Living Monuments

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 4 comments
Two blog posts in two nights!!!! My budget is done and graduation practice starts tomorrow.... Stick a fork in me because the end is nigh.
Like most middle school teachers, I love to end the year with something very interactive. For those of you that don't teach middle school, just close your eyes and imagine why you don't teach middle school. Now multiply it by 12. That is what we eighth grade teachers call June.
Usually I end with the kiddos making plays or videos about the various groups that went west, but I decided to abbreviate my Manifest Destiny and add in a unit on Social Reformers. I didn't have time for plays so I went in my way back machine and pulled out an old favorite machine. They're called tableaux (defined as an interlude during a scene when all the performers on stage freeze in position and then resume action as before.) or living monuments. Students have to convey information through a single staged scene with no words. They are encouraged to use props, signs and we also use Google Presentation to create backgrounds for our monuments.

The above are backgrounds one of my groups made for Frederick Douglass. They made the train he was on when he escaped slavery, a crowd he spoke to, and his newspaper.
The project was perfect!!!! The kids told me they had a blast and it was a great way to keep them on track for the end of the year.
If you are interests in the project, feel free to wander on over to Teachers Pay Teachers and you can buy the project there. It comes with rubrics and research graphics organizers.
What do you do at the end of the year to keep your kids engaged?

Just Fun Stuff:)

Monday, June 17, 2013 7 comments

No, I did not run away or fall off the edge of the planet. For those of you who are already dipping your toes in the pool and sipping margaritas at 4pm, please remember that I live in New England. You know.... That place that had a blizzard this winter and a hurricane in the fall. That means that my kiddos aren't getting out till the 25th and I'll be out somewhere around the 27th. You heard me right.... The 27th of June. Needless to say I have been busy with my Grad Dance, final grading, end of the year evaluations, end of the year hiring and next year's get my point. Well, as we speak almost everything is done but the budget and that is so close (over 1000 markers later).

So, now I get to play. Although I've been a bit lazy on documenting lately, I thought I would share some of the fun things I've been doing with the kiddos.

1. About 10 years ago, I had my kiddos keep interactive notebooks and although I loved them desperately, I was too early in my career to figure out how to grade them without ending up in a straight jacket. My department head said she could always tell when I was at the end of a unit because I was in tears and my hair was falling out. This is what happens when you collect all notebooks and grade every page.

Well, I'm older and wiser (and much chubbier) and Pinterest has renewed my interest so I've been doing some activities that are notebook worthy in order to practice.

First, after doing a round robin activity on the major inventions of the Industrial Revolution, we talked about how all regions would benefit from the inventions but one region would benefit most. I gave kids a map with the regions drawn in and pictures of the inventions. I had them number the inventions and write the names at the bottom then we talked it over. The students soon realized that the west was going to boom with the inventions, the north was finally going to prosper and the south was going to become more isolated and dependent on slave labor. We talked about how the south just got a box with combs and major transportation lines actually ran to its north. The kids were able to mark up their pictures however they wanted (I.e. arrows, letters, etc). I used to do this as a class with no artifact, but the kids loved making their own.

2. One of my favorite things to teach is Manifest Destiny and I love to start it with an analysis of the picture. If you teach it right after the Industrial Revolution, it dovetails brilliantly because the kids can really take in the telegraph lines, Transcontinetal Railroad, steamboats, etc. This year, in my readiness for interactive notebooks, we guided the conversation by making this:

We worked on the definition using this Prezi and then I instructed them to circle three things in the picture that they noticed, wanted to talk about or wanted to question. Underneath the picture they had to make a guess as to what they circled. Once everyone labeled three things, I had students point out things in the picture and we discussed them as a class.

Because I have a long throw projector, I gave the volunteer the "magic paper" and had them isolate the object and then step away from the board about two feet. Voila!!! They loved this and didn't even mind volunteering just to ask a question. They had amazing conversations and our principal even got in on the action. Nothing like a fabulous launch to the unit.

3. Last but not least.... Good old notetaking and foldables. In order to end the year we have toplow through how we acquired the United States from coast to coast. I have the kids read various resources and answer basic comprehension questions. Most of the resources I used were Bentley Boyd's Chester the Crab comics.

My students love these, they come in 5 comic units and even though they are comics, they are challenging enough because they include dialogue, sidebars, etc. Students really need to focus on all aspects of the cartoon to understand what is happening. Using all this information, students created a foldable that they used an an open note assessment.

I so rarely do traditional notetaking, my kids said this assignment was like a "scavenger hunt". Ha!!!! I love when you fool them and make them learn at the same time.

So, do you use an interactive notebook in social studies? I would love to get some suggestions and pointers because come this September(yes, we don't go back till September) I'm all in!


End of Year Busy...

Saturday, June 8, 2013 6 comments
I know I have been MIA recently and I apologize.  I know you guys all get the end of year craziness.  I have some great blog posts lined up as soon as my grading and budget is done for the year.  I do want to share with you another passion of mine.  If you follow my blog you know technology is my love.  I also love tissue paper, gossamer and hot glue guns.  Below is my latest masterpiece.... my 8th  Grad Dance I have decorated for my school.

As they were walking in I had this music playing....


This is just a playlist, I actually played clean and appropriate versions of these songs from iTunes.
On the back wall I had this playing on a loop...

The kids were awesome and had an amazing time... as for myself....I need a nap :)