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?"

Friday, January 02, 2009

Back to my Classroom ---- CHARGE !

Well, such great news to greet the new year for anyone in education here in the Great People's Democrat Republica de California.....the promise/threat of the state taking an estimated $2.1 Billion Dollars away from the schools here in the middle of the school year. I won't go into it here about my feelings and opinions about our pathetic, entitlement-gorged politicians roosting in Sacramento and what they are doing to this state. So, I'll write about what happens in Polski's class when Christmas Break is over.

When I return to my classroom on Monday, we begin our unit on China. Well, maybe not a big unit; only the standards that are rated as A and B in importance. Plus a little geography. The standards for "Geography of China" are not important, according to the holy test prep-data stuff we were given. But as a professional History/Social Studies teacher, damn it, my kids have to know something about where stuff is in China and how it impacts the people there before they can learn about the "mega-important" stuff like "Being able to describe the reunification of China under the Tang Dynasty." Anyhow, tonight, I was printing out some basic questions about the physical geographic features of China, with the idea of gluing the questions onto index cards, each student getting one card, finding the answer to his/her question, then sharing that data and showing another student the location(s) of their question/answer on a map. Are you confused yet? I have this all in my mind and it will make sense when my seventh graders are doing it one step at a time in class. Anyhow, as I was cutting out questions and preparing to glue them onto index cards, I thought to myself, "this is quite labor intensive.....think, Polski, how else can you do this activity?" And, voila!

History 7, Monday, 05 Jan. 2008:

As students enter class, they will receive a group indicator card. They will sit at a seat in their group indicator cards desk cluster. (group indicator cards can be sets of index-sized cards with five or six of the same picture on them to indicate a group......pictures of various animals, works of art, just a simple number or letter, etc. etc. They are handed out randomly to students as they enter class.)

My seventh graders sit down quietly, quietly get out their daily planners, quietly fill in the HISTORY section of their daily planner, then quietly get out a blank sheet of notebook paper, putting their heading, title and dividing their paper in Cornell Note format. [ Remember, these are seventh graders back at school from two weeks of Christmas Break. They will be tired, numb and kinda in a daze, so lets not subject them to too mentally challenging of a day, what ! ]

There will be an opening activity on the board: "What do you know about the physical geographic features of China ?" They will copy this in the one-third column, then do their best to answer the question in the two-thirds column of their paper. After allotting a few minutes for this, well ask for some random answers from the students, which I'll write on the board. This will be an opportunity to reteach/remind students just what "physical geographic features" are (the mountains, rivers, seas, oceans, lakes, deserts, plateaus, basins, plains, etc.).

Then, to divide up the six questions. Well do question A together, using the map in their textbook that I want them to be familiar with. Then, each group will answer the five remaining questions. The person in each group who has a birthday earliest in the year does question B. The person with the next birthday does question C, etc. after about five minutes of this, then each student will copy the remaining questions and whoever answered the question will share their answer with their group mates AND, show on the map where their physical geographic feature(s) is located.

If there are any individuals or whole groups who don't wish to work well together, who want to sit, talk, mess around, disturb other groups, etc., then each person can answer questions B-F by themselves.

As a class, we will go over the five questions. As homework, students are to create a map showing at least ten physical geographic features of China. Their map should be neat, in color, and geographically accurate. For students wishing to earn additional credits, they can create a map showing 15-20+ physical geographic features, or for mega credit, create a three-dimensional model of the PhyGeog of China.

We'll end our class period with a quick write ("What did you Learn," for those of you who do K-W-L's. Then, for Tuesdays opener, students will partner up with a classmate for a "Think-Write-Pair-Share" activity about the Physical Geography of China. But thats another day, hopefully with students who are now more awake, more cognitively aware of their surroundings, etc. :-)

Ah, as WCNX radio (from Cleveland, Ohio) is now playing on the Internet radio, LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL! I saw the CARS in concert back in another lifetime......wish I still had the t-shirt from that show, but it was worn to scraps.....

Anyhow, Polski3 says, HAVE A GREAT FIRST DAY BACK IN YOUR CLASSROOM. What are you doing? Please share it with us in the comments section !