Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Ideas for Me to add to my "teacher toolbox" from NCSS Convention

Hello. Hope you all had a good Christmas, are getting the rest you all so richly deserve and that the upcoming New Year will be one of peace, happiness, prosperity and fine health for you and your loved ones !

Here are some of the new ideas I got at the recently attended National Council for the Social Studies National Convention in San Diego ( in no particular order ):

(A). Map Labs. This idea is from a TCI (Teacher's Curriculum Institute) presentation advertising their Geography program. Yes, I said there were too many presentations put on by publishers and their minions, but my school has had the TCI stuff for many years now, as supplemental stuff for our regular textbook. I really don't care for much of the older TCI ideas; IMO they relied too much on students preparing themselves by doing the readings outside of class. But, I liked several of the Geography activities found in their older programs ( TCI has since made some changes their program, several of which I really like ( such as tiered textbooks ), but that is not what this post is supposed to be about.) Anyhow, the Map Lab involved students using a variety of maps to answer specific questions and make conclusions about places using geographic data from the maps. For example, students who read the question, determine which map ( Economic, Physical, Cultural, Climates, etc.) the data could be found at, find the data and note their finding(s). I liked that students had to make use of multiple thematic maps and were having to use a variety of maps to successfully complete the questions. Each lab also started off with students spending five to ten minutes creating a "Mind Map" of the region to be studied. To do this mind map portion, simply give students a blank sheet of paper and ask them to draw a map of ( x ) using only what they know ( have in their mind ). I did this with my students to begin our China Unit; many were very frustrated with this task because most of them could not even find China on a World Map, much less accurately note the location of major mountains, rivers, cities, deserts, etc. It will be fun to repeat this activity after they have had a chance to learn some about the geography of China and will be able to see how much they have learned by seeing how much more data (hopefully accurate) is on their map.

(B). Expanded K-W-L. Take your standard K-W-L (Know-Want to Know/Learn-Learned) chart and add, "How can I Learn More" or "Where can I learn about this?". This makes it a K-W-L-L or K-W-W-L. For my seventh graders, I believe making them think about "How can I learn" data or "Where to find the data" will be a valuable thing.

(C). Differentiated Reading Graphic Organizers. I have mixed classes; GATE, regular, ELL all in the same classroom. This was a neat idea for differentiating graphic organizers in that for your high level students, you have many places on the graphic organizer for them to find and fill in the data, for your mid-level students, you have fewer places on the graphic organizer and for the RSP or ELL students, very few spaces to fill in on their graphic organizer.

For example, using the Crusades as a topic and a graphic organizer with three
columns; Dates, People, Outcome. For your high level students, this might be totally blank with the expectation of them being able to read, discuss the data and fill in the chart. For the Mid-level students, several columns would have some data provided, such as one bit of data for each crusade. For the lower-ability students, most of the data would be there, with only a few spaces for them to complete. I hope you get the idea from this written description, I am not tech savvy enough to be able to put graphics on this blog.

(D). A Closure activity called P-M-I. Students create a three column chart with something they liked (Positive) from the lesson, something not so good ( Minus, Negative ) and something they found Interesting or very Important. This can be done quickly and used like a ticket-out-the-door type of things for the teacher to get a feel for student perceptions of what they should/did learn from a lesson.

(E). Ideas for Differentiating Primary Sources - There was a whole list of ideas for using Primary Sources; just a few include:

MAPS - Draw pictures of events that took place in the location on the map, comparing maps of years ago with modern maps.

LETTERS - have students use a historical letter to list evidence of what life was like during the time the letter was written, edit the letter using modern rules of proof reading, draw pictures of events told about in the letter, identify fact and opinion statements in the letter, create a map showing the location(s) noted in the letter.

PICTURES/PHOTOGRAPHS - pick one person in the picture/photo, and write about the event from that person's point of view, divide the picture/photo into sections (thirds or fourths) and assign different students a section to analyze and create lists of what they see in their section, then discuss what is in the whole picture/photo and the history, people, etc. Students can also write a story about what events led up to that picture or what happened after the event shown in the picture/photo. Create a Biography poem about a person in the picture/photo.

Anyhow, I hope you can find something worth in this blog post for using to help your students learn.

Thanks for reading my blog !