FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 2, Issue 8
The students each check out an autobiography/biography book from the library. I require teacher's permission and approval before check out. I do allow students to use outside books, but they must still be brought in to be approved.
We allow students to 'test drive' the books for a one-week span. If the subject is just too boring or awful for the student, I do allow them to change books (though the due date stays the same!) The most important aspect to me is the reading of the book; we'll take time every day during the project to quiet read in the classroom. I want to stress the importance of the reading of biographical text, since it's much different than the fictional works they normally read.
You can also skip ahead of the reading of the book and move right into the fact finding session. If you have internet access and an updated encyclopedia you can find most or even all of the facts abut your subject. But make sure your students are reading the books too. This is important to get an overall, rounded-view of their character. Be careful that your students have chosen biographies and not historical fiction or the various 'diary' books out there now!
Then there are the facts which must be uncovered, such as mentors they had, who they have influenced, their impact on society, and why they'll be remembered in history. Lastly, I'll have students complete several short writing assignments extending the new knowledge. Sometimes students create interview questions and formulate fictional answers based on what they think the person would say. Another idea is to create a fictional conversation with that person which is held around a dinner table or around a campfire. There are many applications you can create to use the students' facts.
Finally, you need to consider what the students will do with their completed research. We have had students create PowerPoint documents and give in-class presentations. We have had them create posters to display their findings. This year we're putting our research onto each student's website along with any multi-media that is available to us (such as clip art, photos, audio and/or video clips).
Most years, we will have students pair up and interview each other. Students find out personal information about each other, such as basic family and friends, schools and education, and where they've lived. They pose questions on likes/dislikes, favorites, and goals for the future. You can go ahead and create a short sheet of sample questions, then allow students to create their own as the interview goes on (also check out our website for a FREE printable copy of the interview sheet we use in class). Allow each student about 10-15 minutes to ask questions and write down answers, then have students trade roles.
Now you have enough information to create student biographies (or give the data sheets to the owners and have students create autobiographies). We will write these up in a narrative form to tell a life story, but we've also done projects like PowerPoints, web pages, and posters. One favorite is cutting out t-shirt shapes out of paper and having students write on them and decorate them with photos, drawings, and clip art. These are then presented to the class and hung in the hallways.
The biography project is not only required in our curriculum, but it is also fun for the students. It is also a great means of incorporating an informational text (non-fiction) into your class curriculum.
US Congress Unit Plan
Standards addressed by unit: Michigan Curriculum
Students will use knowledge of American government and politics to make informed decisions about governing their communities. Over time and in varying contexts, students construct an increasingly sophisticated civic perspective organized by the following themes:
• Standard III.1: Purposes of Government - All students will identify the purposes of national, state, and local governments in the United States, describe how citizens organize government to accomplish their purposes and assess their effectiveness. All societies establish governments to serve intended purposes. The purposes served by a government and the priorities set have significant consequences for the individual and society. In order to accomplish their purposes, governments organize themselves in different ways.
• Grade HS - High School Performance Benchmark 2: Evaluate how effectively the federal government is serving the purposes for which it was created. Performance Benchmark 3: Evaluate the relative merits of the American presidential system and parliamentary systems.
• Standard III.4 : American Government and Politics - All students will explain how American governmental institutions at the local, state, and federal levels provide for the limitation and sharing of power and how the nation’s political system provides for the exercise of power. The American system of government is based on shared power. Citizens who operate effectively within the federal system understand its institutions and how to work within them.
• Grade HS - High School Performance Benchmark 2: Analyze causes of tension between the branches of government.
Objective(s): To learn the basic workings of Congress and the process of how a bill becomes a law. Summary: In this unit students will learn the basic workings of the United States Congress through various activities and learning techniques. Students will analyze and discuss current legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Students then will create their own bills and take them through the legislative process, with the end result being participation in a mock Congress simulation.
STAGE I: IDENTIFY DESIRED RESULTS Enduring Understanding(s): Students will understand the process of how Congress passes legislation that affects their daily lives and futures. Essential Questions: How and why does Congress pass legislation that affects and changes a variety of aspects of life in America today? Knowledge and Skills: Students will be acquainted with what Congress does; Students will Identify how Congress is elected; Students will be able to describe the structure of each house of Congress; Students will be able to explain the in depth process of how a bill becomes a law.
STAGE II: DETERMINE ACCEPTABLE EVIDENCE OF LEARNING (ASSESSMENT) What evidence will show that students understand?
Performance Tasks (summarized): Student written
bills on a relevant issue in their life (attached), Students notes- to
follow study guide and packet (attached), Redistricting activity, Mock
Congress Simulation (attached)
Other evidence: Committee Reports, Headline Activity, Pop Quiz Race (group activity, attached), Written reflection on Mock Congress (attached), How a bill becomes a law quiz, US Congress test.
Student Self-Assessment: Students will self assess through the bills they write, and how well they participate in the mock Congress
Dr. Spencer Johnson is the famous, international, co-best selling author of the New York Times best seller, One Minute Manager. He is often referred to as "the best there is at taking complex subjects and presenting simple solutions that work." His books, including Who Moved My Cheese? show simple truths and ideas that help regular people to enjoy healthier lives, find more success, and deal with change and stress in their lives.
I've found this book particularly interesting and helpful because as a teacher, I'm seeing change every day, and every hour. Especially in times of budget cuts, teacher layoffs, trimming of programs, and yet new educational requirements by our governments, a teacher's CHEESE is constantly being moved. We have to be flexible, adaptable, and positive in these trying times. Our CHEESE is often moved, changed, altered, and it even runs out.
Have you read Who Moved My Cheese? Do you have comments you’d like to share with our readers about this book? Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please type in BOOK CLUB READER RESPONSE in the subject line. Responses will be posted on our website with the StarTeaching Book of the Month Club. All responses will be proofread, and may be edited for content and space before publication.
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Designing and Running a Medieval Fair
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