Friday, June 23, 2017

The Uncle Reuben Project Lives On!

The Uncle Reuben Project began in my 2nd grade classroom almost six years ago. Actually, if you want to get technical, it began back in 1903 with the birth of Reuben Sigfred Johnson on the 13th of November, but seeing as I wasn't around then, I'll stick with what has happened since 2011.

Tomorrow will begin the next leg of The Uncle Reuben Project's journey and I'm pretty excited! A year ago, as I began my first school year in 35 years as a retired teacher, I truly thought the journey with Uncle Reuben was over. It was something I missed. I had always thought there was more to explore in his story. Now I have the opportunity to see it happen!

I wrote those words last fall, as I was beginning my journey through another year of writing for Scholastic. I've been blessed to be able to combine my love of teaching with my love of genealogy and family history. Here is a link to the post I wrote after my experience with introducing Uncle Reuben and his Swedish immigrant dad, Johann Johannesson (John Johnson) to 7th graders at Jardine Middle School.

6 Steps to Designing PBL: Immigration and The DNA Project

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Activating Student Interest

Whether you call it an anticipatory set, a focus or a hook; make the most of the time at the beginning of your lesson for deeper learning throughout!

Many times teachers are tempted to skip the focus activity out of time pressures or misunderstanding of it's purpose or resort to a standard template that they use for every lesson.
"Yesterday we learned ___________ and today we will learn __________."
That sentence takes under a minute to say and we're off to the more important stuff! But wait! We know that our brains seek out novelty and ignore what they think they've already heard. That three to five minute portion of the lesson that focuses students on the topic might just be one of the most important sections.

If you want to "hook" students and "draw them in" to the lesson, we're going to have to use the focus time to our best advantage!

Would you like to "hook" your students every time? If you would, you're going to need the right equipment!

The Tackle-box – assortment of ideas or tools
Stay outfitted and prepared!
The Pole – effective technique
Use the correct equipment for the job.
The Bait – entice learners
Know your students.
The Cork – cues the teacher during lesson
Pay attention to your students’ understanding.
The Reel – keep students interested
Reel them in occasionally.
The Fish – meaning and connection to the world
This is the meat of the lesson.
The Net – keep lessons fresh
Don’t overuse one type of activity.
Catch and Release – give ownership of knowledge back to the students
Bring them aboard then help them make meaningful connections for better retention of knowledge.
The"fish story" Encourage processing and reflection after the lesson. 
Give them knowledge to take away.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Immigration and the DNA Project

The Immigration and DNA Project: all of the resources Sarah and I used for her 7th grade unit.

Essential Questions:

Does immigration affect me? If so, how?
           -What is immigration?
           -How many people immigrate to the US each year?

-Why did/do people migrate?
Is it possible to predict a person’s DNA ancestry results by learning about their culture and background?
          -What is DNA?
          -What is genealogy?
          -How do we construct an effective question?
          -Can we predict Ms. Forster’s country/countries of    origin?
What information might help us predict a country or region of origin?

 Immigration  and the DNA Project Resources:

Click the image below to go to a file with Sarah's student forms.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fun Quick Write Idea

Check out this fun story starter generator from Scholastic.
Scholastic Story Starters Scrambler (Click to follow link.)

Scholastic has provided a teacher's guide to go with this tool. I think this would be a great way to practice writing as a group.

A fun way to use this tool would be to select buttons 2, 3, and 4 for everyone to use and let each student push the 1st  button for the product they will be writing. Changing only one element would make the writing lots of fun as a group.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Veteran's Day Project

Here is our Veteran's Day project for this year. My students really enjoyed working on it and hearing the compliments we've received from people who stop to see it. Before starting the project, we did a little research on the meanings behind the colors on the flag. Once we had some words to work with, we looked for synonyms of those words. Many of my students wrote the words on red, white, or blue hearts while a few others worked on the gold fringe. The hearts were then arranged on a 3'x4' piece of paper to make the flag.

My class is so proud of this flag. The discussion over the synonyms was meaningful and memorable!

Our flag will be displayed, along with other's projects, at our local VA Hospital this year.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Time Traveling

My second graders always surprise me! This week we read a photo essay about a girl who attends a school for deaf students. We learned some hand spelling and signs. We also read a story about Helen Keller. It was after that story that my students began to ask me questions such as:

-Is Helen Keller still alive?
-How old is she?
-Did you know her?

I decided it was a great time to get out one of my magnetic timelines and help them find answers to their questions. I've never taught timelines so early in the year, but I believe in grabbing those natural, teachable moments and riding the "interest wave" as far as I can! This was one of those moments.
Through the course of the lesson, we discussed many things. Here are a few of them:

  • place value and the 1000's place
  • counting by tens above 1000
  • counting on and back on a number line
  • how long ago Helen Keller lived
  • how long she has been gone
  • how old she was when she died
  • whether or not Mrs. Edwards was alive at the same time as Helen Keller (for 13 years!)
  • whether or not Mrs. Edwards knew Helen Keller (It's a big world! and, no, I never met her.)
We now have a foundation to build on as we explore immigration, explorers, and pilgrims later this fall. At the end of the lesson, a student raised his hand and said, "That was like traveling in a time machine!" I think I have them hooked!