I love teaching Social Studies and Language Arts, and I love finding new and creative ways to engage students in learning about history and the world. Recently, I read about a site called If It Were My Home. I went directly there, and was so excited by the content contained on the site. It is a Social Studies teacher’s dream comparison site.
If It Were My Home is a unique site that allows students to read about and consider what their life would have been like if they had been born in another country. There are over 100 countries to choose from. This country comparison site allows students to then compare living conditions in their country to other countries around the world. Once you click on a country, the site instantly provides a lot of great mini facts that statistically compare the two countries, including birth and death rates, electricity and oil consumption, health care, class divide, employment opportunities.
If you compare Canada to China the screen would then read –
If China were your home instead of Canada you would . . .
“Consume 91.o2 % less oil”
“die 6.78 years sooner”
When students click on the mini-fact provided, they get a more detailed description of the comparison fact as well as the original source. Not only can you compare Canada to other countries in the world, you can also choose to compare two other countries, for example compare Rwanda to Afghanistan. How are their lives different after comparing Canada to each?
In addition to providing great comparative information, the site also offers, for most countries, an additional reading list with suggested books about the country. I spent an hour exploring the site the first time I went to it. The educational uses were swirling. Here are a few ways I thought it could be implemented into my classroom.
Students can use this site to help find information on a country study. They can use it to compare and explore different government structures around the world. Health care availability can be directly compared.
Create a chart of life around the world and pick 6 different countries and have students compare different facts. They can then use this information to write a report or to do statistical comparisons.
Language Arts (with Social Studies integrated in)
Add a creative writing element and have students write a short story “If I lived in …” or Have them pretend they are moving to another country and compare what their new life will be like and how it will be different from their current life.
- Use the statistics provided and graph them, analyze them and so on . . .
Energy consumption comparisons
Usage of renewable and non-renewable resources around the world
The Disaster section – see details below
Finally, I teach Grade 7, but every once and awhile I get the dreaded 6/7 split. Any split is difficult to teach, so find a tool that makes it easier is oh so nice! Last year, I created and began presenting my workshop “From Dynasties to Communism.” One of the sole purposes of this workshop was to address the Grade 6/7 split in 3 core subject areas – Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science. One of the Socials activities I included was a simple comparison of life in Canada to life in modern China. This site will now be added as a recommended destination, and the assignment will be more comprehensive!
This website is an amazing source of easy to use information. In addition to the county comparison tool, check out the Disaster section. Here students can see how man-made and natural disasters have affective the lives of millions of people around the world. Information is provided to help students understand the scope of a disaster in relation to their own country. This can help students better visualize how disaster affect the lives of others in other parts of the world.
Before Christmas, I did a 30-minute book talk on over 45 different novels that I thought my Grade Sevens should read and would most likely enjoy. I included current ‘trendy’ books as well as some award winners and classical favourites. The assignment was simple: in each of the Grade Seven classes each student would choose a different novel and prepare an oral presentation on the book. In addition, they would create a bookmark to summarize key parts of the book. My goal was to expose the students to a wide variety of books and have them promote books to their classmates. They were given 2 months to read their book. We set up a schedule the very next day, with one to two students presenting a day from mid-January to mid-February.
So far the presentations have been AMAZING and on this past Tuesday, the students handed in their fabulous bookmarks. The presentations have achieved exactly what I had hoped. Students are now reading the books their classmates read. In addition, many students ended up reading a book they loved and are now reading other books from that author or from a similar genre.
The beauty of this assignment is that it can be done at any grade level. I have done oral novel presentations with Grade 4's, 5's, 6's, and 7's. The marking load is minimal, and it addresses so many learning outcomes. The students love having a choice, although be prepared for several students to want the same book. As I did my big book talk, I had them write down all the books that interested them. After talking about every book, I then went back to the beginning and asked who wanted each book. If there was a 'hot' book, I left them until the end. Then we did draws etc. This took sometime, but in the end, I would say everyone left happy! I did have to go and find about 5 books other than the ones in my original talk. I took these students to the library and we spent time narrowing down the right book for them!
Okay, so last week I began the mummification of chicken legs and thighs. Last year, I mummified two chickens. It took a lot longer than I originally expected, so this year I decided to do three chicken legs and three thighs. The benefits of this will be that 6 kids will go home with mummified chicken parts instead of two. So far so good. My students are loving it! I was amazed that so many of them each year think that to make a mummy you just wrap it in cloth and you are done! They now understand that the chicken would quickly rot. I know this is disgusting but this year we took a fourth chicken leg and wrapped it in 8 plastic bags. It was full on rotten smelling in a few days. However, it made the point that you have to dry it out first.
Step 1: Wash the chicken and dry thoroughly.
Step 2: Put a layer of salt (coarse / pickling salt) works the best in the bottom of the plastic container.
Step 3: Put the chicken parts on top of the salt
Step 4: Cover completely with more salt.
It take about 5 to 6 boxes.
Each week you need to change the salt. It will be moist / hard from all the liquid it sucks out of the chicken.
I weigh the chicken parts at the start and the end to show how much moisture loss there is.
I will post picture next week!
I rolled out December BLOGO today. My students were very excited. By the time I had arrived at home and checked the blog, 10 people had finished their first BLOGO square!
I saw on pinterest a writing BINGO idea and I thought, that it would be cool to create similar activities for the blog. So BLOGO was born!!
Here is the BLOGO card. Over the holidays, I will post a few other BLOGO card I have already made!
Last week my class handed in their Ancient China ABC booklets. They were amazing!!!! As promised at my workshop in October here are some sample photos!! The project can be found on My Dynasties to Communist Page. I have a straight grade seven class this year; therefore we made the Ancient China ABC booklet. However, the file for my Ancient / Modern ABC is also available. I found the note-taking sheets excellent for helping them organize information. Also, I only used a few websites and a lot of books! They were super engaged, and the final products were amazing!
I am slightly addicted to Pinterest. It goes in waves, but I try to check regularily. I think it is one of the best ways to get new inspiration. There are a lot of active pinners out there. I try to be one of them, but to be honest, I can't keep up. That said, I do try to pin as much as time will allow me. One of my first projects this year inspired by pinterest was a bulletin board using the hands of all the Grade Seven's in my school. It turned out GREAT! The kids loved it and I have had many complements on it. My job share partner is going to save the hands, and repurpose them for our year end Grade Seven Farewell.
If you need an account, and you have attented one of my workshops, contact me with your email address and I will send you an invitation so that you do not have to wait to start pinning!
Okay, so step one in teaching tech is to try it yourself. On my great Technology SItes page, there are several examples of some of the sites I am hoping to try. I am not sure which one I am most excited about, but if I had to pick it is is Taxedo. Here is the Taxedo I produced from my first post:
This was very easy to make, so I thought I would then make one of a few place I have been. I had to include Kamloops :)
I think the Grade Seven's are going to love making these and embedding them in their Kidblog posts! Can't wait to teach them how :)
2012 / 2013 will mark the next step in the integration of technology into my classroom. I will be using this website to attempt to create a comprehensive list of great resources to help me and other educators on the path to using technology more frequently. Last year, I began blogging with my Grade 7 class, and it changed the way I think about how to approach teaching students. Students were engaged outside the four walls of the classroom, participating in meaningful online discussions while helping each other extend their thinking on a variety of topics. It also provided a wonderful platform for my teaching partner and I to learn more about the lives of our students.
In addition, we began to experiment with flipped learning. We used the blog to pre-teach new concept and ideas before practicing their new knowledge in the classroom.
My next big adventure with be using I-pads, Animoto, Taxedo, WallWisher, TImelinew, Google Doc's and so much more technology the classroom. I am excited to begin using I-pads, for their educational applications seem limitless!
My name is Nadine Keyworth. I have been teaching for over 12 years, and my passion is teaching Grade Seven. I am amazed by how much the nature of education has changed already in my short career. It can be a struggle to filter through and keep up with everything. My goal is to share my triumphs and defeats as I learn, try, share and explore my way through teaching and technology ideas!