Just Fun Stuff:)

Monday, June 17, 2013

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 budget.....you 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!



  1. I love this post! I'm starting my first year of teaching 6th graders this fall and I have been planning on using Interactive Notebooks with my kiddos since I was a freshman in college. I just can't get the idea out of my head so I've decided to try it this year! Do you have any pointers for a newby?

    1. I haven't kept the notebooks in quite some time so this is my first time back to it. My biggest suggestion is don't feel like you have to grade everything in the notebook. That is what made me stop doing them and now I'm ready to go back. We can take this adventure together!!!

  2. Where did you get the manifest destiny foldable? It looks awesome! I just ordered a book from Dinah Zike on US History foldables, I'm hoping that's where you got it. Please share! Thanks!

    1. My kiddos made them. They are called Layered Look books. You'll find them in Dinah's book. My students love them! If you're interested in more foldables, check out my store at TPT. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Engaging-Them-All

  3. I L.O.V.E my ISN. I can't imagine teaching without it! I hope you enjoy being "back in the saddle" with your ISN.
    By the way... I love that Manifest Destiny picture. Don't you wish we had a picture like that for each unit!
    Keep shining and have a great school year.
    Come visit me if you get a chance. I just started blogging

    1. I just started following you on Facebook. I'm loving the notebooks so far!

  4. Do you have a copy of your Industrial Revolution map? I would love a copy of it.