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Thursday, July 2, 2015

I'm Getting STEMmy: Building Aqueducts

At the end of the year I decided to build my entire Rome unit as a huge challenge (I'll blog on that later!).  I tried to come up with different tasks that would engage the kids and teach them about Rome all the while trying to push through the end of the year AND 8 snow days to make up.
We did a brief but thorough study on aqueducts and I racked my head for a week on how I could create an aqueduct building challenge.  I found some great ones on the internet but most of them included water (I love my 7th graders but I don't trust them with any liquids) or they required some very expensive supplies.  I finally came up with this simple but really fun challenge as I was driving to pick up my little one from daycare.

Supplies:
3 pieces of posterboard
roll of masking tape
access to as many books and boxes the classroom had to offer
1 ping pong ball
1 dessert plate

I'm kind of lucky because my classroom is an old chorus room.  I already had the height built in but I'm sure you can replicate this in your own rooms.  Each group had to have their ping pong ball travel from a desk on top of the steps (their reservoir) and down their aqueduct.  At the bottom I had taped dessert plates to the ground (Rome).  The challenge was to create a full ramp that would gently lay the ping pong ball onto the dessert plate without bouncing out.  The dessert plate was Rome and if the ball bounced out, it meant the water was flowing too fast.













My students ADORED this absolutely simple challenge.  We did it during one class period but they begged me to let the do it another day so they could capitalize on what they had found out.  Both my science teacher and my principal loved that I had incorporated a STEM activity into my ancient history class.  After we completed the task, we got together and had a think tank on why we did this activity and the kids totally understand the engineering marvel the aqueducts were in a time of so little technology and schooling.
I can't wait to do this again!!!


Hands on Industrial Museum: Part 2

Our first annual Industrial Revolution Museum was an AMAZING success. If you haven't read about it and checked out the plans click here and catch up!

We cleared out the room and organized it to look like a convention center or a museum.  The fifth and sixth grade came in waves and engaged with the "installations" by completing a scavenger hunt that my students had created for them.  The best thing that I happened, that I really hadn't planned for, was the amazing sense of pride my 8th graders felt about sharing their knowledge.  They became amazing experts and really wanted to share their expertise with their visitors.  Although, I have to tweak it for next year (the creation of the project was sooooooo long) I will definitely do it again!



The best part, though, about studying the industrial Revolution, is that we live smack dab in the middle of its history.  Shortly after our museum, my kiddos and I got to spend the day weaving away at the Lowell Mills.

 


My favorite thing about this whole unit is how the children were able to submerse themselves into a topic that is sometimes hard to personalize.  Yeah for hands on learning!!!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Hands on Industrial Museum: Part 1

The Industrial Revolution is one of my favorite units and I think I have probably taught it 15 different ways in 15 different years! I'm teaching in a former industrial town now, son really feel like I have to give the mills a lot of cred and with testing coming up, I wanted the kids moving and grooving while learning to make up for those days spent in silence:( I decided that they were going to create a museum and we were going to have the 5th and 6th grade visit after testing was all done.

Each group was given different inventors and inventions and a series of questions they needed to answer.

They had to create A Thinglink page
 
We used an awesome website called HSTRY.
And they had to create a trifold board. I got an amazing deal at the Dollar Tree. 30 boards for 30 bucks!

They also used Google Maps to identify which region of the country most benefitted from each invention and used Google Classroom to create a collaborative scavenger hunt for the 5th and 6th graders when they come into the museum.


If you would like the resources for this activity, click here.
We have one more day of prep, two more days of testing, and then we get to show off all our hard work. I'll let you know how it goes!!!

 

 

 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A little bit of this and that!

Hello! I just wanted to share a couple of the cool things that I've been doing lately. First I was very excited to be accepted to go for one day workshop that was going put by Edtechteachers and Google. It was held at the Google headquarters and was absolutely amazing!!!! I got to spend the day with 200 other edtech nerds and it was pure Nirvana. I went to an amazing workshop on Google Classroom and got to ask questions of the actual developers. I also went to a fabulous workshop on apps and extensions.

 

We aren't allowed to take many pictures but I was able to get some great ones that I then uploaded to my students' Google Classroom accounts and they were able to check in while I was there. The entire day was amazing and I really feel that teacher morale would go up if we got a barista located in the front office much like Google:)

Secondly, I just wrapped up the 2nd Annual Wilke Awards with my seventh graders. Click here to see how this project started last year. They used Zimmertwins to create movies where they created a claim about ancient Egypt and then they supported them with textual evidence. We viewed the movies with all the pomp and circumstance if the Oscars including a red carpet, statuettes, green screen photos and 20 bags of microwaved popcorn in a garbage bag;)

 

 

Experience it and they will learn!

I've been trying this year to create more experiential exercises for my kids and ancient history really affords me that opportunity. My kids were about to study ancient Egypt and I knew this was going to be the perfect opportunity for my kids to experience the daily lives of ancient Egyptians. We set up the room to have eight different stations and the kiddos got to experience all levels of society from pharaoh down to slave. Each station had an activity but all activities were interrupted by the whim and fancy of the pharaoh.

We had artisans practicing their craft....

 
Egyptians and their families being exiled for crimes.
Peasants playing memory to learn more about their crops.
Scribes deciphering their clues.
Soldiers practicing archery and patrolling the border.
Slaves building monuments all throughout the kingdom.

The students had so much fun they've asked if I can make a similar simulation for Greec and Rome. I said if I had an extra16 hours to plan it I would!!!

If you're interested in doing this activity your class going over to Teachers Pay Teachers and check it out. Thanks!

 

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Humbled and Excited!

I am very lucky that when I started in my new district, last year, I quickly got to meet our amazing head of technology and our integration specialists.  They have been beyond supportive and recently they got me to apply to be a 2015 PBS Digital Innovator.

Well!  I was selected!!!!!!

How amazing is that?  Click here to see the other 99 amazing educators from all across the country that are kicking butt and using tech!!!