Current Events Bulletin Board: February

Monday, February 16, 2015 No comments
I've had a lot of you asking for a new Current Events Bulletin Board.

The Murders in My Classroom Continue

Sunday, February 8, 2015 1 comment
Crime Scenes in the Social Studies Classroom #socialstudies #inquirymindset #bostonmassacre #activities #kids #lessonplans

Every classroom benefits from these two purchases:

So, in the weeks before the holiday break, my kiddos walked into this.....

I you are a reader of my blog, you will recognize this as an activity I did last year on the Boston Massacre.  Read about it here! For those of you that followed along last year, do you love my new tablecloth?  Bloodier than last year's window clings and I get to use it again and again.

My eighth graders were so excited because they saw the set up of this last year.  They did such an amazing job!!!  These kiddos are champions of textual evidence and totally would have gotten those British soldiers off in a court of law!

If you are interested in using this in your classroom, click here for the resources and click here for the video website.

Let them use their devices!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015 No comments

Student Vocabulary Videos in Middle School Social Studies #activities #socialstudies #englishlanguagelearners #video #middleschool #elementaryschool #highschool
I absolutely looooove making videos with my students, but many times over the years I've given up because it was just too hard.  I've used flip cameras and flash drives that fill up too quickly.  I've gotten in trouble with IT because my videos took up way too much space on the server.  I've tried to transfer videos from one iPad to another... ugh!
Right before Christmas, on a whim, I decided to do a quick video project to  finish up my vocabulary list before Christmas.  I was ready for a headache but was absolutely amazed instead!  What made this a fabulous experience for the kids and me?  Their own devices and Google Drive!
If you read my last post, you will know I've been really helping my kids immerse themselves into our content vocabulary.  One of the successes of the daily vocabulary I do, is that I go and find videos on YouTube that are either an example of the word or the actual definition.  Sometimes its hard!!!  I tasked the children with making videos for the words that I could include in my lessons next year.
I offered the kids my devices and a couple of groups took me up on it.  The ones that used my iPad used iMovie to edit and I had kids who used my Mac desktops and had a great time using WeVideo for editing.  Most of the groups used their own devices.  They made sure they had Google Drive on their phones and verified that they were hooked to their student accounts.  Many of my kids have iPhones so they used iMovie.  My Android users definitely taught me tons.  Many of them used Vont to add text and tons of different video editors.  It was an absolute breeze for them to upload to Google Drive and share it to me.  The best thing is that when they share with me, it doesn't take up any real space in my storage and it is all organized.
So many times we make our kids hide away their devices. Look what happens when you tell them to take them out!

This part of the video was total overkill but tons of fun!  We used an app called Action Movie FX and it allows you to add super fun effects to your videos.  You must try it out!!!

I'm Back!!!!.... and teaching vocabulary!

I'm back! I totally apologize to all my readers for disappearing for the last couple of months.  I took my first real grad class this fall and had no time to breathe.  Something had to give and unfortunately it was my blog.  But, the class is over and I am back!  I have so much to tell you but instead of one long post, be looking for short posts over the next week or so to catch you up!

The class I took was TONS of work but also very rewarding.  In Massachusetts, if you have even one student in your class who is and English Language Learner, you need to take a class called Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL). It's basically an intro to ELL and walks you through tried and true activities that helps ELLs succeed in the classroom. Being my second year in district, I found the class to be EXTREMELY helpful and my biggest takeaway is direct vocabulary instruction. I have always felt that vocabulary is such an important part of teaching social studies and last year I just knew I wasn't cutting it. My students were just understanding vocabulary on the most superficial of levels and I knew it was because I was teaching a population I had never really experienced before.
In the class they taught us a vocabulary activity called the Seven Steps to preteach vocabulary. Here is a fabulous example of Seven Steps from an elementary teacher:

I knew this was exactly what I needed but I decided to tweak it for my class.  Now, almost every day, my kiddos walk in and we preteach a word or term they are going to need in order to understand the upcoming content (Tier 2 and Tier 3 Words). We do it in the same order every day:

  1. Introduce word and have them pronounce it twice.  Ask if they know anything about the word and identify and prefixes, suffixes, and/or base words.
  2. Have them write down a student friendly definition.
  3. Tell them how we are going to use it in content.  I also like to tell them how it is used in other contexts (for the word "convention" this week, we talked about the Constitutional Convention but we also talked about ComicCon).
  4. I show the kids a YouTube video that better illustrates the word or a visual.
  5. Lastly, the students are given a sentence stem that they need to finish with the students in their table groups.  We then share out as a class.
This method has truly revolutionized my class!  Not only are the kids truly understanding the vocabulary, it has allowed me to frontload my teaching.  As an example, I taught the term Articles of Confederation three days before we really learned about the Articles of Confederation.  The kids absolutely love it and have been acing their vocab quizzes like champs.  They can use the words weeks later in a sentence and I really feel like it has helped me make bigger connections in my content. 

I showed two different videos with this term.  The first clip, I explained to them, is how the British knew how to fight and the second video was how the Americans learned to fight from the native Americans.  We were able to compare and contrast the two styles and this whole lesson took less than ten minutes of my class.

If you're interested, I have started to gather together these vocab lessons and have made them available on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Head on over to TPT to check these out and look for more as I progress in the year!