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.