Monday, March 16, 2009

10th amendment and succession

In my U.S. history class, we started a unit on the beginnings of the Civil War. To introduce the unit, I had students volunteer information about some of the reasons that prompted states to succeed from the Union. Of course, 8th graders know the broad idea is that the Civil War was fought due to slavery. I extended their thoughts to focusing on the rights of states and power of the states vs. the powers of the federal government.

With this focus I was able to show them how we have a state vs. federal government dispute today as in the Antebellum period. I taught them about the several states that have are reaffirming state soveirgnty given to them by the 10th amendment in response to the federal government's economic legislation. This was a great way to get students to connect to the unit I am teaching since there are some similiarities in the initial phase of Civil War.

Group vocabulary/map exercise

To build on the individual vocabulary lesson completed the day before, I will be using a group map making method to apply their understanding of the terminology and understanding of the geographic region I am teaching.

In this exercise, students will be placed in small groups and given a large piece of butcher paper. In each group, they will draw a map of the geographical area we are studying and drawing the geographic features (the vocabulary terms) on the map they create.

For example, the students will draw and label the region of tundra in its correct location on the maps of Russia that they created. I think this is a good learning method that incorporates the terminology and applying it for greater understanding.

Vocabulary instruction method

To introduce a section in geography today, I had students use a method of learning vocabulary different from what they are used to. Normally they would write the term and copy the definition from the back of the book.

In the method used today, I had them create a table 3 boxes across and 11 rows (11 terms). In the first box they w0uld write the term. In the second box they would write their understanding of the term or using it a sentence that fits in context to the teaching unit. In the third box I had them draw a small picture that represents the term.

I think this method will be very useful to the range of students that I teach and will help them understand the terminology much better. The students complained a little because I required them to do something different than what they are used to....oh well. This change is for the better.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Today I used a form of jigsawing to get through a chapter's worth of important information in a class period. I had 34 names of significant people covered in the chapter of study. I divided the names between 3 groups. Students within the groups divided up the names, did the research, and shared their findings. Once each group member had a complete list from their group, all groups would exchange their findings from the people they researched. The end product would be each student having complete information for all 34 significant people in which they can study tonight for the test tomorrow.

Test Review

One way I have used to help students review for tests is to have students create their own test questions. Today I broke students into 3 small groups and had them create questions for the test. I use the questions they come up with to review and the best questions are put on the test. It gives them a different way of studying the material and makes the study session have more purpose.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Arizona adventure

As some of you know, I drove to Tucson, Arizona to attend a job fair and interview with a school district. This job fair was different from any I have ever attended. I thought that I would be tables with representatives from different schools answering questions and handing out applications. This job fair was strictly for this particular school district, there was a representative from Arizona's TSPC, and there were teachers from the schools within the district visiting with the applicants that were there to interview. The average value of houses in this district is around $500K, the school gets invited to national academic competitions very regularly, 92% of their graduates go on to college, and many of their graduates attend Ivy league schools such as Yale and Harvard. I was very impressed by the professional conduct in which this job fair was conducted and got the impression that this school had very high standards.

As far as a strategy I have taken away from this experience, put in lots of applications and be very fortunate if you recieve a job offer from any school district. Even though this school district is wealthy, it is holding off on signing job offers and will not commit to hiring anyone until after April due to budget cuts. So the sketchy job outlook is not limited to Oregon, but probably all states.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Create a Newspaper Project

For the past few days I have had the students engaged in small group projects to create a humanitarian newspaper. The time period had to take place between the years 1800-1860 in the U.S. Each group was responsible for creating a front page of a newspaper that included 3 articles written in the voice of three of the following humanitarians: Lyman Beecher, Horace Mann, Dorthea Dix, Thomas Gallaudet, Samuel Gridley Howe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. Within the articles, students must use 6 of the 11 terms in the corresponding section in the textbook.

In addition to the articles, students had to create an appropriate name for the newspaper, create a political cartoon, and 2 advertisements for inventions created during the time period. This lesson was adapted from a textbook lesson plan I had come across and from another project that was demonstrated in a methods class. I felt that the section of our class textbook did not tell much about the humanitarians mentioned and their contributions are very significant to U.S. history.

This lesson achieved the learning goals I was striving for and I know projects such as these help students to retain what they have learned. This was a good project and I would recommend it to other teachers. -Jason