Monday, October 28, 2013

Articles of Confederation Children's Book

Recently we have just started our second unit in social studies, Early US Government.  One of the first things we look at is the Declaration of Independence, and then we move to (what I call it) the "rough draft" of the US Constitution: the Articles of Confederation.

We spent a day talking about what exactly the Articles were and why they only "worked" for a short time.  Students were then challenged with this project: they had to create a children's book detailing what the Articles of Confederation were.

Check out the links below to a few of the books the students created!  Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of these children's books--especially taking 18th century text and rewriting it into kid-friendly language that elementary school students could understand.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hero Project

In tech we have just completed another project--this one was all about a hero!  The students really had a great time with this project: it pulled together different tech elements (wordle, Google presentation/Keynote, Hero Machinedafont, and many others) in a creative fashion to have students create a presentation detailing all about their hero!

Check out the entire directions/project requirements here.

The students got to present their heroes to the class when they were finished...and each and every hero was unique and different and awesome!  Check out some of the presentations below from our hero project!  Enjoy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Teaching #throughglass 2

Remember my first "Teaching #throughglass" post earlier this school year?  I said I was going to do a series of what it is like to see the classroom (or in this instance the outdoor classroom!) through the teacher's eyes as filmed by using Google Glass.

I have just added my second teaching #throughglass video to my blog series; however, this one is quite a bit different than my previous video.  This one captures what it's like for a teacher to go on a single day expedition (field trip) with a group of 8th graders.  Since our motto at the middle school is "School as Expedition", we take a lot of "expeditions" to various places for various lengths of time.  This particular expedition we took half of our 8th graders to Forest Park to do a fish sampling and data collecting expedition.  Below in my second teaching #throughglass video you'll see a 12+ minute glimpse of what it's like for a teacher to be on a single-day expedition with middle school students...stay tuned later in the year for a glimpse into what's it's like on a multi-day overnight expedition!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


In social studies we decided to do a mini-unit (3 days only!) on cotton since our awesome garden here at MRH has cotton!  We partnered up with our awesome gardener Mrs. Breed-Parks and we learned a lot about cotton: where it comes from, how to pick and harvest it, and what can be done with after it's been picked.  Cotton was a huge industry during the colonial era--done mostly by slaves, but others (from all different races) throughout the US (and well into the 20th century) picked cotton as well.

We started our mini Cotton unit off with a view from Mr. Dan.  Mr. Dan is one of our awesome bus drivers/buildings and grounds guru here at MRH, and along with fighting in the Vietnam War, he also picked cotton on a farm when he was a boy!  Check out his story below:

After hearing from Mr. Dan and his experiences, students set out in groups to read about all of the uses and production capabilities for cotton.  We then headed out into the garden to actually look at how our cotton here was growing and then we got to pick it and de-seed it.

We then headed back inside to actually pick out the seeds of the cotton (which hasn't been done for many centuries, thanks to the invention of the cotton gin in the late 1700s).  Students really liked finding all of the seeds in the fluffy cotton--we are saving the seeds to plant more cotton next spring!

Overall it was a great mini-unit for the students.  I think a lot of them thought cotton picking was only done by slaves--and although a good portion of it was--it was actually done by people of all races and ethnicities.  We briefly touched on slavery in our American Revolution unit, and we'll circle back to it again in our Civil War unit as well.  This was just a great opportunity for students to get to hear from a real-life cotton picker and see what cotton looks like and how it's picked in person.

Friday, October 4, 2013


In tech class this past week the students have been making their own games on this awesome site called Scratch (read more about Scratch for Educators here).  It actually is a website hosted by MIT that allows you to write your own scripts/codes for different games, projects, animations, videos, and much more!  You can create your own account, save your work, and explore other projects that others have created.  What's really cool is that you can "look inside" everyone else's project to see their script and codes they used to make their project, game, etc... work!  And the best part: it's free!

I really can't speak highly enough about this site: it really is a super cool game-making (or basically any web-based project you want to do which has you coding everything you want it to do manually) site that teaches you as you are building.  It has a very easy user-interface, and a really nice help feature to do everything from a basic overview of how to use it to in-game help when you're stuck with your script.

I created the how-to video below to help my students get started, and then the rest has been on them!  The coolest part is that the students have become the teachers (because I'm by no means an expert on this site) and they're the ones volunteering to help their peers when they have a question about their game or how to use Scratch (which is probably the coolest thing to see as a teacher!).

Today the students shared the games they've been working on this past week, and once again, I was super impressed with how they turned out!

Check out the links below to play the games my students created!  I hope you'll be as impressed as I am!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Plant Family Posters

A while back in tech the students made some awesome plant family posters (and I forgot to blog about them!).  We partnered with our awesome gardener Mrs. Breed-Parks for this project.  She wanted some informational posters about the different plant families (and the types of plants that are in them) that we have in our gardens here at MRH.

Students were paired up in teams of 2 and they were each given a plant family.  Everything from Amaranthaceae to Solanaceae! (Yeah, I have a hard time pronouncing those too!)  Students then headed out to the garden to take pictures of the plants in their family--because the best resources are the ones you gather yourself!

Once students got all of their pictures taken, they then used the template Mrs. Breed-Parks created for them to fill with their information and pictures of the plants in their family.

Check out the posters they created below!  Super awesome work!

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