My U.S. History class was very excited about this project at the beginning of the year. Each student was assigned a person who was significant in colonial times. They had to include pictures and information about the person and display it as if it was a scrapbook page from the time period. We looked at various scrapbook designs and brainstormed ways to make the pages look authentic. I let each student choose a scrapbook page out of a set that had a vintage-like designs. The students had to display their pages for the class and give an oral presentation about their historical figures. Some of them spoke with such passion about the people they researched that it was evident this project was very effective for connecting them with history.
These are some of the books I read aloud or have my students read when we work on our Asia units in world geography class. Even middle school students love to be read to whether it's a picture book or a novel. Usually with the picture books I put them on the digital document projector so they can all easily see the illustrations on the SMART Board.
My 6th graders are a creative group and were so excited about this project. I love their enthusiasm, and they did a fantastic job! I am so proud of them!
I made the rubric pretty simplistic, but the day I introduced the project to the class we went into detail in our discussion about what was expected of them with each component. They were very excited about the project and produced creative, quality work. I can't wait until we start our ancient India projects. They're going to love those too!
Thursday the power was out in my room all day so I had to think fast and come up with some lessons plans on the fly that didn't involve technology of any kind. I love it when a last minute plan works out really well. I had my U.S. History class read The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. We discussed the poem then I paired them up and assigned each group a stanza. They have to memorize the lines and figure out a way to act them out. We talked about various methods for memorizing information before I let them get to work. It was fun walking around listening to them work on the poem with their partners. A couple pairs of students have decided to rap their stanzas. Some were talking about costumes and props. Everyone was engaged in the project. I'm looking forward to their presentation in class on Wednesday!
We wrapped up our unit on Ancient Egypt this week and the students presented their work from a menu project. Most of the students chose to bake Egyptian bread for one of their selections. Have you ever sampled 20 pieces of bread in one sitting??? Instead of bringing my lunch to the teacher's lounge, I took this project. I had to show everyone! One student chose to make a Pyramid Pop-Up book for his project. I think he did an amazing job!
Last week was a sad one for me. When I started teaching at my school I was assigned a 5th grade class. There were 28 of them with me in a room that was too small, and it was quite a year! The next year I moved to middle school (YEA! My true love!) so I got to teach math and social studies for these kiddos again. Now they are in the 8th grade and 27 of those kids have moved away in these few years. Last week I had to say good-bye to #28. After 4 years of being her teacher, she's moving away too.
It's a tradition in my classes that we say good-bye to anyone who is moving by letting them know how much they have been appreciated. My students always ask to make sure I don't forget to do that "appreciation thing." I love that middle school students are asking to say nice things about each other!
This is how we do it. Everyone in the class stands in a circle. I have an inflatable globe that we pass around for the activity. Only the person with "the world in their hands" is allowed to speak. Each person completes this phrase about the student who is moving "I appreciate (name) because ..." Sometimes even the most unlikely students will share the most sincere and thoughtful appreciations or perhaps shed a few tears. These are some of the times I feel the most pride in my classes. I love to see them show kindness to each other.
Some students have a harder time with this than others because it does not come naturally to them. I usually give the class a minute of silence before passing the globe so they can collect their thoughts. I also explain how it would be rude to not have anything to say, so everyone must think of something. I encourage them to stay away from general statements like "He's a good friend." and instead say something about what makes the person a good friend.
I thought of this idea after attending a training for Tribes Learning Communities several years ago. Tribes has been around for decades, but it has good ideas to build a positive classroom environment. I've used the book a lot. If you'd like to check it out, click on the image of the book cover for purchase information.
I teach middle school social studies: ancient civilizations, world geography, & U.S. history. I love teaching those classes! Luckily I get to teach both my loves- history and math!
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