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?"

Saturday, March 21, 2009

California League of Middle Schools 2oo9 Conference

Been busy lately.....anyhow, here are some snippets from last weekends CLMS 2oo9 Conference.

I found out that some map publishers have five oceans on their maps. Yep, there are the Pacific, Indian, Atlantic and Arctic, and now, some maps are showing the Southern Ocean or Antarctic Ocean. How many of you have heard this bit of geographic news? Wow, I said when I found this out. When I got home, I checked my current textbook, published by McDougal-Litell, jcopyright 2oo6, and WHOA, there it was, the Southern Ocean. However, National Geographic web maps, copyright 2oo3, did not have Antarctic or Southern Ocean on those maps. Did I miss the news report about this?

Speaking of publishers, I also found out, that McDougal-Litell is "no mas". They are now part of the Holt family of textbook publishers. Members of my department had not heard this news either. However, my principal knew about it due to the current Language Arts book adoption. So, I guess the history books we "adopted" will no longer be available if we need to buy some new ones? The publishers rep that I spoke to at CLMS did not know the answer to this question. Anyhow, I encouraged my department chair and principal to try to buy some additional copies of our current, fairly new texts to have on hand to replace those that are too damaged, lost etc.

My workshop went well, for the most part. I ran out of time, but I believe, from the feedback I got from the dozen or so who came in the closing hours of this conference, that they got some good strategies in engaging middle school students in Social Studies. Kudos to our nice representative from Nystrom maps; she provided me with several wall maps to use in my workshop and brought along free copies of Nystrom geographical and historical atlases to give to my audience. (I use several Nystrom map products in my classroom and can highly recommend them for any level social studies classroom !)

I attended several interesting and not so interesting workshops. I found out a bit more about using interactive notebooks. I have been thinking about trying this again (I once tried using them eons ago, well, ok, maybe not eons, but at least 10-15 years ago, with minimal success). Anyhow, I am thinking that many of my students, that hoard of them who spend countless minutes in class in an attempt to find what they need in the dark depths of their crumpled paper packed backpacks or flipping through piles of papers in a pocket of their three-ring binders, would benefit from having much of what they need in a simple spiral notebook. I don't like messing with scissors and glue, but it may be workable....Do any of you use interactive notebooks? If so, please share with me (us), how it works for you. For you who are curious about interactive notebooks, there are many samples, directions, ideas, etc., available via a simple search engine web search.

I got a free lunch too, courtesy of the TCI (Teacher's Curriculum Institute) folks. They have been holding meetings/luncheons at various teacher conferences to get feedback about their textbook materials. My school has the old TCI binders for Grades 7 and 8 World History and U.S. History and some of us use some of those activities. IMO, TCI's newer textbook type program is a pretty good one. If I had seen it when we were adopting history texts a couple of years ago, it would have been a top contender, in my book. But, we never received an samples from them. Anyhow, I appreciate the free lunch and the fact that the TCI people wanted our opinion about their products. Our current text publisher has never asked us for any feedback, nor have we heard from them about problems we've encountered (such as powerpoint programs that are unadaptable, easily tearing pages in the textbook, areas on reproducibles that have dark, hard to print with duplo machines stuff on them.....). TCI also gave us a preview of changes that are in the works with their material. And, in their raffle, I won a teacher kit for their Ancient World History program.

I attended part of one of the keynote speeches. While there, hunkered along one wall, a teacher was next to me, grading papers as she listened to the speech. I glanced at the pile of graded papers that lay between us and asked if I could see one. She was grading a grade 8 US History activity, which was an e-mail dialog between Col. William B. Travis at the Alamo and Mexican Army General Santa Ana. It was cool ! I talked briefly to her about it and she gave me a blank copy of her grading rubric for that activity. I can see such an activity used for a discussion between Hannibal and Scipio at Zama, Julius Caesar and Vercingetrix at Alesia, Saladin and Richard I at Jerusalem, (which I plan to do soon), the Pope and Martin Luther, Lord Cornwallis and George Washington at Yorktown, US Grant and Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, etc. etc. You never know when a good idea for teaching will find you!

The last thing I will say about this 2oo9 CLMS conference is that there didn't seem to be too many vendors set up in the exhibition hall. And, they packed up early. I attribute this to the economy. Its expensive to be a vendor at these conventions, and when school districts and teachers don't have much money to spend.....

Thanks for reading my blog. have a great next week!