December has a lot of holidays that emphasize the family, protection, renewal, etc. When I looked for a list of winter festivals, I found way more that I was looking for: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_winter_festivals#December
(After looking for this list, I realized that I had a certain bias toward the seasons of the Northern Hemisphere, so for my Aussie and Kiwi readers, I apologize and hope you are enjoying your summer!)
But, I digress. It can be said in the US (and most probably elsewhere) that this is the season of giving. While there has been a mad scramble to accumulate tangible objects with a specific monetary value (since the Thanksgiving night), I would like to turn my attention to something with much more meaning...the gift of time.
When I was in a school building and I could serve as the administrator in charge, I would always volunteer to work on the day of December 24th so someone else could be with their family and prepare for the holiday. When teachers have expressed a need, I have served as an emergency sub so they could take care of family emergencies or even get on a road a little early to be with family.
I am sure that we can think of personal examples of this all over the place. Maybe you have been the giver, maybe the recipient. The question I had was how has this translated into the classroom? How do we instill this idea of the larger community in our classroom? Social Studies classes seem to be a natural alignment with concepts of civic responsibility, but how can we do this in a science class?
Here is how: We can share with our students volunteering opportunities at local informal places of learning...museums! Here are some links you can share:
The Art Institute of Chicago
Not only will these activities look great on a student's resume or college application, it will provide them with a chance to give back to the community and reinforce the concepts being taught in school.
I realize that these are Chicago-specific, but go to a museum website for your area and search "Volunteer". You will find TONS of opportunities that will reinvigorate you and even generate more professional connections making you the constant learner.
Tis the season...