Thursday, January 14, 2016

Because we are living in a digital world, and I am a digital girl!

I wonder if there will ever come a time when blogging about something won't feel like a chore? Instead I'll be so excited to make the time to write about something, and it'll be exhilarating.  Right now, I still struggle with this step, very much so.

I meant to blog at the end of December to talk all about Actively Learn, and Around the World in Eighty Days, and describe the joys I felt while planning some really fun Google stuff!  I guess I'll talk about it now!

In October I had the opportunity to go to a GAFE Summit in Boulder, CO.  Two of my takeaways were Actively Learn and using Google Streetview and Maps to do novel tours.

Actively Learn first - if you teach ELA, social studies, or science go make a free account at  Browse the catalog and find content to match your curriculum.  From there you can add students two different ways 1) through Google Classroom or 2) have students create an account and add your course with the course id.  I found Around the World in Eighty Days on the site and thought about the great way to bring a classic into the classroom.  For most of my book projects I have the students read choice books or lit. circle books. It has been a while since I have taught a class novel.  A strong reason for not teaching class novels has been the lack of resources to send a book home with each student.  With Actively Learn and our iPads, I was able to assign chapters.  There were already questions loaded into the system, but I could easily add, edit, or delete as needed to match my expectations and grade level standards.  How Amazing!

Once we started reading Around the World, I wanted to tie in my Google Streetview and Maps ideas. I created what I was calling "Google Tours" for the students.  We did a "tour" of a place once a week as we were reading. I scoured the internet for old pictures of some of the places mentioned in the text, such as the Reform Club as well as places that would have been around during the 1870s.  I then made sure that these places still existed today and had the students do a comparison between the two time periods.  They also had to use the Google machine to problem solve how long it would take to travel to a location and how much a plane ticket would be. This semester I created Phileas Fogg in London, India, and Passepartout in Japan.  My goal for next year is to add the U.S.  as well.
I posted these resources in my TPT store.

Years ago after students had turned in their computers for the year, I had a quick two week project at the end of the semester where the students were researching a "Trip of a Lifetime."  It wasn't a very fleshed out project, it was one of those quick and dirty, "What are we going to do with the last two weeks of school?" projects. I got a ton of brochures from a gas station in town and passed them around. I explained to my students they were going to make brochures for a multi-day, multi-city trip. My requirements were not very extreme: choose 5 cities including the one we live in.  Research the predominate language, populate, weather, terrain, and three attractions to visit.  I checked out the lab for a few days for research and gave the students colored pencils and paper for the product. I have a beautiful work example from the project:

I wanted to partner up with my math partner this year to make this on our iPads.  We had big plans to do so much with this project and to add in the math standards as well. We just ran out of time after Thanksgiving break!  This was my original research form from four years ago, and this was my rubric. Make a copy if you like.  When I get a chance (maybe this summer...) I will be updating this unit to be even better. It will be amazing!

Currently, my students are working on a short three week poetry unit.  We are writing Sonnets next week.  If I can get my act together to get them to be what I want them to be, maybe I'll be excited about blogging about it!
My students are also reading choice books. I created a Tic-Tac-Toe menu for Fiction and one for Nonfiction.  I will get those up on my TPT soon!

Message me with ideas about the project, questions, comments!

English Middle School Mania

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