Why do they keep murdering people in my classroom?

Saturday, May 31, 2014 4 comments

Ever since I staged the Boston Massacre in my classroom, my seventh graders have been begging for a similar experience. I was going to wait for 8th and make it a rite of passage and then I asked myself, "Why?" Exploration should not be saved. I knew I wanted to do something with Julius Caesar and I totally lucked out to find exactly what I needed on a fabulous website run by an amazing Mr. Kevin Roughton. He is an amazing teacher (whom I have never met; I'm entirely an online groupie). Who puts ALL of his resources for Ancient World History online for free. To say that his work is engaging and amazing is an understatement. I have been using his interactive notebook ideas all year and was excited to give one of his activities a whirl. I decided to do his Cold Case: Rome activity, which would have the kids decide the true motive for Caesar's death; was it to save the empire, was it jealousy, or did Caesar actually know all about it and decided to die in a blaze of glory? His lesson includes an amazing launch video he created and 12 different stations with evidence at each. What is fabulous, is that he made the autopsy report look like an autopsy report, quotes from bodyguards looked like affidavits, etc. I decided to out my mark on it and start with a hook. The kids had a basic day close reading and foldables ahead of them but each table got to spend ten minutes taking detective notes on a mysterious scene of a crime that had shown up the night before.

As they were observing and taking field notes, I heard one of my reluctant kiddos lean over to another one and say, "Man, Wilkins always goes big or goes home." Yeah! Win for me! At the end of class we discussed our observations and linked it with any background knowledge the kiddos already had.

 

The next day they walked into 8 stations. I launched the activity with my own launch video that I made with iMovie and my fabulous app that I couldn't gush over more, Green Screen by Do Ink.

 

They then spent about five minutes at 8 stations answering two to three questions per station. One station was a video and another was an audio recording.

 

At the end, the kids had to choose one of the three motives an write an endictment with textual evidence. Voila! It's a Common Core activity in disguise.

The kids had an amazing time and we will totally be doing this again. Check out Mr. Roughton's website....you will not be disappointed!!

 

Engaging Tech Tips: Green Screen by Do Ink

Saturday, May 17, 2014 5 comments
So when I went to fabulous EdCamp Boston a couple of weeks ago and I accumulated massive amounts of new information on everything from new apps to new ways of thinking. One of the apps I decided to purchase was Green Screen by Do Ink. It was $2.99 and totally worth every penny for the giggle factor alone.
The intro video that comes with the app does a good job at explaining how to use it so I was literally up and running in less than ten minutes. The best thing about this app, beyond its simplicity, is you don't need a GREEN screen. You can use any color you have hanging around. I went and pillaged our art room paper and thought this bright yellow was the best bet.
I was launching an activity where kids were making plays on the various groups of settlers that went out west and totally wanted to give this as an alternative to kids who don't like to perform in front of a live audience. In true Wilkins' fashion, I made a launch videos using the green screen.

The kids loooooved it and it got them totally jazzed to use the app. We're going to be shooting the videos this week but my student government already had fun playing with it.
They went to a Justin Bieber concert.
And hung out with the Care Bears!
This was a no brainer purchase! Do Ink is also a major presence on Twitter so they are easy to contact. I give this my total recommendation. Download it now and have some fun!!!

PBL and Real Estate.....too much fun!

Friday, May 16, 2014 2 comments
So, as the year is nearing a close (21 days and counting, not that I'm counting:)) I'm going full tilt. I'm throwing my best at them and we are loving it!
In my 7th grade, I just finished up a totally fun PBL on Athens and Sparta. Here's the explanation and info.



Here's the launch video:

First I explained to the kids what a real estate agent was and what their assignment would be. Their first activity was to become experts in what daily life was like in Atens and Rome for various family members. We considered this the orientation phase. It consisted of textbook reading, studying the fabulous information provided by the British Museum and some fun and informative Horrible Histories videos.
In phase 2, students were then assigned a family that consisted of a father, mother, son, daughter, and slave. There were two possibilities for each family member; a person who would fit in Sparta and one that would be a perfect fit for Athens.
To randomly choose the family and really add to the problem solving, each member was chosen randomly, using this awesome app called Decide Now!
Using my fabulous Apple TV, I projected my iPad and each family member was chosen randomly for each group. Students then, had to pick the best vacation spot for each family based on the largest amount of family members they made happy.

Once they figured out where they should live based upon majority, realty groups needed to make a pitch presentation that only focused on what would make each person happy about their new vacation destination. Students could use Google Prentation or Pow Toon to make their pitches. First I launched the third and final phase of the project with my own Powtoon video.

Then they made their own!



 The kids absolutely loved this project and totally became experts on Athens and Sparta.  They also got to work on their argument skills so that is always a plus.  If you are interested in doing this in your own class, click here for all the resources. Make a copy for yourself and feel free to modify.  I would love to hear from you if you use it in your class!

Mission U.S....We're In Love!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 2 comments
I finally had a chance to find the time to use Mission U.S. in my class and I was not disappointed. I had been looking at it since last year and knew that it would be perfect as my slavery unit. I teach semi thematically so I launch a huge The Worlds of the North and South unit and then do smaller mini units on the Industrial Revolution and slavery. I wanted to see if the Mission 2: Flight to Freedom could serve as my entire lesson. The answer is absolutely and I barely scratched the surface.
Under the "Educators" tab there is a slew of before, during, and after activities that are just beyond amazing. I was super impressed by the amount of primary source activities they offered! Even if you don't have the technology or opportunity to play the game, this section is a "must go to" for anyone trying to add more primary sources into their curriculum.
I decided to do this just days before the math and science MCAs so I decided to just have the children go through the simulation with a little time spent on background knowledge. I did wonder if the kids would like it as much as a true game, because the simulation is reading intensive. OMG...... My kiddos loooooooooooved it!
I could hear a pin drop in the classroom as these kids tried to help Lucy escape to freedom. The only time they did talk was to either yell at the characters and let everyone know they had been beaten and sold down river!
One of my kiddos who has a wonderful mind and immense attention issues cam in the second day and told me he was all done. Because the game has different levels you need to unlock, I assumed he had finished a level and didn't realize he needed to go on. Nope! He went home and played the game till he was done! During that second class he became an expert and gave his friends hints and tips and he also started Mission 3: A Cheyenne Odyssey.
The kids begged to play the other games, but sadly I could not hog the cluster computers anymore:(. I'm already working on how to incorporate both Mission 1 and Mission 2 into my class next year with a lot more pre and post activities.
Mission US gets an absolute two thumbs up from me! Have you used it in your class? Do you have any ticks or tips?

I Appreciate You!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 No comments

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