March 20:  Answer in the Form of a Question Day

On this day in 1964, the popular game show Jeopardy made its debut. The show was created by Merv Griffin who also composed the show’s famous theme song. In the introduction to Alex Trebek’s The Jeopardy Book, Griffin explains that he wanted to create a trivia game show, but he was worried about the backlash from the 1950s quiz show scandals. On a plane flight in 1963, Griffin’s wife had a breakthrough idea, when she said off the cuff: “Why not just give them the answers to start with?”

Jeopardy! logo.pngGriffin originally called his show “What’s the Question?” but that changed when he showed his game to a network executive. The executive was concerned that the game lacked drama since once a player had a sizable lead, he could play it safe. The executive commented, “I like what I see, but the game needs more jeopardies!” It’s that comment that changed the show’s title and the show’s format. After the executive’s comment, Griffin added the climactic moment that makes or breaks the show: Final Jeopardy (1).

Appropriately enough, the word jeopardy began as a French gaming term from chess, meaning a divided or even game. It evolved, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, to mean any game in which the chances of winning or losing were even (2). So when the executive told Merv Griffin, “The game needs more jeopardizes,” he was most likely not referring to the modern sense of the word, meaning danger or peril, but to the gaming sense of the word, meaning, “Let’s keep the final outcome in doubt until the end.”

Today’s Challenge:  “Five Funky Facts for Five Hundred, Please”

What is a general category that you know enough about to write quiz questions for?  Brainstorm some Jeopardy categories, such as Authors, Novels, The Beatles, or Game Shows.  Then, write 5 answers and questions in the Jeopardy format.

For example:

Answer: This game show debuted on March 20, 1964.

Question: What is Jeopardy?

(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day: Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy. -John Dewey

1-Trebek, Alex and Peter Barsocchini.  The Jeopardy! Book: The Answers, the Questions, the Facts, and the Stories of the Greatest Game Show in History, 1990.


March 19:  Listicle Day

Today is the birthday of American writer Irving Wallace (1916-1990). Wallace parents emigrated from Russia and settled in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Irving grew up.  From an early age, Irving, whose father was a clerk in a general store, dreamed of being a writer. When he was still in high school, he sold his first published article to Horse and Jockey Magazine for $5.

After graduating from Williams Institute in Berkeley, California, Wallace began writing full time in 1937, selling freelance fiction and nonfiction to magazines.  He also wrote for Hollywood, producing a number of screenplays for major studios.

Wallace is best known, however, for his books — both fiction and nonfiction, which he began writing in the 1950s.  His 16 novels and 17 nonfiction books have sold more than 120 million copies.

In 1977, working with his son and daughter, Wallace published The Book of Lists.  It was the perfect book for the dawning information age and quickly became a bestseller (1).

The Book of Lists is more than just a compilation of lists.  Each of the book’s lists is annotated with fascinating facts and storylines.  Here’s a small sample of some of the tantalizing titles of the book’s lists:

10 Famous Noses,

6 People Whose Names Were Changed by Accident,

13 Mothers of Infamous Men,

Rating the Effects of 51 Personal Crises,

14 Highly Unusual Recipes,

33 Names of Things You Never Knew Had Names,

17 Pairs of Contradictory Proverbs,

5 Famous People Who Invented Games,

9 People Who Died Laughing

27 Things That Fell From the Sky (2)

The Book of Lists inspired hundreds of imitation volumes, and with the advent of the World Wide Web in 1990, the list article (or listicle) has become a staple method for writers to deliver information.

Today’s Challenge:  It’s the Listicle You Can Do

What are ten possible topics for interesting listicles?  Brainstorm at least ten specific topics that you might package as a listicle.  Use the words below to help you determine some possible organizing principles for your lists, such as 10 Reasons to Read More, or 10 Secrets to Getting an A in English:

ways, reasons, things, places, people, principles, rules, secrets, lessons, keys, habits, tips, myths, best, worst, mistakes, steps

Once you have some ideas, select the one list you like the best, and expand it into a listicle.  Make sure you have an engaging title that includes the number of items on your list. The number ten seems to be a number that resonates with readers; in fact, there is a single word in English, that means “a list of ten.”  Decalogue is from the Greek deca, meaning “ten,” and logos, meaning “words.”  Make sure to number each item on your list, and follow each numbered item with details that will engage your audience.

(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day: A listicle feels more democratic than a hierarchically structured argument, as well as more in tune with a conception of history and the world as just one damn thing after another. The foundational text of Protestantism was a listicle nailed to a church door: Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” posted at Wittenberg. So it makes sense that in our culture, which makes a fetish of anti-authoritarianism, the listicle should have spread everywhere, like mold. -Steven Poole


2-Wallechinsky, David, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace.  The Book of Lists, 1977.


March 15:  Beware the Ides of March Day

On this day in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was assassinated by the Roman Senate.  

After defeating his rival Pompey, Caesar returned victoriously to Rome in 46 B.C.  The Roman Senate made him dictator for life, but some senators feared Caesar had grown too powerful.  These conspirators planned a public assassination.

Days before March 15th, the augur Spurinna had warned Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.”  (The Ides were simply a way to designate the middle of each month. In March, May, July, and October, the Ides fell on the 15th day; in the other months, the Ides fell on the 13th day of the month.)

As Caesar approached the Senate meeting on the morning of the 15th, a friend handed him a note, warning him of the assassination plot.  Caesar, however, did not read the letter. As he entered the theatre where the Senate was meeting, Caesar saw the augur Spurinna. He addressed him mockingly, saying “The Ides of March have come.”  Spurinna replied, “Yes, but they have not yet gone.”

As Caesar took his seat, conspiring senators surrounded him, pretending to be paying their respects.  A frenzied attack ensued in which Caesar was stabbed 23 times before falling dead to the floor (1).

For Caesar’s assassins, the Ides of March was an important date.  The first month of the Roman year was March, and the Ides marked the first full moon of the new year.  On this date each year, the Romans celebrated the festival of Anna Perenna, the goddess of the cycle of the year.  To her faithful worshipers, Anna Perenna awarded a long life. By eliminating the dictator Julius Caesar, the assassins no doubt believed they were ensuring the long life of Rome. (2)

Today’s Challenge:  Diverting Doom and Disaster

Julius Caesar would have been smart to have listened more carefully to the warnings of Spurinna, who made his determination of the future by examining the entrails of animal sacrifices.  Today we receive our warnings from Public Service Announcements (PSAs).  PSAs began during World War II when radio broadcasters teamed up with advertising agencies to create the Advertising Council.  This partnership produced numerous messages to promote the war effort, such as advertisements promoting war bonds and famous messages like, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” — a warning against careless talk that might provide state secrets to the enemy.

Both Smokey the Bear and his famous slogan — “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” were created by the Ad Council.  Perhaps the most famous PSA of all time was produced by the Ad Council in 1987. It featured the simple image of a single egg in a frying pan along with a concise message of just 15 words:  “This is your brain. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

What are some possible dangers that people face on a daily basis?  What do people need to know to avoid these dangers? Write a PSA that identifies a specific danger. The purpose of a PSA is to equip the listener/reader with a specific strategy for avoiding the danger. Do some research on your topic to gather some facts and statistics; then, consider the target audience for your PSA.  Begin by doing something that grabs the audience’s attention, and do the best you can to show, not just tell, the danger along with how to avoid it (4). (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. -Mark Twain in his preface to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

1-365:  Your Date With History (124-5)




March 14 – Bracket Day

On this day in 1985, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament began, the first time the tournament featured 64 teams.  The tournament originated in 1939, but at that time only eight teams competed. The birth of what has become known as “March Madness” began with the start of the 1985 tournament.  Fans across the nation feasted on a smorgasbord of first-round games, visually tracking the progress of the tournament using a 64-team bracket.

The moniker “March Madness” originated as a term to describe high school basketball.  Henry V. Porter, an official for the Illinois High School Association, first used it to promote his state’s basketball tournament in 1939.  With the gradual increase of teams in the annual NCAA college basketball tournament along with its growing popularity, March Madness graduated to the college ranks, becoming the operative term for the annual tournament. In 2010 the NCAA paid $17.2 million to trademark the term (1).

Besides the large number of teams in the tournament and ESPN’s saturation coverage of the games, the other element that made March Madness a cultural phenomenon was the bracket.  The bracket concept for tracking single-elimination contests is not new — it may go as far back as medieval jousting tournaments. Beginning with the large slate of teams in the 1985 tournament, fans across the nation could participate in office pools, filling out their brackets and tracking the progress of their predictions in each round. According to the American Gaming Association, $10.4 billion was spent on tournament betting in 2017 with approximately 40 million people filling out 70 million brackets (2).

In fact, brackets have become so popular that the concept has moved beyond just basketball and sports.  In 2009, Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir published a book called The Final Four of Everything where they used the bracket form to judge everything from “SAT Success Strategies” to “Songs by the Grateful Dead.”

Reiter and Sandomir explain in the introduction to their book that a bracket is much more than just a list.  Unlike a list that ranks things from best to worst, the bracket presents “discrete one-on-one matchups” and allows “the two to rub together and create friction to determine the superior players” (3).

The following are some examples that show the variety of topics that can be found in  The Final Four of Everything:

Most American Superhero, Disney Animated Films, Fears and Phobias, National Parks, Texas Sayings, Politically Correct Terms, Artisan Cheeses, Board Games, Presidential Speeches, Fatherly Advice, Acronyms, Fortune Cookies

Today’s Challenge:  Build A Better Bracket

What are some sample categories that might make good topics for a bracket?  Brainstorm some possible categories; then, select one and break it into 64, 32, or 16 parts.  Draw a bracket on a piece of paper and fill in your list of competitors along with a title. Fill in the bracket based on who you think would win each competition.  For example, if your bracket were “Songs by The Beatles,” which song would you pick in the showdown between “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”? Write your explanation for the victor in at least six of the matchups on your bracket. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  A bracket is a more dynamic way of understanding personal preferences.  The practice of parsing people, places, and things into discrete one-on-one matchups works because it’s simple and the face-off happens right in front of you – in real time.In that sense, a bracket invests your opinions with a narrative of how you decided something.  -Mark Reiter



3-Reiter, Mark and Richard Sandomir (editors).  The Final Four of Everything.  New York:  Simon & Schuster 2009.


March 10:  Dialogue Day

On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell uttered the first words ever spoken on the telephone.

Born in Scotland, Bell immigrated first to Canada and then to Boston, Massachusetts, where he opened a school for teachers of the deaf.  Long distance communication became a reality in the 1830s with the invention of the telegraph, but messages could only be transmitted in Morse code.  Bell’s vision was to transmit the human voice over a wire. To help make his vision a reality, Bell hired Thomas Watson, an electrical designer and mechanic.

While working on a transmitter in his laboratory on March 10, 1876, Bell spilled battery acid on his clothes.  He called out: “Mr. Watson, come here! I want you!” Watson rushed excitedly from the other room, reporting that he heard Bell’s voice coming from the transmitter.  Without realizing it, Bell had just made the first telephone call.

Bell offered to sell his invention to Western Union for $100,000.  Western Union’s president, however, failed to see how Bell’s invention could ever become more popular than the telegraph.  Within two years the telephone was worth more than $25 million, and Alexander launched his Bell Telephone Company, which would become one of the world’s largest corporations (1).

Today when we make a telephone call, we take for granted that the person on the other end of the line will answer with “hello.”  The truth is, however, that when the first telephones were put into service, people were not sure what to say to initiate the conversation.  Bell suggested the nautical greeting “Ahoy,” the word he used for the rest of his life. His rival, Thomas Edison, who made improvements on Bell’s invention, suggested “hello,” a word that previously had been used more as an exclamation of surprise rather than a synonym for “hi.”  Edison won the war of words in the long run, primarily because the first telephone books suggested “hello” as the officially sanctioned greeting (2).

In addition to the telephone, Bell is also credited with another noteworthy invention, the metal detector.  After President James A. Garfield was shot by an assassin on July 2, 1881, Bell invented a metal detector to help doctors locate the bullet.  Unfortunately, the bullet was never found because the metal bed springs from Garfield’s bed rendered Bell’s metal detector useless. Garfield died from infection from his wound on September 19, 1881.

Today’s Challenge:  Telephone Tales

What are some possible dramatic situations that would involve dialogue between two characters?  Craft a short story or anecdote entirely of dialogue.  Use no narration and no tag lines to identify speakers.  Use a title to clue your reader into the context of your story, and skip lines between each line of dialogue.  (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)

Darth and Luke on Christmas Morning

Luke, let’s gather around the Christmas tree and open some gifts.

Okay, dad.

Here’s two nicely wrapped ones for you.  The tags say they’re from Yoda. I bet one’s a new lightsaber and the other is fruitcake.

Wow, you’re right Dad!  A new lightsaber and a fruit cake!  How did you know?

I felt your presents.

(Common Core Writing 3- Narrative)

Quotation of the Day:  Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.  -Alexander Graham Bell



February 24:  Two Things Day

On this date in 2012 The Guardian newspaper published a column entitled, “This Column Will Change Your Life:  The Two Things.”

The column begins with an anecdote about the economist Glen Whitman.  In 2002 Whitman was sitting in a bar and struck up a conversation with a stranger.  Upon discovering that Whitman was an economist, the stranger asked, “So, what are the Two Things about economics?”  Whitman wasn’t sure what he meant by “Two Things” so he asked for clarification.  The stranger replied:  “You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are only two things you need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

Getting the picture, Whitman thought for a moment and replied with his Two Things about economics:  “One: incentives matter. Two: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

That brief conversation in a bar in 2002 began Whitman’s quest for other Two Things from other fields, such as philosophy, marketing, finance, and computer science.  The idea behind the Two Things game is to distill and to simplify.  To do this experts must re-examine what they know and go back to basics.  This helps them see their field with new eyes.   Experts within a single field seldom agree on their Two Things; nevertheless, what they come up with is always interesting and illuminating, both to insiders and to outsiders.

At his website Whitman has collected numerous examples by posing the Two Things question.  Here are a few examples of the answers he’s gotten from various fields and areas of expertise:

The Two Other Things about Marketing:

  1. Find out who is buying your product.
  2. Find more buyers like them.

The Two Things about Advertising:

  1.  Get people’s attention
  2.  Overwhelm them with charm.

Two Things about Trial Lawyering:

  1.  90% is just showing up (borrowed from Woody Allen’s philosophy of life).
  2.  When you are winning, keep your mouth shut.

The Two Things about Neuroscience:

  1. Neurons strengthen or weaken signal strength between connected synapses.
  2. If you think you’ve found the part of the brain that controls _________, you’re probably wrong.

The Two Things about Writing:

  1.  Include what’s necessary.
  2.  Leave everything else out.

The Two Things about Editing:

  1.  Know the rules.
  2.  Pay attention. (2)

Today’s Challenge:  Two Things Game

What would you say is the area or field in which you have the most expertise?  What are the two things that people need to know about that area or field?  Select an academic discipline, an area of interest (such as a hobby, sport, or pastime), a profession, a specific person, place, thing, or idea that you know well.  Then determine what the Two Things are that everyone needs to know about it.  Assume that your audience knows little about your topic, and write an explanation that goes with each of your two things. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein


2-The Two Things by Glen Whitman


February 23:  Best Two Songs Day

On this date in 1978, two songs tied for Song of the Year at the 20th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles.  The two songs were Barbra Streisand’s “Evergreen” (Love Theme from A Star Is Born) and Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.”  It was the first time in Grammy history that there was a tie for Song of the Year.  Today neither song has stood the test of time as a quality song.  The best choice in retrospect would have been the Eagles “Hotel California,” which also nominated and which still receives airplay today.  Fans of the Eagles will find solace, however, in the fact that “Hotel California” did win the Grammy for Record of the Year (1).

You Light Up My Life (album).jpgThis brings up the questions of the semantic difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  Record of the Year recognizes an artist’s performance of a song along with the song’s producers; Song of the Year is an award given to the writer or writers of a song.

Today’s Challenge:  Two Timeless Tunes

What are two songs that you consider timeless — two songs that you consider to be works of genius and that you can listen to over and over?  Select two songs that you would argue are timeless classics.  Make your argument for what makes each unique, while giving some of the necessary background on the artist, songwriter, and song genre. (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day:  Putting two songs together, I’ve always loved that trick when it works.  -Paul McCartney


February 21:  Boom’s Taxonomy Day

Today is the birthday of American psychologist Benjamin Bloom who was born in 1913.  In 1956 Bloom created what has become the most influential model of how people learn and how people think.  Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, which was created over sixty years ago, remains one of the most useful tools for teachers and students to articulate the ways in which the brain processes learning, beginning with foundational learning and moving to higher levels of critical thinking.

The idea behind Bloom’s Taxonomy is to help teachers and students advance their thinking and learning beyond superficial levels.  By classifying thinking into six categories, the model makes the thinking and learning process less abstract, showing how students can process their learning in different ways and at different levels.  

  1. Knowledge – Remember: This is the most fundamental level of learning something.  It is the recall level where students memorize a fact, a definition, or a concept.  If, for example, you were studying the concept of cognitive dissonance, you might write down and memorize the definition.
  1. Comprehension – Understand:  This is where students move beyond just memorization by explaining what they know in their own words, by summarizing main ideas, and by illustrating what they know with examples.  This also involves comparing, contrasting, classifying, inferring, and predicting.  Engaging with the learning in this way, moves the learning from short term memory to long term memory, making it more likely that the learner will be able to master what they are learning.  If, for example, you were studying cognitive dissonance, you might demonstrate your understanding of the term by explaining what cognitive dissonance is in your own words and by giving a specific example to illustrate it.
  1. Application – Apply: This where students use what they have learned by applying it to a new situation or context.  Using the knowledge takes it from the theoretical level to the practical application level, making the learning both more meaningful.  If, for example, you were studying cognitive dissonance, you might apply your knowledge of it by explaining how cognitive dissonance might relate to a situation in which a person buys a new car.
  1. Analysis – Analyze: This is where students examine and break information into parts or classifications.  It involves looking at causes and effects, making inferences, and supporting generalizations with evidence.   If, for example, you were studying cognitive dissonance, you might analyse it by identifying the specific causes and effects that make it happen.
  1. Evaluation – Evaluate: This is where students form and defend opinions about what they are learning.  It involves making judgements based on criteria and supporting those judgements with valid evidence.   If, for example, you were studying cognitive dissonance, you might evaluate it by discussing whether or not the overall effects of cognitive dissonance on individuals is positive or negative.
  1. Synthesis – Create:  This is where students use their knowledge and learning to create something new and original.  It involves combining elements into new patterns or generating alternative ideas or solutions.  For example, if you were studying cognitive dissonance, you might write a research report on the term where you use evidence from two or three difference sources to explain your position on why it is an important concept.  You might also develop your own graphic to illustrate the cause and effect relationships related to the idea.

Notice that each of the six different levels of the taxonomy requires the learner to engage at deeper and deeper levels with the learning, integrating that knowledge in different ways, ways that are successively more  challenging, ways that require more and more cognitive engagement which then leads to higher order thinking and higher levels of mastery.

Today’s Challenge:  Learning in Bloom

How might you create a lesson that teaches a basic abstract concept in a way that students truly learn it?  Take an abstract concept that you know well, such as capitalism, photosynthesis, or rhetoric, and write a lesson plan that involves six different activities that students will do — at each of the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The goal is to help students move from basic understanding to higher order thinking. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  Creativity follows mastery, so mastery of skills is the first priority for young talent. -Benjamin Bloom


February 19: Metacognition Day

Today is the birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, a man who not only changed the world as we know it, but also the universe.  

Nikolaus Kopernikus.jpgBorn in Poland in 1473, Copernicus was both a polyglot and a polymath.  He spoke Latin, German, Polish, Greek, and Italian.  In addition to holding a doctorate in canon law, he was also a physician, mathematician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, and economist.  Today, we know him best as the astronomer who challenged the orthodox belief that Earth was the center of the universe.  Fifteen-hundred years after the ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy established his theory that the planets, the sun, and the stars revolved around a stationary Earth, Copernicus presented his revolutionary theory.  He claimed that not only did the Earth rotate on its axis, but also that Earth and the other planets revolved around the sun.  Copernicus’ work in astronomy was the quintessential achievement of the Renaissance, totally transforming mankind’s view of the universe and paving the way for future work by Galileo, Kepler, and Newton.

A true man of science and of learning, Copernicus embodied the Renaissance ideals of searching for knowledge and challenging conventional wisdom. His opus On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres was published in 1543, the same year he died (1).

One quotation that typifies Copernicus’ scientific approach is one that uses simple terms to express a profound insight:

To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.

Today cognitive psychologists sum up Copernicus’ insight using a single term: metacognition.  Meta is Greek for “about,” and cognition is Latin for “to know.” Metacognition, therefore, is “thinking about thinking.”  More than just being aware that we think, metacognition is the process of monitoring our own thinking.

As Copernicus reminds us, metacognition is not just what we know, it is also being aware of what we don’t know, as well as being aware of the ways we sometimes delude ourselves.  To understand the ways we think best and the ways we fall short of sound thinking, we should always keep in mind the relationship between both knowledge and ignorance.  

Notice, for example, how the following wise voices from the past express this relationship:

-Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.  –Confucius

-The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. –Daniel J. Boorstin

-The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance. — Socrates

-The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge. — Elbert Hubbard

-To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge. — Benjamin Disraeli

-The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand. — Frank Herbert

In the book Make It Stick, the authors discuss one specific learning strategy that employs metacognition to help learners be more productive and more efficient in their study.  The strategy is called retrieval practice, and recent studies have documented that this strategy is much more effective than rereading a text, highlighting a text, or even reviewing notes.

The key aspect of retrieval practice is self-quizzing or testing.  When reading a text or listening to a lecture, therefore, the student should generate questions for self-testing.  Once the student has finished reading or listening, he or she should use the questions to recall and recite out loud the facts, concepts, or events from memory, without using the book or notes for reference.  The basic premise of retrieval practice is that learning that sticks is learning that is effortful.  Furthermore, the effortful act of retrieving knowledge from memory strengthens the memory, increasing the likelihood that knowledge will stay in long term memory.  Like walking an unfamiliar path through the woods, the more you travel the path, the more confidence you have in remembering your way without getting lost.  Retrieval practice also decreases the likelihood that students will delude themselves into believing they know what they don’t know. Since the strategy requires that student recite answers aloud, they are able to exercise good metacognition by clearly determining what they know and what they don’t quite know yet (2).

Today’s Challenge:   What Do You Know?

How can you apply retrieval practice to increase your metacognition?  Select an article or short story that you have not read before.  As you read the passage, write down three questions based on the key ideas you’re reading.  When you finish the reading, put the passage away, and attempt to answer each of your questions by reciting the answers out loud.  As you answer each question, rate your level of confidence with your answer on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being you feel highly confident; 1 being you need to look back at the passage to answer).  Once you have finished, take a moment to reflect on the strategy.  How did it feel to answer out loud?  Do you feel like this strategy will work for you in the future? (Common Core Reading 1 – Key Ideas and Details)

Quotation of the Day:  When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it – this is knowledge. — Confucius


2-Brown, Peter C., Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel.  Make It Stick:  The Science of Successful Learning.  Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard University Press, 2014.


February 17: Two Sources Day

On this date in 1942, the Voice of America (VOA), the United States’ government-funded multimedia news source, made its first radio broadcast.  With the world at war, the mission of the VOA was to combat Nazi propaganda, to promote American policies, and to boost the morale of its allies around the world.   

VOAlogo.pngAt the end of World War II and with the beginning of the Cold War, VOA began its first Russian-language broadcasts into the Soviet Union in 1947.  These broadcasts included news, human-interest stories, and music.  The stated purpose of the VOA at this time was to give listeners in the USSR a picture of what life was like on the other side of the iron curtain (1).

Congress did not enact an official charter for the Voice of America until 1976.  The charter, which was signed by President Gerald Ford, requires VOA to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news” (2).

Today the VOA provides programming through the internet, mobile and social media, radio, and television in more than 40 languages.  Located in Washington, D.C., VOA serves an estimated weekly global audience of 187.7 million people (3).

From its first broadcast in 1942, the VOA made the following promise:  “The news may be good.  The news may be bad.  We shall tell the truth.”  One principle that assists its quest for accurate reporting is its “two-source rule,” which it instituted in 1981.  The two-source rule stipulates that the VOA will not report a news story until it has two independently corroborating sources or an eyewitness report from a correspondent.   It’s this principle that prevents the VOA from making mistakes in its reporting.  It also promotes the VOA’s reputation as a trusted, credible source for news.

Today’s Challenge:  Two Sources to Truth

What are some questions that you have, questions that you are truly curious about and that you do not know the answer to?  Select a question that you are curious about and research it.  Find at least two separate sources, and write a paragraph answering your question.  If the two sources do not corroborate a clear, single answer to your question, continue your research until you have at least two separate sources that corroborate your answer.  Use direct quotations, and cite your sources. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  It was very hard to get any records, so the only source for us to really hear what was happening was listening to the Voice of America. We would be taping all the broadcast and then sharing the tapes and talking about it.  -Jan Hammer



3-VOA History