Sunday, November 9, 2014

BioPoster Presentation

According to SOL 5ef, students need to know twelve Greek contributors.  Instead of having students reading about them or presenting a long power point I decided to let students take 2 half periods to research one of the twelve contributors and then create a bioposter.  Again, I found this idea on Pinterest!

The idea is that students cut out a face (and an arm hole if there is room) and decorate their poster to reflect the person their project is on.  Students could draw or print out their pictures. I also gave the students a rubric.  One item that I forgot to add to the rubric is their presentation to the class- I'll be sure to add that next year!

Students then half a class on the third day to present their posters.  Students set up their notes prior to the presentations (folded the paper in eight boxes and I kept the contributors on the same row) and filled in the information as their classmates presented their posters.  At the end I, or my co-teacher, went over the information to ensure that students got all of the needed information.

I took these pictures of some of the best ones from the morning presentations.  I liked how the letters were big and colorful.

Happy Teaching!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Story Tower

Our Ancient Greece unit has recently wrapped up and I want to share a couple of things the students created.

The first thing is a Story Tower.  I found it on Pinterest as an English activity to help younger students place story action in sequential order.  I thought to myself- "Self, why can't I do this for history?"  After all, history is a long story.  
I chose to use it with SOL 5d The Persian War.  Students need to know the two victories at Salamis and Marathon.  We also discuss Thermopylae as a defeat.  

 For this activity you will need 10 index cards, five different colors of markers, and scissors.  Students will need to separate their index cards into five pairs.  The first pair (I chose green because green means go) said "Persian Wars: Greece vs. Persia" and the other "started as a result of Greek riots in Asia Minor".  The next set of cards was in blue and read "Battle of Marathon 490 BCE" and the other "Greek victory over Persians".  The next pair was written in orange "Battle of Thermopylae 480 BCE" and the other "Greek loss as a result of much larger Persian army."  The fourth pair was written in purple "Battle of Salamis 480 BCE" and the other "Greek naval victory due to superior navy". The last pair was written in red (Red means end!).  The first one said "Outcome of Persian War" and the other "More unified Greece for a time".

To construct the tower have the student put their green pair off to the side and then stack the other four pairs on top of the others.  Then one inch into each side cut a slit about 3/4 inch.  The first level is the green, the next level is blue, the third level is orange, the fourth level is blue and then finally, the last level is red.

Students may have a difficult time building the tower.  I would suggest using more heavy duty cards as flimsy index cards have a more difficult time staying up.

Once the students built the tower I gave them a paperclip to keep the index cards in their binder.

Happy Teaching!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Student Teacher and Self Reflection

I realized that I have not posted in quite awhile and it is because I have had the pleasure of hosting a student teacher these past few weeks.  It has been a great experience for me: I have enjoyed watching my student teacher grow as an educator and I have also enjoyed this time to reflect on my own teaching.

My student teacher has been with me and my students since the first week of school and he is wrapping up his time with us this week.  I took over the teaching duties today.  Like all preservice teachers my student teacher has his strengths and areas to work on.  I have been so excited to see him continue to hone his strengths and being willing to listen to suggestions on how to improve his teaching methods.  Personally, I think that is the key to continuing to be a great teacher: willing to reflect on your method and be willing to change areas that are not up to par.

So, what is the best way to determine one's strengths and weaknesses?  Student teacher has had, to his horror or help, me in the back of the room coaching him.  I cannot have someone in the back of my room all day, every day.  I could video tape myself teaching.  I could also have a colleague watch for one lesson and give me feedback.

Thinking about how to be a better teacher is the key to continually being a better teacher.

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remind Text Service

A colleague, Virginia Earth Science Teacher, alerted me to a service he had been using.  It's called Remind (used to be called Remind101) that allows teachers to create texts to send to parents and/or students that remind them of certain things.  It is similar to the texts you may receive from your doctor or dentist.  Click here to go to their website to find out more.

I have used it a few times and have been on the receiving end of my son't teacher's texts.  There are a few reasons I like it:

1. It sends the texts from a number that is not your own.
2. Students/parents cannot reply to your Remind text.
3. You can choose which classes you want to receive your text.   
4. Texts can be scheduled to be sent out at a later time.  

There are a few ways students or parents can sign up: you can send them directly to Remind's website and they can use the code specific to their class, print out a QR code, send them an email invite or have them text a Reminder phone number with the class code in the message.  

Happy Teaching!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Paperless Meet the Teacher

I just finished day 3 of the 14-15 SY.  We had Meet the Teacher last Tuesday and I decided to go paperless.  As a parent myself I know how much paper a parent can come home with after meeting a myriad of teachers.  I saw on Pinterest how teachers had used QR Codes for back to school.  I thought that was such a great idea and decided to try it out myself.  

I have five sections of World History this year.  I put out five groups of QR Codes with their corresponding class rosters.  As you can see in the picture I have four different QR Codes: one for my email, one for my school webpage, one for this site that takes the parents to the intro video and then one for the Reminder text service (more about that in a later post).  I think the QR codes were well received.  Some parents and students needed to download the QR codes but that did not deter them from capturing the information on their device.   

Keeping with the theme of this post, I thought I'd post a picture of "VirginiaWorldHistoryTeacher" so you could meet me!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Parent Informational Video

Hello parents!  I have put this video together for you to answer questions you may have about the flipped classroom.  

This video will be similar to the content videos that I have put together for your child. I use a program called Quick Time to record my computer screen and my voice. You will notice that I do very little editing. I will upload the content videos to a webpage called This is a secure site that requires your student to log-in. We will create student log-ins in the first few days of the school year. Ask your student for their log-in if you would like to see how we use Schoology.  

Your child's videos will be about this video's length, too. This video is six minutes. Most videos are five to seven minutes.  

I also want to tell you a bit about this website. I blog about my experiences in the classroom.  Please feel free to explore. I love teaching. I feel that one of the best ways to grow as a teacher is to see what others do in their classroom. My hope is to inspire other teachers.  

Happy Learning!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Four Rules of Teaching according to Mrs. Wargo

Happy Summer!

I have been wanting to share this but have not had the time.  I'm helping a bit with summer school, taking our boys on day trips, and keeping our home straight and tidy (one of my favorite things to do over the summer- really, no joke!).

Mrs. Wargo is our boy's taekwondo instructor.  Not only does she have 20+ years of taekwondo teaching experience, she also taught public school for many more years.  She is one smart lady and I really respect her and information she has to offer.  Our boys are JTIs or Junior Training Instructors.  They help her and other instructors in different classes, they perform demos in public, and attend a special JTI class once a week.  In this class they usually have some kind of life skill lesson.  A few weeks ago she discussed the 4 Rules of Teaching.  She spent the entire class on this and it was great for me, a teacher, to hear these reminders.

Her four rules of teaching are 1. Explanation, 2. Demonstration, 3. Correction, and 4. Repetition

Explanation involves explaining what you are going to teach.  What is your mission or goal for today's class?  How can you convey this information to your class?  I personally have a daily agenda written on my whiteboard.  Under the agenda I number the action items that I intend to cover.  Additionally, as I teach in Virginia, I put the day's SOL information.  This, too, is part of the explanation.

Demonstration is her next step.  Now, she is teaching a very physical subject.  I, on the other hand, am teaching World History.  Her demonstration is a bit easier to see.  What can I use to demonstrate the knowledge that I want my students to acquire?  Of course I can lecture, show powerpoints, hand out skeleton/Princeton/column notes to students that have the pertinent information on it.  Mrs. Wargo has  "Demonstrate properly what you are going to teach." and "Have students physically demonstrate technique."  Can you think of other ways you, as the classroom teacher, can demonstrate the knowledge you want your students to have?

Correction is the third step.  Again, how do we, as classroom teachers correct?  Of course we have students complete worksheets, problems, take quizzes, create items or recite information back to us.  This is what we are correcting.  I really liked her correction explanation and it reminded me of the management classes I took in my former life.  You first want to correct the MOST important thing.  Do not try to correct everything: it is exhausting for you as the teacher and it is deflating for the student.  She uses the acronym PCP.  I don't remember exactly what it stands for but I think it is positive, correction, positive.  You want to keep things positive: point out something the student is doing well.  Then you want to correct the misstep and then end it with a positive.

Repetition is the last step.  This is best way to have students remember key information.  Mrs. Wargo mentions that you should "start with the last thing correct and add from there".  In certain classes it is easier to have repetition: math classes come to mind.  So how do we offer repetition without getting that glassy eyed effect from our students?  I personally use thinking maps, graphic organizers, creation of games, and other activities that show the information in different ways.  What are some ways you offer repetition in class?

Happy Teaching!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Teacher Reflection

“It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” 
― Carl Sandburg

What do you think?  I think to be an effective teacher, one must keep an actively reflective mind.  This reflection can happen in a myriad of ways: daily, weekly, quarterly and at the end of the year.

Daily: a great way to reflect on what worked and what didn't is to simply write down your thoughts on your lesson plan.  If  you are like me, I keep my lesson plans for use later.

Weekly: I use the quiz or other student material to gauge student understand.  If there is a weakness, what can I do to fix that weakness?

Quarterly: This is a big one for my school.  We have quarterly assessments that each content creates and each teacher administers the assessment.  We then "crunch the numbers" and determine where we have weaknesses.  We then have to devise lessons to reteach and rework those lessons.  We have to even fill out a form and provide our lessons to our department chair.

End of the Year: I have completed a few different ways and have seen other great ways to self-reflect.  Last year I encouraged the members of my department to write themselves a letter to be opened during the first week of teacher workweek.

This year, my neighbor teacher, had students tell her specific things that they liked about her class and things she could work on.  WOW! That was really brave of her to do a reflection like that.  She had the parameters that it needed to be kind and include specifics- avoid "This class was lame!" or "This class was so great!".  Why was it lame?  Why was it awesome?  She received some great information to use next year.
Do you self reflect?  If so, what do you do?

Happy teaching!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Old School JEOPARDY!

The end of the year is in sight and I am still faced with that conundrum of what to do.  We had a outdoor plans today and yesterday but as a result of three inches of rain we had to postpone until next week.  YIKES! I had to scramble yesterday to find something to keep my students occupied but relative to class.  
I thought about Jeopardy! but I didn't want to come up with all of the clues.  Nor did I want to put it into the power point that may or may not work.  Nor did I want to control the class as they did not pay attention to clues they had no investment in.  So- why don't the kids create the clues?  

Yesterday's task was to pick a topic from a list of broad topics: Renaissance, Japan, Middle Ages, Africa, Trade, Golden Ages, Rome, Greece, Mesoamerica, Stone Age, etc.  Students had to come up with six Jeopardy! type clues.  In addition to the clues they had to provide an answer key.  This took most of the period.  

Today I had to do some prep work.  First, I picked the clues I was going to use. Then, I made the dollar indicators, taped the clue to the board and then used magnets to cover the clues.  Each class had a tally helper.  

These were my rules:
Teams called their name, once when they new the answer.
Teams could only call their name when I had finished the clue.
There were two daily doubles.
There was a Final Jeopardy! clue.  

Overall, it went well today.  I think the students enjoyed seeing their classmate's clues.  

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

End of the Year Timeline

It's getting to be close to the end of the year.  By this point my students have taken their end of course SOL tests.  And now for the eternal end of the year teacher question: What on Earth do I do with these kids?  

WHI is a high-school credit course and the county where I teach allows for students who pass their SOL test to be exempt from their exam.  I have about 8 students that need to take an exam.  So, these activities need to be helpful for those students who are taking the exam but not bore the students to tears.  

One activity that I chose to do was a timeline that started with our very first lesson in August.  I then used our textbook to pick out approximately 55 other events.  These events had no dates on them.  I initially made a master list (that included the textbook page).  I then transferred those events, less the page numbers, to another Word Doc.  Once the pages were printed I shuffled them and rearranged them into six file folders.  Students then divided themselves into six groups and were responsible for putting the events in chronological order.  After the group had their events in order they started putting all of the other groups' events in chronological order.  The activity took most of the period: this was a win-win!  The timeline actually went out my classroom door into the hallway.  
After the whole timeline was finished students went through the timeline and were told to look for two things that surprised them.  To "surprise" them would mean that they didn't realize that an event happened before or after another event OR events were happening about the same time in other civilizations.  This was turned in for a classroom check grade.  

Happy Teaching!

Monday, May 19, 2014

HUGE thinking maps

To review for their Africa unit I had the students create a thinking map.  The thinking map was filled in by a reading selection I gave to the students.  When the student think they had correct answers they wrote the answer on a sticky note.  One person in their group was responsible for writing the correct thinking map on paper to share with the group.

The one issue I had is that I had three different ones and it took longer than I thought.  Perhaps I should have had fewer and with less information.  However, I had hoped it would go quicker as this was a review activity.

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


                                                                                                                                            Who remembers Memory? I do!  So, why can't Memory work in the classroom, too?   I had stations one day and one station was Memory review.  I chose the religions we have studied this year, the architecture of different regions and then people and places in Middle Ages.  The architectural Memory had a twist: each "match" had three index cards.  One was the name of the building, one was a picture and the last was its purpose or where it was.  
To keep the index cards separated I used blue ink for one of the matches and then the other match was in a different ink color: pink, green and black.

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UNESCO Resource

During my recent unit on Renaissance I found the UNESCO World Heritage site.  This is a description from the website,
"The World Heritage List includes 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage  which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.
These include 759 cultural, 193 natural and 29 mixed properties in 160 States Parties. As of September 2012, 190 States Parties have ratified the World Heritage Convention." 

The link to the website can be found by clicking here.  I like the overview (they call it the synthesis), photos and the videos.  Check it out- I bet you will find something you can use.
Happy Teaching!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Book Presentation

The county I teach in is divided into different zones.  In each zone there are multiple elementary schools that feed into one middle school per zone.  That one zone middle school then feeds the zone high school.  Twice a year we have Vertical Team meetings.  The members of the team are all of the social studies teachers in our particular zone.  This coming week is our meeting and I am leading this time.  

A dear friend of mine had a similar meeting in her zone a few weeks ago and presented a book to her team.  The book is called "Teaching for Recall and Analysis: New Strategies for Improving Student Achievement in Social Studies" by R. Michael Pryor.  After reading the book I would say I disagree with the "new" part of his subtitle.  I have, or know teachers who, do all of the strategies.  However, he did take these old strategies and breathe new life into them.  Perhaps a better subtitle would have been "New Breathe to Proven Strategies for Improving Student Achievement in Social Studies".  But no one asked me.  

I thought I'd share her PPT and the information that I am going to present to the group.  

This is the initial slide that goes over the purposes of the book.  The author identifies some common problems within the social studies classroom: mastery of content, not just regurgitation of facts to be forgotten, performing well on standardized tests, students who have the ability but may not have the tools to be successful in Advanced Placement classes, ensuring that all time is used in the class- that bell-to-bell instruction and finally, giving different ways to show how you can allow students to show that mastery.  

            This slide discusses the main ways history "works".  Of course, chronological flow is crucial to the teaching of history.  Some teachers have different standards when it come to chronology: do you want students to know specific dates (The Battle of Hastings happened on October 14, 1066, the fall of 1066, in 1066, the early part of the 11th century or the 11th century) or do you want student to simply know that the Battle of Hastings happened before the Hundred Year's War?  Either way, this is that chronological flow. Also, students need to know that events were caused by certain things or how did an event affect other happenings.  On a side note, NPR had a fascinating article about how the 20th century would be different had WWI not have happened.  There are two links to that story: story one and story two.  Then you have the tiers of facts, inferences and judgements about a person or event: What are the facts, what can you infer about those facts and then finally you synthesize or make judgements about those facts/inferences.  Finally, the author discusses the comparing and contrasting (one of my personal favorites!).  This can be done a few ways: Venn Diagrams, Think Map (c) double bubble are two ways that come to mind.

Now we get to the new breath: the author describes how the old Venn Diagram can be revamped.  One idea he discusses is the use of colored Venn Diagrams: the teacher has colored balls that match the colors of the Venn Diagram and the students/teacher toss the ball to classmates.  If the student catches the green ball they have to give something that goes with WWI (see picture), if the student catches the yellow ball they have to give something about the Spanish American War.  In addition to the yellow and green ball you would have a blue one too: yellow and green make blue (right?!).  If the student caught the blue one they would have to give something that they both had in common.  In addition to the interactive Venn Diagram, the author suggested using three bubbles for three topics that have similarities and differences.   The third suggestion he had was combing that sequence with the Venn Diagram and have multiple interlocking circles that are order and then could be described and have something in common with the next event.                                                                      

Another strategy Pryor offers is the use of timelines.  He suggests that the teacher make LARGE cards (either photocopied or written on large index cards) and students can make create their own floor timelines.  A game for this would be to make it into a race- once the students are finished they ring a bell or shout their team name when they have correctly placed the items in chronological order.
The third strategy, not included in this powerpoint, is the History Wall.  In a History Wall, the teacher places pictures of people, events, things, etc on a wall in the classroom.  It can be changed as the unit changes or the teacher can keep it going throughout the school year.  A few activities suggested were the use of a spotlight (the book had an overhead projector highlighting areas; however, I have not had an overhead in my room for four years- perhaps a flashlight or some other way to highlight information?).  Students were to write as much information about ONLY the highlighted area.  Another strategy was call out with sticky notes two or three items on the wall and have students write how they are related (cause and effect) to one another.  I personally would like to do this next year and keep it up the entire year as the World History curriculum goes back in time  to cover new civilizations.  

 This is the wrap it up slide.  As educators we want students to be creating.  I heard a wise teacher say: You shouldn't be working hard- you've already been to school.  If the students can create it- let them.  After all, isn't that the highest part of Bloom's?!  

If you are interested in the book, click here.  It's an easy read and does have practical strategies that could be used for most any subject.  

Happy Teaching!

Monday, March 17, 2014


Surprise!  Another snow day!!  I think we are up to nine for the year thus far.  I REALLY hope this is our last one.  Okay- I'm done complaining.

I wanted to share this great resource with you.  It is called ReadWorks.   It has wonderful resources, for World and U.S. History, to use in the classroom.

Over the past few years I have noticed that our SOL has become an reading SOL.  Students must read through information to find the question and information to use to answer the question.

Also, I found it half way through the year so I think this would be a great resource to use for SOL review as well.  It may remind them of information from early in the school year.  

On another note, I planned to start my last unit today: I wrapped Japan, MesoAmerica and Africa together.  I am excited to show the students pictures of my travels to Tulum.

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Renaissance Review

In preparation of our upcoming Renaissance test I put a Venn Diagram review together. In a Word document I made a table and filled the spaces with important Renaissance concepts, people, books or works for art. I put "Northern Renaissance", "Italian Renaissance" and "Both" on three sticky notes. Students then placed the slips of paper under the post-it that it corresponded with. When students were finished I went around and verified accuracy.  After each groups was checked we discussed items that stuck out in the Venn Diagram: Italian words look "Italian", the items in the middle were more economic concepts or schools of thought while the "Renaissance" columns were people or works of art.

Beginnings in Florence
Da Vinci
Medici Family
Catholic Church
Van Eyck
Van der Wyden
Higher Living Standards
Praise of Folly
The Prince
“Arnolfini Portrait”
“Portrait of a Lady”
Sistine Chapel ceiling
“The Last Supper”
“Mona Lisa”
Printing Press
Growing Wealth
Trading centers
Letters of Credit
Increasing secular education
Rules against usury
Adoption of Arabic Numbers
Sir Thomas More

Tip: to keep the slips in the correct envelope, I had the students number each slip with the same number that correlated to the number on the envelope I gave them. That way, when the inevitable slip falls out I know that the slip goes with that same numbered envelope.  

Here are some pictures of students hard at work!


Sunday, March 2, 2014


This past week my students had an assignment to log onto and post to our discussion board. Their assignment was to post one thing they learned and a question for their classmates.  They then had to answer to questions their classmates posted.  I blogged about in this post if you want to more about it.  

At the end of the week I copied and pasted our discussion into  Here are our wordles. 

I really like the pictures becuase the words that are the largest are the ones that were used the most in the student's posts.  I plan on printing them out and hanging them on the wall tomorrow.  

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our new metaphor

Over the weekend I was vacuuming, which I find cathartic but that's another story, and was thinking about school.  An old saying popped into my mind: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."  This quote is by a Jewish Spanish philosopher named Maimonides.

I wrote the quote on my white board; however, I wrote give, a day, teach, and lifetime in another color.  At the beginning of each period I had the class read the quote and I asked them what it means.  Each student was correct in their interpretation.

I then asked them why I chose to write those specific words in color.  I got, "You wanted them to stand out." or "They are important."  Well, yes, that is correct but I wanted more information.  I had to prompt them more.  From each class I finally got that they saw the quote as a metaphor for our new PBL class.  SCORE!

My next question was: is it easier to be given a fish to eat or fish for it, reel it in, clean it and then prepare it?  Every time I was told that getting a fish is easier.  I then asked them which class is easier: the old way of me talking and assigning work or the new way.  I got, "I like this way better".  I had to remind students that this is not what I asked.  I then repeated the question, "Which class set up is easier."  That is when I saw the lightbulbs go off: yes students, this way is harder and you are going to have to dig in to get the "fish".  However, when you work for something you are going to retain that information much longer.

I'll keep the quote up.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Test Day

Here I am on an unusually beautiful late February afternoon grading papers.  I have finished grading the multiple choice section of the test and putting the grades in my gradebook.  I wanted to share my data with you.

Overall, there was no major change in the test class averages.  One class did not change at all.  Two classes' averages changed only a point or two in either direction.  Then two of my classes changed by four points: one class went up and the other went down.

I had some individual successes as well.  I had some student's test scores jump by ten to twelve points.  These students are typically the quieter, more reserved students who I think got more information in the small groups.

However, I had two students drop by thirty (YIKES!) points.  One is a social butterfly and I have a feeling was not on task like they should have been.  The other student is not as self-confident as I would like and does not ask for help even though I ask if everything is okay.

I am overall satisfied with my first flip.  I think, in the long run, students will get more out of this type of classroom.  I finished my lessons last night and will be diving the group into a different groups for their Renaissance chapter.  The two major changes I have this chapter are no group project and students will listen to the notes in a station in the classroom.

On to the Renaissance!

Happy Teaching-

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Classification of Information

We are wrapping up our Middle Ages unit.  Yesterday, one of the stations involved classifying different people or important events in the four nation-states of England, France, Russia and Spain.  The index cards were divided among the group so each student had something to determine.  Students first sorted the event or person index cards by nation-state.  Then some of the nation-states had more information that could be further classified.  Once the students had the proper information together they were to to write the information down on a piece of notebook paper.  
Classification Thinking Map

We test tomorrow.  The test is 35 multiple choice questions and one writing prompt.  I am both anxious and nervous to see how the students do tomorrow.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Students and iPads

I have been deliberating the pros and cons of using iPads in the flipped class.  I personally, would like a device that allow students to create output much more easily.  I do like the portability and ease of use of the iPads.  However, I do not like all of the apps that students had at their fingertips that had NOTHING to do with what their task was that day.

So, as I was perusing my Facebook newsfeed this afternoon I stumbled upon this article.  The writer of the article went to a school where students and teachers use iPads for all instruction- regardless if the class is traditional or flipped.  The article asked students what they liked and did not like about using iPads in class.  Some things the students liked was the fact that they could submit papers electronically and had no text or notes to keep up with.   One issue that students did not like was I.T. support to help with downloading of apps.  I personally like that that stop gap because my students were mesmerized by the stacks and stacks of apps they had on the iPads (as I mentioned above).

So, that begs the question: what does the best device look like?  What are our options?  I have had a class this year that has used a Chromebook.  I blogged about it at earlier: click here to read the post.  I like a few things about the Chromebook.  First, I like that you can create output with it since it has a full keyboard and apps to word process (although it is not MSWord).  I like that it has a USB drive for flash drive use as well.  I do not like how fragile they are though.  We have had a handful of broken Chromebooks this school year in that one class.

Okay- what about a full blown laptop computer?  Maybe, but the cost would be prohibitive for students to have one each.  The creation and saving ability would be nice on a computer.

Someone has mentioned to me that student should bring their own device.  I don't know how I feel about that, especially when the students have their own phone out.  I see texting, Snap Chatting and unapproved recording nightmares.  But maybe not- I am a worrier.  The benefit would be students provide their own device so there is no cost to the school.  However, if all a student has is a smart phone, those are small screens and creation of output would be minimal.  Additionally, not all students have a smartphone, Kindle, Nook or iPad.  I would need something for those students to use.

So, the eternal question of a flipping teacher goes on..what device to use?

Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Talk Drawings and Peer Review

One of the talking drawings. 
On Friday students created a talking drawing about Charlemagne.  If you are not up on your World History, Charlemagne was a Frankish King who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 800.  He was big into converting pagans into Roman Catholics and uniting Europe as it was under the Roman Empire.  So the students had to sum up two assignments about him.

I created the "drawing" as I figured it would cut down on the time students spent  on the assignment. They were supposed to write the following items: What Charlemagne was thinking about, what he was actually seeing, what he was feeling, what a strength he would possess, what would his feet be moving towards, and then his Achilles' heel or his weakness.  Most groups did a great job.

Today in study hall, or Connections, I had three students peer review the fifteen total drawings and condensed them down to eight.  Then the students put the eight best on a large poster and then hung it on the wall for me.  At first, I was utilizing the students to choose the best but then I, as I was listening to their conversations, they were really critiquing their work.  I heard things like, "this makes no sense", or "their grammar is all wrong", or "what are they trying to say...I don't get it!"  I was really impressed that they took the task so seriously!

Three of my students peer reviewing.
After the students picked their  top eight, they arranged them on butcher paper and hung it up in the classroom.  One of them added a 3-D crown to represent Charlemagne's reign.

The finished product!

I really liked the talking drawing because it allowed the students to write their thoughts in an unconventional way and made the student critically think about what they have learned about Charlemagne.  Additionally, I enjoyed stumbling upon the peer review.  I wonder what else I could use it for!? 

Happy Teaching!