Teaching with Heroes

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Hero Research & Resources |

Millersville Review, Winter 2000-2001 Dr. Dennis Denenberg knows why the great majority of people remember their high school history class as an experience as joyful as, say, getting their teeth drilled. “First, history textbooks are deadly dull,” he explains. “History is a story and textbooks eliminate the story. Second is the deadly dull way history has often been taught. Lecture, read the chapter, do the questions at the end…” His voice trails off and his intent is clear: Anyone in his right mind would be bored to death by such a regimen. Which is why Denenberg’s approach is so successful. “In my classes we have a lot of fun,” he declares. Denenberg, a professor in the Department of Elementary and early Childhood Education, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in history social study methods for elementary education students. He has delivered his message during presentations in 25 states (“My goal is to hit 50,” he confides.) And has won legions of fans and supporters. He is also co-author (with Lorraine Roscoe) of one book, Hooray for Heroes, a collection of biographies of famous historic characters and 120 activities people can use to bring those heroes alive. A second book, also written with Roscoe, Fifty American Heroes Every Kid Should Meetis due out February 2001 and is already winning favorable reviews. Both are the offspring from his famous Real Heroes for Kids program, which he developed 11 years ago and has subsequently, he remarks, “mushroomed into my life’s work.” The concept is simple: Bringing heroes alive. ‘Too often, famous heroes are seen as non-entities on a page,” he explains. So each of his students must choose a personal hero” from history and develop two content-rich projects, Then, twice a year, they stage a Heroes Fair for elementary students to come and interact, first-hand, with over 100 “heroes.” My class motto is a Will Rogers quote,” Denenberg laughs.”You can’t teach what you don’t know anymore than you can come back from where you ain’t been.” They [his students] learn it the first day, it’s the last question their final exam, and we recite it many times during the year.” In addition to making heroes come alive, the fair has other advantanges. His students, for instance, receive great intrinsic rewards from their work. “The feedback from the kids is wonderful,” he says. “We receive record numbers of letters from small children” who were thrilled by the fair. Teachers who use the concept in their classes also write letters of thanks. “It’s heartwarming, to me, to see the ripple effect,” Denenberg remarks. His message is simple. “For future teachers, this is something that can reallv enliven their classroom,” he notes. But he doesn’t stop there. “This type of leaming should start in pre-school, and in fact it should start at home. Of course,” he adds with a smile, “that’s part of my message,...

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A Time for Heroes

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Hero Research & Resources |

Lancaster New Era By Mary Beth Schweigert It’s time for real heroes. DENNIS DENENBERG AND LORI ROSCOE wrote those powerful words long before the tragedy of Sept. 11. And they ring even truer today. “Events have proven it’s past the time. We need to really focus on heroes,”says Denenberg, a Millersville University professor . “We’ve seen how they help us survive through difficult times.” And like the times, our heroes have changed. More kids are looking up to firefighters and police officers instead of sports stars and actors. But who were the first American heroes? And what lessons can they teach us today? . The desire to learn more about real heroes is coming from America’s heart now. We’re looking for heroes because we need them,” says Roscoe, volunteer coordinator at Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center. Denenberg and Roscoe’s long friendship started with a gift — from a horse. In the late 1970s, both worked for Manheim Central School District. Denenberg was directing the high school play. Roscoe was publicizing the show. “Dennis’ shows were always unbelievable,” remembers Roscoe. “He pulled out all the. stops. He was doing ‘Oklahoma’ with a live horse.” When a newspaper photographer came to the school to take pictures, Denenberg’s horse left a “present” in the hall. Roscoe had to clean it up. In that smelly second, a friendship was sealed. The pair kept in touch through an annual exchange of holiday cards. Eventually Denenberg joined Millersville’s faculty. As a supervisor of student teachers, he noticed an alarming trend. When he was growing up, posters of presidents hung on school walls. Now the classroom “heroes” were cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and ALF, a cuddly alien who starred in a popular TV show. In 1989, Denenberg wrote an article called “De-ALFing the Classroom.” “If we want kids to have heroes, they need to start seeing heroes,” he says. “The ALFs need to come down from the classroom. Where are the real heroes?” Denenberg encouraged his student teachers to use real American heroes in their lesson plans. But he had no resources. So he decided to make one . Denenberg asked his friend Roscoe to help. “Hooray for Heroes!”, published in 1994, gave teachers and parents 125 fun activities to teach children about heroes. Soon after, Denenberg and Roscoe began writing “50 American Heroes,” a collection of short, interesting stories on famous Americans. They wanted to hook kids’ interest, not put them to sleep. “History is a story,” Roscoe says. “We’ve stopped telling it as a story.” Here’s part of the book’s lively entry on Susan B. Anthony “On November 5, 1872, Susan 13. Anthony broke the law … What horrible crime had (she) committed? She and 15 of her friends had voted.”.. The authors say a “hero” is “someone who makes a positive contribution to the world.” They highlight men and women of different races,...

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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane… No, It’s a Real Hero!

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Hero Research & Resources |

Lancaster Sunday News, March 11, 2001 By Jo-Ann Greene Sunday News Book Editor Dennis Denenberg remembers when classrooms displayed portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – and not just during February. Today images of Snoopy and Mickey Mouse have taken their place as “personalities” children can identify with and admire. Get real! ‘That’s the message the Millersville University professor, of elementary and early childhood education has been spreading for the last decade, to MU education majors as well as teachers in 25 states. Now he and co-author Lorraine Roscoe are offering 50 alternatives to the fantasy figures, athletes with police records and scantily clad celebrities who crowd children’s consciousness. Their “collective biography,” geared to 10- to 15-year-olds, is titled “50 American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet!” (Millbrook Press). It’s loaded with real people worthy of respect and emulation. The list includes the legendary (Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglas), the living (Jimmy Carter Yo~Yo Ma), and even a local boy (Milton Hershey). Each hero commands two facing pages, with the hero’s time frame and a brief summary of his life’s work, photos, sketches, a quote from the hero (“Power Words”), recommended reading about the hero (“Dive In!’), and a challenge to the reader (“Explore!”) to do something more in the same vein as the hero whether it’s to volunteer with the American Red Cross (Clara Barton) or write a poem (Langston Hughes). Attractive graphic design, blue highlighting, and many photo captions make this 128-page hardcover easy to tap into. A “Hero Hunt” at the back of the book encourages children to report their success at finding additional heroes to the authors. “We approached this anecdotally,” said Roscoe, a free-lance writer from Manheim. The goal was to avoid a boring recitation of facts and capture the events or exchanges that personify the hero. “As soon as you say, ‘So-and-so was born in 1851,’ they’re gone,” she said about potential readers. She should know. Her 11- and 15-year-old daughters offered feedback as she and Denenberg were writing. The book debuted informally March 2 at the annual Heroes Fair that Denenberg coordinates in MU’s Pucillo Gym. His junior-year education majors design booths, prepare biographies and even dress up as assorted heroes. Then hundreds of schoolchildren file in to meet them and hear their stories. The co-authors, who met two decades ago when both worked for Manheirn Central School District, also published “Hooray for Heroes” in 1994, describing how to make historic personalities come alive for children. Roscoe said “50 World Heroes” could be their next project. The formal launch of their current book occurred Thursday, at the Core Knowledge National Conference in Boston, where Denenberg was a speaker. Early reviews are raves. “The verve of Denenberg’s hero stories is contagious and will be a boon to teachers and parents not to mention charmed children, who will be inspired by these exemplary stories for...

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Joy Rice’s Heroes Song

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Hero Research & Resources |

Do you know my hero George Washington? He was first in the hearts of his countrymen. First voted to the Presidency, First to lead this new country. Part of the fiber of this great land Was fashioned by Betsy Ross’ hand. She sewed the first American flag. That’s my friend from Philadelphia. -CHORUS Grab your hat and coat and let’s go I’ll take you to meet all my heroes They were strong and brave and true Just like me, and just like you Scientist, inventor and writer too Printer, postmaster, can you guess who? He even liked to go fly his kite. If you guessed Ben Franklin, then you were right!   One of my heroes was gentle and kind. He learned as much as he could although he was blind. He knew if he tried hard he could succeed. And Louis Braille found a way for the blind to read. -CHORUS Grab your hat and coat and let’s go I’ll take you to meet all my heroes They were strong and brave and true Just like me, and just like you Abraham Lincoln was wise and brave. He worked for the freedom of every slave. He gave a little talk at Gettysburg, To keep this country together. Harriet Tubman wasn’t looking for fame. When she took her friends on that secret train. With her help 300 slaves were free. She was quite a lady, don’t you agree? -CHORUS   Click here for a printable pdf version of this...

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Ideas to Prepare for a Guest Speaker

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Hero Research & Resources |

Help your class prepare for a SPECIAL GUEST:   • Provide enough time (but not TOO much) for your speaker. • Give a purpose for bringing the speaker into your classroom (the WHY of the Visit). • “SELL IT!” — excite your kids about the speaker and his/her presentation. • Give some background information about the speaker. • Prepare questions for the speaker (and help kids understand what questions NOT to ask). • Give some information about the topic-but not TOO much! (Don’t “steal the speaker’s thunder.’) • Don’t schedule a test on the day of your speaker. • Review behavior rules and “politeness.” • Help your students understand it is a privilege for them to have this quest visit • Have a SPECIAL BULLETIN BOARD devoted to your quest speakers. • Have a STUDENT WELCOMING COMMITTEE greet your quest!! WOW!! QUESTIONS for YOU to THINK about: • Should you quiz/test students on material presented by a speaker? • What are some ways to follow-up after the speaker has departed. [Hint: CONTENT-RICH] VERY, VERY IMPORTANT – REMEMBER TO PREPARE THE SPEAKER FOR YOUR CLASS • If you invite Parents or other people to speak to your class, help them to understand some basic ideas about teaching. • Tell them your classroom rules. • Give them a seating chart. • Explain to them about attention span. • Request that they bring hands-on items which kids can handle (SAFELY!). • Talk to them about time restrictions. • They can be GREAT for your class WITH YOUR HELP. If you are hiring a professional speaker, CHECK REFERENCES!! Click here for a printable pdf version of this page...

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Quick and Easy HERO Classroom ldeas!

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Hero Research & Resources |

• Jobs board (Helpers Display) • Music, Art, Physical Education Signs • Classroom Calendar (featured Hero of the Month) • Heroes Corner (displays, books, costumes, props, storytelling) • Groups’ names (for reading, math, etc) • School hallways (complete with pictures and “historical markers”)

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