Monday, September 24, 2012

Wall Map

One of my favorite projects in 7th grade is the giant to-scale wall map the students create using latitude and longitude points.  Here's the map the 7th graders from 2 years ago created: class of 2016 wall map. We do this project in conjunction with our geography unit, which highlights a ton of the geographical features and resources that we cover in class (i.e. latitude and longitude, states, capitals, countries, landforms, water bodies, etc...).

The reason this map "works" in my classroom is because there is a giant "blank" wall (which happens to be a retractable wall between my room and the math room) which allows for our map canvas to unfold.  Side note: if you're interested in doing this in your own classroom and don't have a giant open wall at your disposal, no worries!  You can do this same project on your ceiling--you just get to get even more creative in attaching it to the ceiling.

We start off by first covering 5 of the 6 wall panels with blue paper (approximately = X feet).  We then use giant world atlases to help us locate the latitude and longitude points of the different continents.  Students are divided into continent teams of 2-4, depending on the size of the continent.  Students in each class have a continent, and then the next class continues work on the continent that their peers were working on beforehand.  Students use a 2 inch x 2 inch grid as their latitude and longitude guide, where each 2 inch = 4 degrees (either latitude or longitude).

This is the longest "leg" of the project: making sure the longitude and latitude coordinates are matching up from the atlas to the paper, and between the different continent groups in the different classes.  Students, despite becoming frustrated at times, keep pushing through until their continent took shape and had borders.  Once the borders were done, then the "filling in" happened: country outlines, labeling capital cities, drawing rivers and mountain ranges, and so on.

Then, when it was all said and done, students outlined their continents in marker (we'd been using pencils up until this point!) and then start cutting out their continents.

The final stage was then putting the continents on the blue paper, using different coordinates and latitude/longitude lines (i.e. equator, prime meridian, etc...) as our guide.  Then, voila!  The wall map has come together, and the students have a super cool giant world map visual at their for the rest of the school year.  Golly, I sure love this project.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Metrolink Expedition, Part 2

Here it is!  The follow-up post to our Metrolink Expedition.  Students spent about a week in either art or tech creating Metrolink pieces: students created a Metrolink route, using pictures taken from the expedition as well as created videos that compared and contrasted the two stations the groups stopped at.

For the art pieces, students created a collage. Each piece represents a community with a MetroLink station. They created the sky from magazine pieces and represented their stops through photos that they took during the expedition.  When each collage is complete, all of the individual art pieces are connected to create a “St. Louis Block,” modeled after the Harlem Renaissance artist Romare Bearden’s, “The Block.” We have also created our collage in his style of art.  QR Codes are added to each work of art to connect the video projects created by the tech (video) groups also comparing and contrasting communities. 

For the video pieces, students took the videos and pictures they took on the expedition and created a video that compared and contrasted the two stations the group stopped at.  Students used the 5 themes of geography (MR. LIP) to first identify the different movement, region, location, interaction, and place within each station, and then used it to compare and contrast the stations together.

All in all, I am soooooo impressed with the art and videos the students came up with!  Seriously, these 7th graders continue to amaze me with their creative skills.  Take a look below at a few of the art pieces (nicely QRed with their video project linked) and videos from the expedition.  Enjoy! ...and if you'd like to check out ALL of the videos, here's the link to the 2012 Metrolink Expedition Playlist.

Metrolink Videos:

Metrolink Art Pieces:

Metrolink Expedition, part 1

I titled this post "part 1" because it indeed is just that: it's the first part of our expedition in explanations and pictures, presented by me.  Part 2 will be the same thing: the Metrolink Expedition, but from the students' perspectives in the videos and art pieces that they are currently working on in social studies this week (so stay tuned for those!).

First off, I just want to exhale a big sigh of relief: the night before our expedition the forecast looked grim: severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and hail.  Eeek.  Not exactly ideal for an outside expedition and lunch in Forest Park!  Somehow, by a stroke of luck, the rain and storms held off till Friday night and we had a perfect day for our Metrolink expedition.

And for those of you who aren't familiar with St. Louis' mass transit, the Metrolink is part of Metro Transit in St. Louis, which is similar to a subway or elevated train you'd find in other big cities.

We spent the entire day before our expedition in social studies prepping for our first expedition of 7th grade (and first expedition for the students in general).  We went though this presentation, which detailed almost every aspect of our expedition and our mission.  The students were then put in small groups where they were assigned two stations that they would identify all 5 themes of geography (remember MR. LIP???) and then compare and contrast both stations using the 5 themes.

Like our Bellefontaine Cemetery Expedition last year with the current 9th graders, this was a completely mobile expedition: there was no pen, no paper, and no workbook: it was all done digitally using iPod touches.  Students were given the directions loaded as an iBook onto their groups' two iPod touches and set off to identify the 5 themes of geography at their two different Metrolink stops.

We were fortunate this year and had a representative from Metro there following us around all morning and afternoon seeing exactly what our expedition entails.  We've been doing this expedition (or modified versions of it) for the past 10 years at MRHMS, and it was great that Metro came out to take part in our learning and exploring of the city and its transportation system.

Our principal Dr. Dillon put together a great compilation of all of the teachers' tweets and pictures from the day, so if you'd like to check that out CLICK HERE.

Wow, overall, this was an amazing expedition and a fantastic day.  The students did an amazing job of not only following our expedition's mission in regards to their behavior, but they completely surpassed my expectations of information collecting and exploring of the stops.  They got some amazingly detailed responses captured by their group members and took some really great photos of all of the stations and the vast diversity and similarities between them.  Below are some snapshots from the expedition itself, but the real showcase of this expedition will be in their art and video projects, which I hope to blog about in the next couple weeks.  So for now, enjoy these expedition pics!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


In my tech class, before we start our massive Show-Me a movie project, we have been exploring different tech web-based programs, so as to have a wide variety of video creation options when the time comes to start our video project.

We spent some time making cartoons on xtranormal, and now we've moved on to Screencast-O-Matic, which is a free (yahoooo!) online screencasting tool.  At first, the students were like, "Uh, why do we need to learn how to make a screencast?!"  I had them search for "how to" videos on YouTube of their favorite game, or something they like to do online.  Boy, were they surprised that there were so many "how to" videos out there on almost EVERYTHING they use!

So I set them loose to create their own screencasts on anything they'd like to do: how to create a YouTube account, how to make a new folder on a Mac, and so on.  What I like the most about this mini project is that students are becoming the teachers: they're having to figure out how to teach another person via a screencast how to do something on their computer (pretty cool, eh?!).  I love this.

Check out some of their screencasts they whipped up...again, I'm super impressed! And if you're a teacher, try doing this with your students!  Have an online or computer task that you don't want to keep squawking out over and over to them: turn the task over to a student and have them create a screencast. Then it's a permanent resource for you (and all students!) to refer to if they forget "how to" do that task.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Alrighty, so I just HAVE to blog about this amazingly awesome FREE app/site I've been using.  Seriously, I cannot sing their praises enough...and the fact that it's not only dedicated to educators but that's it's FREE too?!!  OMG.  It is BY FAR my new favorite education tool.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out Remind101.  It's this site where you can send text messages safely to students and parents about anything you need to update them on: homework, upcoming tests, projects, expeditions (field trips), due dates, school changes--and so much more.  It's sooooooo easy to set up too.  You simply set up a class, and it generates a unique number for parents/students to text your username (mine is @MrsMooney) to and BOOM!  They're signed up for text alerts.  So incredibly easy.

My favorite feature HAS to be the "schedule later" one.  This is so incredibly amazing...and here's why: I always think of a reminder I want to send my students/parents for that night at about 8:30am.  I KNOW come 7:30pm when I want them to get that reminder I am definitely not going to remember to send it.  It's so great that at 8:30am when I think of this reminder I can schedule a text to be sent to them later that night--so amazingly cool.

Another way we use Remind101 at MRHMS is for all of our important staff announcements, updates, drills, and anything else our admin team wants to be sent out to all of us quickly.  Yes, email works too, but we all are not always on our email 24/7; however, we always have our cell phones attached to our hips, so we use Remind101 to receive text updates instantly about any important MRHMS matters.

Did I mention there is also an iPhone app for it?!!  This is so great--especially when those rare occasions come up in which I do remember past 5pm to send a reminder to my students/parents, I can do it from the FREE Remind101 iPhone app--which is also super easy to use too.  Golly, I just am in LOVE with this service!

If you are a teacher, CREATE AN ACCOUNT NOW.  Seriously.  You'll be so glad you did.  In the technology-driven world we're living in, why not embrace a tech tool that the students already use more than anything else (texting) and use it to your advantage in your classroom.  I am so glad I found this amazing program!  Make sure you check Remind101 out on TWITTER too--they've always got good stuff to say! 

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