Monday, December 30, 2013

It's the end of the world: a project

The first semester had two projects.  Both of them were thesis papers based on specific SOLs.  I am not sure the students enjoyed it but I think most honed their research and writing skills.  

Second semester will offer a new project.  I got the idea from another teacher, who I found online, that gave a similar assignment.  

So here it is: I will give the students a scenario that the world's population has dropped by 98% as a result of an influenza outbreak.   That means there are a little over 100 million people in the world and only 6.5 million people in the United States.  Currently, Virginia has a bit over 8 million people.  In the scenario, the influenza outbreak has been stabilized but the government, economy, and society have failed and need to be restructured.  The new government has put a search committee together to locate students of World History to help advise the new government on how to proceed.  What worked well in the past and what should our new government, economy, and society.  

I would like to offer a few options for the product the student is producing.  Obviously, they could  do a written report: like on you would turn into a boss for a proposal (not a research paper).  I am also thinking power point.  I would like to come up with a few more products.  I guess I'll keep my thinking cap on.

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Semester One: Post Mortem I am...on Christmas break and semester one is OVER! Exams have been given, final comments for report cards (except two classes) are finished and two weeks of lessons in January are done.

Today's post is going to be a post-mortem of sorts.  If you are not familiar with a post-mortem it is when you look at something after it has happened to figure out what went well and what didn't go well.  Medically, it's like an autopsy.  So, what went well in semester one and what didn't go well in semester one.  If something went well, can I duplicate it in semester two?  If something did not go well, can I avoid it in semester 2?  So here goes....

What didn't go well:

1. I lost TWO flash drives.  This was a major stressor for me.  The first one was lost during teacher work week and the other was lost sometime later in the second nine-weeks.  My husband tried to fix the problem by giving me a flash drive attached to my lanyard.  This did not work as I lost that flash drive.  My fix: use google docs or dropbox.

2. Missing one week of school due to family deaths.  Yes, I said deaths.  My dear grandmother passed after an illness in October.  The morning of her funeral we found out that my husband's grandfather had passed.  As fellow teachers can attest, you can leave the most fabulous plans but get a cruddy sub and nothing goes as planned.  I had five different subs for those five different days.  My fix: hope no one dies until summer break ( a long time from now).

What could have gone better (okay- adding another category):

1. My Ancient Greece and Rome knowledge.  What? You may ask: you don't know anything about Ancient Greece or Rome?  And I would say: I do now!  During my time at Roanoke College I took Western Civ I & II but then focused my history classes on three areas: Africa, Medieval/Renaissance Italy and Modern Asia.  So....I would like to expand my knowledge for both of these areas.

What went well:

1. Pass rates.  I have 98 students who are passing World History I. However, I have one student that is totally failing.  I have offered tutoring, help with test corrections and contacted howe with little change.  As for the my quarterly assessments and exams: both of those have pass rates in the 90s.

2. Lessons.  I think, for the most part, my lessons are well developed and varied.  I am hoping to keep this momentum up and keep it through the end of the school year.  

I hope I've inspired you to conduct your own post-mortem.

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Romulus and Remus Mythology Comic

We are quickly approaching the end of our Rome unit!  We have been discussing Roman mythology and the beginnings of Christianity this week.  On Monday, I read the students two myths.  Both of them are about Romulus and Remus.  We talked about how mythology offers explanations of life events or natural phenomena.  Romulus and Remus are brothers and Romulus was the first king of Rome.

The cover of the book I read
to my students.  

This is the myth that explains how Romulus and Remus were born.  

The story about the founding of Rome.  
Students were encouraged to take notes as I read.  After I finished reading the students created a comic strip that contains a minimum of six story cells.  I also required that students include dialogue and color in each of the cells.  

Student's work 

One comic

I think most of the students enjoyed "story time".  They did a good job with their comic creations.  

Happy Teaching!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Aqueduct Construction

We have been busy this week of Thanksgiving learning about Roman contributions.  We discussed how arches, not native to Rome, were used to produce structures that could hold more weight and produce buildings with huge indoor spaces.

On Monday, we watched the Khan Academy video about the Pantheon.   The students were encouraged to take notes as I stopped it and discussed.  We discussed that a structure like the Pantheon would have been impossible to make with Greek post and lintel construction.  The video can be found here.

On Wednesday, I had the students divide into groups of two or three.  I gave them six cups, a sheet of construction paper, and scissors.  They had the class period to make their "working" aqueduct.  The requirements were the aqueducts had to have arches, no adhesive and a small glue cap had  to run down the aqueduct.  The only grading guidelines I gave had to do with behavior.  If I had to speak to a student about their behavior or redirect a student I would deduct 5 points per discussion.  I only had to take points away from three students.  Overall it was a great lesson!

Here are some pictures:

Here is a video of one of my favorites!

I got this idea from this online lesson.

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Greek Hoplite Demo

One of my colleagues is quite the military historian.  He invited me, and the other World History teacher, to his room for a hoplite demonstration.  If you are not familiar with a hoplite they were the foot soldier of the Greek city-state army.  For more information click here.

Students drew straws and the short straw drawer was the "winner".  Three of the four winners were from my class!
Here is first period's student in the red tunic, his long Spartan hair and his Corinthian helmet.  

Close up of the helmet. 

Ready for battle!  

Wouldn't want to see the business end of that spear!  

Of course I love talking about history but I double love it when the kids get to participate in an reenactment.  

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Greek Mythology Advertisements

It has been a while.  I missed a week of school as a result of two grandparent deaths.  My grandmother passed at the end of October and dear husband's grandfather passed a few days later in early November.  

Today's post is the product of our Greek mythology discussion.  The SOL lists 6 Greek mythological gods and goddesses.  We discussed the and took notes.  Then I had the students pick one of the six and come up with a fictional product that somehow correlates to the deity they chose.  In addition to the company the student had to come up with a catch phrase or motto.  
Artemis was chosen for this bow and arrow store since she is the goddess of the hunt.  

Zeus was chosen for this towing company because he was known for throwing lightning bolts.  Lightning bolts
are thought to be quick; therefore, the towing company is quick like lightning!    

Hera is the goddess of women and marriage.  This student chose Hera to be the  name for her wedding dress company.  Also, the "dress(es are) fit for a Queen".  Nice!   

Apollo is the god of the sun and was chosen to represent these microwaves.  

Apollo was chosen for this sunscreen.  

Aphrodite is the goddess of love.  This student chose Aphrodite and made up an online dating site.
There were many other examples.  They were so good about a third of the advertisements earned spots in the hallway beside my door!  

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CPS Clickers

I love my CPS clickers and I want to tell you why.  
First, each student has one and they stay in my room.  Each student has a clicker that corresponds to their number in the gradebook.
My class set of CPS Clickers.

Second, I love the data and information CPS gives me.

Third, I use them most test reviews.  I read questions and if students answer with 100% accuracy they get a piece of candy.

"What do you know?"
Fourth, I use them for quizzes.  My county changed their grading policy.  Grades fall into two categories: summative and formative.  Summative means the students demonstrate what they know.  The clickers come in super handy here.  The CPS program allows me to type questions for the students and I give them the summative assignment (and it's paperless!).  After the questions the students put their clickers back and then we go over the answers.  I run a quick report and then the kids have a summative grade.  I call these "What do you know?".

I ordered a large calculator caddy and the clickers fit perfectly in there!

Here is the link for them:

Did I mention I love my clickers?

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ancient China Review

Today was a jumble of emotions.  First, I have to give props to my homebase for being very observant.  My grandmother is on her final journey to her heavenly home.  I went to be with her last night and got home at mid-night (well past my bedtime) and my emotions are a mess.  Before instruction began one of my homebase students noticed that I was off and asked.  I shared my story (without crying).  They were so sweet and understanding.  

According to my lesson, I was going to review using the CPS clickers and award candy for those questions that had 100% correct answers.  However, I was still crying when I got to school this morning.  I knew that my plans had to change.
Here is most of fourth period.  Notice the Fu Manchu moustache.  They were reviewing Taoism.
 I went to my teacher across the hall for a suggestion.  She suggested that I break the chapter into topics and then have them break into that many groups.  Within the group they could create one of many review activities: a skit, riddles, jokes, advertisement, or an interview.  I gave them about 20 minutes and butcher paper, markers, scissors, and tape.  I was so impressed with their output!  I had songs about China's geography, a wrap about Taoism, an interview about Taoism and Confucianism, riddles about the Silk Road and China's geography, maps, advertisements for the Great Wall and a few others.  I was so proud of them!

Here is another group.  Notice the Great Wall behind them?  The Mongols breached the wall and destroyed it.  

This is the Silk Road group decorating their "silk".

I hung the output in the hallway.  
Here are some output from first and second.  By the end of the day I had fourteen or fifteen posters hanging in the hall.
Happy Teaching!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hinduism and Buddhism Double Bubble

The last two days we watched videos and discussed the two religions associated with SOL WHI.4c and d.  If you have access to United Streaming/ Discovery Education, they have a great series on world religions.  I created a worksheet for the students to fill in as they watched.  At the end of each video (they are not all class- about 20 minutes) we discussed.

Today, I had the students brainstorm similarities and differences.  This year the brainstorming occurred on a Monday so I gave them some prompts: What is the country of origin?  Where are the religions practiced now?  What about the founders?  What are the sacred texts?  What are the key beliefs?  They brainstormed for about 8 minutes.

I then created the double bubble  by cold calling students to tell me where to put the information.   At the end of class the students have the completed double bubble for their notes.

Here is our end product:
This is the "old school" version on the board.

This is the one we created with my Chrome Book group.
Happy Teaching!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Where in the world?

I was looking through the stash of book and other items in my class.  I came across some very nice maps.  Did I mention they were laminate too!?
The whole display

I was telling the students the other day that the name of the course is technically World History & Geography I.  What a great find!

After mulling over what to do with these lovely maps I decided to keep a record of the places we have studied.

I used some of my gold star stickers to show where the place is on the map.  I then used some cross-stitch floss to lead the space to the place label.

My plan is to change the color of the floss as the 9-weeks changes.

Happy Teaching!

The approximate places and their stars.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Egyptian Society

We have been wrapping up our ancient river valley civilization unit and we discussed Egyptian society.  On Wednesday I had the students use an iPad (my pilot group used their chromebook) to research 9 different groups in society: pharaoh, vizier, scribes, doctors, priests, craftpeople, farmers, nobles and soldiers.  I told them to try to think about questions like: Who do they work for? Do they have people that work for them?  What is their diet?  What is their day like?  I told them think about what their groups social status would be: low, middle or high.
The students then shared their ideas and each student was to write down what we discussed.  At the end we discussed the Egyptian slave who is the lowest in Egyptian society.

At the end of their notes I asked them to draw a triangle and have them divide the triangle in three parts.  I gave them 30 seconds to write down where they thought the members of society.  I then cold called students to come to the board and put the society member in the appropriate spot.

This is what the end result was in one of our classes:

I really enjoyed how the students worked in small groups, shared their information with the other students and then put together their social pyramid.

Happy teaching!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Graded Papers

As I stated in my previous post, I feel like this year is "New Teacher".  One issue that I've come across is handing back papers.  I spend 5 minutes handing back papers last week and I was not happy with how much time I wasted.  Some of you may be thinking, why don't you have the kids pass them out?  Personally, I don't like that for two reasons.  One, it encourages visiting and/or off task behavior.  Second, I don't like kids seeing what other people's grades are. 

So, I needed to devise a great system...and of course I turned to Pintrest!  I decided to give each of my students a folder, I wrote their first name on them in different colors for each class (alphabetized by their last name), placed them in hanging file folders and put those in an extra crate I had in the room. 

My new paper delivery system!
I told the students they are welcome to check their folder any time.  However, they are to only check their folder.  Also, I am the only person to put papers in.  I keep it in the back of the room on an extra desk. 

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Am I a first year teacher?

I usually don't "vent" online.  I am going to keep that mindset and tell you all of the new things that are going on with my teaching world.  

First, coming up with a new curriculum has been challenging and fun.  I've enjoyed relearning and remembering all of the things that I forgot I knew.  I remember when I student taught US I I felt very inadequate in that particular content.  At my alma mater, Roanoke College, I took many world history classes: Renaissance Italy, Medieval England, Colonial Africa, Modern Japan, Ancient MesoAmerica, another African history.  I had taken many American classes but they weren't exactly what I needed to know the content for my student teaching.  Now, I get to take that "old" information and use it for my classes.  

Second, I am excited to be apart of a technology pilot group at my school.  One of my five classes travels together (Science, English, Math, me and then Spanish) and they have a Chromebook Notepad.    I don't have an online textbook, like some of my colleagues, so my goal is to have as much online as possible.  I'm using Google docs and Google forms.  Additionally, I'm using Schoology  at my LMS (learning management system).  

Third, I am not coteaching this school year.  I've cotaught for the last three years.  I enjoy the students I have this year; however, I miss that adult interaction throughout the day.  And I won't lie: I miss the free bathroom pass.  I've had to find my teacher bladder again.  

Fourth, I'm just tired.  :-)  

I hope each of you are having a great school year thus far and I know that the rest of the year will be very successful!  

Happy Teachings!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to craft a writing prompt

Mrs. Fairchild’s Prompt:       

How did the Industrial Revolution impact the lives of women, children, and the family?

This correlates to WHII.9c. 

The first thing I am going to do is go to that specific SOL.  There are a few bullet points that will point me in the right direction:

·    Family-based cottage industries displaced by the factory system
·    Harsh working conditions with men competing with women and children for wages
·    Child labor that kept costs of production low and profits high
·    Owners of mines and factories who exercised considerable control over the lives of their laborers

·    Women and children entering the workplace as cheap labor
·    Introduction of reforms to end child labor
·    Expansion of education
·    Women’s increased demands for suffrage

This particular SOL has a fair amount of points.  I would want to narrow my focus.  Since I am a teacher, I am going to focus my research on child labor, reforms of child labor and education.  One suggestion I would make is that your prompt should also have a location and a specific time.  There was an Industrial Revolution in both England and the United States.  I am going to pick the United States.  If you look closely at the SOL it states that the time period is the 19th Century. 

My reworded prompt is going to be:

How did the American Industrial Revolution impact the lives of children during 19th Century America? 

My prompt has now narrowed my research focus.  I am only interested in the American Industrial Revolution, during the 19th century and I am only interested in how it affected children. 

Once you have your prompt written your research scope should be narrowed to a manageable point. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Information Wall

This year I have tried another room management tool.  I used to divide the far end of my board with tape or borders.  In those divisions I would put the date, whether it was an "A" or "B" day (those determine which classes we see that day), homework, the SOL number/letter and reminders.

I decided to try a system that a few of my friends use; I added a twist.  My friends have laminated papers, glue them on the wall and then write their homework on the laminated paper.

Earlier in the summer I bought decorated half posters and then laminated them.  I hot glued them to the wall.  I used punch-out letters to signal the day of the week.  In the top left corner, I write the date and the SOL number/letter in the top right.  I also write their homework on the poster board.  To let the students know which day it is I have different colored punch-out letters to designate "A" days or "B" days.

My Information Wall
Each Monday they write their homework for the week.  Right now I verify agendas by signing them.  As the year goes on I will change the verification process and check them less often.  My hope is that this will lead to independence.  In the end...isn't that what we want?

Happy Teaching!

Fire Demonstration

I love it when teachers share!  Today was a sharing kind of day and my kids and I were on the receiving end of the sharing.

This week we have been discussing archaeologists and Paleolithic and Neolithic Eras.  One of the big "inventions" we've talked about this week is fire.  We discussed that it provided heat, light, protection and means to cook food.

One of the other World History I teachers offered to show my classes how to make fire.  As always, the kids really liked the hands on demonstration.

Mr. Parker even dressed for the occasion.  You can't see it but he had his flint in his hands ready to catch the fiber on fire.

See the fire?!  
Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Artifact Interpretation

I have really enjoyed teaching World History.  I've enjoyed it for two reasons.  One reason is the students.  I am teaching about 30 of my former students.  It is fun seeing them and already knowing them.  I also like getting to know my new students.  However, with over 100 kids I'm not sure I'll know their names by interims.  The second reason I am really enjoying World History (keep in mind I'm a Civics kind of gal- so much so, I have an entire blog about that subject- click here to see that blog.).  I like learning new things and planning new lessons.

Today was one of those new lessons.  We learned about archaeology yesterday and today my kids were archaeologists.  I thought about having them dig in shoeboxes filled with sand but my more practical side got the better of me.  So I borrowed artifacts (foreign coins) from friends.

We watched a short video that showed archaeologists in the field and it discussed what the archaeologists do with their findings. We picked it up from there.  The students were to analyze and interpret their artifact.  They were to write down things that they observed, descriptions, some did rubbings of the coins and wrote down questions they were unable to answer.  Then they were to get another "artifact" and do the same thing.  Their goal was to analyze three artifacts and write their findings.

I found the original idea from this website.

Here are some pictures from today's lesson.
One of my archaeologists analyzing their artifact.

The artifacts.
Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Envelope System I Snagged from Pinterest!

Well, tomorrow is the first day of school and I have been busily (that may be an understatement) running around to put on the finishing touches.

Today, I made my envelope collection system.  I used Excel to make a simple roster/assignment organizer.  The names are down the side of the paper and then I made blank boxes to write the assignments in.  I used duct tape to reinforce the edges and to differentiate the different classes.

The procedure (should go) is I will send the envelope around the room.  The student will put their paper in the envelope and initial or check off.  Once it gets back to me I will have a quick way to see who has turned in their papers and who hasn't.

Hope it goes as planned!

Happy Teaching!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


To start the year off I was asked to give a professional development for the 4th - 7th grade teachers in my county.  I had the pleasure of working with a friend of mine.   We discussed differentiation and collaboration.  To take a look at the differentiation click here.  To take a look at the collaboration presentation click here

 If you do not have a Prezi account sign up and take the tour.  Click here to go directly to the website.  I really hope you like it!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beginning of the Year

This year is a short summer for us and summer is going by quicker than usual.  I  have less than a month before school starts.  Needless to say, I have already planned out the first few weeks.  I really enjoy the first few days of school because that is when you get to set your routine and get to know your students.  

Last year I tried something new and I will be doing it again this year.  I wrote a letter to my students and in return they wrote back to me.  It was great for a few reasons.  They got to know about me (I'm an actual person!) and I, in turn, got to know about them.  Additionally, I got a writing sample from them.  While I am not a writing teacher, I do expect my students to write in my class.  The last bonus, it was a grade in the gradebook.  

This is the sample that I am writing this year.  I x'ed out the locations here on the blog.  In the classroom I will have the actual place names there.  I may take out the "Favorite World History Teacher" part out.  I like to joke about things like that but usually wait to see which classes I can do that with and which ones I cannot.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dear 8th Grader:

Hello and welcome to World History I!  I want to take a few minutes and tell you about myself and ask something in return. 

As you know, my name is Mrs. Fxxxxx.  This is my 5th year here at FMS.  I taught some of you last year in 7th grade.  I look forward to getting to know you over the school year. 

I live in Mxxxxx, which is near Sxxxx Mxxxxx Lake.  My husband and I will be married for 14 years this year.  My husband works in Rxxxx.  We have two boys: a 6th grader here at FMS and a 4th grader at Mxxxxx Elementary School.  We have three pets: a dog named Charlie Brown and two frogs. 

In my spare time I enjoy spending time at Smith Mountain Lake on our boat or dock, reading (I read # books this summer), visiting with my family and playing cards with friends. 

This summer we went on a Western Caribbean cruise and I was able to visit places I have never been before: Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico.  Mexico was my favorite as I got to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, which we will talk about later this school year.  I also spent time on the lake, visited with family in Georgia and took a few day trips around Virginia. 

Okay, now it’s your turn.  I want you to get out a sheet of paper and write me a letter.  You need to introduce yourself (your first and last name) and your age.  Tell me where you live (the area is fine: Fxxxx, Gxxxx, Bxxxxx, Lxxxxx) and who lives in your house (people and animals).  Also, tell me about your summer.  Telling me it was awesome or boring will not suffice.  You need to give me descriptions.  Then tell me about your favorite class or subject and one goal you have for this school year. 

This assignment is your first grade for the new school year.  Do you best and I look forward to reading your letter.

Your favorite World History Teacher (because I'm your only World History Teacher!),

Mrs. Fxxxxxxx

Happy Teachings!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rules and Regs

Just a quick post to make sure we all know the rules.  

Everything on this site is for you to use in your own class, in entirety or parts.  

Under no circumstance should anyone sell items on this site for their personal, governmental or organizational financial gain.  

Also, under no circumstance are people to take credit for ideas here on this site.  

The only gain should be intellectual.  

Thanks for following me!

Happy Teachings-

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summertime Thoughts

Summertime is like New Year's Day for teachers.  When January 1st rolls around  most people are making resolutions about how to change or improve their lives.  Personally, I'm not a big resolution gal.  However, over the summer, once things slow down, I take to Pinterest (click here for my teaching board) and other websites for new ideas.  I think about what worked well over the last school year and some places for improvement.

One activity that I have really enjoyed this summer (I enjoy it all year but a little more in the summer) is taking my boys (Did I tell you I have boys? One is 11 and going into 6th grade and the other is 8 heading into 4th grade.) to taekwondo.  My elder son just earned his green belt (5th belt change for him) and the younger just earned his camo belt (4th belt change for him).  Their instructor, Mrs. Wargo, is quite possibly one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever met.  

Now let me back up. I had an epiphany a few months ago.  There are lovers of a subject and lovers of teaching.  You can be both but one has to shine more than another.  While I love history, I found history early in my schooling career and loved it from 4th grade Virginia History to my capstone 400 level course at Roanoke College, I have discovered that I love teaching just a little more.  

Back to Mrs. Wargo.  Mrs. Wargo is in her second career.  She was a high school fashion merchandizing teacher in Northern Virginia for over 25 years.  She and her husband had another taekwondo studio there.  Once they "retired" and moved here (we live near a big lake/vacation spot) they started another school.  My elder son is a member of the JTI- Junior Training Instructor- team.  He helps in class and attends another class to train him to be an instructor.  These classes are awe inspiring.  

This past week she discussed the importance of having a commanding voice and body posture to ensure that the class is run well and everyone stays on task.  They took turns leading the class in an activity that involved the students leaving their set points to form a circle.  At first, the other JTIs were fairly compliant.  Once they realized that Mrs. Wargo wanted them to be a little silly or uncooperative they really started getting into it.  It was entertaining to watch these older elementary schoolers to high schoolers get their fellow classmates in a circle.  It was a nice reminder that you need to be commanding but not overbearing to keep the peace in the class.  

In addition to her classes I always enjoy reading her instructor's creed.  She has it on sticky letters on a dry erase board.  It reads:

I will teach this class as if it were the most important class I will ever teach.

I am patient and enthusiastic. 

I lead by example. 

She explains what that means to each JTI and then they sign their name to the board.  

I really like this creed.  Let me explain why.  

First: The most important class is the class you are teaching that moment.  It is where you currently are and your attention should be undivided.  

Second: Patience is so important when dealing with people, especially children.  When you loose your patience and are short with children you can leave a bad impression with that child.  I try to remember to smile and say something positive to each student I see that day (from a simple and cheery "Hello!" to an genuine compliment.)

Third: Enthusiasm is key because if you are not excited about your subject how can someone else be excited?  Enthusiasm is contagious!

Fourth: Leading by example is so true. People judge you on the actions they see you do, not necessarily what you say.   

Mrs. Wargo also has this creed on her desk in her office.  I'm thinking about putting one on my new desk.

Happy Teaching!