Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MR. LIP Projects

In social studies we just finished our first big project of the year, MR. LIP...which is actually an acronym for the 5 themes of geography (movement, region, location, interaction, and place).  After learning all about what the 5 Themes of Geography are, students selected a city and a country out of a hat in which they were to identify how the 5 themes of geography are evident in that place.

Students set off to uncover information about these geography themes in their city and country.  Most students headed over to The CIA World Factbook to get started.  If you've never used the facbook before, you're missing out!  It's got some great resources about all of the countries in the world--everything from population to literacy rates to major cities.  Students also explored other sites like National Geographic to research about their city and the 5 themes.  Once they found their information, they created a Keynote presentation (PowerPoint) detailing the 5 themes in their city and country.

Wow, these 7th graders BLEW ME AWAY with their Keynote and research skills!  They all did an excellent job of bridging the 5 themes and their research together in a very creative and eye-catchy way.

Below are links to some of the students' MR. LIP projects.  Enjoy looking through them...& maybe learn something new about a city in our world!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tech Culture

This year I get to teach an amazing class called Technology as a Culture, or Tech Culture for short.  I'm super pumped about this for several reasons.  First, it's a class solely focused on how our culture is centered around technology--how cool is that?  And secondly, the big culminating project for the year is that the students are going to make a video to be entered in Cooperating School District's Show-Me a Movie Contest.  I'm super pumped about this because I'm always so blown away by what students can create when given a little creativity and iMovie.  Stand by for more updates throughout the semester with this project.

The first project we did this year in Tech was kind of a culmination of learning different Internet-based programs and applications on the computer to get the kids familiar with the different programs/applications we are going to be using this year.  The first thing the students had to do was a Google image search challenge.  They had to do a scavenger hunt-type activity using Google images to try and find these 15 images and make sure they met all of the requirements (see sheet below).

Once students found their 15 images, they then selected 8 to focus their short movie around.  Students then took their 8 images and created a storyboard that was going to detail the 8 scenes of their story.  They could create a completely outrageous fictional story, or a believable one--the only requirement was that they had to use only the 8 images they selected.

After their storyboards were complete, students set out to create their iMovie (after watching this great iMovie '11 Basics video and with some iMovie instruction and how-to from Mrs. Mooney :).  Their movies had to follow these simple guidelines:

Once again, I was amazed at what only 2 days and a limited amount of iMovie experience these kids came up with!  We spent a day in class watching the short movies (see below for some of the movies) and critiquing them using post-it notes (one post-it note per video with two comments on it: something you liked, and something that could have been improved upon).  All in all this turned out to be a great starter project and I look forward to bigger projects and more detailed videos these tech students are going to come up with!  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking is something we are going to use a lot in social studies this year.  However, this is something that you'll probably see across the middle school because it it not something that is limited to just one content area.  Systems Thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole.  There are many different tools we use in Systems Thinking, one of my favorites being BOTGs or Behavior Over Time Graphs.  BOTGs focus on patterns of change over time rather than isolated events.  Check out the video below for a quick BOTG tutorial.

In social studies this year we will use BOTGs (& other Systems Thinking tools) a lot.  We will use them to graph changes in our environment, changes in our economy, changes in the way we use to live as opposed to now, and many more things.  BOTGs are a great tool for students to be able to visually and quickly show a change over time without having to worry about long paragraphs or detailed drawings.  Stay tuned for some upcoming projects and assignments with BOTGs involved!  I hope you'll be as impressed and I will be with what these 7th graders come up with!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Welcome to the 2012-2013 School Year at MRHMS!

Wow, where has the summer gone?!  I feel like it was just the last day of school, I blinked, and now a whole new school year is starting!  WHOA!  As crazy-fast as I felt the summer has gone, I am super excited about the new school year starting.  After just completing my first loop at MRHMS, I am so excited to start anew with a new group of 7th graders this year!  I got the pleasure to meet several 7th graders this summer during our home visits, but I am so looking forward to meeting all of them later this week!  I can't wait to learn with and from all of these amazing kids this year.  Did you know teachers end up learning just as much as their students do during a school year?!  It's true!  My students teach me so much every year!  I always look forward to going back to school and learning something new from them everyday.

One of the "new" things I'm going to do this year is use the program Remind101 this year in my classroom.  If you've never heard of it, I suggest you check it out!  It's a great FREE program for teachers to easily and safely stay in contact via text message (or email) with their students and parents.  I'm hoping to get as many of my social studies parents and students onboard with this program from the very beginning of the school year.  Here's all they have to do to receive updates about social studies via text message throughout the year:

I think this is going to be an awesome resource (and reminder tool!) for students and parents for everything from homework, to expeditions, to essay reminders!  I'll keep you posted as to how it pans out.

For all my teacher friends out there, I hope you have a fantastic school year!  And for any of my students and parents, I hope you have an amazingly awesome--and stress free!--school year as well!  I'm thinking some tapeball action may be in order for the first days of school...everyone loves a good team building competition, right?!  I know I sure do! :)

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