August 20, 2014

Pass the Plate Brainstorming Activity

Today in history, we did a fun brainstorming activity to clear out those cobwebs and recall all the information we already know about the subjects we'll be studying this year in an activity called Pass the Plate.

For each class, I had a set of paper plates labeled as follows:
  • Early Humans
  • Mesopotamia
  • India
  • China
  • Greece
  • Rome
  • Middle Ages
  • Egypt
Students formed their own small groups of 3-4 students and chose a special flair pen from my stash. I then gave them three minutes to brainstorm and record their thinking directly on the paper plates. At the end of three minutes, I instructed them to "Pass the Plate" to the next group, and then the brainstorming continued for the next topic until the plates were back with the starting groups.

Obviously, students will know much more about topics like Greece than Mesopotamia, whose plates were looking pretty sad at the end of this activity! But by the end, they were full of color and, more importantly, ideas... and that's what counts!

I have to say, some of the brainstorming I heard today was absolutely hilarious, and it was SO HARD not to respond! Did you know that early humans were mermaids and cannibals? Neither did I! And I'm afraid to think about what this says about our society that one of the first things written about China was Panda Express (Joel would be proud. He loves that place!). 

I should've taken pictures of the finished plates... maybe I'll remember to do that tomorrow!

At the end of the year, students will get back into groups and will have the opportunity to Pass the Plates again. Except this time, they will be using academic vocabulary and recalling facts they learned in class rather than stereotypes and misconceptions. 

August 19, 2014

Bringing The ALS Challenge to the Blogs

I'm sure you've all seen countless videos like this recently, but I thought it would be a fun twist to bring the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the blogs.

You can't tell in the video, but I'm wearing my "Strike Out ALS" shirt, which was made for the annual ALS walk here in Chicago. I've participated in this event with my BFF Ashely and her family, who walk in honor of her father who passed away from this disease in 2010. He was like a second father to me growing up, and it was absolutely heart-breaking to watch his disease progress. 

I know there are a lot of people out there questioning this challenge, but I'm here to say that I KNOW it's making a difference. In fact, it's raised more than $15 million since the first video went viral nearly three weeks ago. That's HUGE! At the very least, this challenge is certainly spreading awareness of ALS, which is another positive for sure. 

I, for one, am honored to be taking part in another event that supports finding a cure! The mere fact that I'm putting this video on social media sites should prove how much I believe in this cause. I mean... just check out my face after I dump the water on my head! Good Lord! LOL

I will be donating to What About Bob, which is the group that participates in the Walk4Life in honor of Ashley's dad, Bob. If you're looking for a place to donate, they'd love to have your support for their event on September 21!

What About Bob at the ALS Walk4Life in 2010. I'm way in the back on the left side.

For this challenge, I nominated three of my bloggy buddies:

Michelle from Big Time Literacy

Ladies, you have 24 hours to accept this challenge and make a donation of your choice, or you can skip the ice water and donate $100 to a great cause! Let's Strike Out ALS!

August 17, 2014

First Official Post of the 2014-2015 School Year

I'm so excited that I finally get to participate in this linky since I'm actually doing the planning this year! I don't know the best way to share these, so I just took a screen shot of my planning pages. If you actually care to see what we're doing for the first week of World History, you'll have to click on the photo to enlarge. Here's a peek at my week!

I also want to link up with my sweet friend Michelle at Big Time Literacy for her new(ish) linky where we post Sunday Morning Letters. I'm only posting a couple this week because I still have some work to do before I head to bed (let's be honest... I wanna watch the Real Housewives!)...

Dear Students,
I'm teaching 185 students (plus a study hall of 15) this year. This is a tremendous change from the 75-90 I've had as an ELA teacher, and I'm not entirely how or if this impact my teaching and relationships with you all. Please know that I am genuinely interested in learning about you and am doing my best to memorize your names by the end of the week. It would also be great if you could extend a little grace as I figure things out in my new role as a history teacher!

Dear Mr. Sandman,
Please deliver good dreams tonight. And feel free to come a little earlier tonight. Tomorrow will be much easier with a good night's sleep.

Dear Morning Commuters,
Stay out of my way! I'm not a morning person, and I'm certain I'll feel anxious about getting to school tomorrow. Consider this your warning!

Dear Fellow Teachers Heading Back to School This Week,
Am I the only one who feels like summer passed too quickly? Just think... the sooner we start, the sooner summer comes around again. Happy first week of school, my friends! :)
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