I love to incorporate games into the day. I mean, we begin the day by playing board games! So why not use games to help students learn their states and capitals?
We have been playing a few games in regards to this subject. Using a few items that I have collected through the years, students are practicing their knowledge of U.S. geography.
Most recently we have been using cards with a state or capital printed on each one to play memory. I have 5 groups of cards so that students can play in small groups. Each group of cards is printed on a different color. I have separated each deck of cards into groups of 4. This way the students are familiarizing themselves with approximately 12 – 14 states and capitals at a time. Students use the aid of a few maps that I acquired along the way. Fortunately, the maps were from an old curriculum set and there are several sets in the classroom.
This is such a fun and easy way for students to learn. They are really getting into it! One student even begged to play it (I had it in the plan for later in the day). She was NOT happy to hear that we weren’t playing it at that moment. THAT is how you know you have a winner on your hands!
Not so long ago, I wrote about a year-long project (2 Truths & a Lie) that I will be collaborating on with a teacher from Texas. In short, we are working with States as it is a 5th-grade standard. Students will be researching and recording information on a shared Google My Map.
This got me thinking. First of all, anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE using Google My Maps in the classroom. This lesson design can be used with other grades and topics.
I believe that 2nd-grade studies habitats. Why not draw a polygon around the regions students will be studying and have them create their own 2 truths and a lie on a shared map? Or in 4th-grade for the California Missions, using the draw line tool, draw the Mission Trail and have them create place markers with the information for each Mission. Again, using the draw a line tool, older students can draw the route of armies for the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Or routes and pin markers can be placed on maps to show battles during the Civil War. A class that studies ecology can log information on a map. In ELA, while reading a story, plot points that correspond with locations and practice comprehension using 2 truths and a lie.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the possibilities are endless with this lesson design. It makes students dig a bit deeper and think about what they read and think. They have to be ready to analyze the information given in order to find the lie.
So what sort of lessons will you do with your students using 2 Truths and a Lie?
I teach 5th grade. Traditionally, 5th graders write ‘State Reports’. I, however, HATE the state report model. I get it, kill 2 birds with one stone. Write and research, combine Social Studies with ELA. But does the state report model actually meet the Social Studies standard? No, it does not. The standard, according to the California Dept. of Education, states: “Students know the location of the current 50 states and the names of their capitals.” How does writing about Iowa inform me about the other 49 states and their capitals? Simple, it doesn’t. And when you assign states, there is a group that is disappointed in the state they got. So now you are torturing a large group of students to do something that they aren’t passionate about and it doesn’t even meet one of the standards you think you are teaching. Not to mention torturing yourself when you read through the reports. Furthermore, your class will not have 50 students, so even if you are having students present, they won’t learn about all 50 states.
So how to meet this standard in an interesting way? Hangouts! Sure you could teach a song to learn the capitals and give the students a blank map to label, but come on, that is so boring!
My vision for this year is to connect my class with at least one class in each of the other 49 states via Mystery Hangouts. This is NOT my idea. I saw it online last year. I don’t remember the teacher otherwise I would be giving credit where credit is due. What I have done is to create a Google Form for teachers to fill out. Using the Add-on Choice Eliminator 2 I can automatically wipe out state choices. When a teacher from Illinois fills out the form, Illinois is no longer a choice for a state. However, a teacher who wants to do this with my class, and doesn’t see their state listed, can simply contact me and they will be included in the fun. I also have carved out 2 days each week to complete my vision. There are more than enough days to complete this.
I would also like my students to keep notes on the states that we connect with. I’m not sure how this will be done. I could use a Google Form for each student to write one fact that they learned which could then be uploaded into a Google My Map. But that seems like a bit of work on my part and I want the students doing the work. I could have the students create their own Google My Map to log information. But my district has a ‘Walled Garden’ so the students wouldn’t be able to share their learning outside of our district; not what I am looking for. I could have students write on a shared doc or slide, but with 30+ students, it could get messy. We could create a Google Site or use a Padlet for each state, but 50 Padlets… So quite honestly, I’m not sure how to collect and archive their learning.
My idea for the notes is to track their growing knowledge. They need to know the state capitals and where the states are located. I would like for them to record capital, what region, maybe time-zone, what states border it, land locked or coastal, if coastal, what bodies of water, etc.
What are your thoughts? How would you have students record their learning? I’d love to hear what you have to say.
This week we went back to school, after 3 weeks off. My partner teacher and I decided to start book studies on the 17th which left us wide open for this week. Well, we have Benchmark Assessments (I know, who does those the first week back from a break? Apparently, my district). This got me excited. I never feel like there is enough time to study some of the important people and events in our history. That’s when I decided to create a Hyperdoc! I have fallen in love with the model. It’s work on my end in the beginning, but so worth it! The experience and learning are so much richer for the students.
I have shared this out with my PLN and some might be using it. This is what we want! Sharing really is caring. As my students were working on it today, one came up to me and showed me that there were 3 ‘anonymous’ animals on one of the required documents. I said yes, that makes sense since I shared it. He was confused. I explained to him that others were looking for an MLK Hyperdoc and I shared the one I created. He was satisfied with the answer and walked away.
I LOVE that I can model a collaborative mindset for my students. They know I find Hyperdocs and activities online (and am sure to point out the author and give credit even when they don’t know the person). This is what I want my students to do in the future; reach out to others online to create better products and help one another.
If you’d like to use the MLK Hyperdoc, go for it and feel free to pass it along. Sharing really is creating a caring world!
Today I experienced a moment that made me proud to be a teacher. It was one of those moments that makes you look around and say to yourself, This is what a classroom SHOULD look like.
This afternoon, after an hour of morning State Testing and an hour of afternoon testing, my students were focusing on finishing their Boston Tea Party Tasks (part of a larger hyperdoc). They needed to discover the events, people, and reasons for the Boston Tea Party.
Yes, that would be 2 green screens, several groups collaborating, and a whole lot of learning going on! They are posting final videos this week on our website.
Earlier this month I wrote about setting my students up for success. We were studying Cortes and Montezuma. The idea was to give students the information so that they could synthesize, analyze, and collaboratively create a writing to be performed in a poetry slam style. Many of the students turned the assignment into a rap – which is fine with me. The idea, after all, was to understand the information. The outcome…Success! Here’s one example – viewpoint: Montezuma
Okay, it’s been a week, and I’m still feeling like a Rock Star! The students are really into their reports. So far the only hang up has been that YouTube is STILL blocked in my district. It happened to be open 1-day last week and some of the students were able to insert some videos – not many I’m afraid.
They are still working on them, but I’m still hopeful. I had many tell me that they WANTED to work on them at home. A few ASKED if they could write about MORE than one Indian Tribe. Yes, they are doing more than the minimum required, on their own! This is cool. Usually, it’s like pulling teeth for them to write the reports (and I could say the same about me when it comes to reading the reports. THIS is way more fun. I’m enjoying watching the process and guiding them along the way. Here is our Thinglink:
Update 10-16-15: Due to Google moving Maps to Drive and my district’s ‘sharing’ permissions no one outside our district is able to view the state reports. As a fix for this upcoming year, I will create a map for each student or group and give them sharing permissions. This way, the world will be able to see their work – which is what it’s all about.