Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What to do when a truth is full of lies...

True: Consistent with fact or reality; not false or erroneous.

This week a report came out about Greg Mortenson and his book 3 Cups of Tea. Apparently there are some inaccuracies in his stories. No matter what our personal feelings are on this issue we must think about our students. If you have used this book, its story, or the Pennies for Peace program you must have a conversation with your students. We can never lead our students to a false knowledge and if we do, even if by a mistake that is not our fault, we must be the ones to clear it up. This is a great time to have a conversation with your students about what truth is and about what it is not. Truth is consistent with the facts it does not contain inconsistencies, exaggerations, or created ideas. This is a teachable moment that must not be neglected. It is a chance to teach about real life and the decisions that we make.

To see a video clip of the story click here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Making Rules

Classroom Rules: Define acceptable behavior withing a classroom and provide clearly defined expectations.

Everyone knows the importance of having clearly defined rules for children. We know that they are necessary to make children feel safe and give them security. A good system for rules and consequences will allow things to run much smoother for you and the students. But how do you go about creating rules that everyone understands?

Begin by having a conversation with your students about what things would make school really awful. Make a giant list on the board so that you can refer to it later. Then make a list of things that would make school great. Go back through the lists with the students and cross out the things that can't be controlled by you or the students because of school policy. Then talk through the other things on the lists. This is your chance to explain your expectations for them and what they can expect from you. Afterwards create a list of classroom rules. Make sure that you keep these few and simple. A great list would be: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Follow Procedures. It is important to go over the meaning of these big words. Every child's idea of respect will be different and you must make sure that they understand what you mean by respect. Make a list with them of what respect means. You can refer back to your lists that you made previously to help fill this in.

Friday, April 1, 2011

States Project

Tourist: Someone who is traveling for fun.

Have your students become tourists for a week. Assign small groups a state to study. You could combine this with other teaching such as the 13 colonies or Lewis and Clark since you won't have 50 groups of students in your class. Or if you are in a big school make it a grade level project and have all of your grade level doing it at once that way all of the states are studied. Give students a rubric so that they know what they are looking for when researching. Things could include date of entry into the United States, state bird, flower, flag, major tourist attractions, famous people born there, etc.

If time permits, allows students to request visitor information from each state. Usually they will send packets of information to tourists. See if you can connect with a school in each of the states and ask that they would send you information about what they like to do in their free time there on a postcard from their city.

This can be combined with math as well. Have students decide on where in that state they would like to stay for a 3 day vacation and figure out how much it would cost including hotel, travel, meals, and local attractions.

After giving students plenty of time in class to do the project set it up in the gym and invite the rest of the school to come and travel around the country. This is another great way to get parents involved in education!

Decades Project

Decade: A Period of ten years.

What a great way to learn about history! This project was easy to pull together and allowed all of us to really learn a lot. Complete the project by assigning groups of students a decade in American history. Have them research about pop culture, clothing, news events and interesting facts that happened. Have students create posters with the information, bring in artifacts, and dress according to their decade. Students can also learn dances or bring in food that was famous of the time.

Assessment can be done in two ways or a combination of both. Give students a rubric so that they know what they are expected to gain from their research and on the day of presentations check off the rubric. You could also do interviews with students as you walk around and see their displays. This can be set up in your school gym or lunchroom and invite the other students to come and check it out.

You will need to make sure that students have opportunities to do research at school and to work on putting together their posters. Also make sure that you have clothing for students who are unable to find some. This would be a great opportunity to get parents involved, too!