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October 1, 2001
Vol. 59
No. 2

Web Wonders / What Should We Teach?

As the debate over what we should teach continues, these Web sites can provide ideas for how to teach some contentious subjects.

Character Education

In this issue, several EL authors argue in favor of character and civic education in schools. The Character Education Partnership ( also wants schools to teach "moral character and civic values." To support this mission, the Partnership's Web site includes "Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education" and an online bulletin board.
Also promoting character education in the classroom is Character Counts!—a coalition of schools and nonprofit organizations working to promote "trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship." The coalition's Web site ( has information on its sports initiative, teaching tools, and a discussion forum.


EL authors Rebecca Hotvedt and June Hinckley argue for the importance of art education—both as an independent subject and as an integrated part of the curriculum. At the ArtsEdNet Web site (, teachers can find ideas for both methods. A project of the J. Paul Getty Trust, ArtsEdNet covers such areas as Art & Ecology and Space Art. The site also includes online galleries to accompany the lesson plans.
The arts not only can be integrated into other curriculum areas, but they also can support standards-based education. ArtsEdge (—created by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to support art as part of the core curriculum—offers standards-based lesson plans and activities that tie art to English as a second language, physical education, math, and science—as well as art for art's sake. Search for activities by subject area and grade level.
For music teachers, the National Association for Music Education Web site ( provides a bulletin board to post questions and ideas and links to other resources. Topics include African drumming and teaching music to students with hearing impairments.

Science & Math

While some educators continue to debate the role of subjects such as the arts and character education, EL authors George D. Nelson and Robert Sylwester argue that educators also need to look at what we are teaching in science. The Center for Science Education at the University of California–Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory ( makes its case for including space science in the curriculum. The Center offers such resources as the Science Education Gateway, which includes lesson plans on space, and the Eye on the Sky weather journal, where students can record current weather conditions.
Another supporter of math and science in the curriculum is the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. Designed to help educators explore, learn, locate, and improve information and instruction, the Clearinghouse Web site ( provides lesson plans for K–12 science and math, grouped by topic, and online professional development courses for teachers. The site also includes links to such virtual field trips as the Waikiki Aquarium and the American Museum of Natural History.
For more ideas on teaching science, visit the ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education ( This Web site, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, includes the ERIC Review newsletter on K–8 science and math education and lesson plans for science, math, and environmental education. While at this site, check out "The New Three R's: The Importance of Science and Mathematics Education" by Steven Rakow ( Why teach science and math? For one thing: "As society becomes increasingly technologically oriented, science and math courses become gateways to future careers."
To keep your sense of wonder—and that of your students—alive, go to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day ( For breathtaking vistas of the universe, including recent full-color photos from the Hubble Space Telescope, nothing can beat it.

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