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In 1882 Edward Hibberd Johnson decorated the parlor of his Manhattan home with a majestic evergreen. For this particular Christmas season, however, Johnson decided to freshen the cherished holiday tradition with a state-of-the-art innovation—electric lights.(more)

Artist Spotlight: Georgia O’Keefe is Not Just About Big Flowers!

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“Lake George, Autumn”

Many of us think of big flowers when we think of the artist, Georgia O’Keefe, but her work was so much more.

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Georgia O’Keefe lived 1887-1986. She was born in Wisconsin, but perfected her style by studying and teaching art all across the country. She started painting in New Mexico in 1929.

Today’s Assignment:

1. Watch this video with Carolyn Kastner at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.

Georgia O’Keefe.

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2. Go outside to work on your art today.

O’Keefe poster available here: National Gallery of Art


More at the Boulder Weekly here.

More from Staci Cobabe (Utah edu) here.

Creative Nonfiction and History

Horrible Histories: The Blitzed Brits

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Today’s Assignment:

1. Watch this trailer.

2. Write a creative nonfiction short story about this time period.

3. Watch this about one British family that is willing to go back in time . . .

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Storytelling, Technology, and Teaching

Just as a great meal relies upon great ingredients,

a successful classroom relies upon a great teacher.

While technology may be altering how students are being taught,

the successful classroom still relies upon the teacher’s skill.

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answers this important question:

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Read more of this article:


Today’s Assignment: Watch this short video entitled “The Medium is the Message” which reflects Marshall McLuhan’s observations:

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You can read more about teacher Albert Robertson at:


For a look at technology and how it has influenced storytelling at the cinema, watch this official trailer of the movie:

“Tomorrowland” (Britt Robertson and George Clooney)


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Writing Historical Fiction: Authenticity is Key!


Ruth Goodman gives us a good idea of a day in the life of a Victorian.

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Elizabeth Crook explains the importance of getting the details right when writing Historical Fiction:

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Read the whole article here:

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Consider the amazing details included in Downton Abbey.

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Today’s Assignment:

Write a short story in the Historical Fiction genre.

Research first.

Winter has passed. It is now in the past.

Passed and past are often confused.

Common Errors in English has an excellent entry regarding this:

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You can see more at:

Today’s Assignment: Include Art AND Creative Writing in your project today.

How about including something like this?

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More great ideas at Dot and Bo:

Classroom idea:

1. Make a tepee. (Could be diorama-sized.)

2. Write a play. (This can be co-curricular: History and Composition).

3. Organize a performance of the play for an audience.

Déjà vu — Happy Hedgehog Day!

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Hedgehog’s Rule for Creative Writing:

Don’t repeat the same word several times in close proximity.

Be alert for repeated words. Even perfectly delightful and appropriate words should be changed if they appear too often.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 7.54.16 AMHedgehog Recipe from

Click to enlarge

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Feb 2, 1887:

First Groundhog Day

On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks and whose scientific name is Marmota monax, typically weigh 12 to 15 pounds and live six to eight years. They eat vegetables and fruits, whistle when they’re frightened or looking for a mate and can climb trees and swim. They go into hibernation in the late fall; during this time, their body temperatures drop significantly, their heartbeats slow from 80 to five beats per minute and they can lose 30 percent of their body fat. In February, male groundhogs emerge from their burrows to look for a mate (not to predict the weather) before going underground again. They come out of hibernation for good in March.

In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray popularized the usage of “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated over and over. Today, tens of thousands of people converge on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each February 2 to witness Phil’s prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts a three-day celebration featuring entertainment and activities. (from

The Secret Message: A Co-curricular activity includes history and creative writing

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Watch this short video from the Smithsonian about the secret message inside Lincoln’s watch:

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Your writing assignment for today:

Write a short story that includes a secret message.

More from the Smithsonian here: