, incorporating the use of the many Veggie Tale lessons, check out the following article at Suite 101.

Veggie Tales Provides Moral Stories We Can All Learn From

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things!


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