Tucson, AZ – March 14, 2011

It’s been nearly 14 years since the publication of the first Harry Potter book. The first generation of Potter fans has now likely completed college, having grown up alongside the books’ protagonists that they’ve grown to love. Although sales of the Harry Potter series have slowed since the publication of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in 2007, a new crop of readers continue to discover the series each year. According to Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter series, there are currently 143 million copies of Potter books in print in the U.S., and 400 million copies worldwide.

One of the beauties of the Potter books is that they speak to students without moralizing or condescension. There are many themes running throughout the series, but the ones that seem to resonate the most with students include power, survival, fitting in, good versus evil, and oppression. These themes reflect what many students – in the throes of adolescence – experience daily in their own lives to some degree. Students are naturally interested in situations that they can relate to, and are likely to be more vested in lessons where they feel some emotional or intellectual connection. While using the books in English Language Arts classes is a natural choice, there’s no reason to limit the use of the novels exclusively to these classrooms. Introducing Harry Potter-themed lessons across the curriculum can be a fun and interesting way to interject something unexpected in a seemingly straightforward lesson, and perhaps invigorate some of the topics that students often find less than interesting.

This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org, all make innovative use of Harry Potter characters and events across the curriculum. Peggy’s Corner examines how to motivate students by tying lessons and activities to topics that interest your students. Additional resources on the topic will be presented and discussed on the Gateway’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheGateway.org) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Gatewaytoskills) pages. Be sure to visit those pages regularly. Lots of great ideas, and no wands necessary.

Discussions will also continue on last week’s theme of Germs on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
Harry Potter Math Stories
Subjects: Math
Grade: 1-3
These addition and simple multiplication word problems use characters and situations from the Harry Potter novels. An answer sheet is provided. This resource was produced by MathStories, a math site devoted to helping students in grades 1-6 boost their math critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Introduction to Primary and Secondary Sources http://www.thegateway.org/browse/32048
Subject: Research skills
Grade: 4-8
What if you had the scrap of paper on which J.K. Rowling wrote the beginnings of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? In this lesson, students pretend that they are doing research for a biography of the author J.K. Rowling. They will examine examples of sources of information and decide which are primary sources and which are secondary sources. This will give students an introduction to primary and secondary sources in a familiar context, and prepare them for further study. This lesson was published by Florida Memory, an online project of the State Library & Archives of Florida. In addition to lesson plans and other educational resources, the site also offers interactive exhibits, photo collections, and documents of Florida history.

Genetic Traits in Harry Potter
Subjects: Biology, Life Science
Grade: 7-11
In this lesson, students review or learn genetic terms and concepts, such as DNA, chromosome, gene, allele, homozygous, heterozygous, recessive and dominant genes, genotype, phenotype, complex traits, Mendelian inheritance, and Punnett Square; and apply them in identifying possible inheritance patterns and genotypes of magical ability demonstrated by several characters in the Harry Potter series. This lesson was produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health. NLM is the world’s largest medical library, and offers a plethora of materials, information, and research services in all areas of biomedicine and health care.

About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills

The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.

About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks

Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.

About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner

Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught Physical Science and Chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work evaluating and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!

About the GLRC

The Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) is a public-private collaboration which brings to fruition ongoing work between JES & Co., a U.S. 501(c)(3) education research organization, corporate sponsors and education agencies worldwide. Leading the initial corporate involvement are founding worldwide partners Microsoft, Cisco, Cengage/Gale, the National Education Association (NEA), and other leading corporations in process. The GLRC ties together several significant semantic web technologies developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and is designed to support cyber learning. The GLRC supports the implementation of the mapping of major collections of learning resources in systems around the world to the machine-readable expressions of the learning outcomes based on the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) modeling and technical framework. The work will implement the international linking of those resources through trans-jurisdictional mapping of learning outcomes by means of Semantic Web/Linked Data principles for teacher/learner access and use. For more information about the GLRC, contact Terry Smithson at TerryS@JESandCo.org or visit us www.JESandCo.org.

About JES & Co.

JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.

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